Teaching academic listening using a virtual learning environment

Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №11 - 2019

Author: Zhubanova Sholpan, Kazakh Ablai khan University of International Relations and World Languages, Kazakhstan


In recent decades, the world has been rapidly moving towards a new type of economy, where digital technologies have become the main instrument of its formation. The terms electronic, informational and computer technology are synonymous and have the general term as "digital technology". The term "digital technologies" used to describe the process of digitization. Djusubalieva D. et al. (2019) points that a feature of modern digital technologies in foreign language education is to prepare the user for work with various types of information: text, graphic, audio and video.

Digital literacy of students and the ability to access, manage, analyze, integrate, evaluate and create information in a variety of ways is a priority of education in general (Nazarbayev, 2010).

The term "digital content" used as a term to describe three segments of the multimedia products market:

1) production of content in a digital format;

2) the multimedia products distribution in digital environment;

3) consumption by users of the content produced and transmitted in digital format (Kashtanov, 2012).

According to CEFR, students with level B1, B2 should understand the main points of clear standard speech on familiar regularly encountered in work, school, leisure topics, and the main point of many radio or TV, current affairs or topics of personal short or professional interest.

The following types of listening activities should be followed by students with level B1, B2:

- listening to public announcements;

- listening to media (radio, TV, recordings, cinema);

- watching TV, video, or a film with subtitles;

- listening as a member of a live audience (public meetings, public lectures, entertainments, etc.);

- listening to overheard conversations, etc.

In each case, the user should develop the skills of listening for gist; specific information; detailed understanding; implications, etc.

Discussions and results

Video/audio is a form of multimedia that conveys information through two simultaneous sensory channels: aural and visual. The richness of these forms of information (images, motion, sound, and, at times, text) benefits learners, by enabling them ' to learn through both verbal and visual means, to view actual objects and realistic scenes, to see sequences in motion, and to view perspectives that are difficult or impossible to observe in real life' (Wetzel, 1994). In addition, Marshall (2002) details three theories that explain how learning may occur via well-selected video / audio 'based on the ability of the entertaining media to engage the learner, activate emotional states, initiate interest in a topic, and allow for absorption and processing of information'.

Authentic audio texts allow students to hear the speech of native speakers, which reflects the living reality and peculiarities of the national culture. Audio contributes to a significant improvement in the perception of English speech (Kareva, 2014). Unlike audio or printed text, which can certainly have a high informative, educational, and developmental value, video text has the advantage of combining different aspects of the act of speech interaction. In addition to the content of the communication, the video contains visual information about the place and the event, the appearance and non-verbal behavior of the participants in the communication in a particular situation, often due to the specifics of age, sex and psychological characteristics of the speaking individuals. Visual material allows better understanding and consolidation of both information and purely linguistic peculiarities of speech in a particular context (Barmenkova, 2010). Thus, audiovisual communication technology (including educational) allows talented people around the world to become known due to the availability of their digitized creative product, worthy of imitation and inspiring others to similar acts.

Video/audio use is an effective educational tool for all students, but its positive effect on special populations of students is gaining greater attention all the time. According to a survey by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, these media are 'highly valued as teaching tools' and 'seen as especially effective for reaching visual learners and special populations' (CBP, 1997). More than half of teachers surveyed describe video/audio as 'very effective' for teaching students. Academic listening may help to promote learning in students with high aural/visual orientation in their learning styles; it can also provide important learning opportunities to students working in a second language.

There are numerous advantages for such students when instruction supplemented by the use of video / audio:

First, [video-based contexts] provide rich sources of information with opportunities to notice sensory images, dynamic features, relevant issues, and inherent problems. Second, they give students the ability to perceive dynamic moving events and easily form rich mental models. This advantage is particularly important for lower achieving students and for students with low knowledge in the domain of interest. Third, video allows students to develop skills of pattern recognition, which are related to visual and auditory cues rather than to events labeled by the teacher. In sum, video images are ideal for creating a common experience for the teacher and learner that can be used for 'anchoring' new knowledge (Bransford et al. cited in Barron, 1989, p. 3).

