Peadar Callaghan at KOTESOL (part 5 of conference remarks)

Peadar is an acquaintance who has frequently spoken at the Busan Kotesol branch.  I don’t know that I have ever heard him speak, though.  There’s always been something else going on.  He spoke well and I wish I had seen his other talks, including use of comics in class.

This talk was a good bookend with Heidi Nam’s class on checking comprehension.  Both describe how we often question students on different subjects then we think.  Nam offered a nonsense sentence and asked us what the character was doing.  The verb was clear from it’s placement and ‘ed’ ending so we could answer and display our understanding of grammar without understanding the sentence.  In the same way, Peadar described the ‘listening window strategy’ (I think the phrase is a direct quote – it is close).  When we ask students to fill in the blanks in sentences like ” I went to ____ and ____ a shirt.” students wait for the “to’ and ‘and’ sounds and write down the next word.  I was able to do the same thing with a completely nonsense sentence in his class.

Instead of asking for specific words, we should first ask for the main idea, then focus down to specifics.  These ideas might fit a ‘T-chart’ – good points and bad points discussed in the audio – or on a mind map.

On the mind map, it is appropriate to do a ‘fill in the blanks’ exercise as the students are not listening for specific words, but ideas or general concepts.

Callaghan offered a hierarchy of activities moving from teacher -created to student-created.


He also suggested a more away from class-wide audio and instead using a number of cheap MP3 players (and split audio so a few students could share one player) to individualize the learning.  This was a great, new idea, and one that I had been moving towards in some fashion already.  I sometimes bring in a small battery-powered speaker for small groups to listen to.

One activity he had on his slide but didn’t have time to discuss was Audio Relays, an event that has always been enjoyed by my students

As with Sandy and Dudeney, he is eager to help students use their phones in class.  I like the idea of having students make MP3s in one class and then students in another class need to listen to them and determine the meaning.  This is not an out-of-the-blue activity: students need to be given time to prepare a conversation or interview, possibly have it checked by the teacher, then recorded.

Callaghan suggested the English Language Listening Library Online ( as a source for student-created audio.

He has an (under-construction) website and I found a short interview of him on youtube (audio only)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: