Speaking and Listening Training

In April and May, two teacher training events were held at UCL IOE CI, focussed on speaking and listening skills development. Designed and delivered by Philippa Vallely, UCL IOE CI Teacher Training Coordinator, the day looked at approaches to these skills, the reasoning behind using them, how to design successful activities, and sharing ideas.


Beginning with activity design, teachers thought about how to create desired outcomes when creating or adapting an activity, and also considered the functional and emotional purposes of activities (developing fluency, building confidence etc). We then looked at different types of activities, from 5 minute warmers to longer project-based activities, and discussed which are the most useful in our different teaching circumstances.


We then looked specifically at activities to help with areas that often are overlooked, such as pronunciation and tone practice, and adapted existing activities for a Chinese teaching context. We then considered at vocabulary building exercises, before sharing our own speaking activities.

The listening section brought about some thinking and discussion around how we can bring more authentic materials into the classroom, not just from online resources, but also by recording ourselves, our family and friends, and people we meet in China. One teacher shared her fun experience of using recordings she made talking to strangers in a Shanghai park, and the interest that gave her students to want to listen more, another teacher described how she used recordings of her students with websites like quizlet, to motivate learners.


Activities for listening differed slightly between sessions, with the first session looking at the website www.imandarinpod.com as a basis for activities; the May group was treated to a world exclusive sneak preview of the new song from the band Transition, which they will be performing at our 13th Annual Conference on 17th June. We used that as the basis for a multiple skills activity, including listening, speaking, writing and reading- the activity will be shared on this site after the conference!


Teachers found the day very useful, particularly the opportunities to think about activities with colleagues, and to share ideas and resources.As one attendee commented:

“Lots of really creative, original ideas, which would work well with a ranges of ages and levels, but I particularly enjoyed the longer listening activity, as I could see how it would really work for sixth form students to extend their speaking and writing in a fun, meaningful way.”

To access Philippa’s presentation, click here

Many resources for the day were adapted from the following books:

McGraw-Hill’s Chinese Pronunciation

Pronunciation Games- Mark Hancock

Vocabulary Games and Activities- Peter Watcyn-Jones


Many participants commented that they would like further training once the new GCSE specification is available, so watch this space for details!