Why Listening Guides are Powerful Tools for Engaging Students


Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Looking for an exciting way to captivate your English Language Learners (ELLs)? Discover the magic of listening guides, a dynamic tool that adds depth and engagement to your lessons. Whether you choose video or audio, we’ll show you how to make your lessons come alive.

In this post, we’ll share innovative ideas, a sample activity, and a lesson plan example to harness the power of listening guides.

Dive into the world of interactive learning with a preference for short, captivating tutorials from TEDEd videos.

Unleash the potential of your ELLs with lessons that leave a lasting impact.

Listening Guides

Listening guides are a great way to create engaging and interesting lessons for English Language Learners (ELLs). You can use video or audio for your lessons. My preference is videos and I like the short tutorials found at TEDEd.

This post will share ideas, a sample activity, and a lesson plan example.

What is included in a listening guide lesson plan?

  1. Context (lesson title, grade level and course, and time segment of the lesson)
  2. Learner Profile
  3. Standards
  4. Objectives
  5. Target Vocabulary
  6. Student Diversity and Differentiation of Instruction
  7. Formative and Summative Assessments
  8. Materials and Resources
  9. Lesson Content (video, audio, listening guide, activities)

Sample Activity

Since the Olympics were held in Beijing, China, in 2022, I thought it would be fun to show my students the origins and history of modern-day Olympics. The following animated Ted Talk explains the origins and history of the Olympics:

These are my questions for this Guided Reading Activity:

  • What was the first year of the Olympics?
  • How did the Greeks measure time with their calendar?
  • Competition fosters _______________.
  • Besides sporting events, what else were contests held for in Greece?
  • What was the one event at the first thirteen Olympics?
  • What event inspired world class competition?
  • What sporting events were included in the pentathalon?
  • What was the Ancient Greek traditional clothing at the Olympics?
  •  What were two rules mentioned in the video that were followed when competing for the strongest man competition?
  • What year did the modern day Olympics kick off?

Sample Lesson Plan

Integrated Lesson Plan (Listening & Speaking Skills)

Lesson Title: Mammals

Grade Level and Course: 5th Grade English

Time Segment of Lesson: 80 Minutes

Learner Profile

Twenty 5th grade intermediate ELL students with 10 boys and 10 girls. They are technologically literate and are eager to ask questions in class. The lower level English language learners will ask their peers for clarification about activities. They are an active group and Teachers need to keep lessons engaging and interesting. 

Standard(s) Addressed in Lesson


Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions and carry out assigned roles.

Objective(s) of the Lesson 

  • To watch a video about mammals and answer guided listening comprehension questions. 
  • To discuss the topic of the video with other classmates. 
  • To create their favourite mammal from the video with Playdough

Target Vocabulary

mammal- species- vertebrates- placenta

Student Diversity and Differentiation of Instruction

Student DiversityDifferentiation of Instruction
Higher English Level StudentsWill support peers with translation of vocabulary and guided listening worksheet as they work together in pairs. 
Lower English Level StudentsCirculate and answer any questions related to the video or the worksheet.

Formative and Summative Assessments

Formative Assessment Summative Assessment
Guided Listening WorksheetStudents are given a worksheet to complete based on the video they are watching and discussing.

Materials and Resources for Lesson 

Materials, Technology, and WebsitesRequired Preparation
Video T writes out a simple story and prints it out before class.
Guided Listening WorksheetT creates a short worksheet and prints it out before class.
Projector/computer T makes sure the tech is working.
Digital Copy of the Guided Listening WorksheetT makes sure to bring the file to project on the board so the class can go over the answers.
Playdough and Supplies T provides Playdough and supplies for students to create their own mammal as a closing activity. 

Lesson Content

Video Link: The three different ways mammals give birth – Kate Slabosky

Before Watching

1. Name 4 types of animals that are mammals.

2. Name at least one characteristic of mammals.

3. Are humans mammals?

While Watching

1. All mammals are vertebrates, meaning they have ____________________.

2. Mammals are distinguished from other vertebrates by a number of shared ___________. That includes _________ blood, body _______ or _______, the ability to ____________ using lungs, and nourishing their young with __________.

3. These creatures also have many biological _______________, and one of the most remarkable is how they give ___________.

4. Placental mammals can spend far ___________ insider the __________ than other mammals.

5. It will spend the next _______ months drinking _________ liters of its mothers thick, fatty _______ per day.

6. Marsupial babies are so ________ and delicate when they’re born that they must continue developing in the ___________ ____________.

7. A female _____________ can often simultaneously ____________ one inside her uterus and another in her ____________.

8. The name monotreme means _______ hole referring to the __________ orifice they use for reproduction, excretion and ______-__________.

9. Their eggs are ________-shelled, and when their babies _________, they suckle _______ from pores on their mother’s body until they’re __________ enough to feed themselves.

After Watching

1. What are three different types of mammals?

2. What are 2 facts of mammals?

3. How long can whales have babies in mother’s womb?

Think-Pair-Share Discussion Activity

Ss will join in pairs and discuss the following question:

From this video, what new things did you learn about mammals?

They will write down their notes and decide how to share their response with the class. 

Playdough Activity

Students will work in their pairs to create their favorite mammal from the video or from their own experiences. They will present their mammal to the class using the target vocabulary discussed in the lesson. 

  1. The teacher T) will tell students (Ss) that they are going to watch a video about mammals and answer some questions.  They will have 20 minutes to complete the task.
  2. T hands out the Guided Listening Worksheet and starts the video. T will play the video twice. The first time the Ss will watch the video and the second time they will use their Guided Listening Worksheet while watching the video.  T circulates through the class, looking for students who may need help. After the time allocated is finished, T will go over the questions in the worksheet, and Ss will correct their answers. (10 minutes)
  3. Ss will join in Think-Pair-Share discussion about mammals. Ss will decide how they will divide their response with the class and both students for each pair will share their discussion responses. (15 minutes)
  4. T will circulate Playdough supplies for Ss to create their favorite mammal from the video or from their own experiences. They will do this in their pairs. When they have completed their mammal, they will present their mammal to the class. (20 minutes to create and 10 minutes to present).
  5. T will provide a formative assessment of target vocabulary to Ss. (5 minutes).

Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time,


Related Topics

Further Reading

Global Language Portfolio Listening

Sample Critical Listening Guide

Listening Activities for Kids

5 ESL Listening Exercises

CEFR- Can-Do Checklist


Slabosky, K. (n.d.). The three different ways mammals give birth. Www.ted.com. Retrieved August 26, 2021, from https://www.ted.com/talks/kate_slabosky_the_three_different_ways_mammals_give_birth

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