Listening Lessons

A listening lesson’s main aims is to, well, develop the students listening abilities! Generally, they will focus on developing the ability to listen for the main idea first with a task that focuses on getting the gist of the audio clip before playing the clip a second time with a new task that focuses on more detail or specific information of the clip. After receiving input from a listening source, at the end of the lesson, the students will get practice with output (i.e. with a speaking and/or writing activity). The ‘go-to’ lesson framework for reading lessons (generally based on a 40 – 60 minute lesson) to help guide the teacher in the classroom, is as follows (you can click the hyperlinks to get more detail about each specific stage and below the framework are lesson examples).

Listening Framework:

  • Lead-inEngage the students in the context of the lesson. Generally, a good practice for a lead-in is to elicit a keyword relating to the topic, and then give them a pair-speaking activity also relating to the topic. Try to keep the lead-in to be around 3 minutes minimum and 7 minutes maximum. It’s good practice to tie the lead-in with what they’ll be doing in the productive activity.
  • [Vocabulary Language Clarification/Pre-Teach Blocking Vocabulary]Teach words (typically 4-7) that might be difficult for the students to understand and that might block their ability to comprehend the main idea
  • or important details of the article.
  • Introduce Reading or Listening Text with a Gist Question(s): Introduce the listening clip with a comprehension question(s) so the students can practice listening for the main idea.
  • [Vocabulary Language Clarification/Pre-Teach Blocking Vocabulary]: Teach difficult vocabulary from context after the gist but before the next listening comprehension questions.
  • Further Comprehension Questions: Give the students further listening practice with more specific comprehension questions. Typical further comprehension questions focus on listening for detail (to get a deeper comprehension of the written text) and/or listening for specific information (i.e. listening for keywords such as a specific time, number(s), or word(s) etc.)
  • [Preparation]: Here the students can do some sort of quick activity to help them prepare for the proceeding productive activity i.e. brainstorming, writing down some notes, speaking in partners, doing a modified version of the productive task etc. These activities are optional, and if done, should be done so rather quickly (perhaps 2-5 min tops). Typically, if writing takes place during this stage, it should be done via quick notes rather than full sentences or paragraphs.
  • Productive Activity (Speaking or Writing): Give them an activity that has them practicing a productive skill (speaking or writing) for fluency, meaning activities that promote student-to-student interaction speaking with an uninterrupted flow or a writing activity that promotes writing at the paragraph level with connected sentences (not just writing notes, bulletin points, or separate individual sentences), also, in an uninterrupted flow.
  • [Productive Activity (Speaking or Writing) 2]: Sometimes it’s nice to have two productive activities time permitting. Both could be two writing or two speaking activities, though, might be nice to have, perhaps, one focused on speaking and the other on writing. Just note, if you have two productive activities, make sure they both focus on fluency development and realize that reading out loud (i.e. something they wrote in the previous productive activity) is NOT a true speaking activity (that would be reading out loud). Speaking requires with coming up with language on the spot, not reading a pre-written script (which would be more focused on pronunciation).

Note: The stages in [ ] are optional; usually you will do either/or i.e. either pre-teach after or before the gist task but not both. Also, if you do not think there is any blocking vocabulary that needs to be taught, then you can bypass teaching vocabulary all together in a receptive lesson. The preparation activity is completely optional.

Philosophy Behind the Framework:

The philosophy behind the framework is that the lead-in and teaching some potentially challenging vocabulary will help the learners be ready and able to fully digest the listening material. By first focusing on the main idea by having them listen without paying too much attention to every detail/word they hear, you are teaching them a really important skill which is that they DON’T NEED TO UNDERSTAND EVERY WORD in order to understand the gist. After receiving input on the subject, they are then best ready to produce output regarding the context (basically, the whole lesson prior to the productive activity, in a sense, is one large preparation activity to get them fully ready to speak or write about the specific topic with an emphasis on fluency). Though, do note that although the final activity is essentially the climax of the lesson, the actual main aim shouldn’t be lost: to develop their listening abilities. 

Listening Lesson Plans

Here are some ready-to-go lessons for you to implement inside the classroom and/or use as examples to create your very own lesson plans. 



The mid-intermediate English level is in-between upper-intermediate and pre-intermediate and that corresponds with the ‘B1’ scale of the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference)  language proficiency guidelines, which you can learn more about here. These lessons are most suitable for learners at the intermediate level; however, they could be implemented in both a pre-intermediate as well as in an upper-intermediate classroom. 

Mother’s Day

What’s the most difficult job in the world that is occupied by literally billions of people around the world? The job of being a mother of course! This is a great listening lesson that will expand your students’ vocabulary, develop their writing and listening abilities, in addition to teaching them thankfulness for special people in their lives! An engaging (and a bit emotional) listening clip that ends in students making their very own ‘Thank You’ cards.