University of Vermont

Center for Teaching and Learning

Teaching International and Multilingual Students

Promoting Listening Comprehension

By definition, university lectures convey information that is previously unfamiliar to students in the course. In many subject areas, this information may include highly technical vocabulary and/or may require specific types of background knowledge that international students may not have (e.g., regarding US culture or history).

Here are some tips to facilitate listening comprehension and note-taking:

  • Help students know what they will need to listen for. Try starting the lecture by briefly summarizing the objectives of the day’s lesson/lecture and then closing with a brief re-cap; display this information on PowerPoint slides.
  • Allow occasional “wait time” for checking comprehension, making connections, or doing Q&A between different sections of the lecture.
  • To help students recognize the key technical vocabulary or concepts referenced in the lecture, consider posting them on Blackboard before the lecture, or putting them on a PowerPoint slide that you review at the start of the lecture, and/or introducing an online resource where they can access such a list.
  • Often, just a few words can help clarify an expression or cultural reference that international students would otherwise miss.
  • Make class materials such as handouts or PowerPoint files available in Blackboard after class. If audio-visual materials will be played in class, it can be helpful if these are posted to Blackboard beforehand so that students are able to preview and/or review them.
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