TEFL teaching materials

teaching professional people english

Learn a new skill – Working hours listening lesson

The BBC website is awash with radio programmes which are absolutely excellent.  If you aren’t familiar with the site for yourself, I do recommend taking a look around starting with radio 4 here.  However, being realistic, most of it is too difficult and far too long for most of our students.  The World service there is really good for slightly slower and better constructed radio content which is fascinating and informative (check out the ‘witness’ series) but alas, not quite right for the classroom.  However, in this age of computer downloads nothing is beyond us, as I am about to demonstrate.  (My legendary modesty working overtime)

Tooling up

The radio 4 series ‘more or less’ is an entertaining and informative excursion into the world of statistics, and many of the themes would be exactly what our more demanding business students want to talk about.  The World service has a re-worked version available as a podcast.  So far, so good.  However, the audio files are overly long for our purposes and often carry more than one article, so while the working hours of Europe may be a super topic for a lesson, the elections in Syria may be much less suitable…. so we need to edit the podcast.

Since I’ve done the donkey work, all you need to do is download the necessary free software here  it’s called ‘audacity’ and doesn’t take up much space.  Next, you need my instructions from here –  Editing a file with audacity.

Down to business

At this point you are ready to download the podcast.  Why can’t I just post the edited version for you?  Because that would be a gross infringement of copyright.  What I’m suggesting you do is probably a bit dodgy, but as it will ultimately be lots of free publicity for the copyright holder, I don’t suppose that they’ll set the dogs on us.  If the BBC does object, I shall remove this post forthwith.

Here it is; more or less.  Scroll down a bit and download the episode about the Syrian elections and European working hours from February 24, 2012

Then follow my instructions to edit it with the audacity software.  The timecodes you need are here;

Start; 04:44;18       Finish; 08:58:99

See?  Painless.  All you need now is my listening activity sheet from here.  Easy.

Follow-up to your lesson

This is where the advantages of all your hard work start to show – your student will probably be interested to learn that the extract you used is available online in its full-length version and available to be listened to.  You can ask him/her to listen to it and report back as to difficulty and additional content.  This should be a boost to confidence, as it will involve tackling an authentic programme with the benefit of some preparation.

Let me know how you get on.


About Catherine Kennedy

Second year undergrad (super-mature) at Sheffield Uni doing single honours Religion, Theology, and the Bible. (Formerly TEFL teacher in France)

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March 2012
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