Teaching listening is important. Listening takes tons of practice, and we need to teach it with attention to developing key abilities. Below you will find Spanish listening activities to do before you watch a video or read a story.
Listening is a skill that many of us do not spend enough time on in class. Of course, we teach in the target language as much as we can, but we also need to focus on developing listening abilities for other kinds of content.
There are many fun ways to practice general listening, like these 5 Spanish Listening Games or this Easy Spanish Listening Practice with a photograph. This article, however, is about more focused tasks.
One key to teaching listening is to break down the skills and practice them before kids listen to the larger task, usually a story or video in my case. So, if we are going to be watching a short video or reading a book, we do Spanish listening activities like these first.
These activities give kids a chance to work with the language in smaller pieces before they take on a more challenging listening task. They focus on select sounds, syllables and how words blend in natural speech. Doing a few of these Spanish listening activities first will increase comprehension and make the principal listening task more productive and more fun.
Of course, you won’t do all of these Spanish listening activities for one story or video. Choose the activities that best fit the content and the level of your students.
I am including printable Spanish listening activities for the video Habla Jorge – Los Limones as examples. Again, you would do these activities before you showed the video to students.
You can also try these listening activities with the Spanish video series Buena Gente. For language learning, the series has the advantage of repetition throughout the episodes and the context of the story line.
You can see the video below and find it on YouTube at Kids Learn Spanish Habla Jorge – Los limones. You can download the printable activities including word and picture cards, at the end of this post.
Context First! Objects and Pictures
Before doing these pre-listening activities, it is important to create a context for the language. We talk about the topic using objects or pictures, so the activities that follow are logical and the language has meaning. Students know the pre-listening activities are related to the bigger listening task they will be doing.
For the video Los limones, bring limes to class! Describing them and playing with them makes the language relevant and is an excellent way to prepare for both the pre-viewing activities and the larger listening task. As a follow-up, you can use them to make limeade, as mentioned in the video.
Spanish Listening Activities
Matching – Word Recognition
When you teach the key vocabulary in story or video, include activities where students match the word they hear to the written word. This can be as simple as pointing to words as you say them. If you are working with pre-readers, you can use pictures, but be sure to limit the number of new vocabulary words.
I’ve included word cards for some of the key vocabulary in the Habla Jorge – Los limones video. If you do this with your students, you do not have to use all the words.
Listening for Syllables
This activity involves completing a word based on the sound. You say the word and students listen for the missing syllable and write it in. You can give a “syllable bank” as support. See the example on Spanish listening activities download.
Listening for Words
The activity is similar to the hearing syllables activity. The difference is students are listening for a word in a sentence. You say the sentence and students listen for the missing word and write it in. You can give a word bank as support. I often omit familiar words such as muy, mucho, and también, in addition to key vocabulary in the story or video. See the example on Spanish listening activities download.
When I do this activity, I use sentences from the listening material (story or video) that they will hear later. I am trying to build familiarity with the material before they listen.
You can do a version of this activity with pre-readers. Give them several pictures and then say a sentence. They identify the word (picture) that they heard in the sentence.
Ordering a Sentence
Students have words out of order (projected on the board or a handout). Say the sentence and students order the words to form the sentence they hear.
Again, when I do this activity, I use sentences from the listening material (story or video) that they will hear later. I did not include an example on the Spanish listening activities download, but it is an easy activity to make.
Listening for Word Breaks
This is a very common activity for native speakers of Spanish as they learn to read. Because sounds combine in Spanish, learning to recognize word breaks is important. Give students sentences with the words run together. Then say the sentence aloud. Students divide the string of letters to separate the words.
This is the traditional jumbled word game with a listening component. Give students the letters in a word in the wrong order. Say the word and they use the letters they have to write it. This works well with vocabulary that is less familiar. I did not include an example on the Spanish listening activities download, but it is an easy activity to make.
Spanish Listening Activities – Los Limones
Doing a few of these Spanish listening activities before you jump into a more challenging task will help students develop their skills and increase their comprehension. Give it a try!