The 3 Stages of a Listening Lesson 

Every language lesson usually starts with a warm-up or some task to make people think about the topic they are about to learn.

The listening lesson is made up of three stages regardless of the framework you use.

A listening lesson consists of task before students listen to the passage, tasks to complete while they listen to the passage and activities that you after the listening.

The 3 Stages of a Listening Lessons are:

  1. Pre-Listening
  2. During- Listening
  3. Post- listening

How to Choose Listening Materials

Listening Materials can come in different ways. We can easily categorize the different listening materials according to:

  1. their authenticity
  2. their level
  3. their purpose

Not all listening passages make for a good listening for English Language classes because some factors can make the listening task even more challenging than it already is.

The factors that makes a  good listening material can be divided into two groups: Content and Delivery. 

Take them into account to avoid learner’s frustration and confusion.

Interest Factor

Probably the most important factor is  interest, an interesting enough listening passage will make the learner listen attentively.

Sometimes it is quite difficult to find  a listening passage that might engage all of your learners but well-prepared pre-listening tasks can help raise interest in the topic, interest that students didn’t know they have .

Entertainment Factor

This is closely related to the notion of interest, if our listening passage can be both interesting and entertaining, that will engage learners in the listening task.

Cultural Accessibility

The text needs to be culturally accessible to the learner, some concepts simply don’t exist in some cultures, for example Thanksgiving might be something that is unheard of in some parts of africa.

we can also take the example of Rugby which is played in England and it is not played in hispanic countries.

Speech Acts: 

We have to understand the nature of our listening passage, is the speaker in the listening passage narrating, criticizing, giving instructions or suggesting? if students don’t know, the difficulty of the listening task will increase.

Discourse Structures

There are certain discourse structures that are easier than others. Discourse structures refers to the organization of a text.

For example if you are listening  to a cause and effect listening passage you  would expect to hear causes and the effects and that makes listening easier. Listening task with complex discourse structure tend to


This feature refers to  the amount of information that a text has. For examples news articles tend to be very deep in density because the speakers move quickly from one point to another.

Language Level: 

The  Complexity of a text can be increased if the text has complex grammar structures, difficult vocabulary such as phrasal verbs or idioms.

Very formal text are full of new definitions and very informal texts tend to include slang and unclear articulation.


Another key factor is the limited amount of input that students can deal with.  The constant arrival of new input in a listening task get students tired. the average of a listening text should be around one minute.

Quality of Recordings: 

 Most of listening materials today have a good quality but some recording materials has distortion and lack  of clarity and that can increase the difficulty of a listening task.

Accent, Speed and Number of Speakers

Some students are used to listen to american english and they might have difficulties listening to Australian speakers.

Rapid speech, such the one heard in the news and many speakers talking can create confusion if there is no visual element to support the listening task.

Stages of a Listening Lesson

These are the 3 stages that make up a listening lesson

Pre-Listening Activities

The pre-listening stage help our students to prepare for what they are going to hear, and this gives them a greater chance of success in any given task . Pre-Listening Tasks can:

  1. Help teachers find out about what students already know about the topic.
  2. Prepare students for the vocabulary and language structures in the text.
  3. Helps mitigate the anxiety which comes from listening in a foreign language, by providing a clear context.
  4. Offer opportunities for class discussion and more interaction among students.

While-Listening Activities

During-Listening tasks are a series of activities that a learner does while listening to a passage in order to show their understanding of what was heard of.

Well-designed  activities can help students to:

  1. Identify what’s important in a passage.
  2. Perceive the text structure.
  3. Keep themselves concentrated throughout the passage.
  4. Show their understanding or non-understanding of the passage.

Most While-ilstening activities focus on these subskills:

  • Listening for the gist
  • Listening for specific information
  • Listening for the speaker’s attitude or opinion

Post-Listening Activities

Post-Listening Activities consist of tasks which main aim is to help students reflect on the listening experience. these activities are carried out after teacher have carried out pre-listening and while listening activities successfully.

These are some example of Pre-Listening Activities

1. Check and Summarizing:  One of the activities that a teacher can do to check understanding is to ask student to summarize the information they heard, this can be done orally or in writing.

2. Discussions: You can ask students to have a short discussion about the topic, the topic for the discussion must be taken from the listening task that they previously did and should be interesting enough to inspire comments and debates.

10 Mistakes to Avoid when Teaching Listening

These are 10 mistakes to avoid when teaching listening

You didn’t Set Rules:

 You need to give your students a brief overview of what you are going to do during your lesson and what type of behavior you expect from them in each one of the stages of the listening lesson.

You Chose the Wrong Listening Passage: 

Finding the right track for your lesson might be a difficult task but you must try to choose a passage that meets your expectations.

You need to take into account some of these important considerations such as the accent of the speakers, numbers of speakers, cultural factors, entertainment factors and some other factors covered in the “10 Important Considerations to Take When Choosing a Listening Passage”

You didn’t Include Pre-Listening Tasks

Sometimes teachers go to the classroom and they don’t spend some time preparing students for what they are going to listen to, not doing that decreases their motivation to listen and doesn’t get them ready for the task ahead.

There are several pre-listening tasks that you can do in the classroom, for more information, visit one of my most visited posts called “12 Types of Pre-Listening Task Activities“

You didn’t Check your Equipment

 Sometimes you go to the classroom, you tell your students that today they are going to do some listening, you start with your warm-up and pre-listening tasks and when you play the track, the sound is too low and students can barely listen to it so you have to figure out what to do to fix the problem and you lose momentum.

Test your equipment before starting the class, if the sound is too low, you can increase MP3 volume using MP3 louder to fix that.

You didn’t Set Clear Expectations

Remember that students don’t need to understand every word of the listening passage, sometimes they have to listen for specific details and sometimes they have to understand the general meaning of a passage. I know you know but you also have to remind that to your students.

You didn’t Teach Students any Techniques

 When students haven’t taken part in listening lessons before, they might have some problems to accomplish tasks successfully despite their good listening skills, for example, in gap-fil tasks, they try to write the missing words fully and they don’t continue listening to the rest of it.

Don’t Forget to Include Engaging While-Listening Task

 There is a wide range of while-listening activities and choosing one of them highly depends on the type of listening that you bring to your classroom.

If you need some help and inspiration in this matter, why don’t you start visiting my “12 Examples of While-Listening Activities” post? That can be the starting point and then you can move from there using your creativity.

You didn’t Make the Most out of your Listening Lesson

It is recommended that you play the track at least twice, also you can try to prepare more than one while-listening task so students have more reasons to listen to the passage.

You didn’t Include Post-Listening Activities

Remember that a listening lesson doesn’t end when the while listening activities are over, you have to connect that listening passage to other skills such as speaking and writing. I covered some of the Most Important Types of Post- Listening Tasks post.

You didn’t Evolve

Take into account that you need to make an effort choosing your listening sources and the type of tasks that you include with them, don’t overuse one type of listening material or any of the activities in each one of the stages of the listening lesson.

English Teaching Related Posts

Make sure that you check some of these posts before you go

These are some posts related to teaching listening:

These are some posts for teaching methodology:

These are some assessment related posts

Manuel Campos, English Professor

Manuel Campos

I am Jose Manuel, English professor and creator of, a blog whose mission is to share lessons for those who want to learn and improve their English