Micro-Drilling

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English Teaching Professional issue 115
Micro-Drilling - hancockmcdonald.com/ideas/micro-drilling

John Field, in Listening in the Language Classroom (CUP 2008) suggested that the traditional comprehension approach to listening tests the product of listening but does nothing to teach the process. He suggests an alternative approach which he calls micro-listening, in which the learners pay attention to the spoken language up close and in detail – focusing on what Richard Cauldwell calls the sound substance (Speech in Action 2013). Micro-listening activities involve taking very short snippets of audio recordings and listening to them carefully. Cauldwell goes into great detail about the surprising features of spoken English which learners can made aware of through this approach.

Receptive or productive
It’s often said that listening comes before production – that in order to pronounce something, learners must be able to hear it first. This sounds like common sense, but I don’t think we can always assume it to be the case. Sometimes learning to produce something improves a learner’s ability to hear it. I would like to suggest that, if we want to focus on the sound substance of English we can do it productively as well as receptively. If micro-listening is a receptive approach, is there a productive equivalent? In this article, I am suggesting that there is, and I will call it micro-drilling. Download the full article on PDF below.
 

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