Adam Simpson is back in our series of practical tips and tricks to help you in your post-CELTA teaching career.

Have you ever found yourself at the end of class with a little extra time left over? How about those times when you’ve overestimated how long your planned lesson will take? Don’t worry about it too much; it really does happen to the best of us. What you want up your sleeve is a series of activities that you can exploit as and when you need them; you need tried and tested ways to fill the time up with simple activities that’ll advance your learners in a meaningful way despite the time restriction.

So, that’s exactly the basis for our blog post today: great listening exercises that are simple to set up, can be used at any time and in any situation, and that serve to energize learners while also delivering meaningful listening practice.

Are you ready? OK then, let’s get going with our first listening energizer!

1. Line up learners according to their birthday

This is a really quick game that works well using birthday order (numerical), although you could just as well choose anything else you like, such as favorite colors or foods to number of brothers and sisters to name of their street (these would be alphabetical order).

How to do it…

  • Learners have to speak to one another to find out when each person was born, so they can line up in the correct order, oldest to youngest. They can do this by year, or by month and day of the month if they are all nearly the same age (a class of young learners for example).
  • Have them call out their birth dates once they’re lined up to see if they got it right.

This stimulates the use of simple questions and answers and, as I mentioned, can be adapted to other subjects as and when needed.

2. Here are 5 things I did today

A simple yet funny game, this one requires learners to go around the room listing five things they have done today.

How to do it…

  • Quite simply, learners move around asking each other what they did that day. You can do it as a chain, or allow random mingling if you think that will work better
  • To make it more interesting, stipulate that they’re not allowed to repeat anything that someone has already said.

My advice: start this listening energizer with your weakest learners (and use the chain pattern rather than random mingling), since it does get tough toward the end.

3. Learner-led dictation

This is a great way to get your learners to do most of the work, while also giving you the chance to listen to their pronunciation.

How to do it

  • Put your learners into pairs and have one learner read a short passage. This can be from a course book or anything else you have handy.
  • The other learner must write everything down.
  • At the end of the reading, get the learners to switch roles. The group with the fastest dictation wins (don’t get too tied up with accuracy).

To meaningfully extend this, show the original on the board so they can also check each other’s work. You might also wish to prepare questions about the text to assess comprehension. How long the text is should depend on the language level of the learners.

4. Write the word, swipe the Word

This is a great way to see if learners are on the way to using vocabulary productively. You’ll need two board markers and two board cleaners.

How to do it

  • Divide the learners into two teams and have them line up. Make sure they’ve had chance to review what new words they’ve encountered in class
  • Say a word nicely and clearly. The first two learners run up to the board and write the correct word. The first one to write it correctly earns a point for their team.
  • Each person only gets one word to write, then they have to go to the back of the line.
  • After everyone has had at least one go, tally the scores to see which team has won.

Meaningfully extend this by reversing the process. Give the person a board cleaner and do the same thing. This time they have to erase the word quicker than their opponent to gain a point.

Over to you – what are your favorite ways to energize your classes with a quick listening activity?

Image credit:
Photo by C D-X on Unsplash
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