Listening and Speaking Skill

The teaching of English as a foreign language is now one of the most important subjects in most European primary schools. The implementation of English has brought along the need to establish clear objectives that are different to the ones traditionally assigned to secondary schools. While in secondary schools we still find, in many cases, a teaching based in the formal aspects of the language, i. e. grammar; primary school teachers have had to adopt a different approach as the age of the children make the teaching of formal aspects not advisable.

As a result of this point of view, the different Educational Departments have decided to establish, as the main purpose of the EFL teaching, the development of the four skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. However, the implementation of this approach has not been trouble-free as many teachers insist on asking their children to understand every single word they listen to or read, or expect their pupils to write or speak without making the mistakes normally found in the process of acquiring any language.

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The main purpose of this paper is to provide some guidelines that we hope can be useful to teachers of English as a foreign language in primary schools. Listening Listening is the language skill which learners usually find the most difficult. This often is because they feel under unnecessary pressure to understand every word. To achieve the aims related to this skill, the teacher plays an important role that is defined in the following steps.

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1. It is important to help pupils prepare for the listening task well before they hear the text itself.

First of all the teacher must ensure that the pupils understand the language they need to complete the task and are fully aware of exactly what is expected of them. Reassure the pupils that they do not need to understand every word they hear. 2. The next important step is to encourage pupils to anticipate what they are going to hear. In everyday life, the situation, the speaker, and visual clues all help us to decode oral messages. A way to make things a bit easier to the pupils is to present the listening activity within the context of the topic of a teaching unit. This in itself will help pupils to predict what the answers might be.

Read about Early Literacy

The teacher can help them further by asking questions and using the illustrations to encourage pupils to guess the answers even before they hear the text. 3. During the listening the pupils should be able to concentrate on understanding the message so make sure they are not trying to read, draw, and write at the same time. Always give a second chance to listen to the text to provide a new opportunity to those who were not able to do the task. 4. Finally, when pupils have completed the activity, invite answers from the whole class. Try not to put individual pupils under undue pressure.

Rather than confirming whether an answer is correct or not, play the cassette again and allow pupils to listen again for confirmation. You may be given a variety of answers, in which case list them all on the board and play the text again, so that the class can listen and choose the correct one. Even if the pupils all appear to have completed the task successfully, always encourage them to listen to the text once more and check their answers for themselves. Speaking First of all, we must take into account that the level of language input (listening) must be higher than the level of language production expected of the pupils.

So we have many speaking activities used in the first levels that enable pupils to participate with a minimal verbal response. However in the last levels, pupils are encouraged to begin to manipulate language and express themselves in a much more personal way. In primary schools two main types of speaking activities are used. The first type, songs, chants, and poems, encourages pupils to mimic the model they hear on the cassette. This helps pupils to master the sounds, rhythms, and intonation of the English language through simple reproduction.

The games and pair work activities on the other hand, although always based on a given model, encourage the pupils to begin to manipulate the language by presenting them with a certain amount of choice, albeit within a fairly controlled situation. In order for any speaking activity to be successful children need to acknowledge that there is a real reason for asking a question or giving a piece of information. Therefore, make sure the activities you present to the pupils, provide a reason for speaking, whether this is to play a game or to find out real information about friends in the class.

Once the activity begins, make sure that the children are speaking as much English as possible without interfering to correct the mistakes that they will probably make. Try to treat errors casually by praising the utterance and simply repeating it correctly without necessarily highlighting the errors. And finally, always offer praise for effort regardless of the accuracy of the English produced. Telephone One simple game that children from kindergarten through sixth grade can learn from is telephone. Divide students into groups of six or seven, and ask the children to raise their hands if they think they are good listeners.

Select one student from each group to receive a whispered message from you. Give them instructions about how the game works and tell them to go back to their groups and relay both the game instructions and the message. Tell the groups the team who successfully repeats the message from you is the winner. Instruct leaders to whisper that same message to the person on their right, who then whispers the message to the person on his right, and so on. The person sitting to the immediate left of the leader writes the message down on a piece of paper and hands it to you.

When all groups are finished, share the group answers with the class and share your original message. If a student didn't understand how to play, discuss the importance of listening and how listening was the key to winning the game. Favorite Colors Explain to students that you are going to practice listening as a class and then repeating what was said to see who really heard what was shared. Call a student forward to tell the class what his favorite color is. Then, call on the next student to share both what his favorite color is as well as the favorite color of the person before him.

Call on a third student to share her favorite color along with the favorite color of the second student. Continue on with this exercise until all students have shared. If someone forgets what was shared before him, gently ask the student to try again. Discuss things that prevent active listening, such as daydreaming or thinking too much about what you, the hearer, are going to say without listening to the person speaking. Active Listening * Perform a role playing exercise to model active listening to the class. Select a student to share what's been happening in her life over the past week.

Model active listening by looking at the student the entire time she speaks, reacting to what she shares and repeating back portions of what she shares to her. Then, ask the class what actions you took to show that you were listening. Let students role play active listening in pairs with each other, allowing two minutes for each student to talk about a topic. Encourage students not to interrupt, to focus on the speaker, to accept the person's feelings without judgment and to show by your tone of voice and friendly expression that you are interested in what the other person is saying. Active Discussion Present a topic to your class such as, "Some people think kids should go to school all year with no summer off. What do you think? " and solicit discussion from the students about the topic. Call on students, one at a time, to share their opinions. After the first student shares, require all students to paraphrase what the student before them said before sharing their own opinion. Ask the first student who spoke to paraphrase what the last student shares at the end of the exercise. You can perform this exercise either as a whole class or by splitting up students into smaller groups of six to eight.

