Advanced Listening and Vocabulary Development

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EFS 693B

Notes: Week 5




I. Some key ideas
    A. Selecting materials: generally, pick what is interesting and good for language learning (familiar topic, right level, with captions and/or transcripts); if this overlaps with something you should listen to (e.g., class lecture), that's even better.
    B. Selecting vocabulary. Draw vocabulary from context, not word lists: listening materials first, followed by reading materials. Use the tools, including both the BNC-COCA-25 and the more basic BNC-COCA-Core-4. The first includes words from the General Service List and University Word List (you should know all of these). Put your current lists of words into these and see what the result is.

    C. Recognizing vocabulary automatically: you need to know words instantly; know sound as well as spelling; be able to describe them in English (translation is OK too). Important: connect the word to a phrase or sentence that it occurs in.

    D. Building objectives into your independent report. Make sure you a listening for a purpose that will help you get better at listening. For example, if you want to "improve comprehension ability", what can you do besides "just listen"?

    Improve comprehension (make predictions), improve retention (e.g., note taking, summarizing (oral or written)); improve processing (understand faster speech, understand a specific accent, build accuracy, recognize reduced forms, build capacity…), improve knowledge (e.g., build vocabulary, identify discourse markers, recognize grammatical functions like hypotheticals…)

    E. A note on the intensive<-->extensive listening continuum for learning. In general, intensive means working in a concentrated fashion, while extensive means working more broadly over a wider range of time. If you're running, you could think of intensive as running, say, a series of short sprints and extensive is taking a run of several miles (or kilometers). While some teachers define intensive listening as listening for details (the way you would on a TOEFL or IELTS exam) we will make a slightly different distinction. Extensive listening refers to listening to a lot of material but not trying to get all the details and every word--this is what you do when you listen to a live lecture or go to a movie: the goal is primarily listening for meaning (for information or entertainment), with any other development (like new vocabulary) occurring incidentally. That is, during extensive listening, you can still make "mental notes" of new words/phrases or other language points you notice, but that should not interfere with the objective of getting the meaning. Intensive listening involves going over a piece of material multiple times in an attempt to more fully understand it and often mining it for other purposes, such as using dictation to improve processing or examining the transcript to build vocabulary and grammar.

        Besides the extensive listening you do for academic purposes or pleasure, when doing activities for this class or for your homework, a combination of semi-intensive and intensive listening is best. In semi-intensive listening, you don't necessarily try to get everything (that is, you don't have to understand and learn every word), but you interact with the material more than you would in real life--this is the great advantage of text-supported audio and video. For example, doing pre-listening, listening once with an occasional pause, and then listening a second time with the captions on, pausing and writing down a few key words of interest (not every new word) would be an example of semi-intensive listening. If you continued listening another time or two and then did a dictation, that would make it intensive. In a medium length clip (e.g., 10-15 minutes), or even a series of related clips as on ecorner, it is quite reasonable to do the majority of them semi-intensively and a small part intensively. In a longer one (e.g., a TV show, full lecture, or movie) different parts might be done extensively (listened to just once), semi-intensively, and intensively. Keep this in mind as you go through your independent material.


II. Halloween:;;;


III. Introduction to watching movies: Groundhog Day.


IV. Some additional links to explore

    - (Technology, Entertainment, Design): This has subtitles and a transcript. most talks are around 18-20 minutes, but some are shorter--for example  

    - an English language learning website with multiple new audio and video lessons each week. The language is relatively authentic and conversational, with a lot of idioms and slang that are defined for you. Join the free version to explore the site. See





Homework: Unless otherwise stated (e.g., the independent project) you should complete this material in time to discuss it in the following class. Be sure to bring notes if requested.
1) Spend at least 45 minutes exploring each of the two sites introduced this week (TED and English, Baby, even if you've been there before. Let me emphasize "explore": you should look at the range of links and options for the sites, not just the obvious parts on the first page. Be prepared to describe your experience in class (take notes and bring them to help you remember!). you will need to "join" English, Baby by giving them your email contact, but don't "Go Super" yet (you can do it later if you want--be sure you understand what's free first).


2) Continue working on your independent project. Remember to incorporate any suggestions made in the individual meetings. Plan to do some combination of 3-4 sessions for a total of at least three hours. Be sure to include your objectives, and try to have a mixture of objectives that include not only comprehension, but also building language knowledge and improving processing. Be sure you are doing something about reviewing your vocabulary in addition to adding new words and phrases.  The report is due November 1 (or 8 for the Thursday class) at 8:00 PM. Please follow the directions and upload it to Canvas.



Last modified: October 26, 2016, by Phil Hubbard