Presentation at California TESOL 2003
Jill Robbins*
November 1, 2003

Culture Bumps: read the description of your country on the
paper, and interact with other participants ACCORDING TO THE

Overview of session
Schema Activation – Pre-Listening Activities: Activities to be
used before listening should help students to activate their background
knowledge of the topic (here, the topic is the problems of foreign
travel) One example is a research assignment on gestures. (handout
p. 4)

Listening and Speaking Strategies – a simplified set of
listening and speaking strategies was used in a listening textbook
written by Robbins & MacNeill, Impact Listening 2. (handout p.5)

Authentic Listening Extract – This is a transcript of a recorded
conversation between two college students. They are discussing their
language studies and a trip to Thailand. This conversation shows their
attitudes about studying languages and was used to develop the material
in this unit. It was scripted and re-recorded to become part of the
listening textbook. (handout p. 6)

Practice Activity for Low Intermediate students:
Text p. 16: Listening Task (handout p. 8)

    • Predict reasons for studying
    • Focus
      • a) on the language
      • b) on the reason for studying it.
    • Respond by saying what you think are good
      reasons for studying a language

  • Text p. 17 Real World Listening(handout
    p. 9)

    • Predict what Dave will say about his
      study of Thai
    • Focus to hear main ideas about Dave’s
    • Respond to Dave’s statement with your own
      opinion on English
    • Review by discussing topic in Interaction
      Link (text p. 53, handout p.10)

    Practice Activity for High Intermediate students:
    Students were asked to do a survey project. This gave them the
    chance to talk more in depth about a topic of their choice and to
    practice listening and other academic skills while gathering data,
    analyzing, organizing and presenting it. (handout p. 14)

    Practice for Advanced students: Students prepare a speech on
    a topic of their choice, or on “My life in ten years.” The Strategies
    Based Instruction Approach is used (developed at University of
    Minnesota under Andrew Cohen) to provide strategic support. (handout
    p. 10, references p. 17)

    Evaluation activity: after using particular strategies,
    students are asked which were helpful in their listening or speaking
    activities. (handout p. 13)

    Q & A

    Contact information:

    * This presentation is adapted from a joint presentation with Andrew J.
    MacNeill at TESOL 2001, St. Louis, MO on March 3, 2001

    Web resources:

    Peter Snashall’s gestures/intercultural communication pages:

    Impact Listening Web Site

    Nationality Quizzes:

    Randall’s Listening Lab – great resource for listening materials for
    ESL, with quizzes and activities.

    Strategic Learning Unlimited (strategies resources)

    Nationality Quizzes: useful for students when talking about other
    countries and languages –


    Research assignment on gestures

    Gestures Around the World

    (Worksheet for pre-listening schema building)

    I. Go to the web site:
    or read the book: Gestures : The Do’s and Taboos of Body Language
    Around the World by Roger E. Axtell

    Try to find the answers to the following questions:

    1. Which of the following are not rude in Belgium?

    a. When you are talking with someone, place your hand
    or hands in your pockets.
    b. Slap someone on the back.
    c. Shake hands with someone.

    2. How do you signal a waiter for a bill in England?

    3. What should you do before you enter a mosque in Iran?

    4. Do men and women shake hands in Mali?

    5. Which hand should you use to pour wine in Chile?

    6. If you visit Costa Rica, how often should you take a shower or bath?

    7. What is the national drink of Mexico, and how do you drink it?

    8. What should you do before entering a Korean home?

    9. What is considered a sign of politeness and a good business skill in

    10. What is the standard greeting in the United States?

    II. Choose a country. What are the gestures used in that country? Write
    down the interesting gestures and bring them to class tomorrow to
    discuss with your classmates.

    What country did you choose?
    What are the interesting gestures or customs from that country?

    of a conversation used to develop listening materials

    N: Yeah. I’ve been to Thailand for a month, though.
    P: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
    N: That was cool.
    P: They eat dogs in Thailand!
    N: Do they? They don’t eat dogs in Thailand! Maybe Vietnam or
    something. I stayed with a friend, so I got kinda like to see the not
    the tourist I went to see tourist stuff, but I also got to see like his
    life, too. And they spoke Thai at home, so I learned a little Thai.
    P Yeah.
    N: And that was good, ’cause I was with him for five weeks. And my
    first impression was not like, Thailand is wrecked, but that people
    were, I mean Thailand is known as the land of smiles, and it’s totally
    true. People are so nice there. And of course, everyone knows I’m a
    foreigner, just like they know I’m a foreigner sitting here in Japan.
    No one cared. Everyone was so nice. When I was in Thailand, and here
    I’ve never gotten so many stares in my entire life. It’s just like,
    comparing the two, well, I love Japan, but Thailand was just a cool
    place to visit. It was really hot. Everything was beautiful. The people
    were beautiful. I learned a little Thai because I –
    P: Particularly the women?
    N: Particularly the women. So, that was a good experience. Then Japan.
    P: That’s right, Japan.
    N: What languages do you speak?
    P: Japanese, sort of, and that’s about it.
    N: Yeah, but you’re studying French., though! ,
    P Well I was studying French but in about an hour I’m going to drop it.

