Developing listening skills in Primary classroom

Developing listening skills in Primary classroom

Listening tasks are the first we start with when we teach very young learners and young learners who are true beginners at learning the English language. As they cannot read, write or speak in English yet, it’s the first model of language acquisition for them, as a result, for further speaking practice. Therefore it’s one of the most essential language skills for young learners’ language development. 

Why is it hard with young learners?

Young learners need to be engaged and have a reason for listening. Moreover, it isn’t enough to pre-teach new vocabulary to have them recognize it in the track or just ask some questions to check comprehension. These kinds of tasks are not enough to motivate kids.

What’s important to consider when creating tasks for developing listening skills of the YL?

  • Appropriate materials

Materials should relate to their real life or experience. In addition, they should be manageable and graded (for example, vocabulary pre-teaching, pre-listening tasks, visuals, examples). The content itself must be interesting and appealing to young learners; be visually attractive. It should relate to their interests and be age appropriate. Moreover, it’s good when materials are fun and gamified to make learning process enjoyable.

  • Realistic tasks

Young learners get information from their experience. Teachers are supposed to create real-life conditions in the classroom to help learners develop skills for understanding messages. The tasks must reflect learners’ real life experience and the knowledge they acquire every day. What tasks can reflect their real life? For example, when they listen to game instructions or doing craft activities. They have a certain purpose therefore the tasks becomes meaningful for them. 

  • Engaging tasks

Young learners are naturally curious, new things engage them. So it’s quite important to create materials that can captivate and stimulate their imagination. They also learn through visuals, videos, games. They want to share what they learn with their friends. So they tasks should keep them involved while they are learning the language, they should raise and generate interest. Furthermore, it’s great when tasks develop students’ imagination and creativity. 

What’s the order of listening activities?

  1. Pre-listening 

These tasks prepare students for listening activities. This stage is supposed to arouse students’ interests and spark their curiosity, e.g. look at the picture, guess what the recording will be about or predict the words. It’s also aimed at contextualising the listening activity and activating schemata to help learners understand the track and make the process easier and more natural. We also pre-teach some structures, expressions or vocabulary to facilitate listening.

  • Listening

Student should have a purpose, reason for listening, or task. Moreover, students should listen to a recording several times to do the task. The tasks are usually graded. The first task is usually easy and students listen for general information or gist. The second one is more difficult, it usually requires students to listen for specific information or details. The third listening is usually aimed at checking their answers or at finding implied meanings. 

  • Post-listening

There are two main post-listening activities. First is discussion of the recording, giving opinions on the content (agree/disagree; like/dislike), personalisation. Second is focus on language: it’s aimed more at language development rather than listening or speaking skills, e.g. find and analyse collocations. 

Here are some typical listening tasks:

  1. Listen and point (e.g. when students listen to new words and point at the pictures).
  2. Listen and say what it is about (e.g. when students listen to a story).
  3. Listen and number (e.g. students have pictures from a comic strip and should number the pictures).
  4. Listen and order the lines (e.g., for the song or the steps of the story).
  5. Listen and answer comprehension questions (e.g., for the fairytale)
  6. Listen and choose “True” or “False” (e.g., for some factual information from a CLIL lesson). 
  7. Listen and correct the information. (e.g., biography of a child).
  8. Listen and match. (e.g., phrases with pictures)
  9. Listen and make (e.g, craft activity).
  10. Listen and draw/visualise (e.g, activities aimed at developing students’ imagination and creativity)
  11. Listen and repeat. (e.g., chant or song or story lines)
  12. Listen and role-play (e.g., a part from a story)

Listening is one of the most essential skills for VYL and YL. Listening materials must relate to YL experience to help them develop these skills. Make sure materials are age appropriate, engaging and realistic. Use authentic materials, create meaningful tasks, contextualise them and make it fun.

We hope this information, advice and some ideas were useful for you and they will help you make listening activities more effective and motivating for students.

Наринэ Егорова

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