For students learning English as a second language, video / film / TV / audio demonstrates communicative language within a language environment and cultural context (Wood, cited in Aiex, 1999). Video, especially film, provides a social context for English language learners; it can be played with the sound on, so that students hear the language being spoken, or alternatively, with the sound off, so that learners can use their own language skills to provide the dialog or narrative.


As with all educational technologies, the value of video/audio relies on how it is implemented in the classroom. Reviews and meta-analysis of the research indicates that positive learning and affective outcomes are greatly enhanced and extended when the video is integrated into the rest of the lesson (CPB, 2004; Mares, 1996). Effectively integrating video into classroom instruction involves preparation and activities before, during and after viewing.

Teachers can prepare for using video/audio by previewing the content, establishing clear purposes for viewing and deciding what selections will best support that purpose. The value of video 'is highly correlated to its integration within the curriculum - in other words, how closely the content fits into the overall instructional sequence' (CPB, 2004, p. 11). For instance, video may use at the beginning of a unit to pique interest, during a unit or lesson to bring demonstrations into the classroom that might not otherwise be possible, or as a means of reviewing or reinforcing content.

Supporting students to engage with listening as active learners requires creating the right setting for such learning to occur. Setting expectations for students and providing a context for the activity, beneficial with any learning tasks, may be especially crucial for viewing of video with content that is highly emotionally charged. Denning fears that without proper instructional context and guidance, 'video, like television, may condition viewers to be insensitive or to feel helpless in the context' of events being watched (p. 1).

Selecting effective video/audio is an essential component of integrating this medium into practice and realizing the promise of multimedia in the classroom. In reviewing the historical, political and economic contexts of each major classroom technology over the past century, Fabos (2001) concludes that one of the most significant factors in the success or failure of an educational technology is the quality of the content, rather than the technology itself. Selecting video that has strong, visually rich educational content is a critical element for maximizing the effectiveness of video.

Video is a visual medium, and optimal use capitalizes on the strengths of its visual material. This includes providing visual demonstrations or evidence, dramatizing events and concepts, and appealing to the emotions. Educational video with instructional strategies and cognitive modeling traits embedded in the video itself can aid in student comprehension. Examples range from zooming in on details, to providing titles and other attention-drawing graphics, to animations. Videos with closed captioning can further promote learners' reading fluency and motivation to read (Lin, 2003).

Analyzing different points of researchers' views on using educational video/audio in the classroom, we suggest a methodical model of academic listening in the formation of intercultural communicative skills (subcompetences) for non-linguistic specialties on the levels B1, B2.

Figure 1. Logical framework of academic listening for non-linguistic specialties

This logical framework suggests developing listening skills in tandem with reading, writing and speaking activities (Fig.1). Combination of four skills in one framework guarantees the students' better perception of information and formation of intercultural communicative competences in the easiest way, as if it follows the stages, that are shown in the figure 2.

Figure 2. Instructional planning of academic listening, including three main skills

Modern multimedia technologies as well can help students to form their intercultural communicative skills. Strokan (2017) justifies the relevance of the use of these Internet resources/web resources in teaching foreign languages, examines their types and characteristics, as well as proves the productivity of their use for better assimilation of basic knowledge.

The latest multimedia technologies help to quickly and effectively master oral forms of communication, correct pronunciation, learn the grammatical rules, master fluent reading and deep understanding of authentic texts, create real situations of communication, remove psychological barriers and increase interest in the language.' In the context of foreign language education, Internet technologies allow to create a technological learning language environment for the formation of foreign language competence of students (Bogomolov, 2008).

Web resources provide teachers and students a special program of teaching foreign languages, cross-cultural material, news about economy and politics, culture, authentic literature, the selection of which teacher can conduct independently and adapt to specific learning goals. Students, in turn, with the right choice of material, programs, resources have the opportunity to participate in Internet conferences, webinars, competitions, create multimedia presentations in the process of working on projects.

