Part 1 : Introduction


How do we learn a language? How do we really learn?

There is no set answer to this question, if there was then teaching would be much easier than it currently is. We may never be able to say exactly what set of carefully controlled processes have to take place to allow optimum language learning for student X. Even if an answer was truly found it would almost inevitably be that there are as many answers as there are people on this planet.

We can, however, look at certain processes in isolation and decide that they will, on the whole, be beneficial rather than detrimental to learning. One thing that I’m sure everybody can agree on is that for language learning to take place (of a modern, vocal language), listening must take place. To be able to create clear and accurate sounds you must first have a model upon which to base those sounds.

There is then also the fact that the spoken language and the written language are not the same thing. Reading is essential and wonderful and extremely helpful on many levels but to make a student a natural speaker they will need listening too. They will need to get used to the patterning of the language as it appears in speech rather than on the page. Besides that there are the different words that we use and the different constructions that we utilise to attach meanings, we also need to listen to be exposed to rhythm and intonation patterns.

So listening is important...but what type of listening activities best allow a student to gorge on this rich platter of luxurious language?

Next episodes..

Part 2: Listening processes 1,2

Part 3: Listening processes 3,4

Part 4: Listening to test or listening to learn?

Part 5: Structuring listening to aid in acquisition