Reading Stevick 6 of 10: structured silence


Stevick considers ‘structural silence’ another type of audio aid, and says that it’s ‘the least used and least understood’. It’s so true! Sometimes we are so intent on filling all pauses that we are not using this wonderful tool enough. First of all, controlled silent moments can give students an opportunity to get their thoughts together without distractions (so Stevick recommends using longer silences at the end of the hour, after a big grammar presentation or a story, and shorter ones after each activity in a series. This can help separate stages and activities from one another, assist memorisation and accuracy, make language practice more meaningful. Finally, it may be helpful to combine structured silence with a visual aid to increase its impact. Wonderful, isn’t it?


Collaborative listening on Padlet


Here is another little gem from Daniel Martin at Keep It Simple Activities (a great blog, totally recommend it: start with the mini series about mini whiteboards). This post is about using Padlet to encourage students to do listening activities collaboratively, but in their own time. The teacher uploads a (difficult) recording onto a Padlet board; the learners listen to it as many times as they need, identify useful language and make a note of it on the board that everyone can see. In class, the teacher explores and explains the notes open class.

It’s hard for me to say what I don’t like about this activity. It’s easy to set up and use, it’s motivating and developmental, and it’s infinitely flexible and adaptable to the needs of the learners. If you try it, let me or the post author know!

Multicultural London English


If your students come back after their first trip to the UK slightly shocked (‘I didn’t understand a thing they said in the streets!’), this collection of materials from Queen Mary University of London can help. Even very proficient speakers will find some of the recordings challenging, and lower levels will appreciate the scripts and suggested activities. It’s definitely a resource for teachers, not for self-study, but what a great collection! You get 17 teaching units consisting of a short recording with a script and very comprehensive explanatory notes about discourse markers, slang, non-standard grammar, pronunciation features – amazing. I could spend the whole Christmas break there 🙂



Youglish as she is spoke


What an amazing find! Thanks to Ozge Karaoglu, I now have the greatest tool for checking how words are pronounced: by real people, in real-life contexts, in different situations. All this through YouTube videos. The search is incredibly fast: if you enter a word like ‘privacy’, you get more than 6 thousand hits and can watch every clip one by one and see how this or that particular speaker says it. There are also subs, which show conveniently large on the screen, and pronunciation tips if you scroll down. And you can actually filter speakers by region! (Yes, I do prefer to say ‘privacy’ as if the syllable is closed, and you?) A perfect teaching aid in and out of the classroom – but be warned, I’ve been watching videos all morning.

Music for the masses


I don’t think I’ve often mentioned music on the blog, even though it’s something I use in the classroom (and in the office!) a lot.It can set the mood, develop listening subskills, or simply filter off background sounds – this article by Andrew Starck will give you more examples, as well as quote from several more and less scientific sources (all very interesting to read). What I particularly like about this article is how Andrew ties all this together with his own experience as a teacher and teacher trainer, in a charmingly open and authentic voice. He also promises to use music in his teaching more often this year – and you?

What’s in a film

Have you seen this great post by Anthony Schmidt on how to use an online tool called PlayPhrase in the classroom? PlayPhrase is a small corpus of about 300 films and TV shows where you input any phrase into the search window and have the website play it to you in many different contexts.


It seems nice enough as it is, but Anthony goes further and creates several lessons around this tool! There are ready-made presentation files and explanations for seven different activities in his post – definitely not to be missed.

Listen, listen, little star


Here is a nifty list of tips and activities for listening to podcasts from the ESL Library. It’s great for self-study and for student counselling; some of the tasks could easily be done in the classroom, and not necessarily with podcasts. The best advice comes at the end: use one tip per podcast only.

My favourite, apart from the last one, is ‘Just listen and enjoy’, and yours?