My name is Richard Cauldwell, and I want to change the way we teach listening to learners of English. Currently, we teach it badly – or, to put it more bluntly, we don’t teach it at all. We test it, through listening comprehension questions. We predict, we activate schemas, we teach strategies (cognitive, metacognitive, socio-affective) and we rush from the recording to the next activity, so that we can show off our prowess as well-trained teachers of sequences of communicative activities. We make the class so full of ‘stuff’ (much of it worthy) that we have no time for the crucial, central, must-do activity – engagement with the decoding difficulties that recordings present learners.
I want to end this current, entrenched approach to teaching listening which avoids direct encounters with the acoustic substance of the recordings that are used in the classroom.
My aim is to provide teachers, and teacher-trainers with information, tools and skills which will enable them to teach the decoding of the sound substance of English – the essential (but avoided, ignored) prerequisite for understanding meaning.
I have been teaching English for over forty years. And from very early on I was uneasy about the teaching of listening. A similar unease has recently been expressed well by a teacher trainer, Kezzi Moynihan at IH London
I knew something was wrong but I didn’t know what, or how to fix it
My publications aim to explain what is wrong with the teaching of listening, and aim to provide the means (the how) of fixing it.
I have taught English in France, Hong Kong, Japan and the UK. My most recent affiliation was with the University of Birmingham. Since 2001 I have been teaching, writing and publishing Speech in Action publications. My publications have been shortlisted for prizes many times, and I have twice won a British Council ELTon for innovations in English Language Teaching: 2004 for Streaming Speech, and 2013 for Cool Speech.