Classroom language when doing listenings

Summary: Useful classroom language for teachers for doing listenings

Useful classroom language for teachers for doing listenings


Useful vocabulary for/ about doing listenings

Parts of the equipment

Play (button)

Fast forward (button)

Rewind (button)

Tone control

Speed control

Volume (control)



Speaker cables


The original

A copy

Cassette/ tape

Cassette box

(Student/ class/ workbook) CD

CD box

Track listing


Things you can do with a CD/ cassette/ audio file

Press play/ fast forward etc

Start the CD/ cassette/ track/ recording

Skip (to the next track)

Reset (the counter)

Read the counter

Change/ adjust the volume/ Turn the volume up/ turn the volume down

Cue the tape/ Find your place on the tape



Insert the CD/ cassette/ the CD ROM

Eject/ Take out the CD etc

Change the CD/ cassette

Open Windows Media Player/ Real Player

Click on the MP3/ audio track

Plug the CD player/ cassette recorder in

Turn it on/ Push the power button

Chew up the cassette

Scratch the CD

Clean the CD

Label the cassette/ CD

Make a back up copy

Reasons for not understanding



Weak forms


False friends

Minimal pairs



Names of different question types

Multiple choice

True/ false

True/ false/ not stated

Gap fill

Sentence completion



Different kinds of listening texts


Guided tours




Speeches (e.g. political speeches)


Public announcements



Chat shows

Situational dialogues (shopping etc)


Business meetings




Radio plays


Other useful vocabulary


Answer key

Hissing/ noise

Buzzing/ interference

Background noise


Useful gestures to use when doing listenings

Cupping your hand around your ear ("Listen")

Cupping your hand around your ear and leaning in more towards the speaker ("Listen more carefully")

Cupping your hand around your ear whilst looking quizzical or a little annoyed ("I can't hear the tape because other people are making noise"/ "I can hear something I shouldn't be hearing")

Putting your right index finger vertically in front of your sealed lips ("Shh"/ "Be quiet so other people can hear the tape")

Putting the tip of your right thumb and right index finger together, touching the left corner of your mouth with them, and then pulling them across your tightly closed lips ("Shut up!"/ "Zip it!")

Put your right index finger out in front of you parallel to your chest and turn it to make a circle at right angles to your body in the air with the tip of your finger ("One more time"/ "I'm going to play it one more time"/ "Do you want me to play it one more time?")

Pointing at the speakers/ CD player/ cassette recorder/ computer ("We are going to list to a recording")


Useful classroom language for the teacher to use at different stages of doing a listening


Getting the equipment set up

"Does anyone know where I can plug this in?"/ "Where is the socket in this room?"/ "Can someone plug this in for me?"/ "Whose turn is it to get the cassette recorder set up this week?"

"Where's the on switch, I wonder?"

"Does anyone know what this flashing light means?"


Lead in

"What do you think the two people in the photo are saying to each other?... We are going to listen to the real conversation. The first time you listen, just check if they say anything that we predicted"

"Match the questions and answers in your book, and then we'll listen and check."

"Which statements (about the Coliseum) do you think are true? Let's listen to a university lecture on Italian history and check our answers"


Explaining the task before you start

"Don't write anything the first time you listen"

"You don't need to write full sentences, just take notes"

"Put the sentences/ paragraphs/ photos in order"

"We'll do the first question together, then I'll play the rest through without stopping"

"I won't stop the tape, but we will hear it two or three times"

"The questions are in the same order as the text"

"It's a real (IELTS/ TOEIC/ etc) exam task, so it will play once/ twice, with a pause (between and) at the end"

"Listen and colour in the clothes with the colour that is says on the tape"

"Listen and draw a line between the person and his or her favourite food"

"You'll need to change some of the words from the listening to make sure they fit in the gaps (grammatically)"


Listening for general understanding tasks

"Listen to the whole text and just answer this one question- does the person speaking like Birmingham or not?"

"Just listen for what kind of conversation they are having, from the list at the top of the page. Is it an argument, negotiation, invitation or job interview?"


