Randall’s Cyber Listening Lab

by stephenholloran1

In this weeks blog entry I will talk about the Website Randall’s Cyber Listening Lab and it’s uses as a pedagogical tool in teaching English as a second language. I have used this site for a number of years in my teaching of adult learners in secondary one through five and have found it most useful. The site itself is not particularly appealing in terms of aesthetics nor is it especially sophisticated but it is efficient. Basically, it offers a number of listening activities that are in the form of quizzes. Accessing the quizzes is very simple because they are there in front of the user when the page is opened. The quizzes are divided into ‘easy’ ‘medium’ ‘difficult’ and very difficult’. In each of these categories the quizzes are further subdivided into various subjects such as ‘Bookstore shopping’ ‘Baking Cookies’ etc. For these reasons teachers can guide students to the level that is appropriate for them and select subjects that are relevant for the work they are doing at school. Getting into each quiz takes simply a click of the mouse. Once in the quiz students find a control bar and a number of multiple choice questions below it. The control bar works just like that found in Youtube and therefore students can control when they want to start/stop the listening activity. The activities themselves are short conversations of about two minutes. It is very important to note also that the sound quality is excellent. Once the students have listened to the activity they can answer the multiple choice questions by simply clicking on the answer of their choice. Once finished, the student clicks on ‘Results’ and they are give a percentage score and a list of the correct answers. This website is an excellent means of building students’ confidence for listening exams. Teachers can encourage students, that are having difficulties, to do the easier quizzes then build up to the more difficult. The activities are short and the students self-correct, so they see instant results. The website TeachersFirst , which is extensively used by teachers, offers an important warning that some of the quizzes in Randall’s, that are related to such topics as ‘personal problems’, may not be suitable for young children. In general TeachersFirst gives an excellent review of the site and recommends it’s use by teachers.The website tewtjournal reviews different websites and they posted an article by Jarek Krajka, which was first published in the review Teaching English with Technology, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 20-25. It gives similar information to that I have already given, but what I didn’t know was that Randall’s constantly provides new listening activities which is definitely a good thing. New activities also mean that  the site keeps up with what is happening in society. At the site esl-lab Fall 2008 issue, reviewer Minuta Botea points out an interesting feature of Randall’s, and that is its blog, which users are encouraged to use. This allows the site to keep up with suggestions provided by users and thus ensures staying relevant to user needs. I will end here by stating that Randall’s has been very useful in my teaching experience and especially for increasing students’ confidence for listening exams. Teachers may want to use the site as a filler activity, such as at the end of a period, or maybe as a complementary activity to a larger project, or, in fact, for any other activity they deem appropriate.