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What makes

oral English
difficult?

Curso de Postgrado: Ingls en Contextos


Acadmicos- UNRN- 2017
ORAL ENGLISH

Typical difficulties when listening to


oral texts in English:
1. Stress and rhythm
2. Reduced forms
3. Clustering
4. Redundancy
5. Colloquial language
6. Intonation
7. Rate of delivery
8. Performance variables
9. Interaction
(Brown, 2015)
Curso de Postgrado: Ingls en Contextos Acadmicos- UNRN- 2017
ORAL ENGLISH

Stress and rhythm


English is a stress-timed language: some
syllables will be longer, and some will be
shorter
Spanish is syllable-timed: each syllable
has the same length
This influences in the rhythm of the
language and makes some syllabes very
difficult to understand

Curso de Postgrado: Ingls en Contextos Acadmicos- UNRN- 2017


ORAL ENGLISH

Stress and rhythm


Trysaying these sentences. You should
take up the same time in saying them:
Cats eat mice
The cats eat the mice
The cats will eat the mice
The cats will be eating the mice

Say them in Spanish. Can you notice the


differences in stress and rhythm?

Curso de Postgrado: Ingls en Contextos Acadmicos- UNRN- 2017


ORAL ENGLISH

Reduced forms
Phonological: Do you = Dyou

Morphological (contractions): Ill

Syntactic: When can you do it? Tomorrow

Pragmatic: (depending on the context):


Theres someone at the phone who wants to
speak with you = phone!

Curso de Postgrado: Ingls en Contextos Acadmicos- UNRN- 2017


ORAL ENGLISH

Clustering
In spoken language we need to break down
the information in smaller parts, because of
memory limitations (vs. written language:
sentences, punctuation)

We need to pick manageable numbers of


words

Not every single word


Not too long pieces of information

When does a word start and the other finish?

Curso de Postgrado: Ingls en Contextos Acadmicos- UNRN- 2017


ORAL ENGLISH

Redundancy
Spoken language is more redundant than
written language
Rephrasing
Repetition
Elaboration
Time fillers (I mean, you know, ok?)

This can be either confusing, if youre trying


to understand every word or you can take
advantage of it, as you have many
chances to get the key ideas
Curso de Postgrado: Ingls en Contextos Acadmicos- UNRN- 2017
ORAL ENGLISH

Colloquial language
Students tend to know more textbook
English than everyday expressions,
idioms, prhasal verbs, slang, which are
very frequent in oral English.
Whats up?

Curso de Postgrado: Ingls en Contextos Acadmicos- UNRN- 2017


ORAL ENGLISH

Intonation
Intonationwill differenciate a question
from an affirmation, apart from having
many other more subtle meanings like
sacarsm, insult, soliciation, etc.

Curso de Postgrado: Ingls en Contextos Acadmicos- UNRN- 2017


ORAL ENGLISH

Rate of Delivery
Speakers usually speak faster than wed
like to
The number and length of pauses are
more crucial to comprehension than
speed (Richards, 1983)
Clustering

Curso de Postgrado: Ingls en Contextos Acadmicos- UNRN- 2017


ORAL ENGLISH

Performance variables
Hesitations,false starts, pauses,
corrections, ungrammatical forms and
dialect differences
can distract you from the main topic or
give you more time to understand the key
idea

Curso de Postgrado: Ingls en Contextos Acadmicos- UNRN- 2017


ORAL ENGLISH

Interaction
Listening
usually involves responding to
what you are listening
showing that you are paying attention,
taking turns, asking for clarification,
negotiating

Curso de Postgrado: Ingls en Contextos Acadmicos- UNRN- 2017


ORAL ENGLISH

So next time you listen, pay


special attention to
Stressand rhythm
Reduced forms
Clustering
Redundancy
Colloquial language
Intonation
Rate of delivery
Interaction

Curso de Postgrado: Ingls en Contextos Acadmicos- UNRN- 2017


ORAL ACADEMIC ENGLISH

Difficulties of listening in
academic contexts
As if dealing with the content of the lecture were not
enough

Long utterances with a lot of information

Technical terms which can be difficult to hear, understand,


pronounce, and spell

Embedded references to items mentioned before/after in the


text

Complex structures such as noun phrases

Abbreviations and acronyms


(De Chazal, 2014)
Curso de Postgrado: Ingls en Contextos Acadmicos- UNRN- 2017
TIPS TO IMPROVE

How can I improve my


listening skills?
Be aware of the difficulties mentioned and work on
them

http://pemtic.unrn.edu.ar/moodle26/mod/page/vie
w.php?id=56872 has given you 41 ways to improve
your listening skils.

How will they help? Focusing on the difficulties already


mentioned and also on predicting, concentrating

What do they all have in common? Devote time to


improving your listening.

Curso de Postgrado: Ingls en Contextos Acadmicos- UNRN- 2017


TIPS TO IMPROVE

Get hooked on an English TV show.


Listen in the background.
Listen on low volume.
Listen while you read.
Listen to yourself.
Listen to the same sentence 30 times in a row.
Listen to an audio book.
Listen to two things at once.
Listen to an English speaker with an accent.
Compare a reality TV show to a scripted show.
Listen to a song and write out the lyrics.
Listen to a university lecture.
Listen to a child.
(41 unique ways to improve listening to English)

Curso de Postgrado: Ingls en Contextos Acadmicos- UNRN- 2017


TIPS TO IMPROVE

Listen to an argument.
Start listening in the middle of a conversation.
Watch a lesson on the sounds of English.
Listen to someone talk about your profession.
Practice intensive listening.
Listen with a friend.
Listen only for articles.
Listen to someone whose native language is not English.
Listen to someone speaking very quickly.
Watch 'on the street' interviews.
Listen to computer-generated speech.
Read a sentence out loud, then listen to it.
Practice 'shadowing'.
Listen to someone who has trouble explaining themselves
(41 unique ways to improve listening to English)
Curso de Postgrado: Ingls en Contextos Acadmicos- UNRN- 2017
TIPS TO IMPROVE

Listen at slow speed.


Watch a lesson by an English teacher.
Listen only for intonation.
Listen only for stress.
Listen to a really short clip.
Listen to a speech.
Try to do an impression.
Listen to one side of a conversation.
Listen on the street.
Listen to the same thing every day for a week.
Listen to every episode of a podcast.
Transcribe something.
Listen to a sales pitch.
Listen for numbers.
(41 unique ways to improve listening to English)
Curso de Postgrado: Ingls en Contextos Acadmicos- UNRN- 2017
References:

Brown, H.D. (2015). Teaching by Principles: An interactive approach to


language pedagogy. (4th edition). White Plains, NY: Pearson.

Richards, J. (1983) Listening Comprehension: Approach, Design,


Procedure. TESOL QUARTERLY, 17(2), pp. 219-240.

De Chazal, E. (2014) Prepare English language students for academic


listening. British Council. Available at:
https://www.britishcouncil.org/voices-magazine/prepare-english-
language-students-academic-listening

Phrase Mix. 41 unique ways to improve listening to English. Available


at: http://www.phrasemix.com/blog/41-unique-ways-to-practice-listening-
to-english

Curso de Postgrado: Ingls en Contextos Acadmicos- UNRN- 2017