Listening Activities in Moodle 1.9: Part 1

7 min read


Before activities aim at motivating students to listen and getting them to anticipate texts and focus on key vocabulary in advance. Forum and Mindmap are two modules which enable us to do this.

During activities focus on the detail of the text and include listening and matching, gap-fill, ordering tasks, identifying attitude, and summarizing tasks. Quiz and Lesson modules are well suited to this.

After activities get students to review and evaluate texts they have listened to. Forum and Questionnaire are good for this purpose.

The article is organized as follows:

Activity and ease of setup




1  *

Before listening

Forum and Mediacenter

Students discuss recordings they would like to hear.

2  *



Students brainstorm ideas or vocabulary.

3  ***

During listening


Students answer gist and detailed questions about recordings.

4  ***



Students predict text in recordings.

5  *

After listening


Students vote on recordings.

6  ***



Students review and evaluate the content of recordings

7  *



Students discuss recordings.

Since there are various ways we can use Moodle to help students, the introduction to this article looks in detail at the types of players we can use. There is also some guidance on the range of sources of listening material available on the Internet. The final section in the introduction demonstrates how we can show and hide text on Moodle pages while students listen.


This article offers four main ways of presenting listening material.

  • Built-in Flash player: Recordings have to be made on an external recording program, such as Audacity. You need to do some simple editing of the HTML code on your pages, but it doesn’t require any add-on modules and the player fits neatly into the page:

    Listening Activities in Moodle 1.9: Part 1

    The player usefully includes a pause facility.

  • Mediacenter: This podcast player requires the add-on Inwicast module. It allows you to include high-quality recordings whose length is limited only by the maximum upload settings as set in the administration panel. The player is again simple and attractive:

    Listening Activities in Moodle 1.9: Part 1

    Mediacenter helps you organize recordings in one place. Recordings can be used in a variety of formats, such as Flash-FLV, MP4 and MOV, WMV and MP3. If your recording equipment records in another format, such as WAV, for example, you can use tools like Audacity to convert the audio format if necessary. You might find it useful to convert from WAV to MP3 format, which works in Mediacenter. Mediacenter also allows you to link to remote files on other websites.

  • NanoGong player: This requires the add-on NanoGong module. It’s well worth including in your Moodle setup, as it allows simple recording and playback on most HTML pages within Moodle.

    Listening Activities in Moodle 1.9: Part 1

    The major constraints as far as Moodle is concerned are the time limit of 2 minutes per recording and the lower recording quality. However, for ease of use and convenience, it’s suitable for many of the activities.

  • Embedded flash video players: You can embed Flash video players in Moodle HTML pages by pasting embed code from the source site on your page. Embed, here, means insert it into the page.

    You must check that there are no copyright issues when you embed video. Some sites allow it, some don’t. Some request that you seek permission first. Since the video is sourced from another website, you are using its bandwidth as well as its content. So it is doubly right that you seek permission.

Sources of listening material

It’s worth considering the range of sources of listening materials available. The following are the typical sources:

  • You
  • Your students
  • Your colleagues
  • Local interviewees, such as friends and professionals. You could approach representatives of local services, such as the police or tourist services, and ask if you can make short interviews.
  • Recordings of local announcements from railway stations or airports
  • Internet recordings
  • Websites, such as Woices ( and voicethread (, which combine audio with maps and images

Activity 1 has an extended list of listening sources.

Recording speed

One of the many useful features of Audacity is that it allows us to reproduce recordings at different speeds without the pitch changing. It’s well worth including slower recordings if you think your students will benefit from it. Presentations could include two recordings: the first one at a slower speed; the second at a faster, more natural speed. Alternatively, you could start with a recording at a natural speed and make slower speed versions available for students who need remedial help.

You can use Audacity to record from the Internet (also known as grabbing).

Showing the text before listening

In many of the activities, you might want to create a facility for allowing students to see text before and/or after they hear it. Here is a simple way of doing that using ALT tags (Computer-speak for Alternative text).

First, prepare a small GIF image that students will hover their mouse cursor over to see the text.

In case you don’t know, GIF is one of the formats you can save an image in. Other formats you may have heard of are JPG and PNG.

You can do that using a simple graphic program like Paint. Alternatively, you can copy this pink square image from To do that, right-click (or Ctrl+click on a Mac) on the image and select Save Image As…. Then, in the HTML area on your Moodle activity, upload the image, and write the text you want to show in the ALT area.

Listening Activities in Moodle 1.9: Part 1

The HTML page will now look like this. The text you write in the Alternate text box will appear in a separate box on the screen when you hover the mouse cursor over the pink square.

Listening Activities in Moodle 1.9: Part 1

Web conferencingIf you have the add-on module Dimdim, you could also create live listening sessions.

Activity 1: Using Forum to motivate students

Aim: Help motivate students by discussing what recordings to listen to

Moodle modules: Forum

Extra programs: Mediacenter (optional)

Ease of setup: *

As with many language-learning activities, it’s important to try to motivate students at the outset. In this activity, students discuss what recordings to listen to. The choice of recordings will depend on the age, interests, and language level of the students. There are thousands of sources on the Internet, many of which you can find through good search engines. Here are some examples:



News sites

You could also consider getting students to listen to and compare news from different countries. The open directory project is a good place to look:

Media repositories

Sites like YouTube and Google Video are good sources of songs, presentations, TV clips, stories, and many other recordings. Sound archives are also good places to look. Some useful sources are:


Poetry sites

Many of these include recordings:


Story sites

More and more audio books are now available on the Internet often free, as with project Gutenberg:


Public broadcast stations like DW, BBC, CBC and CNN are good sources:


Film trailers

Several websites are devoted to film trailers. For example:

Soap operas

A search for “podcast soap opera” should provide a good catch.


Again, public broadcast stations ofter an increasingly wide range of documentaries, which you can link to via your Moodle Mediacenter:


These can be made by you, your students, or sourced from websites such as

A search for “online lectures” will yield many more sites.


Try for a directory of advertisements.


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