    N: Well, let’s see, I can pretend to speak Japanese, and
    P: Spanish?
    N: Yeah,  Spanish was a required subject in high school, but I
    can’t really remember it.
    P: Oh, you’ll get right back into it if you go back to Spain, or
    N: If I go back to study it.
    P: Or, some espanol American town.
    N: So, Japan. What were your first impressions of Japan?
    P: Am I on the right planet? Totally, I’ve probably told you I’ve
    never, before coming here, not only had I never gone anywhere on my
    own, to another country on my own. I never lived in another country on
    my own.
    N: Me too.
    P: And specific to Japan, I’d never tried any of the food. I’d barely
    tried sake, there weren’t really many Japanese people in Manchester to
    talk with. I didn’t really have any friends apart from the Japanese
    senseis. When I came here the landscape was completely alien to me. The
    way of life.
    N: Yeah.
    P: The heat. The first two weeks I came I thought, ‘”Oh God I wanna go
    N: Yeah that’s kinda like, I had the same impression as you.
    P: When did you go to Thailand?
    N: When I was in high school.
    P: What age?
    N: Oh, gosh eight, seventeen maybe.
    P: Well, yeah the last time I went on holiday was five or six years
    ago. And it was with my family, and I only stayed there for two weeks,
    and it was as a tourist. So, I’ve never had a chance like in the past
    few years, to live closer to a native of that country.
    N: Well I have the same impressions, when I got here, before I got here
    I thought, oh Japan’s cool, Japan’s cool, and tried to get anything I
    could get my hands on about Japan. And study it.
    P: Hmm.
    N: And I thought I knew everything that was goin’ on and I had Japanese
    friends at school, and I loved: Japanese food before I came here. I
    thought I’d have no problems, no culture shock, nothing. And I get
    here, and boy was I shocked. Everything was as I pictured it, but ten
    times more than that. And everything was so much different than what I
    P: Can you go into any more depth? Like
    N: Well, just everything, just little things, the streets, the trains,
    the busses. You know, where’s my car you know.
    P: Yeah.
    N: And I never, and everybody told me that Japanese people are so
    friendly, so nice, and they are, but I’ve never  been stared at so
    P: Is that still a problem with you?
    N: Yeah, it still really bothers me.

    Impact Listening excerpt: It changed my life

    Student Handout: Preparing to give a speech

    1. What will you say to yourself before you give your
    speech in our next class?

    My self-talk:

    2. Draw a picture of what you will imagine before and during
    your speech.

    (complete after delivering the speech)

    3. What did you think about during your speech? Did you have
    any images in mind? Did you do anything special right before you began

    4. What did you think after seeing or hearing your speech?

    Are there any problems you observed? What are they?

    How will you try to avoid them next time?

    Before speaking
    Set a goal
    Use imagery
    While speaking
    Use imagery
    Take risks
    After speaking
    Check goal
    Plan for

    Before listening
    Set a goal
    While listening
    Selectively attend
    Make inferences
    Use imagery

    After listening
    Check goal

    Strategy Evaluation
    Feedback sheet


    When I used it Helped Didn’t help
    predicting I listened to the traffic

    Developed by Andrew J. MacNeill,
    Southwestern College, Chula Vista, CA

    Listening & Speaking — MacNeill — Southwestern College

    The Survey Project: Overview

    For this project, you will work as a member of a team to conduct a
    survey about an issue of your choice.
    First, with your team members,
    you will write questions to find out about the behaviors and opinions
    of your classmates regarding this topic.

    Next, your team will ask your classmates and students
    on campus these questions; you will ask them orally so that you can
    develop your speaking and listening skills in English.
    Then, your group will present
    your findings to the next week in class. The presentation will be 8-10
    minutes. This presentation is worth 30 points.

    Evaluation of the Survey

    The grade for your survey project is a combination of a
    group grade and an individual score; everyone in the group might not
    get the same grade. Your presentation will be evaluated using the
    following criteria:
    • Did each group member do an equal share of the team’s
    • Was the topic and information interesting?
    • Was your presentation complete?
    • Was it clearly presented and easy to follow?
    • Did each group member speak loudly enough for your classmates to hear
    • Did each group member make eye contact with the audience and show
    • Did your group stay within the time limit allowed?

    Grading Scale – 30
    points possible
    5 points issue/questionnaire construction –
    group score
    5 points interviewing/data analysis – group
    10 points presentation – group and
    individual score
    5 points visual – group score
    5 points participation points – individual

    The Survey Presentation
    Length: 8-10 Minutes

    What to include:

    Introduce yourself and your co-presenters.
    Introduce the topic.
    Tell us why the topic was interesting to you.

    Tell what questions you asked.
    Tell / show us the answers you got for each question.
    (Use a visual aid here. You should use a graph or chart to show
    the answers for at least 2 of the questions.)
    Compare the answers of women and men. Compare the answers of people
    with different majors. Are there any differences in the answers of
    these smaller groups from the group as a whole? Tell us about them.