Prediction tasks

"What do you think happens next (in the story)?... Let's listen and check"

"What do you think the numbers represent?... Let's listen to what the person on the tape has to say"

"Which graph do you think shows the real unemployment rate in China over the last 50 years?... We are going to listen to an expert discussing each of the graphs. He doesn't think any of them are completely true, but listen for which one he says is most accurate."

"Match the photos/ descriptions/ charts to the different countries, then we will listen and check"


Listening for detailed comprehension tasks

"Listen for the differences between the sentences/ text here and what they say on the CD"


Listening for specific information tasks

"Write the name of the person who says each thing/ has each opinion next to sentences as you listen"


During the first time you listen

"(As I said), we'll go through the first answer together (to check you understand) first. So, listen just for question one...Did anyone get that part? I'll play just that bit one more time. Everyone got it? He says 12 cows, so the number is..? 12, good. So you draw a circle around...? 12 cows. Okay, go ahead. Let's see how you've done. You all seem to have the right idea. So, you understand what you have to do, right? Good. Here we go with the other questions. Remember, I won't stop again, so listen and draw the circles as soon as you understand"


After the first time you hear it

"Do you need to hear it again?"/ "One more time?"

"How was that?"

"(Did you get) anything at all?"

"Let me have a look at (some of) your answers. Not bad, you've got about 50% right."

"I'll play it one more time (but stopping after each answer/ section)"

"I'll play it a little bit slower" [if you have speed control on the computer or cassette player]

"After you compare your answers, I'll play it one more time"


Giving listening tips/ helping them towards the right answer

"He has a British accent, so remember that when he says 'can' and 'can't' the vowel sound will be different"

"If you aren't sure which option is correct, cross out the ones you are sure are wrong and then choose from the ones that are left"

"You should be able to guess this question/ some of the answers without even listening"

"Think about the grammar of the sentence"

"What verbs usually go together with 'story'?... And which one fits in with the topic of the conversation?"

"It's a trick question/ a typical TOEIC question"

"You should be able to judge quite a lot just from his tone of voice"

"Think about what he is referring to"

"It's a phrasal verb, but I think you can guess the meaning from the verb and preposition"

"While you are waiting for the recording to start, try to predict what you will hear"

"Just because you hear a word written in the question doesn't mean it has the same meaning. In fact, it's usually the sign of a trick question"


After the second time you hear it

"(Was that) a bit better/ easier?"

"(Are we) nearly there/ getting there?"

"Do you need to hear it a third time, or was that okay?"

"We'll go through the answers you've got so far, and that should help you understand the whole thing better next time you hear it"

"We are going to do another task anyway, and that might help you answer these questions too"


Checking and correcting their answers

"What did you get for question one?"

"Does everyone agree?"

"Put your hand up if you thought it was A. And B? And C? Most people didn't put their hand up at all, so let's try again! A? ..."

"The right word has exactly/ almost the same pronunciation, but a different spelling/ meaning"

"It did sound like that, but that doesn't make sense in this sentence"

"Let's listen to just that one sentence one more time"

"This time I'll pause it right after the word we are having problems with"

"Let me write that sentence up (with a gap)"

"Look at the tapescript on page 23/ at the back of your books. Check your own answers and ask me if you have any questions"

"The two words are linked together, so the /d/ is the last letter of the previous word"


Feedback on prediction tasks

"I must admit, I thought number two was true as well until I listened to this text before the lesson"

"Did anyone predict all the right answers? (Me neither!)"


Feedback on listening

"I think listening is a bit more difficult than speaking or writing for this class. Would you like to spend more time on it?/ Would you like some ideas on how you can practice listening outside class?"

"That was quite a difficult task/ a real exam task/ the most difficult task we have tried yet/ someone speaking at natural speed/ quite a difficult accent, so I think you did very well (considering)"

"Remember that you don't have to understand every word. If you can answer the questions, you have understood"

"You only need 75% for an A, so don't worry if you can't answer every question."

