TOEFL Teacher Tips: Create Great Listening Homework

As ESL teachers, most of us assign reading and writing homework primarily.  While these are obviously fundamental skills that students need to practice, they are also typically the easiest types of tasks for instructors to assign. Listening and speaking practice shouldn't lag behind because they are more difficult to assign to students for homework.  In fact, by embracing technology and leaving the CDs behind, you might find that listening homework is one of your absolute favorites-- just as I did-- after discovering ESLvideo.com.

For me, ESLvideo.com was a total game-changer in my classroom.  I had virtually given up on assigning TOEFL-style listening homework because often the students  had purchased used books.  Though using Amazon or Chegg is a great way to get textbooks at more affordable prices, sometimes used books don't always come with all of the pieces they should, such as the CD with the recording of the lectures. Other times, even though students had taken the time to buy a used version of the book that came with the CD, the disk would show up broken or scratched, rendering it unusable.  As an alternative, I would sometimes assign students part of a documentary to take notes on. Although note-taking practice is always beneficial, it wasn't quite as realistic to the test.  That is when I found ESLvideo.com, which allowed me to ask students to take notes and answer TOEFL-style questions.  The best part was that I didn't even need to worry about collecting paper or walking around the room to see that everyone had completed the questions for homework.  By signing up for a free teacher account at their website, students could directly send me the results.

So, do you want to assign your students listening homework that is level and age appropriate that gets graded automatically?  

That's what I thought.

I've led in-person workshops training other ESL instructors how to use this website, and I want to give you a tutorial as well so there is no excuse not to use this amazing free tool in your classroom.  Also, it is extremely easy to use-- very little learning curve for the website.  

Step 1. Create your account

So head on over to ESLvideo.com.  Click on Register and fill out the information.  Select a username that makes sense for you and your students because students will be able to use the Teachers tab in order to find you and this is organized by username, not first name/last name.  

At this point, you should definitely create a Teacher Code.  This is what your students will type in in order to send their results to use.  Simply select a code that will be easy to remember and update your account.

If you want to be really fancy, you can customize features of your Profile.  After you've registered and logged in, click Teacher Page to add your website and a profile picture.  You can even link a video or create a message for students who look at your page.  These features could be an excellent advertising opportunity for driving traffic to your website, especially if you are interested in starting some type of online tutoring business.

Step 2. Find a video in the public domain   

Now that you've created an account, you can find an already existing video to assign to your students or you can create your own practice questions for your students.  Do you want them to focus on grammar or content?  The quizzes are really flexible so you will find many different styles that already exist.  Also, what kind of listening do you want students to do?  Would they benefit from hearing a lecture or a casual conversation between friends?  For me, I wanted to make my listening practice as similar to the TOEFL as possible, so that was my starting place for step 2.  As a result, I knew that Ted.com lectures would be a great option for me because they are academic in nature.  I would pre-screen the videos for content that seemed similar to TOEFL content, which meant I needed speakers that had good speed and pronunciation.  

Step 3. Upload your video

Click on the gray Create  Quiz tab.  Copy and paste the embed code from your video's website (on YouTube, Ted.com, etc.) into the box on ESLvideo.com.  You will then need to title your video.  Your videos will all come up on your teacher page together, so you might want to number them if they should be viewed in order or give them some type of organization.  Use the description and tags features to help other ESL teachers and students find the awesome quiz you have created.  You must also upload a thumbnail for your video.  Videos from YouTube will already have thumbnails created, but you could also make your own using a free tool like Canva.  Once you've clicked the radio buttons for the appropriate level, language, and quiz type, hit next.

Step 4. Create your questions.
I love to create TOEFL-style questions for my students.  The limited amount of quality TOEFL listening material out there makes this a necessity for my classroom.  However, ESLvideo's platform is quite versatile, so you could craft questions that test grammar topics, minimal pairs, or common collocation recognition.

Step 5. Share with your students

It is easy to get your quiz in front of your students.  If you have a website, you can actually embed the video and questions directly into your site.  If that seems intimidating, you could also post or email the link to your students.  Students can also go to the Teachers section of ESLvideo and see all of the quizzes you've posted in one spot.  No matter how you choose to distribute the quiz, make sure that your students have your Teacher Code.  After they take the quiz and get their results, this will enable them to send their scores directly to you.

With ESLvideo, making in-class listening practice or assigning listening homework couldn't be easier.  It is free for you and your students, and the quizzes are automatically graded when students answer the questions. Love the idea but don't want to make your own quizzes?  Sign up below and get notified each time I post a new quiz!

Privacy Policy