Penny Podimatopoulos, UOW College, Wollongong
SIP and Listen: improving listening skills through a focus on stress, intonation and pausing

This workshop is based on classroom activities used in the English Australia Action Research Project I undertook in 2017. In the language classroom, teaching listening often becomes testing the product of listening rather than teaching the process. This workshop will explore ways teachers can better equip students to become autonomous, by learning some ‘bottom up’ skills of stress, intonation and pausing (SIP) which they can use as tools when they listen. If students can better understand the role SIP plays in delivering meaning, they can gain some control over their listening. They can expand their focus from trying to understand every word to allowing the cues of SIP to guide them. While the teaching and practice of SIP is generally associated with helping students improve their speaking, its value as a tool to help improve listening is enormous.

Participants in this workshop will have the opportunity to try out classroom activities and evaluate their usefulness as a means of raising awareness of SIP. They have been tested and refined in my own classroom and have been incorporated into students’ set of listening strategies.

Students have said:
“Pausing help me understanding key words and give me time to think.”
“It has made us more confident (listeners).”
“One sentence can have different meaning. It’s not just about knowing the vocab. Intonation can help with meaning and so we become good listener.”

Penny Podimatopoulos has been teaching ELICOS courses for almost 20 years. Holding a Bachelor of Social Studies, she worked as a Community Liaison Officer at a disadvantaged inner-city Sydney high school, where she first realised the need for teaching English language skills. This led her to study both the CELTA and DELTA at The Australian College of English. Penny has taught General English at ACE and UOW College. She now teachers EAP at UOW College and has an ongoing interest in helping students improve listening skills.