School refusers- listening comprehension

Listen to this clip from Woman’s Hour about children and teenagers who refuse to go to school. Then answer the questions on the google form below. You can listen to the clip twice:

 

 

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Pay attention to the feedback given to both right and wrong answers.

You can finally listen again and read the transcript:

Starting secondary school: icebreaker ideas

Starting secondary school can be a nerve-racking experience for students. These are some suggested activities you can use on the first day of your English/literacy classes with year 1 secondary students.

  • Shonny’s first day at secondary school: the day before (Newsround). This British girl describes her feelings when making the jump from primary to secondary school, something most of your students can relate to. You can download the worksheet with some questions based on the video, as well as the transcription.

As a follow-up, you can also use Shonny’s video describing her actual first day at school.

  • What to expect when you start high school (Newsround). Some year 7 students (11-12 year-olds) who have been in a secondary school in the UK for some weeks now are asked about how they feel now. Based on the questions the kids on the video are asked, you can ask these questions to your own students:

    • How do you feel on the first day of high school? (elicit adjectives from your students, and suggest synonyms using a thesaurus).
    • What is the hardest thing about starting school?

Further ideas: Secondary school struggles: captioned video and article

Screenshot 2019-09-04 at 16.18.16

  • Time-capsule: one of my favourite activities to start school. Ask students to answer these questions individually. Nobody else will read their answers unless they want to share anything with their classmates by reading them aloud. Then, a ‘digital time-capsule’ can be created, which can, in turn, become the first element in a digital portfolio. Their worksheets can be scanned and then uploaded, for example, to Seesaw. That way, they could also record their voice explaining some of their answers.

What I did back then was to scan all the answer sheets as pdf files that I have kept on my drive. The students I did this activity with are in their year 4 secondary this year: it would be a nice end-of-year giveaway to show them what their thoughts and hopes were on their first days at secondary school.

  • Finally, another possible nice activity is for students to write a letter to their future selves. The website https://www.futureme.org/ allows you to write text, and schedule it to be sent to your email inbox at a given point in the future. The letter can be scheduled, for example, for the last class of the year, and it can describe, for example, students’ expectations, hopes, fears, and/or resolutions. Then, by the end of the school year, they can check what they wrote in the letter against what actually happened.

Tips for listening comprehension tests

You can find below some tips on how to tackle listening comprehension tests:

Tips during the exam:

  1. Make good use of the time you’re given before listening to:
    • read and understand the questions and possible answers
    • highlight, circle…keywords
  2. Use the time you’re given between first and second listen (1 min):
    • re-read questions/answers
    • concentrate again on keywords
    • cross out wrong options/use brackets for headings you are not going to use

You may be faced with different types of tasks:

A. Match extracts to headings: you will listen to different short clips that you will have to match to a suitable heading. You are likely to be given more headings than needed. The headings might be either summarising the gist of the clip or rephrasing one specific part of the clip. 

B. Multiple choice questions: you will be asked to choose the best possible answer.

  • Choose the best answer- it may not necessarily be the only one: choose the most complete, the most accurate
  • Beware of distractors
  • Eliminate the options you know for sure are wrong- decide on the best
  • Take quick notes on the side to help you remember

C. Fill in the gaps:

  • Before you listen: try to anticipate the kind of information you’re going to need (noun, adjective, verb…)
  • By and large, you’re expected to give the exact word (s) you heard or a synonym. 
  • Sometimes, some word-building will be required. For example, if you hear  ‘I feel happy’, in your answer you will have to write:  The speaker talks about the happiness he’s experiencing.   
  • partial points may be awarded if the answer is not 100% correct, but somehow does provide some of the information. 

For most exams, the final tip would be to give an answer to every question, as no points are usually deduced for wrong answers. Check with your exam specifications, anyway. 

More resources for listening comprehension:

Last-minute resources for B2-C1 tests:

Listening- Alan Turing to feature on the 50 GBP note

Some months ago, there was a consultation in the UK about the candidates to feature on the new £50 banknotes. You can read more about it and do a listening comprehension exercise on the news here:

Listening comprehension: The new £50 note.

The winner has been announced, and mathematician Alan Turing has been chosen as the face of Britain’s new £50 banknote.

Now, read the questions in the form below. Then, listen to this news report about the mathematician who is going to feature on the new £50 note. You can listen to it twice. Once you have finished, submit your answers to check whether you were right or wrong. Please pay attention to the feedback to both right and wrong answers.

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You can also read the transcript here.

Further reading:

More about Alan Turing in the blog:

English idioms which might be offensive to vegans: same language mediation in speech

There was a news item in the UK recently on the fact that vegans are complaining that they find some English idioms offensive, and are suggesting alternative idioms. Can you see their point? How do you feel about their proposals?

  1. Listen to this clip dealing with why vegans object to some idioms and suggest alternative idioms instead:
Source

You can also read this article about the same story.

2. Look up the idiom(s) you have been assigned. Then, a) find a picture which describes it visually; b) record a short explanation of what the original idiom means. You can use Talk and Comment, or any voice recording app.

  • Let the cat out of the bag
  • Take the bull by the horns
  • There’s more than one way to skin a cat
  • Flog a dead horse
  • Bring home the bacon
  • Put all your eggs in one basket
  • Be a guinea pig
  • Has the cat got your tongue?

Upload both the picture and your explanation to this padlet:

Made with Padlet

Once the padlet is complete, listen to your classmates’ explanations and pictures. How effective was their mediation? Is the meaning clear for you now? You can rate their contributions on the padlet. You can also add further comments (text or audio comments).

Listening comprehension: surge in interest in women’s football

Listen to this extract about a surge in interest in women’s football in the UK after the female national football team reached the semifinal at the Women’s World Cup 2019. Fill in the gaps with up to four words. You can listen to it twice.

You can then submit your answers to get feedback on them. You can also listen again while reading the transcript below the form. 

(source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0006drn)

Last-minute resources and tips for B2-C1 English tests

Are you only days away from taking a B2/C1 English test? These links, tips and resources might help you make the most of your last-minute revision time:

General tips:

Speaking:

Writing:

Mediation:

Listening: