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Listening book progress

As you may know, Gianfranco and I have been working for many months on a book about teaching listening skills. Our title is now looking like: Breaking the Sound Barrier: Teaching Language Learners How to Listen.

We’re aiming to put make the final product available on Amazon by late June or early July once our editing, formatting  and proofing is done with the help of my wife Professor Elspeth Jones. The book will be self-published on Amazon. 

The book will have around 12 chapters covering the principles of “listening as modelling”, phonology, vocabulary, grammar, interpersonal listening,task-based listening, assessment and strategies. The large majority of the text is written so we’re now re-reading, tweaking and proofing. There is always more to add, but we want to keep the book a reasonable length.

As with The Language Teacher Toolkit there is reference to research, but the main emphasis is onpractical ideas for the classroom. We want the book to be interesting and very useful. In fact, I’mnot aware of any other book that does what we’ve done, certainly for MFL teachers.

You might be interested in how Gianfranco and I work together on a project like this. After all I’m usually in the UK while he’s in Kuala Lumpur (when he’s not on tour doing CPD). Essentially he has focused on the listening-as- modelling area, so you’ll get a definite Gianfranco flavour in the book. I worked initially on the interpersonal and task-based ideas and assessment. Then we read each other’s text, make suggestions and do rewrites or edits. All the time we’re both looking at research articles, hoping to find interesting and relevant insights. We chat via Twitter, email, Whatsapp or Skype from time to time. I focus a good deal on precise wording of the text, which takes time. We’re acutely aware of getting a suitable balance of simplicity and jargon since we expect readers to have varying degrees of background knowledge. Many will be, we hope, trainees, while others will be practising teachers looking to be challenged with new ideas.

One of the enjoyable aspects for us is coming up with useful, fun ideas for lessons - ones which ate “low preparation, high impact”, as the sayinggoes. The vast majority of the activities have been tried-and-tested ideas. We’ve been at pains to make our activities accessible to students of all levels of proficiency, with beginners up to internediate level (GCSE) the focus. It’s definitely a book “by teachers, for teachers” - more accurately, by retired teachers! Between us we have over 60 years of classroom practice under our belts, in a variety of schools. We also get to meet lots of teachers at CPD events.

I can tell you that putting a book together takes time and lots of thought, but it’s also enjoyable. I daresay not every reader will like all the ideas or theoretical assumption. Gianfranco and I come at this with different emphases and backgrounds too. We hope that teachers will be stimulated to come up with their own ideas, better than ours.

So when the book comes out, do have a look. I’m pretty certain you’ll enjoy it.


  1. Dear Steve,
    More power to your elbows!
    Looking forward to reading the book and using the ideas in class.

  2. Dear Steve,
    Thank you and Gianfranco so much for publishing this new book on listening. After almost 30 years as a French teacher, I still tweak my lessons when I read your blogs with the intent of becoming better and more effective each time. I have recommended The Language Teacher Toolkit to all of my student (candidate) teachers as well as to all of my colleagues. MFL training for teachers is seriously lacking in the area in which we live and so I have touted your book as the textbook we all wish we had.


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