    3. REASONS
    Give some reasons why you think you got the answers you got.
    Explain what you think this information tells us about some or all of
    your classmates.

    Talk about some of the most interesting information and why you
    think it is interesting. Make some general comments about the
    experience of doing the survey. Were there any problems with the
    question you asked? Are there any questions you wished you had
    asked that you didn’t? Etc. Thank the audience for listening.

    Choosing the Topic

    After you find your group members, your group needs to choose a
    topic to interview the class about. You can ask questions about any
    topic you like. For example, you might be interested in your classmates
    ideas and activities related to music, sports, art, or other “free
    time” activities or hobbies. Or you may want to find out about their
    everyday activities, such as eating at restaurants or using telephones.
    Or you may want to know about your classmates involvement and opinions
    regarding different issues – for example, environmental issues such as
    recycling or nuclear energy. Hopefully, it will be an area you are
    interested in and the questions will give you interesting information
    about your classmates to present to the class.

    Below are some example topics and questions:
    Topic: Telephone Use
    1. How many hours a week do you spend talking on the telephone?
    2. Do you own a pager or a cellular phone? If yes, who calls you the
    often on the pager or cellular phone?
    a) Family members
    b) Friends
    c) Girlfriend/Boyfriend
    d) work / part-time job
    e) other
    3. Where do you usually make your phone calls?
    a) At home
    b) Pay phone
    c) Cellular phone
    d) Other
    4. If you own a pager or cellular phone, why did you buy it?
    If you don’t own a pager or cellular phone, why don’t you have one?

    Topic: Magazines
    1. How many magazines do you read per month?
    2. What kind of magazines do you read the most?
    a) News
    b) Sports
    c) Fashion
    d) Music
    e) Other
    3. How much money do you spend on magazines every month?
    4. What is your favorite magazine? Why?


    Chamot, A. U., & O’Malley, J.M. (1994) The CALLA Handbook.
    White Plains, NY:

    Chamot, A. U., S. Barnhardt, P.B. El-Dinary, J. Robbins. (1999). The
    Learning Strategies Handbook. White Plains, NY: Longman.

    Cohen, A. (1998). Strategies in Learning and Using a Second Language.
    New York: Addison Wesley Longman.

    El-Dinary, P. B. 1993. Teachers Learning, Adapting and Implementing
    Strategies-Based Instruction in Reading. Ph.D. dissertation, University
    of Maryland, College Park, Maryland.

    Robbins, J. and A. J. MacNeill. (2000) IMPACT Listening 2 . Singapore:

    Robbins, J. 1999. “East meets West – Approaches to Learner Autonomy” In
    Proceedings of JALT 98, Japan Association for Language Teaching
    International Conference, Omiya, Japan, November 21-23, 1998.

    Robbins, J. 1996. Between ‘Hello’ and ‘See you Later:’ Development of
    Strategies for Interpersonal Communication in English by Japanese EFL
    Students. Published Ph.D. dissertation, University Microfilms,
    International. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan.

    Robbins, J. 1996. Language Learning Strategies Instruction in Asia:
    Cooperative Autonomy? In Proceedings of Autonomy 2000 – The Development
    of Learning Independence in Language Learning. King Mongkut’s Institute
    of Technology, Thonburi, in association with the British Council,
    Bangkok, Thailand. November 21, 1996. Available as an ERIC document:
    ED409728 p/d 1996

    Robbins, J. and E. S. Dadour. 1996. University-level strategy
    instruction to improve speaking ability in Egypt and Japan. In R.
    Oxford (Ed.) Language Learning Strategies Around the World:
    Cross-cultural perspectives. Manoa: University of Hawaii Second
    Language Teaching and Learning Center, Technical Report #13.

    Web resources:
    National Capital Language Resource Center:

    The Language Resource Newsletter:

    September issue:

    University of Minnesota’s
    Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition

    Jill’s website, with links to strategies sites, articles, etc.

    Contact info:

    Participants were given slip of paper with characteristics of a
    person from a particular culture. They were asked to mingle for a few
    minutes, while exhibiting the conflicting cultural characteristics.

    Country X
    In your country:

    1. You like to look at people in the eyes when you talk to them.

    2. You touch people on the right shoulder when you greet them.

    3. When someone talks about the weather you break out laughing.

    4. When you hear the word “we” you say, “that’s nice.”

    Country Y
    In your country:

    1. You don’t like people to touch you.

    2. You always say, “Stop that!” when people touch you anywhere.

    3. You look people in the eyes when you talk to them.

    4. You leave when people say the pronoun “I.”

    Country Z
    In your country:

    1. You like 3 feet of space between you and the person you are talking

    2. You say, “Goodbye” instead of, “Hello,” when you meet someone.

    3. You don’t look people in the eyes when you talk to them.

    4. You always use the pronoun “we” and never say, “I.”

    Country W
    In your country:

    1. You shake hands when you meet someone and talk about the weather.

    2. You like to talk about yourself so you always use the pronoun, “I.”

    3. You cry when people say goodbye, and you don’t like it when people
    laugh at you.

    4. You like to stand very close to someone when you talk to them.