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What will you find on the website?

The Learning English with CBC Manitoba website has two parts.  There are lesson modules for use in the classroom or on a self study basis.  The self study lessons are similar to the classroom version, but the instructions are written to the student, not the teachers. The classroom lessons are for intermediate level students (CLB 5 and up) while the self study version targets students who are at a high intermediate to advanced level.  There are also newscast lessons.  These lessons feature an adapted CBC newscast and are designed for high beginner to low intermediate level learners (CLB 3 and up).

Past classroom and self study lessons are stored on the website and can be accessed at any time.  Beginning in the fall of 2010, newscast lessons will also be stored.

All of the lessons we offer can be adapted for higher or lower learner levels.  Read on for tips on how you can adapt the lessons in your classroom!

More About the Classroom/Self Study Modules

These lessons are based on authentic CBC Manitoba radio interviews and use real language, spoken by real people about real events.  They allow you as a teacher to examine  issues your students will encounter outside of the classroom and to explore the language Manitobans and Canadians use when they talk about these issues. This resource will allow you and your students time to reflect on and examine the skills and strategies needed to become effective listeners in the real world. Students will encounter idioms, cultural assumptions and pronunciation points that may not be captured by standard EAL listening resources.

The first page of each lesson lists the cultural focus and language tasks that are within each lesson.

Each lesson contains the following components:

Students will be asked context-setting questions to introduce them to the week's topic. Targeted vocabulary-development exercises will be presented to prepare students for possible new words specific to the story, and they may be asked to perform predictive exercises.

While you listen
Students are asked to listen for the gist of the story, and then listen again a number of times for increasing detail and information. Make sure students know that you will be playing the audio a number of times and that it is important to understand the main ideas, but not necessarily every word.

It may be helpful to let students know that listeners who have English as their first language may not catch every word. Sometimes people do not speak perfectly clearly and first language speakers often have to infer meaning from what is said before and after.

After Listening
After students have listened for the main ideas and have a good understanding of the new vocabulary, themes and language functions used in the story, the lesson provides several optional expanded activities that make use of their new knowledge.

Tips for Adapting Lesson Modules to Lower Levels

Although Learning English with CBC Lesson Plans are targeted at CLB Levels 5 and up, there are many ways teachers can adapt the lessons for lower benchmark levels. Here are some ideas!

To begin:

  • Take a look at the Lessons at a Glance document under Lessons on the website menu.  Look through the topics and tasks and select a lesson you think would be of interest to your students.
  • Open the teacher's version of that lesson plan. Take a look at the transcript (near the end of the lesson plan) and listen to the audio. Lessons with limited new vocabulary, fewer speakers and less rapid speech will be easier for your students.
  • Look at the "Want to Know More" section of the lesson. Some of the websites listed have pictures - you may be able to use these to help your students understand the content.
  • Be prepared to do a lot of pre-teaching!

Adapting the Pre-listening Segment

  • Consider teaching only part of the audio clip.  For example, you could use the introduction only, or one exchange between the interviewer and their guest.
  • Adapt the pre-listening exercises and/or questions. Teach only the vocabulary necessary for the audio you plan to play in class.
  • Have students practice predicting what the interview is about based on the lesson title and on the pre-listening tasks.
  • Use the transcript from the start if that will help your students with comprehension.
  • Have students listen for pronunciation, word stress and patterns of spoken English.
  • While listening activities can include underlining words or expressions on the transcript, answer true and false questions, circling the correct answer, completing a cloze exercise using the transcript, listening for the main idea and answering adapted comprehension questions. Focus more on main ideas and less on inference.

Adapting the Reading Tasks:

  • Adapt the Manitoba Memo which provides background information at the beginning of each lesson. The memo may be the only reading material you use.
  • Use the transcript and focus only on the interviewer's questions or on one exchange between interviewer and guest.
  • Reduce or simplify other texts which are included in the lesson. Use only one or two paragraphs of an authentic text.
  • Adapt the questions for reading texts so students are only looking for one or two points.

Adapting the Writing Tasks:

  • Most of the writing tasks are guided writing - a note, a letter or an email. All can be simplified and shortened.
  • Have students write new vocabulary words and definitions in a journal.
  • If the writing task is filling in a form for example, use only one part of it (for example, name, address, phone number).
  • Limit other writing tasks to personal experiences and descriptions of familiar things.

Adapting the Speaking Tasks:

  • Use the initial brainstorming questions which begin each lesson. Provide lots of language chunks and examples to assist students in discussing the topics.
  • Shorten and simplify role plays and dialogues.
  • Have students share personal experiences which relate to the topic with a partner. Do more pair work and less group work.

