Technology Tools for Listening

The online environment provides many opportunities for you to identify or create listening activities to meet your students’ needs. You can create short audio or video clips to introduce or reinforce specific aspects of language and culture. You can also direct your students to podcasts or streaming radio broadcasts to give them practice listening to different speakers.


Some Ways of Using Technology Tools for Listening Practice

  • To illustrate and give students practice in hearing/distinguishing specific sounds and sound patterns. This is a good way to provide extra practice with phonological features and distinctions that do not occur in students’ native language(s).
    • Example: Teacher creates a video with pronunciation of words that differ by only one phonological feature with associated pictures (such as “bin” and “bean” in English). Students can listen over and over to practice hearing the difference.
  • To illustrate and reinforce the typical scripts/sequences for communication scenarios.
    • Example: Teacher provides recorded audio of gate change announcements for three different flights. Students listen to the three announcements, then work in pairs to outline the usual script (sequence of information) for such announcements.
  • To flip the classroom
    • Example: Instead of devoting class time to teacher talk, teacher makes a video to explain a new point of grammar, aspect of culture, or metacognitive listening strategy. Students watch the video as many times as they like. Class time can then be devoted to activities that involve practice or discussion of the new information, and to answering students’ questions about it.


Following are some examples of technology tools. Existing tools are constantly being improved, and new ones are constantly being developed. Use the Contact page to let us know of new tools you’ve discovered or ways of using them that you’ve developed.


Audio Content

Radio Garden: Radio Garden streams live radio stations from all over the world. Click on a spot on the globe to find a radio broadcast from that area.

Broadcast-live, Omniglot, and Multilingual Books have links to streaming radio stations in a variety of languages.

The BBC provides access to news broadcasts in a variety of languages.


Using Your Own Narration or Clips

Loom: Loom is a free screen and video recorder that lets you create short clips and send them to (or post a link to them for) your students. You can record with camera only, screen only, or both.

Educreations: With the free basic version of Educreations, you can create videos that include images, documents, and web pages with your own voice-over narration.

Voicethread: With the free basic version of Voicethread, you can create videos that include images, videos, and documents with your own voice-over narration. Voicethread allows you to draw on the screen to emphasize key parts of an image or document.

Adobe Spark: The free basic version of Spark lets you create a series of slides with images and/or text, and add background music and/or your own narration.


Language Learning Software

Language learning software can be useful for giving students extra vocabulary input and listening practice. Free options include Duolingo, Quizlet, and Memrise; those available at a cost include Babbel, Pimsleur, and Rosetta Stone. If your students elect to use one or more of these, you may need to answer questions that arise about different speakers’ pronunciation patterns and ways of expressing themselves.

One program that you may want to explore is LanguagePod101 (from Innovative Language). For each language that it covers, LanguagePod provides a graded series of podcasts, some of which may be appropriate for your students to use as extra listening practice. The initial signup is free.


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