Thailand – TEC – Damien Herlihy
Damien Herlihy, who runs a language school in Thailand, provided the following comments after trialling Jungle Listening.
Overall these materials fit in nicely with Phonology for Listening and Cool Speech. They address the gap of not having pre-made materials for teachers to use in the classroom. It allows teachers to teach these concepts in the classroom without having read Phonology for Listening. Not having something concrete like this means a lot of teachers, especially new ones, might have avoided teaching it or put it into the too hard basket.
I like how the booklet is organised and most of the activities included in them. It distils a lot of the ideas from your book into teachable chunks. Using these materials in conjunction with Cool Speech is a really good combination.
Suitable for what levels?
I’ve been teaching students in the Intermediate to Upper Intermediate range and they work well at that level (this was with one to one students, not groups). Though at times I’ve felt the material level lent more towards the higher end of the spectrum. How do you think the Jungle might be best introduced to lower level students?
Can steps 1 to 7 be done in 20 minutes?
The timing is about right.
Do the vocal gymnastics work (teacher & student perspective)?
Both items work. The students liked playing around with the language and doing the rounds. I would maybe add a third vocal gymnastic section where you dictate three phrases from common clusters and then students transcribe it phonetically to show what is happening (from the appendix list in Phonology for Listening for example “so that you can”; “and “so they were”; “and so it” for survival tip 1).
Do students remember the different soundshapes that they learn in the vocal gymnastics lessons?
Not sure as I haven’t gone through the whole series with students yet.
Are the recordings too slow, too fast or just right?
I think the recording speed is fine, though I did like the recordings from Cool Speech more because they provided a little bit more context to place the ‘Jungle’ in – this isn’t an issue with speed though. I think it would work better going broader then zooming into the survival tips.
Do you find the audionotetaker files easy to manage?
Overall easy to manage. I like how it gives a visual of the length of a file in a block format.
Are activities 8 to 10 useful?
I would consider cutting 5.8 with the robotic voices. It seems strange if you’re teaching the Jungle and then you have these stilted sounding robotic voices. For me it doesn’t work and students found it difficult to differentiate. If you kept it in, change it to real recordings (maybe have ELF accent, British & American).
Listening Task 1.10.1 was very challenging for a high level student who I did the activity with. Maybe having dashes representing the words that are missing would make it more achievable. Also in 2.10.1 very challenging. My only concern is the difficulty level could be too high and demotivate the students. Maybe reduce the amount of words they need to write down? The other tasks in this section were challenging but doable.
Can 8 to 10 be done in class or for homework?
Suitable for either though it might be a bit problematic with students, in the case of downloading, not having licences for the program and downloading it. So, it might fit in better as revision in the following lesson, in class.
I personally find the computer speech jarring and not really useful. I think recorded audio would work better.
Survival Tips 1: Rhythmic Bursts 1 – Words are squeezed in front of prominence.
Some sort of graphic I think at the start of each survival tip might help students get the concept (Toothpaste being squeezed, with word superimposed over the top). Some nice graphics of syllable and consonant murder could be done as well.
An appendix with common squeezed expressions like the one found in Listening for Phonology under word clusters of three or more words, could be useful. I’ve found doing mini-dictations with those can help students a lot. Possibly an explanation of the phonemic transcript being uses as well?