Reading and Listening

General Guidelines

Teaching Strategies

Strategies for Improving Reading Skills

Strategies for Improving Listening Skills

Writing and Speaking

Teacher Power Up Guide to Improve Language Proficiency

The following guides outline general skills or abilities at each level and suggest actions that will help test takers to attain higher levels.

Reading and Listening​

General Guidelines​

Reading and Listening behave a bit differently from the Writing and Speaking domains when it comes to what a learner can do to improve or Power Up with these skills. Often referred to as the “Black Box” skills (not easily observed), these comprehension-based domains require more exposure to written and spoken material along with application of specific strategies to aid in expanding comprehension (increase ability). 

While text type (text length and genre) and language complexity do play a role in comprehension, it is often more about how well the reader or listener can “guess” meaning from what they are able to extract from the chunks of language that they encounter. Unlike the productive skills, where application of specific structures and verb conjugations are clear indicators of higher levels of writing and speaking ability, receptive skills require much more language processing and “critical thinking” to determine what the author intended in their message, with even small chunks of language. Creating with the language (writing and speaking) allows the writer or speaker full control over the language that they can use/produce and is easy to observe and measure. Comprehension, on the other hand, is much more internal to the reader/listener and there are limited ways to check understanding, making clear levels of ability more difficult to identify and assign without some formal means of evaluation or comprehension checking.

Therefore, our approach in addressing these challenge areas is to share the core skills that are required to accomplish these critical comprehension tasks and give several strategies that can be used to increase ability with these domains on a consistent manner across all levels. The most critical take away from this is that it is necessary to teach both reading and listening in direct ways, showing how to apply strategies (modeling) that will aid in achieving higher levels of comprehension. 

Another critical point to consider is the amount of exposure that learners need to have with realia-based written material and audio samples, which simulate what happens in the every-day world around any given learner. In the following tables, we have outlined critical definitions of what each skill really entails and have included several strategies that learners should use to help increase skill and ability with these domains. You can share this information with the students as you feel it will be helpful for them.

Teaching Strategies​

1. Make it a point to include on-demand comprehension activities with both written and spoken passages/audio of realia-based reading and listening tasks on a (more) regular basis.

2. Model, Model, Model. Take time to model what good readers and good listeners do. This will allow you to teach strategies, rather than just rote memorization of vocabulary and structures.

3. Teach learners the power of metacognition and why it will help them retain learning better.

  • Think aloud protocol (TAP) – learners talk about what they know and don’t know as they engage in comprehension-based activities. In this sharing, they come to recognize natural strategies that are used to facilitate and assist in comprehension.
  • Word mapping – learners can generate word maps that will build connections with previously learned and new vocabulary and expand their depth and breadth of vocabulary.
  • Research other metacognition strategies and implement those with your students.

4. Assess reading and listening on a regular basis:

  • Comprehension check: Ask questions that address the critical details of the text addressing: who, what, where, when, why, and how type questions.
  • Have learners write summaries of what they have read or heard. Simple lists of details are fine for lower levels and this can be done in either English for lower level learners or in the target language for students at higher levels. 

Strategies for Improving Reading Skills​

The following table outlines general skills or abilities with Reading and suggests actions that will help attain higher levels.

Strategies for Improving Listening Skills​

The following table outlines general skills or abilities with Listening and suggests actions that will help attain higher levels.

*  Listening is usually the strongest skill for immersion students and the weakest skill for traditional language learning students due to exposure to extended listening passages or tasks.

Writing and Speaking

The following table outline general skills or abilities at each level and suggest actions that will help to attain higher levels at writing and speaking.

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