Frog and Toad are friends

 By Arnold Lobel

 Listening Skills

You can read the excellent research Paper by Nina Chiovato, Liz Gerster, Marie-Christine Jürss which combines the use of this story with accents HERE.

Below is a great overview of teaching listening skills to children through the example of this book. It was compiled by Liz Gerster and is based on ideas from Assessing Listening, Gary Buck, University Press, Cambridge, 2004.

Comprehension Tests – Tips from a Student to Students

I have chosen to split this information sheet into two parts. The first part will be a short theoretical paragraph listing the most important things to take into consideration when testing our students listening skills. The second part is a short listening test putting those tips to use, using a short story by Arnold Lobel called “Frog and Toad are Friends”.

When testing listening skills in a language, there are three important aspects to consider: The knowledge of the sound system, the understanding of literal meanings and the understanding going beyond local literal meanings.

For each aspect, I will list a few ways on how to test that particular skill.

Techniques for testing knowledge of the sound system:

  • Test-takers listen to two or three words and indicate whether they rhyme.
  • Test-takers listen to two or three words and indicate which has the meaning expressed in a picture
  • Test-takers listen to a statement, followed by two possible responses (which differ in only one word), and choose which response is appropriate.

Tasks for testing understanding of literal meanings:

  • Test-takers are given commands to move various body parts.
  • Test-takers are told to draw a certain object.
  • Test takers see a series of simple diagrams (e.g. lines, squares, circles, triangles etc.), listen to statements describing these, and indicating which diagram is being described
  • Test takers are shown a complex picture with many things happening in it, they hear a series of statement about the picture and indicate whether these are true or false.
  • True or false questions.

Tasks for going beyond local literal meanings:

  • Test-takers listen to a monologue of dialogue, and then answer a number of multiple-choice questions (either spoken or written questions).
  • Fill in the blanks after listening to a short talk or lecture.

Task characteristics that affect difficulty:

  • The simplest way to make tasks easier is to allow listeners to hear the text twice. Tasks can be made even easier by giving the questions or the task in the interval between the two hearings.

General Information:

  • Make sure that the students aren’t over excited and loud. They should be calm when taking a test and be able to concentrate on listening to the taping. An idea would be to do something physical before, so that they can concentrate, but not too physical, that they’re too tired to listen.
  • You as a teacher should be organized with your CD and Test paper and on the ball what comes next. There is nothing worse than for students to have to wait for us to click around and fiddle around with technology and waste precious time.

 Listening skills are also needed in the classroom. Children should understand how to show that they are listening and how they can listen the “best” way. Here is a list you can discuss with your students and even practice with them in any of your subjects.

 Look at the person who is talking. (Optional, direct your whole body in that direction)

  1. Listen and don’t interrupt or move around.
  2. Nod or say Yes to show that you understand.
  3. Ask a question to find out more or if you don’t understand something.
  4. Repeat what you heard in your own words briefly (I heard you say…)

 Short Listening Test for Primary 3+ (or higher)

Summary of the story: Frog and Toad are friends. Toad never gets any letters and so Frog writes him a letter and gives it to snail to give to Toad. He waits with Toad on the porch. They wait and wait and wait. Finally Frog has to tell Toad what it said in the letter, but Toad is still happy. A few days later the snail brings the letter and they read it together and Toad is very pleased to have it.

 Knowledge of the sound system:

 e.g. Which two words rhyme? (The words are heard on a CD and not seen on a paper)

a) Frog -grog   b) Frog -shrug   c) Frog -duck

 e.g. Which word indicates the meaning of the picture

 a)Litter   b)Letter   c)Lamp

Understanding of literal meanings: e.g. True or false

Toad writes a letter to frog.

a)True    b)False

The snail arrives 4 days later

a)True   b)False

Going beyond local literal meanings e.g. Multiple choice

Which one is correct?

a)     Toad waited for his mail, Frog looked sad and the snail wrote a letter.

b)     Toad waited for his mail, Frog wrote him a letter and the snail was sad.

c)      Toad waited for his mail, Frog wrote him a letter and the snail delivered it.

What is a sad time for Toad?

a)     When it is raining?   b)     Waiting for the mail   c)      Sitting on the porch with frog

e.g. Fill in the gap

 “What did you write in the _________?” Frog said, “I wrote ‘________ Toad, I am _______ glad that you are my ________ friend. Your best _______, Frog.’”

 Frog and Toad waited a _________ time.

a)     short   b)     long   c)      weeks