Hear-Say explanation (500 words)

When I first moved to Spain, I came across a set of curious hand written cards. Divide neatly into two columns of numbers, the left hand was headed Hear, whilst the right was titled Say. An oddity, or collection of oddities, for there were five cards. I continued rummaging amongst the resources of The School.

A while later I was having some difficulty encouraging a class of winemakers to reproduce the target language. They were quite happy to converse in English, with varied degrees of accuracy, but felt that ‘target language’ at 8.00 am on a Monday morning, were linguistic utterances too far. Then I remembered ‘Hear-Say’.

For the next lesson I painstakingly, almost lovingly, concocted the attached 4 way ‘Hear-Say’ [for winemakers]. Monday arrived and so did three of the four. I had spent tens of minutes constructing this resource; thinking up the content, laying it out in individual tables, printing it, checking it for ‘flow’ and finally laminating it – they were going to use it. I therefore took the part of the fourth person. The resource was used, we swapped cards, it was reused, we swapped again and against the clock it was reused.

Reflecting on the lesson, or thinking about it afterwards, to use the vernacular, I realised that I had expended a lot of effort on a resource that lasted for about 15 minutes, which wasn’t a great use of my time.

A couple of weeks later I began ‘teaching’ a class of concrete engineers; lessons started at 8.00 am, but a Tuesday rather than Monday. Again I noticed a reluctance to use the target language, or in one student’s case to say anything at all. I decided to make use of ‘Hear-Say’. The topic was illness and I dutifully produced the 5 way Hear-Say. This part of the lesson worked well enough and my most reluctant student spoke! But the whole process of resource production was time consuming.

Later, whilst typing out a transcript from Real 2 [Cambridge] – older learners need 14 pt type – I realised I could produce a Hear-Say with minimal extra effort. I created a table with two columns, typed out the transcript in the second column and copied the whole transcript underneath itself, then I completed the first column with ‘ Hear and Say ‘ see example. Next I cut the sheets into two-line strips.

I aim for between 4 and 6 two-line strips per person and distribute them according to perceived ability or at random – if people get consecutive strips – it keeps them on their toes – even when they have uttered they still need to listen – sometimes to themselves!

I have used strip and tabulated Hear-Say with: FCE, CAE and Real listenings, invented dialogues and numbers. If you are going to reuse a resource frequently – numbers or a set text – tabulate for 3, 4 and 5 learners, mark the backs for identification and laminate.

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