By Leah Peterson

Tech skills: Basic web browsing

Steve is away right now, but I am sure he’d agree that we can’t post about listening activities for English language learners without discussing our very own publication – The Change Agent! In case you aren’t familiar with it, The Change Agent is a magazine for the adult education classroom that is published twice a year (in March and September). Last year, we added a new feature to The Change Agent’s website. Selected articles can now be listened to, either line by line, or as a whole. The article is posted on the website with the audio, and also printed in the magazine. The site includes an index of articles by reading levels (from 3 and up) to help you select the right piece for your students. The selected articles range in subject matter, following the themes of the magazines (recent ones have been resilience and the multi-generational classroom and the current issue is on jobs), but all are written by adult education students and include a short bio about the writer.

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To access the audio articles though, you do need to have a subscription. $20 will get you one year of access to everything on the site for you and all of your students. We hope that this small fee will not be a stumbling block, as it helps us sustain the magazine. Other types of subscriptions are also available (paper copies in addition to the online access, bulk sets so that each student can have a copy, two-year subscriptions so that you don’t have to renew as often…).

Lesson ideas (adapted from the Change Agent website):

  1. Students should have access to a computer with headphones. Have them login (one teacher can use a login for as many students as needed) and navigate to the audio index page on the website or directly to the selected issue page. From the list of audio articles, have them click on a pre-selected article appropriate for their reading level.
  2. Have students listen to their piece repeatedly, listening specifically for troublesome words and repeating them aloud until she or he is comfortable with them.
  3. Share printed copies of the article with the students. If the student reads over commas and periods, or stops at the end of printed lines, ask her or him to mark the page with slashes (/) where a short pause is heard, or double slashes (//) where a long pause is heard. The teacher could also ask the student to underline words that appear to be emphasized, or places where the voice in the audio goes up or down.
  4. Once the student is ready, he/she could read their article to the class, or if they are not comfortable with that, then they could read it to the teacher or even another student.
  5. To take the activity one step further, students could record themselves reading the article than compare their own recording to the one on the site. A simple website that offers voice recording is vocaroo.com.

Share your experience using this activity or any suggested variations you have.  

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