To the Instructor


Academic Listening Encounters: Life in Society is a content-based listening, note-taking, and discussion text. It focuses on topics covered in sociology courses offered in North American community colleges and universities. The student who will benefit most from this course will be at the intermediate to high-intermediate level. The topics included were chosen for them universal appeal, but as students progress through the book, they will also acquire a basic foundation in the concepts and vocabulary of sociology’. The listening, note-taking, and discussion tasks through which students interface with the content are designed to help them develop the skills they need for study in any academic discipline.

The complete audio program for this book, which conLains the recorded material for the listening and note-taking tasks, is available on both audio CDs and audio cassettes. An audio CD of the academic lectures, which are an important part of the audio program, is included in the back of each Students Book to provide students with additional listening practice.


This content-based series is for non-native speakers of English preparing to study in English at the community college or university level and for native speakers of English who need to improve their academic skills for further study. The series consists of Academic Encounters books that help students improve their reading, study skills, and writing, and Academic Listening Encounters books that concentrate on listening, note-taking, and discussion skills. Each reading book corresponds in theme to a listening book, and each pair of theme-linked books focuses on an academic subject commonly taught in North American universities and community colleges. For example, Academic Encounters: Life in Society and Academic Listening Encounters: Life in Society both focus on sociology, and Academic Encounters: Human Behavior and Academic Listening Encounters: Human Behavior both focus on psychology’ and human communications. A reading book and a listening book with the same content focus may be used together to teach a complete four-skills course in English for Academic Purposes.


The approach

Focusing on a particular academic discipline allows students to gain a sustained experience with one field and encounter concepts and terminology that overlap and grow more complex. It provides students with a realistic sense ol studying a course in college. As language and concepts recur and as their skills develop, students begin to gain confidence until they feel that they have enough background in the content locus area to take a course in that subject in order to fulfill part of their general education requirements.

The format

Each book consists of five units on different aspects of the discipline. Units are divided into two chapters. Each chapter has four sections and includes an introductory listening exercise, a selection of informal interviews, an opportunity for students to conduct and present a topic-related project, and a two-part academic lecture. A variety of listening, note-taking, and discussion tasks accompany the listening material. Chapters are structured to maximize students’ comprehension of the chapter topic. Vocabulary and ideas are recycled through the four sections of each chapter, and recur in later chapters, as students move from listening to discussion, and from informal to academic discourse.

A chapter-by-chapter Plan of the Book appears in the front of the book and an alphabetized Task Index is at the back of the book.

The audio program

The heart of Academic Listening Encounters: Life in Society is its authentic listening material. The audio program for each chapter includes a warm­up listening exercise designed to introduce the topic, informal interviews that explore a particular aspect of the chapter topic, and a two-part academic lecture on another aspect of the topic. Each of these three types of listening experience exposes students to a different style of discourse, while recycling vocabulary and concepts.

Tasks that involve listening to the audio material (for example, Listening for Specific Information, Listening for Opinions, or Note Taking: Listening for Organizational Phrases) have an earphones icon О next to the title. This symbol indicates that there is material in the audio program related to the task. A second symbol indicates the exact point

within the task when the audio material should be played.

The complete audio program is available on both audio CDs and audio cassettes. An audio CD of the academic lectures is included in the back of each Student’s Book to provide students with additional listening practice.

The skills

The three main skills developed in Academic Listening Encounters books are listening, note taking, and discussion. Listening is a critical area because unlike text on a page, spoken words are difficult to review. In

addition to the content and vocabulary ol what they hear, students are challenged by different accents, speeds of deliver}’, and other features of oral discourse. Tasks in the Academic Listening Encounters books guide students in techniques for improving their listening comprehension. These tasks also develop note-taking skills in a structured format that leaches students to write down what they hear in ways that will make it easier to retrieve the information. After the listening and note-taking practice comes an invitation to discuss. Students discuss what they have heard, voice their opinions, compare their experiences, and articulate and exchange viewpoints with other class members, thus making the material their own. Additionally, each chapter gives students the opportunity to work on a project related to the topic, such as conducting a survey or undertaking research, and teaches them the skills necessary to present their findings.

Task commentary boxes

Whenever a task type occurs for the first time in the book, it is headed by a colored commentary’ box that explains what skill is being practiced and why it is important. When the task occurs again later in the book, it may be accompanied by another commentary box, either as a reminder or to present new information about the skill. At the back of the book, there is an alphabetized index of ail the tasks. Page references in boldface indicate tasks that are headed by commentary boxes.

Opportunities for student interaction

Many of the tasks in Academic Listening Encounters are divided into steps. Some of these steps are to be done bv the student working alone, others by students in pairs or in small groups, and still others by the teacher with the whole class. To make the book as lively as possible, student interaction has been built into most activities. Thus, although the books focus on listening and note-taking skills, discussion is fundamental to each chapter. Students often work collaboratively and frequently compare answers in pairs or small groups.

Order of units

The units do not have to be taught in the order in which they appear in the book, although this order is recommended. To a certain extent, tasks do increase in complexity so that, for example, a note-taking task later in the book may draw upon information that has been included in an earlier unit. Teachers who want to use the material out of order may, however, consult the Plan of the Book at the front of the book or the Task Index at the back of the book to see what information has been presented in earlier units.

Course length

Each chapter of a Listening, Note-Taking, and Discussion book is divided into four sections and represents approximately 7-11 hours of classroom material. Thus, with a 90-minute daily class, a teacher could complete all

ten chapters in a ten-week course. For use with a shorter course, a teacher could omit chapters or activities within chapters. The material could also be expanded with the use of guest speakers, debates, movies, and other authentic audio material (see the Teacher’s Manual for specific suggestions).


