Lesson 2: Approaching a Listening Text

While Listening

"Global comprehension" refers to understanding the very general idea(s) or gist of the listening text after the first or second listen. While the students might pick up some details after the first listen, our aim should be to help them focus on the general meaning first, so that they can establish a preliminary framework that will enable them to get more details in the subsequent listens.

"Holistic listening" means listening to the "whole" text while "segmental listening" involves listening to specific "segments" of the text. Holistic listening should precede segmental listening, and its aim is to allow students to develop strategies and build stamina in processing listening texts. Segmental listening is very beneficial while doing intensive listening.

Now that we're familiar with the terms, how should the listening activity proceed? How many times do we listen to the text? How can we check for global comprehension? Should we focus on segmental or holistic listening? How can we help students create focal points for subsequent listens?

In the following video we will try to answer some of these questions.


Discussion of some steps we can take in class after the students have listened to the text.

Duration: 04:44

In doing while-listening activities, it is important to remember the following:

  • Allow students to listen to the text two or three times as a whole before going to intensive listening.
  • Encourage student to focus on global meaning first and don't pose questions that ask them for details after the first listen.
  • Encourage students to make assumptions after the first listen and verify them after the second listen.
  • Focus your questions and attention at this stage on the segments of the texts that are accessible to the students in terms of vocabulary and structures. Always remember that students don't need to "get" everything in the text.