Dr. Marnie Reed Explores Teaching English Learners How to Listen

Marnie ReedMarnie Reed BU Wheelock , a clinical professor of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at BU Wheelock, co-edited an anthology, Listening in the Classroom, which includes research-based advice about teaching English learners how to listen effectively, recognize words, and understand the speaker’s intent.

There are two main reasons why teaching learners how to listen is important. First, nonnative speakers—of all languages—can struggle to understand native speakers when they talk and run words together. This kind of rapid-fire blending of words and phrases is called “continuous speech.” For example, when people speak quickly, the phrase tell her sounds like the word teller, and meet her sounds like meter. Second, learners can miss important contextual information that is conveyed through other speakers’ intonation.

“As teachers, we easily fail to appreciate that just because our students can hear spoken language is no guarantee they can process the spoken input,” says Reed. “In all languages, words are linked, and often contracted, and sounds may be deleted or altered. For teachers of English, listening instruction must first enable learners to process aural input, not assess their comprehension.”

In this video, watch as Reed explains more about continuous speech and discusses how she came to edit Listening in the Classroom.