"Why did you find it difficult? Was it because he was speaking fast/ you didn't know some of the words/ the questions were tricky?"

"Even some native speakers might have problems remembering all the information until the end of the text, but at least everyone passed!"

"Do you think the work we did on linked speech after the last listening helped you understand this one better?"



"Sorry, there doesn't seem to be any sound coming out. I wonder what could be wrong"

"Sorry, I forgot to plug it in"

"Sorry. The tape is totally chewed up/ I can't find the place/ I can't get the equipment to work, I'll have to read from the tapescript instead"

"Let me clean the CD/ restart the computer/ take the cassette out and bang it a few times, and see if that works"

"It seems this CD player doesn't play copies. Is there another one anywhere?/ I'll just run to the teacher's room and get the original"

"Does anyone know how to turn this on?"/ "Are there any computer experts in this class?"

"Did that wake you up? Sorry, I'll turn it down and start again."

"Sorry, it's a bit noisy outside/ next door/ upstairs, isn't it? Let's wait a second and try again/ Can someone go over there and ask them to keep it down just a little?"

"Sorry about the awful music"

"The volume doesn't go any higher. Let's try turning the air conditioning off/ closing the window/ moving closer to the CD player/ bringing the speakers closer to the class"

"Is that better now?" / "Can you hear now?"

"Maybe there's something wrong with this socket. I'll try another one"

"It looks like this could take some time (to sort out). Can you all get your homework out and compare answers in pairs while I have another look at this/ go and get someone else to sort it out?"

"Okay, I give up. Let's just go onto the next part of the lesson, shall we?"

"Got it! As I was saying, you have to listen and..."

"Maybe I've put the tape/ the CD in the wrong way round"

"Well, it was working this morning/ in the last lesson/ in the other classroom..."

"We might have to change classrooms if we can't sort it out"

"Whoops, I had the volume down to zero. Let's try again, shall we?"


Post listening exercises

"With your partner, discuss if you agree with each things that the person on the tape said. If you don't agree, work together to change the sentence and make it true. Let's do one example as a class. Does anyone agree with statement A? I didn't think so! So, how can we make it true? Good idea! Just add 'not'. That's a nice easy one, nothing wrong with that! So, where can we put 'not' in this sentence? ..."

"With the tapescript/ from what you have written down in your books/ from what you remember, have the same (kind of) conversation in pairs"

"Test each other on what you remember about the listening in pairs. The person asking the questions can have their book open, but the person who is answering has to have their books closed. Okay? So, can you two work together? Two, two, two, two. The person on my left. No, not your left, my left- I'm the teacher, so I decide! Ha ha! As I was saying, the person on my left asks the questions. Question, answer, question, answer. So, people on the right, books closed. Maria, you too please. Ready? Ah, I forgot to say. You don't have to start on question one, any question is okay. Maybe pick a difficult one, ha ha ha! Ready now? Okay, questions go!"

"Discuss the different listening tactics we used with your partner and together decide on which one will be most useful in the exam"

"Replace words in the dialogue to make it more interesting/ true for you"

"Write a continuation of the dialogue with your partner and then practice it so you can perform it for the class"


Moving on

"We are going to look at some of that difficult vocabulary in the next part of the lesson/ in the next exercise/ in the next lesson"

"Let's have a look at these sentences from the listening in more detail"

"I'm going to give you a similar listening exercise/ a reading on the same topic/ a pronunciation exercise on linked speech for your homework. Turn to page 73 (in your textbook/ in your workbook)"