Adapting the Extension Activities:

  • Each lesson has several extension activities. Choose one and adapt it to suit your students.

Tips for Adapting Lesson Modules to Higher Levels

  • Minimize the pre-listening activities. Have students listen to the audio clip with minimal preparation.
  • The full story may still be available as a podcast. If it is, you can have your students listen to the full three to five minute story as well as the shorter clip which is part of the lesson.  Check the transcript footnotes to see if there is a link to the full story.  Alternatively, you may be able to find related audio on the CBC news website which you can play for your class.
  • Look at the "Want to Know More" section of the lesson. Many of the websites listed have additional information which could be used to further challenge your students.
  • For current lessons, look for newspaper articles to provide additional authentic reading material.
  • Consider other media to extend the lessons. For example, show the movie Bend it Like Beckham as part of Lesson 11 - Hijabs in Sports. Show an episode of Little Mosque on the Prairie as part of Lesson 21 - Getting to Know Each Other.
  • Choose a CLB task at a higher level that fits with the topic of the module. Develop an exercise using the content of the module and the higher level task.
  • Adapt the tasks in the lesson. For example, focus more on questions relating to inference and less on identifying the main ideas, provide less structure for role plays and writing tasks, turn group discussions into debates and presentations, have students write a transcript based on what they hear, bring in speakers on the topic, have students practice listening and questioning skills and introduce higher level benchmark tasks which build on the lesson themes and content.

Using EAL Newscasts in Your Classroom

The audio file and transcript for the Learning English with CBC Newscasts are changed weekly and are usually up by Thursday noon. 

There are three stories each week.  The first is a Manitoba story, the second is a national story and the third is an international story. The newscasts are targeted at CLB levels 3 and up.

Here are some ideas for using the newscast in your classroom. 

Establishing Context and Introducing Vocabulary: Ideas for Pre-listening Activities

  • Teach the vocabulary in the headline.
  • Predict what the story may be about from the headline.
  • Brainstorm other words students associate with key words in the headline.
  • Discuss the topic and/or related topics.
  • Provide a visual if possible. For example, a Winnipeg Free Press or Globe and Mail photo, an on-line news photo, a google image or realia.
  • Introduce the vocabulary for the news story in chunks.
  • Practise vocabulary with a matching exercise.
  • Read vocabulary aloud and tap out the syllables.

Ideas for While-listening Activities

  • Listen first as a class. Listen to one story at a time - one per class may be enough.
  • Play the newscast as many times as needed. Draw attention to pronunciation points and / or word stress.
  • Use the newscast to help the class practice pronunciation.
  • If the content or vocabulary is still difficult after a couple of times through, play the newscast one or two sentences at a time and check for comprehension.
  • Provide the transcript for assistance if needed.
  • Use the transcript to create a while-listening worksheet.
  • Give students an activity to complete while listening. This could include: leaving one or two key words out of the transcript and having students identify the key words; asking students to underline specific vocabulary or language chunks when they hear them; giving students a list of words and having them circle the words they hear.

Ideas for Post-listening Activities

  • Have students answer simple yes/no questions, true/false questions or complete a gap fill on the main ideas and/or details.
  • Discuss emotional reactions to news stories or express likes/dislikes. Ask questions like:Did the story make you feel happy/sad/angry? Did the story surprise/shock you? Did you like/dislike the story? Was the story interesting/boring? What else would you like to know about this story?
  • Ask who, what, where, when, why questions.
  • Use the questions you ask or students ask to teach question word order.
  • Ask questions of clarification related to the main ideas or details in a story.
  • Ask students to link the story to their own experience or their home countries. Teach simple comparisons (more/less).
  • Identify nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs on the transcript.
  • Ask students to re-tell the main idea of the story to a partner.
  • Have students use the transcript to help them answer questions about details.
  • Have students find a news site in their first language on the internet. Is the international story mentioned there? Can they find any additional information about it?
  • Have students write a sentence or paragraph on a situation, experience or event related to the newscast.
  • Use the newscast for dictation.
  • Ask students to watch/listen to CBC news at home and keep a listening log.

Using the Newscasts with Higher Level Learners

  • Higher CLB levels can use the newscast as an authentic listening task, with very little or no preparation.  Newscast lessons work well for independent study at higher levels. 
  • Extend the lesson and include writing, reading and speaking tasks by using the many internet resources which are available for most of the stories featured.
  • Take a look at the on-line comments which follow most news stories and design a worksheet or task based on these comments.  Students could be asked to read, analyze, categorize, discuss or debate the comments which accompany the stories.


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