Barthelemy Chapter 7 – Decisions, Decisions

Listening Activity for ITA Chapter 7 Task 2: “Decisions, Decisions”

This is a lesson plan for English listening skills. My class has 12 advanced students in a college preparatory program, who wish to enroll in an American university.


The objective is to help them to develop listening skills using intensive and extensive techniques. It will introduce relevant vocabulary and mechanics of applying to college. It presents the general steps required in applying to college or getting a job after graduation. In this lesson I’d like to help them infer meaning of unknown words without panic, and to give them broad experience with different rhythms and intonation through shadowing.


These are advanced students, so they are comfortable with a lot of grammar, almost fluent in vocabulary, and know all the tenses. They have had several listening exercises before. They are familiar with shadowing and paraphrasing. They love to work in pairs.


  1. Photos for introduction below.
  2. Realia: Sample Resume, Timeline for Grad School Application, College Interview Tips.
  3. Audio Clip.
  4. Handout of Comprehension questions.
  5. Handout for Shadowing and Paraphrase activity.
  6. Homework Handout with Links for students.

Expected Problems:

English listening comprehension is by far the most challenging skill and the least focused in most EFL classes. Rhythm and intonation differences are difficult for new listeners. These will be our focus. Variations in speed, contractions, and linking of words is a challenge. Even though these students are advanced, there will likely be new expressions they will have to guess or infer from the surrounding context.

How this fits into a series of lessons:

This lesson fits into a series of classes focusing on developing specific life-long skills in Listening, Reading, Speaking, and Writing. A parallel focus is common idiomatic expression, especially phrasal verbs, which deserve a lot of attention for anyone who will be speaking with Americans. The themes and activities can vary widely from class to class, depending on interest and needs of the students.

Instructions to Substitute Teacher:

  1. Use the big screen TV, and connect it to your laptop as you’ve done many times, or just your laptop. Scroll through this file. It will walk you through the content step by step.
  2. Before class get out materials, realia, and handouts listed above under Materials. They’re ready in my big desk drawer.
  3. Follow the class plan in order, keeping to the times indicated.
  4. Be sure to lead the discussion for Warm-up, Introduction, Review and Homework handout. During Listening, Practice, and Production, play the audio, observe and allow the students to work by themselves, using you only as a resource. Have fun!


Stage 1 – Warm-up:

How many of you would like to go to college in the USA? Today we’re going to do some important listening. It is to help you learn HOW to listen, to become familiar with vocabulary and steps in making your college goals become a reality. We will first listen to a conversation, test comprehension, and then do actitivies in pairs to deepen your understanding.

Katherine and Professor Benson are discussing her plans after graduation.

Katherine is looking forward to graduation. How does she feel about graduating?

Katherine’s friends want her to go to grad school together with them. What will she choose?

Graduate school means a lot of studying. How does Katherine feel about all that studying?

Some parents already have plans for their children. How does this extra pressure affect students?

To get a job, Katherine would first need to create a resume to list her job qualifications.

A resume is required to apply for a job. Consider what you would write for yourself.

If Katherine wants to work, she will need to apply for a job, and go through a job interview.

College interview techniques can help insure a successful application.

Application for graduate school requires about 18 months preparation in advance.

Katherine’s very first job would be a big step. How would she feel about that?

Katherine has several choices after graduation. What direction will she take?

2. Introduction: New Vocabulary – Phrasal Verb 

Idioms with the Verb “Take”.

  1. Take a break   –  Katherine would like to take a break from studying
  2. Take time off, Take a year off  – It may be a good idea to take time off from school.
  3. Take an exam – She will take an exam in May.  John takes his exams soon.
  4. Take your time – It is a good idea to take your time, and not rush into graduate school.
  5. Take notes – It is important to take good notes in your college classes.
  6. Take sides – Katherine’s friends disagreed with her, and she chose not to take sides.
  7. Take charge, Take control – Katherine would like to take control of her own life.
  8. Take-away – Katherine wrote the key take-away points from the lecture.
  9. Take out – Please take out your notebooks and write these words.

3. Extensive Listening

Click to play the Audio:

If that doesn’t work, cut and paste this into another tab:

A. Listen to half of the audio (parts 1-5) without the written text.
Can you guess 
the answers to these questions:

  1. What does Katherine see as her two choices?
  2. What is Katherine feeling about graduation?
  3. How does Katherine feel about going to graduate school?
  4. How does she feel about getting a job?
  5. Why would she like to maybe get a job?
  6. What advice would you infer that professor Benson will give her?

B. Listen to the entire audio. Answer questions about general meaning and comprehension:

  1. What do Katherine’s friends want her to do?
  2. What do Katherine’s parents want her to do?
  3. What does Professor Benson believe Katherine should do?
  4. Does he have a point of view? Or is he neutral?
  5. What do you guess Katherine will do in the next days, weeks, months?
  6. Why do you think Katherine has waited until just before graduation to consider these choices, which all require time and preparation?

4. Intensive Listening with the text

A. Listening for Rhythm

Here is a handout of the written text. There is a great deal of important communication hidden in the expressions, rhythm, and pitch of a given English speaker. In this exercise we will learn how to hear the hidden meanings. Please listen carefully while you follow along in the text. Please mark any words you do not understand and we will explain them later. Please also circle any words you notice are EMPHASIZED by either reader. Emphasis is usually LONGER in timing. Listen now. When we finish I will ask you what parts of speech are the words you circled. Are they nouns? verbs? adjectives? Who would like to share their markings with the class?

