Activities for Practice: Recordings

(excerpted and adapted from Tutoring ESL: A Handbook for Volunteers)

MS Word .doc version (42 kb)

Purpose: Reinforce learning points; practice pronunciation; facilitate exposure to a variety of speech patterns; allow home study.

Materials: Cassette tape or digital recorder, cassette.


Tapes and other recordings can be used in a variety of ways. You might tape part of a lesson so that your student can review it at home on her own. You could give her a tape she has not heard before to listen to at home or during the session, then structure activities around it.

A tape can also provide the student models of pronunciation to imitate.

If you’re using the tape primarily as review, be sure the vocabulary and structures are familiar to your student.

New concepts and vocabulary can also be presented in the context of a tape that contains mostly familiar language.

When making a tape, speak clearly, but naturally. Use normal speed and intonation. You might find it helpful to have friends, unknown to your student, make a tape for you so that she will have the opportunity to hear other native speakers. You can make the tape from a script, or just give the speakers a scenario (e.g., you’re a tenant asking the landlord for a repair; you’re two old friends who meet by chance), and let them come up with spontaneous, natural language.

Let the student listen to the tape once or twice, then ask her comprehension questions. Give her some ideas of what to listen for (e.g., How does he show that he’s angry? What are they doing? How can you tell where they are?), and let her listen again. Any activity that you do with objects or reading passages can be done focused on the tape.

Use tapes for pronunciation drills in class rather than as homework—students may not catch pronunciation errors on their own. Try taping her responses with your own model, then play it back so she can begin to monitor her pronunciation.

Topic suggestions for tapes:

Talking to a supervisor

Folk tales

Requesting help


Making a complaint

Phone conversation

Talking to a coworker

Greeting dialogue

Making an appointment

From Tutoring ESL: A Handbook for Volunteers. Reproduced with permission from the publisher, Tacoma Community House Training Project, Tacoma, WA 98405.

Excerpted and adapted, with permission, by

Kaizen Program
for New English Learners with Visual Limitations
email: kaizen ( at )