1 Getting Started (approximately 1 hour of class time)

This section contains a short reading task and a listening task. The reading is designed to activate students’ prior knowledge about the topic, proride them with general concepts and vocabulary, and stimulate their interest. Comprehension and discussion questions elicit their engagement in the topic.

The listening task in this section is determined by the chapter content and involves one of a variety of responses. The task may require students to complete a chart, do a matching exercise, or listen for specific information. The task provides skill-building practice and also gives students listening warm-up on the chapter topic.

2 American Voices (approximately 2-314 hours of class time)

This section contains informal audio interviews on issues related to the chapter. It is divided into three subsections:

Before the Interviews (approximately 14 hour)

This subsection contains a prelistening task that calls on students to predict the content of the interview or share what they already know about the topic from their personal experience. Allow enough time with this task for all students to contribute. The more they invest in the topic at this point, the more they will get out of the interviews.

Interviews (approximately 1-2 hours)

In this subsection, students listen to interviews related to the topic of the chapter. Most of the interviewees are native speakers of English, but voices of immigrants to the United States also enrich the discussions. The interviewees are of different ages and ethnic and social backgrounds, allowing students to gain exposure to the rich and diverse reality of speakers of English. The interviews are divided into two parts to facilitate comprehension: each part can include from one to three interviewees.

Each interview segment begins with a boxed vocabulary preview that glosses words and phrases the student may not know. The vocabulary is given in the context in which students will hear it. Reading this vocabulary aloud and exploring its meaning within the context will facilitate students’ comprehension.

After each vocabulary preview, students are given the opportunity to scan the upcoming task. Then they listen to the interview and go on to complete the particular task, which might include listening for main ideas or details, drawing inferences, or taking notes on the material to

retell what they have heard. This approach provides a framework for listening, teaches basic listening skills, and allows students to demonstrate their understanding of the interviews,

After the Interview’s (approximately Vi- hour)

In this subsection, students explore the topic more deeply through examining graphic material related to the content of the interviews, thinking critically about what they have heard, or sharing their perspective. Most of the tasks in this section are for pairs or small groups and allow for informal feedback from every student.

3 In Your Own Voice (approximately Vh-2’А hours of class time)

This section continues to build on the chapter topic and is designed to give students the opportunity to take creative control of the topic at hand. Specific tasks, a bxrief description of which are provided in the Plan of the Book, are determined by the chapter content. They may include:

• Personalizing the content, in which students talk with partners or in small groups, sharing their experiences and supporting their points of view.

• Gathering data, in which students conduct surveys or interviews of classmates or people outside the class, or in which they undertake small research projects.

• Presenting data, in which students organize their data and present it individually or in small groups.

4 Academic Listening and Note Taking (approximately 2/2-4 hours of class time)

This section contains a formal, taped, academic lecture related to the topic of the chapter. It is divided into three subsections:

Before the Lecture (1-1/2 hours)

The first task of this subsection asks students to predict the content of the lecture, explore what they already know about the topic, or build their background knowledge and vocabulary by doing a task related to a brief reading, syllabus, or other written entry. As with Before the Interview, this section promotes the student’s investment in the topic.

Each chapter then pi’oceeds to an academic note-taking skill, determined by the language of Lhe lecture itself and sequenced to build upon skills studied in previous chapters. The skill is explained in a task commentary7 box, and the listening task is designed to practice it. The recorded material used for the task is drawn from the lecture.

Lecture (1-1 /2 hours)

In this subsection, students hear the lecture itself. To facilitate comprehension, all lectures are divided into two parts.

Each lecture part begins with a matching or multiple-choice vocabulary7 task to prepare students for the language they7 will encounter in the lecture and help them develop their ability7 to guess meaning from context. Potentially unfamiliar words and phrases are

given in ihe context in which they will be used in the lecture. Reading the items aloud, studying their pronunciation, and exploring their use and meaning will prepare students lor hearing them in the lecture.

Following the vocabulary task, students preview a comprehension task designed to provide a framework for their listening and note taking. The task may involve completing a summary or outline or answering comprehension questions. The task may recycle the note­taking skill taught before the lecture or add a related skill. Students are instructed to take notes during each part of the lecture, and then use their notes to complete the lecture comprehension task. Previewing the task will enable students to answer the questions in a more confident and focused manner.

After the Lecture (1Л-1 hour)

This subsection invites students to share their perspective through discussion questions that allow them to analyze the chapter content more critically. It may also present additional information or ask students to apply what they have learned.


1. Replay recorded excerpts as many times as you think will benefit the majority of students.

2. Encourage students to gain additional listening practice by listening to the chapter lectures that are on the audio CD in the back of the Students Book. Depending on the level of the class, you may want students to listen either before or after you have played the lecture for them in class.

3. Homework assignments can include thinking and writing about discussion questions, doing Internet research, and preparing and rehearsing presentations.

4. If possible, pair students from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

5. Depending on your students’ level of interest and time constraints, you may want to pick and choose from the activities in After the Interview and After the Lecture. It is not necessary to do all of them.

6. To some extent, the course material builds upon itself. Skills are recycled (see the Plan of the Book) and the level of exercises increases slightly in difficulty. However, it is not necessary to do the units in order, and you can skip ones that are less appropriate for your students.

7. If you prefer to read the script of a lecture rather than play the recording, tty to match the natural pace of the recorded lectures.

8. Refer to the Teacher’s Manual for teaching suggestions, answer keys, the listening script, and lecture quizzes and answers.

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