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A window on the classroom
Listening analysis 
More than meets the eye

A window on the classroom
What do your students know about you? What do you know about them? And what do they know about each other?

A way of viewing & helping us develop our self-awareness is through Johari's Window - a model for feedback in counselling developed, & named after, Joseph Luft & Harry Ingham.

There are four areas to this. Imagine a window divided into four squares with each square representing information about you. The Open Area (Arena) contains things that both you & your students know about you - it's out in the open, the Blind Spot has things that the students know about you but you don't know, the Hidden Area (Facade) has things that you know but they don't & finally the Unknown Area contains things that neither you nor your students are aware of.

things I know
things I don't know
things they know
Arena - the Open Area
the Blind Spot
things they don't know
the Hidden Area
the Unknown Area

Johari's Window (Luft 1984)

The Window model helps us realise our degree of our self-awareness & gives us direction to explore how we might increase this awareness. For example, if you ask for feedback from your students, the Blind Spot might decrease as the Open Area increases. If you disclose about yourself, the hidden Area will decrease & feed into the Open Area. The idea is that the Open Area is the biggest one while the others decrease as you go on, & as a result you will become aware of aspects of the Unknown Area which you can then feed into the Open Area.

We've mentioned quite a lot the importance of personalisation & disclosure as an essential ingredient in the development of a healthy learning environment as well as being important in the learning process. The same ideas on the Window above apply to your students. The more they disclose, more comes out into the Open Arena from the Blind Spot & the Hidden Area & as a result Unknown Area becomes accessible.

Of course, there are things that will always remain in the Hidden Area for both teacher & students. All the same, it's an interesting way of looking at self-awareness.

An excellent book , which I've mentioned before, that promotes this is 'Group Dynamics' by Jill Hadfield (OUP).

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Listening analysis
This Tip is an extension of the 'Friendly Listening' one we had some time back.

A standard way of dealing with the listening skill in class tends to follow this procedure;

Set an extensive task
Students compare answers
Set a more intensive task
Students compare answers

If the students have got the right answer, all are happy & we carry on to the next stage. But is that really enough? Isn't it a bit like jumping through hoops? The interesting part comes when they have problems or even if they achieved all of the tasks well, they then analyse the difficulties they had while listening. There is a tendency not to spend much time dealing with this as they have had listening practice & there is more to do in the lesson - probably a more important language focus, so we move on. I think we should be helping the students analyse their performance more, we could be helping them more with this than throwing language at them. Here are a few ideas:

- talk about the problems they encountered. Obvious really but the more you do it the more they're going to get out of it - make it a regular part of the listening stage.

- give out the scripts for the students to listen & read at the same time so that they can see where they had problems. They could then compare ideas with a fellow student. Get around & help out.

- when going through the answers play back the sections that were difficult for them, helping them to understand why it was difficult. More often than not they cannot work out the word boundaries & it all sounds like one string of speech. They need to be made aware of 'sound in combination' problems. Spend time on prominence. Spend time on prominence.

- look at a part of the tapescript & ask the students to mark the tone units & the main stresses. They then listen to the tape to see if they were right.

- give the students the tape recorder; they decide when to stop it & when to listen to a part again.

- talk about strategies that they can use when listening - awareness.

Listening is a very difficult skill, made more so with the use of tape recorders. (There are alternatives to using a tape recorder but for now we'll stick with it.) I personally would want to look more carefully at what I'd listened to. So add another stage to the procedure, that of listening analysis & really help with building listening sub-skills.

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More than meets the eye
Do you ever do those 'Spot the difference' activities that you find in the cartoon & quiz sections of the newspaper? You've got two almost identical pictures & you have to find the ten differences between the pictures.

You have probably used them with your students as well. In pairs each student has a picture & without looking at each others they have to describe their picture, listen to their partner's description & together they discover the differences. Excellent communicative problem-solving oral practice. If the pictures contain vocabulary recently covered then all the better. If you can't find any of these games in newspapers they are easy to make as all you need is a simple line drawing & some tippex.

They are also great for practising 'prominence' - the stresses in utterances. One of the functions of prominence is to help contrast or correct information. This picture difference activity is ideal for this. Have a look at this exchange:

Std A: I've got a man walking down a path.
Std B: No, in my picture it's a woman walking down the path.
Std A: OK, that's one difference. There's an airplane flying across
the sky.
Std B: Yes, from left to right.
Std A: No, from right to left.
Std B: OK, another difference.

Well, you hope they might come out with something like this.

The students are correcting each other. It would be a good to point this function of prominence out before they do the activity - awareness is half the battle won, it is said. Fit the activity into the theme or use it as a warmer or cooler.

For more on phonology, visit the slowly expanding phonology pages.

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