Students need to bridge the gap between short ESL exercises and real lectures. The trend is now toward authentic texts, radio broadcasts and real lectures for college ESL to promote student learning and interest by stressing communication skills and presenting culture in a natural way.

Listening is considered an active skill, and is emphasized in today's proficiency-oriented classrooms. Due to poor listening skills, students may not be ready to follow academic lectures and demonstrations when competing with native speakers.

Additionally, students need to listen for cues in academic lectures. International students often ignore cues for important information and try to focus on information without distinguishing its relevance.

For example, an ESL student in a math course where the instructor taught by the question-answer approach said afterward that he did not get much information from the course and considered the teacher to be poor since he "didn't teach."

A radio advertisement makes a good activity because learners can experience an authentic chunk of language both cognitively and effectively:

"Are you planning a vacation? How about a quiet island in the Pacific Ocean? Palm Island is a great place for a vacation. You can hike in the mountains, swim and relax on the beach, and eat in wonderful restaurants. Palm Island is only one hour from Malibu by plane, but it seems like another world. Contact your travel agent to get more information about beautiful Palm Island or call 1-800-PALM-ISLE. Hotel-airline packages available from $299."

Here are some exercises and questions that can follow, based on the ESL student's level:

1. Lower levels: The item presented is a (a) weather report, (b) sports report or (c) travel advertisement.

2. Middle levels: Do exercise 1. What activities are available? How can you get to Palm Island? From where do you leave? How long does it take to get to Palm Island? How much does it cost?

3. Higher levels: Do exercise 2. How do you arrange your trip? Is it a campsite or a full-service resort? Would you like to go? Why? Suggest other activities not listed in the commercial. Have students make an oral presentation on a summary of their last trip or have them set up a vacation plan for the class.

Other possibilities for presentation via audio are weather reports, sports reports or even an excerpt from a cooking show.