Responsive Listening Assessment

Responsive listening involves listening to a small amount of a language such as a command, question, or greeting. After listening, the student is expected to develop an appropriate short response. In this post, we will examine two examples of the use of responsive listening. These two examples are…

  • Open-ended response to a question
  • Suitable response to a question

Open-Ended Responsive Listening

When an open-ended item is used in responsive listening it involves the student listening to a question and provided an answer that suits the context of the question. For example,

Listener hears: What country are you from
Student writes: _______________________________

Assessing the answer is determined by whether the student was able to develop an answer that is appropriate. The opened nature of the question allows for creativity and expressiveness.

A drawback to the openness is determining the correctness of them. You have to decide if misspellings, synonyms, etc are wrong answers.  There are strong arguments for and against any small mistake among ESL teachers. Generally, communicate policies trump concerns of grammatical and orthography.

Suitable Response to a Question

Suitable response items often use multiple choice answers that the student select from in order to complete the question. Below is an example.

Listener hears: What country is Steven from
Student picks:
a. Thailand
b. Cambodia
c. Philippines
d. Laos

Based on the recording the student would need to indicate the correct response. The multiple-choice limits the number of options the student has in replying. This can in many ways making determining the answer much easier than a short answer. No matter what, the student has a 25% chance of being correct in our example.

Since multiple-choice is used it is important to remember that all the strengths and weaknesses of multiple-choice items.This can be good or bad depending on where your students are at in their listening ability.


Responsive listening assessment allows a student to supply an answer to a question that is derived from what they were listening too.This is in many ways a practical way to assess an individual’s basic understanding of a conversation.

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