B. Listening for Pitch

English uses higher or lower pitch voice to indicate emphasis or emotion. There are many ways to do this. The first step toward learning is to NOTICE the intonation and inflection. There is a rhythm, musicality, and expressive quaility in English. Please listen carefully again. Mark any words or syllables where the pitch goes UP and where it goes DOWN. Frequently higher pitch means happy, and lower pitch means sad, but this varies by speaker and is not always true. Listen carefully to rhythm and pitch of English, and soon you will be talking like a native speaker. 

Now listen to audio all the way though. During listening, students are marking the first time for rhythm, and the second time for pitch:

  1. Katherine: Hi Professor Benson.
  2. Professor Benson: Hello Katherine. How are you?
  3. Katherine: Fine. I’m looking forward to graduation at the end of the year.
  4. Professor Benson: That’s great! So, what will you do after that?
  5. Katherine: I haven’t decided yet. It’s either look for a job or go to graduate school. My parents want me to apply to graduate school. I want to go to graduate school someday. But right now, I’m tired of studying. I’d like to take a break from school, get a job, and earn some money. But my parents and my friends think I should go to grad school now rather than later. I just don’t know.
  6. Professor Benson: Hmmm. That’s always a tough choice. If you want to go to graduate school, you’ll need to apply early. That means you should start now. You should research graduate programs and find out about their admissions requirements, like whether you have to take an entrance examination.
  7. Katherine: Yeah, I know. You have to turn your application in early, like months in advance.
  8. Professor Benson: Sometimes it really is better to do something else for a while. It’s not a bad idea to take a year off and work. If you decide to look for a job, you need to write a resume, you know, a summary of your qualifications and work experience. The career center here gives workshops on resume writing, and I would recommend doing that.

5. Practice: Shadowing in pairs

Now I would like you to divide into pairs. I will play the dialogue 3 more times. I would like you each to take a role of one of the characters. Compare your notes on the text. Did you make similar markings for rhythm and pitch? Or are they different? While the audio is playing, use your notes, and speak along with the audio. Use your notes for rhythm and pitch. Discuss your accuracy and any difficulties with your problem. Help each other to correct your pronunciation.

6. Production – Paraphrase Activity

Now I would like you to work for 15 minutes to write out a dialogue with your partner. Except this time you will be paraphasing the dialogue in different English words. Feel free to insert any emotional highs and lows you wish, to add emphasis or emotion to the meaning. Include at least three idomatic expression using the word “Take”. Keep to the similar meaning, and use different words in essentially a similar conversation. Then practice speaking it out loud without reading. When you finish, you and your partner will present your dialogue to the class. This is an exercise to help you to learn to communicate effectively in a variety of ways in a real life context, with many tools at your disposal – words, emphasis, and inflection. You will have 10 minutes to write your part, and 5 minutes to practice speaking it with your partner. Then we will listen to your presentation.

7. Review Dialogues, Vocabulary, Listening skills

  1. Highlight high points of presentations. Mention areas for improvement.
  2. Review vocabulary phrasal verbs using “Take”.
  3. Review listening techniques – Extensive and Intensive skills.

8. Homework #1 – Intermediate Listening Exercise:

View the video and follow the instructions below.

Listen to the video. While listening, read the text, and circle the emphasis words. Then mark high and low arrows to indicate intonation on the text. Then Shadow the entire text 3 times by repeating both parts of the text exactly. Then answer the questions that follow:

  1. Susan: Mary? Hello, I’m Susan Thompson, Resource Manager.
  2. Mary: Hi, I’m Mary Hanson, and I’m applying for one of your kitchen jobs. Here’s a copy of my resume.
  3. Susan: Great, have a seat. Mary, do you have any experience working in the kitchen?
  4. Mary: No, but I want to learn. I work hard, and I cook a lot at home.
  5. Susan: Ok. Well, tell me about yourself.
  6. Mary: Well, I love to learn new things, I’m very organized, and I follow directions exactly. That’s why my boss at my last job made me a trainer. And the company actually gave me a certificate for coming to work on time every day for a year. I’m taking an English class to try to improve my writing skills.
  7. Susan: That’s great. Why did you leave your last job?
  8. Mary: It was graveyard, and I need to work days.
  9. Susan: I see, well what hours can you work?
  10. Mary: From 8 am until 5 pm.
  11. Susan: Ok. Well, do you have any questions for me Mary?
  12. Mary: Yes, what new training is needed?
  13. Susan: Not a lot. Most new workers can learn everything the first day. Do you have any other questions?
  14. Mary: No, I don’t think so. But I have heard a lot of good things about your company, and I would really like to work here.
  15. Susan: Well, I have a few more interviews today, but I will call you tomorrow if you get the job. Ok, it was nice meeting you.
  16. Mary: Thank you, for your time.
  17. Susan: Good Luck.

Homework 1 Questions to be discussed in class tomorrow:

  1. What words are new to you? Please find their meaning and explain them.
  2. Please shadow the conversation 3 times along with the written text.
  3. What recognition did Mary receive in her last job?
  4. Why did she leave her last job?
  5. What hours can Mary work?

Homework #2: Advanced Listening for fun and extra credit toward college preparatory grade.

View the video and answer the questions below.

Video #2 Comprehension questions:

  1. What words or passages did you have most trouble understanding?
  2. What meaning can you infer or guess from those difficult passages to understand what really happened?
  3. Was Larry really a hero? Or was he being praised for a mistake?
  4. Which person’s speech was most understandible to you? Least understandable?
  5. Was Larry flirting with Donna by pushing her drink?
  6. Did Larry really attack the drunken man? Or did he trip and fall on his own shoelace?
  7. Did the woman across the aisle from Larry understand Larry’s game?
  8. Did Larry deserve to be called a hero?
  9. What personal advice would you give to Donna?


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Nghiên c?u khoa h?c.

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