Essay: Lesson Plan for Teaching Speaking and Listening Skills to Intermediate Level ESL Students

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Lesson Plan for Teaching Speaking and Listening Skills to Intermediate-Level English as Second Language Students

Anyone who has ever tried to learn a foreign language can readily testify to the challenges that are involved in gaining fluency and proficiency. As the demand for effective English as a second language (ESL) instruction continues to increase, it has become more important than ever to develop lesson plans that provide ESL students with the practice they need to achieve such fluency and proficiency. Although all ESL learners are unique, they all share some common needs in terms of learning how to speak English properly, of course, but it is also important to help them learn how to listen as well. To this end, this paper provides a review of the relevant peer-reviewed, academic and scholarly literature concerning the importance of speaking and listening needs of ESL students, followed by a sample Lesson Plan that can be used for this purpose. A summary of the research and important findings are presented in the conclusion.

Review and Discussion

Although all ESL students will bring different levels of fluency to the classroom, it is reasonable to suggest that most are not as fluent as they need to be in order to successfully navigate their way through other classes and mainstream society where a wide range of jargon, slang and colloquialisms are commonly used. This suggestion is congruent with Guhde (2003) who notes, "ESL students are students whose primary language at home is not standard English, and therefore, may not be fluent in standard English" (p. 113). Both speaking and listening skills are essential elements in the ESL classroom, but oral participation has typically received far more attention from foreign language learning researchers and educators. For example, according to Tsou (2005), "In general, student participation includes many forms of student actions such as speaking, listening, reading, writing, and body language or physical movement" (p. 46).

Because oral participation represents behavior that is most frequently observed by ESL teachers, much of the research in ESL has been concentrated on the importance of oral participation by students (Tsou, 2005). As a result, more attention has been given to speaking than listening skills (Tsou, 2005). This emphasis on speaking by ESL students, though, tends to ignore the importance of good listening skills for these young learners as well. In this regard, Kasper (2000) points out that, "Understanding spoken English is essential in every academic subject. As they talk, professors transmit content-area information, teach the jargon and discourse style appropriate to the discipline, and provide instructions for successful completion of the course" (p. 78).

Good listening skills are also important for ESL students in other academic settings as well, including viewing video presentations and films, attendance at guest lectures, as well as simply listening to their peers in class (Kasper, 2000). Likewise, Huang (2006) emphasizes that, Research with ESL students has begun to show that students experience particular challenges in English academic listening" (p. 385). Although listening and speaking skills are important in all ESL contexts, they are particularly important for academic settings. In this regard, Huang adds that, "Academic listening/speaking tasks are growing more complex and difficult for ESL students and they require more than the traditional note-taking and formal speaking skills. They are expected to actively participate in the listening/speaking activities in modern classrooms" (p. 386). Therefore, helping ESL students improve their listening and well as speaking proficiency are important elements in the overall ESL curriculum.

To this end, it is also important to have a structured lesson plan available to help guide the ESL teacher in delivering these instructions in a thoughtful and meaningful way. According to Ferris and Hedgcock (1998), "A lesson plan can take many forms depending on the time constraints and personal style of the individual teacher. Regardless of what it looks like, a lesson plan provides the teacher with a script for presenting materials, interacting with students, and leading students through structured and unstructured activities" (p. 70). The lesson plan outlined below therefore incorporates both structured and unstructured activities to promote listening and speaking skills.

Lesson Plan Format and Contents

The following lesson plan is provided for a speaking and listening exercise for intermediate ESL students and uses the 1966 hit recording by the Beatles, "Yellow Submarine." The use of this song is highly suitable for use in intermediate ESL classroom settings given its relative brevity and the clear articulation of the lyrics by Ringo Starr. In addition, Nachtigal (2010) emphasizes that, "Many Beatles' songs make excellent ESL learning tools. Not only are these Beatles' songs well-known classics with accessible lyrics that teach important vocabulary, they familiarize students with an important part of anglophone popular culture" (para. 2). Besides its clearly articulated lyrics and relative brevity, "Yellow Submarine" lends itself well to intermediate ESL settings for another important reason as well. In this regard, Nachtigal adds that, "Although 'Yellow Submarine' is a bit of a wacky, nonsensical song, it is a great singalong with an easy to learn refrain" (para. 2). This lesson plan requires approximately 30-40 minutes for completion, but can be shortened or lengthened depending on the teachers' and student preferences and time available.



The warm-up portion of the lesson plan consists of providing the students with an introduction to the listening topic and the activities that will be involved. The teacher writes the song's title, "Yellow Submarine," on the chalk- or whiteboard to initiate the listening and speaking exercise that follows. Students are provided with the handout shown below (complete lyrics are provided at Appendix a) and the teacher would describe the process as follows (sample teacher's comments in quotations, actions are bracketed):

Worksheet handout: The Beatles' "Yellow Submarine" with fill-in-the-blanks

In the ____ where I was

Lived a man who sailed to and he told us of his

In the land of So we ____ on to the sun,

Till we found the sea of green,

And we ____ beneath the in our ____ submarine,

We all live in yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine,

We all live in yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine.

And our ____ are all aboard,

Many more of them live

And the ____ begins to play.

(Trumpets play)

We all live in yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine,

We all live in yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine.

(Full speed ahead, Mr. Barkley, full speed ahead!

Full speed over here, sir!

All together! All together!

Aye, aye, sir, fire!

Captain! Captain!)

As we live a life of ____ (life of ____)

Every one of us (every one of us) has all we need (has all we need),

Sky of ____ (sky of ____) and sea of ____ (sea of ____)

In our yellow (in our yellow) submarine (submarine) ( Haha!)

We all live in yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine,

We all live in yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine.


We all live in yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine,

We all live in yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine.

"How many of you have ever heard of the Beatles?"

[Possible show of hands.]

"For those of you who do not know about the Beatles, they were a major rock and roll band that recorded dozens and dozens of hit songs during the 1960s and 1970s. These songs were about many things, some of them were serious and some were not so serious. One song that was not serious at all but was just for fun was "Yellow Submarine," which was recorded in 1966 and sung by the band's drummer, Ringo Starr, who also sang many of the Beatles' other fun songs. The Beatles even made a movie about the submarine. The song is about a man who loved the sea and spent his life aboard a submarine. When he came back home, he told his friends about his life on the submarine and this made them want to do the same thing."

[Teacher shows picture of a normal submarine as well the "Yellow Submarine" on an overhead projector or, if not available, these can be distributed as handouts.]

"This is a picture of a typical submarine in use today. I'm sure you have all seen these kinds of boats before."

[Teacher shows first picture of normal submarine shown in Figure 1 below.]

Figure 1. Picture of typical normal submarine.


"The word 'submarine' is based on the prefix 'sub' which means 'beneath' and suffix 'marine' which means water, so the word 'submarine' means a boat that can travel beneath the water, but they can also travel on the surface of the water when they want to as well. Now, here's a picture of the Beatle's 'Yellow Submarine.' Ringo Starr, who sang this song, is the third one down on the left."

[Teacher shows picture of the "Yellow Submarine" shown in Figure 2 below and points to Ringo.]

Figure 2. Graphic of the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine"

Source: -- 58436.jpg&t=1

"You can tell right away that this is not a… [END OF PREVIEW]

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