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Gems on the Web – Listen and Write

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Russell Stannard writes about Listen and Write and explains why it is one of the most useful tools to show your students.

Headphones resting on a bookOne of the most interesting things about the expansion of the Internet and its introduction into the lives of busy teachers is that it opened up a whole world of material that we can direct our students to. The number of resources is amazing, especially the growth in video content. It means that instead of asking our students to do exercises from a book or to write a story or to revise some vocabulary, we can ask them to go onto the internet and listen to an interview or watch a certain video. It makes homework so much more interesting and allows our students to be more autonomous in their approach to learning. One of the tools that teachers seem to really like is Listen and Write.

Listen and Write is a dictation tool. It allows you to listen to a whole range of news programmes and interviews. A lot of it is taken from Voice of America. The great thing about the tool is that all the listening activities are broken up into segments and the programme will continue to repeat and repeat that segment until the student has written it correctly. Then it will move onto the next segment. If the student is really stuck then they can press the hint button to get some help. The hint button provides the next letter in the dictation.

There are a variety of levels, though even the lowest level is fairly hard. However there are tools that can make the dictations easier. Firstly, before you start the dictation you can listen to the complete listening, so that you can get a feel for the dictation and get some context. Secondly if you think the listening is too difficult, then you can choose the “word” option. The word option is easier, some of the words are provided for you and you simply listen to the dictation and complete the rest of the words. It sounds complicated but it is a very easy tool to use. The Listen and Write help videos will show you everything you need to know.

I recommend this site to my students. It is something they can do on their own. It provides a score for them and there is loads of content for them to work from. The listening will repeat and repeat until they get it right but they have full control. If they don’t like the computer automatically repeating the segment then they can turn the repeat button off. They can also pause and stop the video too. If the student signs up, then they can check their progress each time they try a dictation.

Some teachers might not agree with dictation. It isn’t the sort of thing I would do in the classroom but I think it is a technique that I would recommend students do at home. It gives them lots of exposure to the language and so develops their listening skills. It also helps with their spelling. The nice thing about this site is that the computer will repeat and repeat the segment until the student gets it right. The computer won’t lose its temper!!

It is one of the most popular tools that my students enjoy the most. It isn’t for really low levels but it can be used with any groups for about an intermediate level. Watch my videos and I promise that in five minutes you will be up and running with the tool.

See more of Russell Stannard‘s training videos on www.teachertrainingvideos.com.

Follow Russell on Twitter: @russell1955.

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Author: Oxford University Press ELT

The official global blog for Oxford University Press English Language Teaching. Bringing teachers and other ELT professionals top quality resources, tools, hints and tips, news, ideas, insights and discussions to help further their ELT career. Follow Oxford ELT on Twitter. Find Oxford ELT on Google+.

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