The ABCs of ELB: English Language Bits -ESL Listening Resource for Teachers and Students

English Language Bits website

Written by Tim Cloutis


If you are teaching in the ESL/EFL field, or more particularly LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada), you might know that good listening recordings are hard to come by. Who among us hasn’t dragged family members, partners and co-workers to role play for a home-made audio text?

Well, there’s a new website English Language Bits, (let’s call it “ELB”) – the brainchild of CCLCS teacher and ESL scholar Yuliya Desyatova. If you’re looking for real world, authentic listening texts, or even if you’d just like to know what CCLCS (Canadian Centre for Language and Cultural Studies) and staff are up to, then check out the site at for recordings and activities that can be used in the classroom, or on one’s own. The website is still being developed but the audio and activities are sound (pun intended).

How did this come about?

It’s not easy to find the right audio clip. Whether there’s a fee, or it’s too long, too difficult, too fake, in the end teachers will often have to make one themselves.

With that in mind, Yuliya wanted to develop a resource that could provide audio texts that were closer to the real needs of ESL Teachers. As a result, ELB:

  • doesn’t cost money
  • doesn’t require a subscription to a website
  • reflects students’ real life experiences
  • can be used by a teacher in class OR by a student independently
  • comes with activities
  • is created by teachers

Another push to create ELB was the war in Ukraine. As more and more victims of the war were forced to flee, Yuliya wanted to do something that would help “millions of my fellow Ukrainians around the world to improve their own lives”.  It was important that the ELBs be usable for self-study.

Action-Oriented Approach and ELB

The conception and development of ELB was informed by the Action-Oriented Approach – a concept embraced by Yuliya during her studies at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE).

But what is it?  It’s not a radically new idea; it’s been explored and adopted by researchers and educators internationally, particularly the Common European Frame of Reference (CEFR) – the Council of Europe’s (COE) equivalent of LINC. And it’s commonly referred to by its acronym – that should say something!

As Yuliya explains it:

The action-oriented approach goes beyond task-based teaching, which would probably suggest listening and role-playing a conversation between a parent and a school admin assistant or a teacher, for example, or getting information from the school website, and those would be great tasks, or real-life examples of language use.

But the action-oriented approach goes further – it emphasizes language learners as social agents, expected to make choices and decisions, rather than being limited to pre-defined roles in tasks.

For example, in the context of school registration, some newcomers may want to know what kind of schools/programs are available, how they differ, and make an informed choice if/when options are available. Another example would be selecting the most appropriate healthcare service for a certain health-related issue, in addition to practicing a 911 or an 811 call.

Too much for this modest little blog post so if you’re curious to know more, you can watch Yuliya and TESL Coordinator Cheryl’s TESL Ontario webinar, “From Task-Based to Action-Oriented Listening” on They might be presenting at the TESL Ontario Conference this fall, too.

CCLCS gets in on the Action (-Oriented Approach)

CCLCS is happy to support English Language Bits and lend its name and networks to promote this great resource. We’ve even had a hand at producing some ‘bits’. Many CCLCS staff and friends have contributed their voices to the recordings. (The interview, Public and Catholic Schools features my wife Pat. It’s the most popular bit – just sayin’!)

At a recent Professional Development (PD) day at CCLCS, teaching staff settled in to hear more about English Language Bits and AOA, and ended by creating a few bits for the lower levels.

Here’s one:

./The ABCs of ELB_ English Language Bits -ESL Listening Resource for Teachers and Students – CCLCS _ Canadian Centre for Language and Cultural Studies_files/saved_resource.html

./The ABCs of ELB_ English Language Bits -ESL Listening Resource for Teachers and Students – CCLCS _ Canadian Centre for Language and Cultural Studies_files/FqkbjT275yQ.html

Teacher Anuba, says of this:

We decided to create this listening because our CLB 2/3 [Canadian Language Benchmarks] students had mentioned that they needed some guidance within the healthcare system. They felt uncomfortable talking to receptionists and doctors about their health. They wanted to be able to describe their symptoms without using a translator. We saw this as a great opportunity to fill that gap in for our students. 

The experience was fantastic. It was one of our last days working together with John, so we really pushed ourselves to create a quality, lasting memory with him. Our students have also responded positively to the resource. Thanks to all who made it happen!

And here’s another:

./The ABCs of ELB_ English Language Bits -ESL Listening Resource for Teachers and Students – CCLCS _ Canadian Centre for Language and Cultural Studies_files/saved_resource(1).html

./The ABCs of ELB_ English Language Bits -ESL Listening Resource for Teachers and Students – CCLCS _ Canadian Centre for Language and Cultural Studies_files/uHCgW2ZD0dU.html

Teacher Paul says:

I worked with Ampi on the parent-teacher call. I can’t really say why we chose that.  We just started brainstorming, and there were many things we thought could really use a good sample listening text; finally that’s what we both agreed on.  We both agreed that our students often struggle with speaking English on the phone.  They also may find it intimidating to speak with teachers or principals.

So What’s Next?

Getting the finished product up takes some time, as our tech support (ie. Yuliya’s son) will grudgingly tell you. We’ll be streamlining the process, developing the website and, if other contributors from further afield get involved, the topics will expand beyond Toronto and Ontario. Above all, if our search for funding is successful, we’ll be able to compensate bit-makers for their contributions.

Got any ideas for topics? Want to contribute? Let us know!

Reach out to us via our contact page. Thank you.

*** need some advice about audio recording? Check out our blog post by Mike Simpson from last year: Audio Recording: Tips for Teachers


  1. A really great project by Yuilya and colleagues at CCLCS. Can’t wait to see more and hope to collaborate with you in the future. Keep up the good work.

    • CCLCS

      Thank you! We are very proud of Yuliya and appreciate the hard work by all the contributors. Thanks for the support.

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