THE CHALLENGE OF TEACHING LISTENING SKILLS
Teaching listening skills is one of the most difficult task for any ESL(English second language). This is because successful listening skills are acquired over time and with lots of practice. It's frustrating for students becouse there are no rules as in grammar teaching. Speaking and writing also have very specefic excercises that can lead to improved skills. This is not to say that there are not ways of improving listening skills, however they are difficult to quantify.
One of the largest inhibitors for srudents is often mental block. while listening, a student suddenly decides that he or she doesn't understand what is being said. At this point, many students just tune out or get cought up in an internal dialoque trying translate a specific word.Some students convince themselves that they are not able to understand spoken English well and create problems for themselves.
The key to helping students improve their listening skills is to convience them than not understanding is ok. This is more of an attitude adjustment than anything else, and it easier for some students to accept than others. Another important point that I try to teach my students ( with differing amounts of succes) is that they need to listen English as often as possible, but for short periods times.
So, the teacher must encourage them to get a film, or listen to an english radio station, but not to watch an entire film or listen for two hours. Student should often listen, but they should listen for short periods - five to ten minutes. This should happen four or five times a week.Even
if they don't understand anything, five to ten minutes is a minor investement. However for this strategy to work, students must not expect improved understanding too quickly. the brain is capable of amazing things if given time, students must have the patience to wait for result. if a student continues this exercise over two to three months their listening comprehension skills will greatly improve.