English Learner Article TOEIC Listening Part One Tips for Teachers- Photographs

Summary: Tips for TOEIC teachers about the photograph part of the Listening paper

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Description of the task:

In this task type, students look at a photograph, usually depicting a business or travel setting, and listen to four sentences. They have to choose the one sentence that describes the photograph accurately. They only hear the sentences once.

Teaching tips: The nice thing about teaching for this part of the exam is that the use of pictures can really help the teacher introduce variety and speaking into the class. The danger is that this makes you spend too much time on this task and neglect the others! Although this is one of the easier tasks in the exam, the difficulties can lie in:

  • Trick questions, like the use of a word that does appear in the picture but is given in an untrue sentence, the use of homophones and similar sounding words etc.
  • Obscure vocabulary, such as less common names for things in the photo or phrasal verbs for the actions
  • Only hearing the sentences once
  • Students not recognising words they know but don’t know the pronunciation of

As students’ confidence for the whole test can depend on their reaction to this task, it is well worth warming them up a lot before they start real exam tasks:

An easy start

  • Do a lot of speaking work with the pictures before you move onto the exam listening task (see ideas below) and brainstorm all the vocabulary they can see
  • Start with photos and sentences that are already familiar to them, e.g. making up your own exam task with photos of their real workplace
  • Give them less than four options the first time they do the task, e.g. true/ false with just one sentence or only two choices to choose from
  • Alternatively, you can let them read the four options the first time rather than hearing them, perhaps reading the sentences before seeing the picture and choosing the correct answer once they have seen it.

Fun practice

  • In groups of three or four, put one picture from the exam down on the table between them. Say one sentence. If it is true about the picture students should race to be first to slap their hand down on the photo. The first person to do so gets one point, but if they slap when the sentence is not true of the photo they lose one point. Continue with two pictures in front of each group, then three etc, at each stage also letting the students take the teacher role after you have given a few examples.
  • Any work with mimes is fun and good practice, for example getting them to mime one of the four options on the tapescript, making their team mates guess which of the four sentences they are miming or try to make a sentence to describe what that person is doing.
  • Artistic classes can do the same thing but drawing how they imagine the picture for one of the 4 options in the exam instead of miming it.
  • Matching captions to pictures, e.g. from their own company brochure or a newspaper, is good practice and can be made more personalized or topical than the exam content
  • What’s my line? - Students bring in their personal photos. The person who brought the photo in plus 1 or 2 more people describe when one of the pictures was taken, what the situation was, who is shown in the photo etc. The other students have to guess who is telling the truth, i.e. whose photo it really is.

The next step

You can tie this stage in with the next stage of the listening (question-response) by role-playing conversations between the people shown in the pictures after an exam Part One task and before exam Listening Part Two task.

Copyright © 2007

Written by Alex Case for UsingEnglish.com

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