Classroom language used in games with listening texts

Game 1 - Jigsaw listening

"So we are going to do a listening" [pointing at speakers, CD player etc] "... Yes, I know, groan! But this one is much more fun! Half of you" [showing with two arms out in front of you which half of the class you mean] "are going to go out of the room. And then go home, hooray! Ha ha ha, only joking. In the next classroom/ the hallway, there is another cassette player/ CD player. The people next to that one are going to listen to a girl talking about her brother. The people still in this room are going to listen to this cassette" [pointing] "and are going to listen to her brother talking about her. Then you will come back together and compare your answers and see what they say that is different. If it's anything like me and my sister, very different I think! Okay, understand? Wait, I didn't tell you to leave yet, you're not really going home! As I can't play two cassettes at the same time" [mime trying to stretch your arms really far as if you are trying to press play on a cassette recorder outside the room] "I'll need a volunteer to control each cassette recorder. Any volunteers?" [mime sticking your hand up and look hopefully around the class while bobbing up and down] "Good, Jose. And one from this side of the class. Santiago, you haven't volunteered for anything recently. So, you'll be wanting to know which questions you have to answer then? The questions are the same for both groups, but the answers will be different. The questions are on page 67. Ah, sorry, I mean your skills books, not your exam practice books. Everyone on the right page? After you've read through the questions, we'll be ready to go. Finished? Any questions so far? Last chance, because I can't be in both rooms at the same time. No? Okay, so when I say go, Santiago up here to control this tape recorder and this half of the class in room 5A next door to listen to the other one. Okay, go!"


Game 2- Shadow reading (post listening game)

"As it was difficult to understand them speaking at natural speed, we are going to practice talking at the same time as the tape so we can understand a similar text next time. So, I'm going to play the tape" [circular gesture pointing towards the tape recorder with right index finger to show the tape going round] "and you are going to speak at the same time." [circular gesture with index finger of left hand from mouth meant to show you are talking continuously at the same time as the tape] "Wow! I know, a bit tricky, ha ha ha! So, I'm going to let you listen to it one more time before we start speaking. This time, read the tapescript" [mime holding open book and moving eyes along lines of text] "and listen to the text, concentrating on the rhythm of the speech, da dum da dum da dum da dum" [gesture with you hand to show regular rhythm, e.g. chopping one open hand down on the other] "Ready? Listen very carefully" [face screwed up in concentration] "... Okay, ready now? Not really? Don't worry, we'll do it at least three times... Okay, not bad for a first attempt. This middle sentence was most difficult, so let's look at it in more detail. Which words are stressed? Nearly right. Listen to me saying it/ Listen to the tape one more time. So, it's 'wanted', 'go' and 'circus'. Let's just practice saying those words with the right rhythm, '...wanted...go...circus'. Much better. So, the other words have to be quieter and squashed up. For example, if we say /tu:/ that's usually T,W,O or T,O,O- T,O when it's unstressed has the /er/ sound that we practiced last week. Good, /ter/. Relax your mouths completely, /ter/. Much better. So, just one more problem to sort out! /t/ and /d/ are really similar sounds, so the /d/ at the end of 'wanted' is really quiet or silent. 'Wante(d) ter'. Got it! So the whole sentence is...? Perfect! So, let's try the whole thing one more time with the tape. Ready?..." etc.


Game 3- Stations

"First I want you to push all your chairs and desks to the sides of the room" [mime dividing them up and pushing them back with your arms] "Right back please. A little further. That's it. Now, here on the whiteboard I'm going to put this piece of paper which says...? Come on, we've been studying this all week! C, A, N spells...? 'Can', good! So, now I'll walk up here to the opposite wall and put up my other piece of paper. Can anyone guess what this one is going to say? What's the opposite of "can"? Good, but with a long sound. Right, 'can't'. Whoops, where's my sellotape gone? Thanks, Laurent. So, when you hear me say" [mime cupping hand around ear] "a positive sentence with 'can' in it, you have to run along the room and touch the piece of paper that says 'can'. Which one? This one? No? Oh, the other one. Okay, so run run run run, slap! But if I say 'No, I can't' or 'I can't ride a bike'? Good guess. Run run run run slap. The slowest person" [mime running very slowly and standing in the middle of the room looking confused] "has to sit down." [mime sitting down] "The last person standing" [point to chest and hold up index finger to illustrate 'one'] "is the winner/ the champion." [mime holding up your hands in victory]


Copyright © 2009

Written by Alex Case for

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