The purpose of the activity
Adults frequently need to listen to a description of a process or instructions in order to carry them out. The purpose of the activity is to alert learners to strategies they can use to ensure they are able to get the gist as they listen and determine the order or sequence of steps in a process.
The teaching points
- Learners prepare for listening by identifying the listening purpose.
- Learners listen for the gist.
- Using strategies such as identifying discourse markers and key ideas, learners identify the steps in the process.
- Learners sort information into a logical sequence.
- A recorded listening text that contains instructions for a concrete task or process (for example, instructions for using welding equipment, how to carry out mouth-to-mouth resuscitation). Note that written instructions read aloud will not be suitable because instructions are usually written more formally and precisely than when a person gives instructions orally.
- A set of diagrams or photographs which match the steps in the listening text above (these could be made with a digital camera in the workshop).
The guided teaching and learning sequence
1. Explain the purpose of the activity to the learners and have them talk briefly about times when they have had to follow verbal instruction. How do you know what you have to do? What are the clues that help you understand where to start and what to do next?
2. Show the learners the photographs (out of order) of the first process text and ask them to suggest what they might be about. What do you know already about this process? How will your own knowledge help you to understand the process when someone explains it to you?
3. Have the learners organise the pictures into a sequence they all agree on.
4. Play the first recording as the learners listen to the instructions. Do the instructions match the order you’ve made with the pictures? What is different?
5. Have the learners compare their predictions with the recorded process. They can now give the instructions themselves, using the pictures for support if necessary and using appropriate discourse markers.
6. Tell the learners that the next recording they will listen to is of a tutor giving instructions for an assignment. What can you expect to hear in this example? What are some of the words and terms the tutor might use? From what you already know about how people (especially tutors) give instructions, what are the main things you’d need to listen for?
7. Play the audio resource through then ask the learners to share with each other their understanding of what it was the tutor wanted the students to do. Allow the discussion to roll, checking to see if most learners got the gist.
8. Explain that when we have a general idea of what we’re about to be told, we can tune in and listen for specific things. What exactly is he telling the students to do? What steps do they have to follow? What is the order in which they have to do them? How do you know that?
9. Play the audio resource again, this time asking the learners to listen for the words that indicate each part of the instructions. Give the first example as a model “Okay, so what you have to do is…”
10. Have the learners compare the information they gained this time and ask them to work together to outline briefly what the students have to do and in what order. Remind them to use words such as first, then, at least, by to signal important steps or criteria for the assignment.
11. Review the process the learners used to work out what had to be done in both examples. This includes:
- being aware of the purpose of the listening (what kind of instructions they will be)
- listening for the key ideas and the words that signal each step
- checking the order of the process makes sense.
Learners will most likely have at least one question on the process or procedure, so a learner-led discussion may follow.
Ask the learners to explain the steps of another process they are familiar with, for example, the correct sequence of instructions before a practical lesson or activity.
If they are in a workshop, learners can listen to the explanation of a process (for example, using welding equipment) then observe each other and evaluate how closely they follow the correct procedure.
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