Authentic Listening Material

I’ve been looking out for some authentic listening material for some of the Business English courses I teach. I just found a website called Freesound which has some fantastic Creative Commons-licensed MP3 and wav files, free to download.
I downloaded some basic train and airport announcements and I am planning to have false beginner students listen for answers to the following questions:

  1. When does the announcement change to English?
  2. Which gate can you board the plane from?

In another class I’ll have some pre-intermediate students listen for answers to these questions:

  1. What is the new platform for the Penzance train?
  2. Does the Penzance train stop at Exeter St. David’s?

Keep it real

Loads of teachers seem to think that using realia (real-life objects) is a pain. I think before the prevalence of the internet throughout everyone’s lives this was true; however, you can now source realia with only a search engine and your imagination. Transport maps, supermarket flyers, tourism materials… you name it!
Using these to support vocabulary, as prompts in a role play or as materials for a task-based lesson are all possible and will often take less explicit set up than using a textbook activity because with realia the function is often self-evident. Students can also practise using real-world items rather than overly dumbed-down examples from textbooks which can leave them with a sense of false confidence. If you want to ease your students in to using realia, you might use textbook versions of such material for controlled practice and then have students use realia as part of their free practice.
Model one or two steps of an activity and usually the students will do the rest of the work themselves. You can then spend time monitoring and thinking about what language students may find or may have found useful.