This is one of things I’ve never felt quite sure about. Instinctually, I feel that reading a text and listening to it simultaneously is, or can be, a good thing. In most staff roms where I’ve worked though (and there’s been rather too many for my own liking), it’s typically one of those “of course nots”. And it’s not just other people, there’s some part of my brain that accords. A part of me believes it must be on the same level as dictation and grammar/translation. Let’s see.
Why it’s not a good idea – listening
It’s not a good listening activity. You stop listening and start reading instead. You don’t have to listen out for all those nasty little schwas. You’re not going to train your brain/ear to associate sounds with words. You become a lazy listener.
The flipside is that on a second/third listening it can help students to see not just what they misssed, but why they missed it. The tape transcript is a real tool there.
Why it’s not a good idea – reading
It’s not a good reading activity either. Where’s the skimming and scanning? You are forced by the listening to read at a certain pace. More than that, you read every word. I certainly don’t do that and extrapolating out: it isn’t an authentic reading exercise.
Here again, I see some justifications. One would be it can help slow readers move more quickly: it can help train the eye to move along the page and not get stuck on one word.
Why it surely is a very, very good idea sometimes – spelling
I remain undecided on the reading/listening front. Sometimes it makes sense, sometimes it doesn’t. It all depends on your teaching/learning goals. The more I think about though, the more certain I become it can be a super idea for spelling:
- you see the word
- you hear the word
- you associate the sound with spelling
- you match the spelling to the sound
This is good spelling practice. It may not be perfect but it is one more tool in the spelling teacher’s arsenal.
Where to do it?
This is my real reason for writing this. I love Words in the News, it’s my all time fave resource site. It’s also a reading/listening site. I need to find a justification. This is it.
This is passive spelling of course. I like that. It’s learning to spell by doing other things: reading and listening. To make it work, it’s going to need to be repeated lots. This is one reason why Words in the News is such a good resource: you can keep on going back there and still find new things and there will be something there for anyone.