Teaching how to listen. Blended learning for the development and assessment of listening skills in a second language

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Abstract

This paper discusses the integration and effectiveness of blended learning for the development and assessment of listening skills in a second language. The development of oral abilities (listening and speaking) is one of the most challenging and neglected aspects of second language learning (Vandergrift & Goh 2012, Graham & Santos 2015). Listening comprehension work in particular is crucial in the early stages of second language acquisition, and, therefore, for ab-initio language students, for whom processing and decoding auditory input can be very challenging. In 2014 a set of online listening quizzes was created and integrated into two ab-initio Italian courses. The aim was to offer engaging, flexible listening comprehension practice and assessment, which would extend the students’ learning experience, stimulate their learning motivation and allow for a better use of face-to-face teaching in the classroom environment. Having conceptualised listening as a process rather than a product we designed tasks to teach learners how to listen, rather than merely test their comprehension. The validity of the quizzes as a means for the development of listening skills and as a tool for formative and summative assessment was subjected to systematic analysis via an online student survey. The large amount of data collected reveals that the quizzes were a key element in the development of listening skills and the delivery mode did not only meet the students’ learning needs but it was clearly preferred to inclass assessment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14
JournalJournal of University Teaching & Learning Practice
Volume14
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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