Have you ever felt like you understand a situation around you, but you just have a hard time responding to that stimulus immediately?
Maybe it’s in the middle of an argument and you can only think of a come back two hours later, or perhaps your interlocutor reacts unexpectedly and leaves you speechless.
I guess we’ve all been there.
In order to avoid that from happening once again, we could draw some help from the creator of Method Acting, Konstantin Stanislavski. But this time, we could focus on his concept of readiness and how it can aid spoken communication through active listening.
The imagination that leads to faith begins at the very moment the actors allow themselves to be available for any kind of stimuli the environment might present. By developing a sense of readiness in his actors, Stanislavski aimed at fostering acceptance of external stimuli. This technique demands from the actor a volatile, agile and alert mind, which is capable to respond to these stimuli through action, whether physical or verbal. And that is exactly the link between acting and ELT: attempting to develop the learner’s listening so that skills such as perceiving, analyzing and responding to auditory stimuli can be enhanced.
This activity in particular intends to create a sense of emergency that leads to deep focus and readiness. Just like during rehearsals for an actor, the students are faced with a situation which demands high levels of attention, language recollection and creativity and allows them to let the target language sink in through active listening and drilling.
I hope you have fun with this one as well!
Listening + Method Acting: readiness
Age: Young adults and Adults
Language level: A2-C1
Aims: Actively involve learners in the listening process; promote sense of readiness to perceive, analyze and respond to auditory stimuli; encourage metacognition development.
Interaction Pattern: Whole group, pair work, group work, individual work.
Material: Course book; recording; audio player; white board or similar.
Timing: 60 min (full lesson)
1. Before listening, activate learners’ schemata by discussing the overall situation in which the speakers will be in. You could come up with questions or use the ones in the ‘pre-listening section’ in the course book you usually follow. Ask follow up questions to personalize the situation and elicit as much language as possible such as: ‘What would you say in this situation?’; ‘What do you expect the other person will reply to you?’.
2. Tell learners they are going to listen to a conversation, but you will pause the recording a few times. Every time you pause, they will be given thirty seconds to write down what they believe the next sentence will be. (Tip: depending on your class goal, pause right before the target language for that class is used in order to draw extra attention to it). Tell students they are also supposed to check if their predictions were correct when you continue playing the recording. Play recording, stopping before language you would like them to focus on (give learners enough time during pauses).
3. Ask learners to compare in pairs what they had predicted and what was actually said. Write on the board: ‘Can the sentences you predicted actually be part of this conversation?’; ‘Why do you think the speakers decided to use these words/sentences to continue the conversation?’; ‘What else could they have said?’. Learners discuss in pairs.
4. Tell learners they will listen to the conversation again and you will stop the recording at the exact same parts. However, this time, instead of writing down predictions, they should speak up what comes next. Play recording, stopping before language you would like them to focus on. Learners speak in unison during pauses. Play as many times as needed until most learners remember the target language by memory.
5. Assign learners a few questions to develop metacognition of their listening skills, such as: ‘What were you listening to?’; ‘What helped you to understand the text?’; ‘What prevented you from getting the correct answer?’; ‘What did you do to understand as much of the text as possible and remember it afterwards?’. Give learners a few minutes to reflect on their own listening processes. Afterwards, divide learners in small groups and have them share and discuss their findings with their peers.