“…… it was in the SLC (School Leaving Certificate) test, I had, for the first time, sat for a listening test.….” I wondered when one of my classmates told this to me. I was doing my intermediates then. I was even more surprised when I heard that all the answers to the questions were written on the board by the invigilator during their test and nothing significant was asked in the speaking test as well! There was nothing more to talk about, we stopped our conversation then.
I discovered that I was the only one, in the group of my colleagues, who had as experience of listening practice in school. I began to see myself as a lucky person among the friends. Not only this, every now and then, then, I realized that I had so many things to share with my friends about my English teacher, “……our English teacher did this in class, our English teacher did that in class, we had learnt to do this and we had learnt to that…..” I wasn’t boasting about my teacher and the school, of course, but unfortunately, they realized the same, however, it made no difference, I was still happy that I had some extra knowledge and skill of the English language which allowed me to speak and write simple texts without much trouble like they used to have.
Of course, the reason behind the so-called ease was the frequent use of language, may that be in spoken or in written form. In addition, I used to feel that we had got good exposure of the language. In the junior grades, the practice remained limited to reading, writing and speaking. As my school was an English medium school, no doubt, ENGLISH was medium of instruction between teachers-students and students-students interaction. Further, we also used to hear the teachers speaking in English whenever they had something to communicate among themselves. Perhaps my listening skill in English was strengthened by the occasional listening practices I did in schools, I thought.
This was the reason I had given some listening classes when I started teaching. I didn’t know how it was being practiced in other schools, but the way I gave the classes were just like the way I had taken them; I used to have a class on listening after a certain period of time. I taught the other sections in the class. I had at least three exercises of listening in one class. In the class I did nothing more than letting them listen to the recordings and do the exercises they had in their textbooks. It was something that we used to do when we were taught. As a teacher, I used to have easier classes on the day. I didn’t have to do anything in the class more than playing the tape, nor I had to prepare a lessson in advance. This way I recounted my stories of listening English while talking with the friends and also while working as an English teacher.
I had to go back to my school in the last evening once again, however, the reason behind the reminiscence was completely different this time. We had a class on designing tasks for listening skill last Wednesday. The teacher wrote a series of steps that a teacher has to follow while teaching listening which showed that a teacher has to do a lot of homework before coming to the class with the recorded listening texts. There I was enlightened that a series of exercises are to be produced for the students so that they develop a better understanding through the text.
The teacher told me that I have to start the class with schema activation by giving a background context of the listening text so that the students make themselves ready for the class. They, at least, have some clues about the following exercises they are going to do. Similarly, the difficult words of the text have to be dealt with before the text is played. They also need to be made curious about the text so that they listen to it actively. In addition to this, the extensive and intensive exercises need to be developed that are followed by the text related activities to keep the students engaged throughout the class.
I had never done these things as a teacher. All I did was I made them listen to the text and do the exercises of their textbooks. Now those students are in college, perhaps, they don’t say to their friends, “…… it was in SLC, I had, for the first time sat for a listening test.….”