Today, video continues to have 'significant staying power' in classrooms, although with new technology, 'video is finding its way into schools through different paths,' according to market research by Grunwald Associates (Branigan, 2005). One of the most exciting of those new paths is Video-on-Demand (VOD) systems, tools that make unprecedented numbers of videos available to classroom teachers exactly when and as they want them. The videos are digitized, and then stored on a computer server, where teachers or students can access them at any time.

Video-based learning:

Vialogues.com is a tool for creating a video-based discussion. Language teachers can use this tool to create lessons around video. Teachers can also add polls and quizzes and comment on the video lesson. Students can post comments related with the video.

Magisto ' create a video with up to 25 clips or 30 photos, choose a theme and soundtrack, and add text, images, and video clips.

ZimmerTwins ' choose from various characters, type in the dialogue, choose your background scene, and create a fun movie.

The next innovative digital Web 2.0 tool for language learning is podcast. Podcast is an audio or video recording made by any person and available for listening or viewing on the World Wide Web. Podcast is a type of Web 2.0 social service that lets you listen to, view, create, and distribute audio and video recordings. On the Internet you can find both authentic podcasts created for native speakers (for example, BBC news) and educational (for educational purposes). For English language learners, the podcast directory is available at www.podomatic.com www.bbc.co.uk. This service of podcasts allows students to listen to and view online podcasts, record and place on one of the podcast servers own podcasts on any topic. Most prominent podcast server is YouTube. On YouTube, every registered user can post his/her video podcast, view others, as well as participate in discussion / commenting podcasts in microblogs (Sysoev, 2012).

Sysoev (2012) identifies the following didactic properties of a podcast:

1) the ability to place personal podcasts of users on the Internet;

2) the ability to create personal area of the user on the service of podcasts (personal user area necessary for organizing a network discussion of a podcast);

3) the ability to organize online discussion of podcast in the personal area of the user in the microblog;

4) the creation of the user's personal zone and its moderation are carried out by the podcast author;

5) posting comments in network discussion of a podcast is made chronologically;

6) accessibility of podcast to view all registered users of the service.

Since podcasts develop listening skills, it should be based on the type of texts, which students will meet in real life. A number of studies show that the use of podcasts in the development of speaking skills significantly increases the motivation of students and brings diversity in the process of language learning at school and university (Solomatina, 2011). In addition, Solomatina (2011) in her research work defines range of linguistic skills developed through podcasts (listening and speaking skills). The highlighted language skills (speaking and listening) match the skills identified in the requirements to the level of teaching students at all three stages of education (primary, secondary and senior) in secondary school and university. This means that the use of podcasts in teaching a foreign language can occur on a daily basis.

Podcast and audio recordings:

Vocalremover.ru-record audio, add music and sound effects

Vocaroo ' easily record audio then email to students who can record audio back. No registration is required. You can also send a link or download the clip.

Spreaker ' record 10 hours of audio total and add music and sound effects.




As a result of the research we present series of interactive exercises, tests, games on academic listening on university MOODLE, designed to develop independent learning skills of students, especially those operating in large teaching group settings. The manual covers various spheres, topics, subtopics, real-based situations (Kunanbayeva S., 2010) and presents digital educational resources for academic listening that are innovative in the market research and appropriate for use in higher education.

Digital video/TV/film/audio/podcast will be produced into a series of interactive exercises, each deals with a particular topic on General English, based on levels B1, B2. Associated interactive exercises will be included on the DVDs or via hardware DVD player. Students can download the media clips and associated exercises over the university network as MOODLE. Interactive exercises presented as dynamic, interactive PDF forms that produced using Adobe Acrobat and Designer. Students do interactive exercises, tests and play games based on the content of the video / audio / podcasts / film / TV. The listening sources taken from Youtube, Vimeo, Voscreen, Puzzle-english, VOA and BBC digital resources etc.

It is clear that these digital resources for academic listening open many new opportunities for learning that are just beginning to be explored. As the documented strengths of film, television and video are made more and more available and accessible through these resources and it opens the potential for learning and exploration.


CEFR- Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

MOODLE - open source course management system

DVD - digital versatile disc

PDF - the portable document format


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Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №11 - 2019

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