Language is an integral part of learning, and plays a key role in classroom teaching and learning – children’s confidence and proficiency as talkers and listeners are paramount. Yet in schools, speaking and listening is the Cinderella of English, fighting for the recognition and limelight that her two big sisters, reading and writing, have had for some time. Often, speaking and listening is merely used as a tool to support and guide reading and writing, and is unlikely to be actually taught and assessed. Moreover, discussion can often be dominated by the teacher and children have limited opportunities for productive speaking and listening.

The renewed Primary Framework for Literacy goes some way to address the fact that there is an interdependency between speaking and listening, reading and writing and moreover, that they are mutually enhancing. The objectives for speaking and listening complement the objectives for reading and writing in that they reinforce and extend children’s developing reading and writing skills. National Curriculum There are four aspects of speaking and listening in the National Curriculum programme of study for English: 1. Speaking: to speak competently and creatively to explore, develop and sustain ideas through talk. 2. Listening and responding: to understand, recall and respond to speakers’ implicit and explicit meanings; to explain and comment on speakers’ use of language, including vocabulary, grammar and non verbal features.

3. Group discussion and interaction: to take different roles in groups to develop thinking and complete tasks; participate in conversations, making appropriate contributions building on others’ suggestions and responses. 4. Drama: Using dramatic techniques, including work in role to explore ideas and texts; create, share and evaluate ideas and understanding through drama. Speaking In developing their speaking skills, children need to learn to adapt their talk to the listeners; use a range of ways to express themselves; use talk to clarify their ideas and sustain their talk to develop thinking and reasoning. Speaking should include putting thoughts into words and sharing in groups; taking opportunities to speak at some length to explain ideas in different situations; giving a talk or presentation using gestures, aids and rhetorical devices.

It is essential that children are provided with planned opportunities for speaking in a range of contexts, including: to different audiences, such as class, the teacher and other adults; with different levels of formality such as with peers, to another class, a whole-school assembly and for different purposes, such as recounting events and telling stories, explaining, describing, justifying views and persuading others. Furthermore, children need to be taught how to make more extended contributions, such as expanding ideas using connectives; making connections between reasoning and predicting; using language to organise and sequence ideas.

Listening As teachers, we should encourage active, responsive listening skills. To facilitate this, teachers should present material clearly with prompts to support listening – use of voice; emphasis on key words and sometimes speaking quietly. Teachers are the best models of language in use and should model gesture, volume and tone. When we model speaking and listening we should demonstrate and discuss the process. To do this effectively model and encourage the children to make eye contact with the listener; speak clearly and audibly; use facial expressions and gestures; use precise words to onvey meaning and hold the attention of the audience and respond to others’ contributions by adding or elaborating on them or by expressing an alternative point of view.

Children need to be provided with models of appropriate use of English across the whole curriculum. Speaking and listening in the classroom Establish a set of rules for speaking and listening – these could include some of the following: RULES FOR TALKING| RULES FOR LISTENING| Respect each other’s opinion| Respect each other’s opinions| One voice at a time| Don’t interrupt| Say what you think| Listen carefully| Say why you think it| Be open to new ideas| Build on what others say| Think about what others say| Support and include each other| | Ask when you don’t understand| | Try and reach agreement| | Be noise aware| | Use talk partners Put children into pairs and allocate time for each to talk to the other at specific points in a teaching sequence, eg share experiences, generate ideas and reflect on learning. Retain pairs for a half term so that they establish routines, gain confidence and develop more extended turns.

Mixed groups and group work Ability groups are useful if work is pitched at the appropriate level of challenge whereas structured mixed ability groups ensure a range of views and are suitable for tasks which require diversity. Same language groups can be advantageous to children learning English as an additional language if appropriate to the task. Try using single sex groups – these are often more comfortable for some children. Use friendship groups which are secure and unthreatening to help children build confidence. Appoint roles to group embers – a leader/chair can organise the group and encourage participation; a scribe can be used to note the key points; a reporter can sum up and present ideas to an audience; a mentor can be used to help group members to complete a task, offering support and clarification; an observer could be used to make notes on how the group works and note contributions. The observations should be shared with the group to help make improvements in future performances. Stimuli, games and puppets Use varied stimuli during the first five minutes of each lesson.

For example a poem, photograph, a painting or a piece of music encourage children to talk about the stimulus. Give children a topic and ask them to speak without hesitation or repetition for one minute. Turn it into a game where others can challenge when the rules are broken and if the challenge is successful the challenger continues the topic to the end of the minute unless challenged. Use puppets to encourage talk. They can be used to support talk in a variety of genres, for example to recount, explain, instruct and inform.

Use a tape recorder so that children can reflect on their use of language and voices. Other ideas * Provide children with a listening frame suitable to the task. If listening to a news broadcast help them to focus on what they hear by giving key headings to help them listen systematically; if they are listening to a recount ask them to picture the scene in their heads as they listen. * Extend children’s understanding of drama by using the convention of teacher in role. This involves taking on some aspects of a character in the situation being explored.

Teachers should demonstrate voice change, gesture and facial expression. * Remember to set goals with clear criteria for success and praise responses. Make it clear what is expected of them in the activity by explaining the criteria for judging achievement and improvement and helping them to review their own progress. A useful way to support this process is through the use of a ‘talk log’ – this is where children reflect on their contribution to speaking and listening activities by making notes n their contribution, areas of strength and aspects to improve on. EAL children When teaching EAL children, we need to ensure that children have time to think before they respond to questions and that, in particular, and that children have rehearsal time and try to encourage more than one word answers. It might be useful to spend time with children learning key words and helping them understand concepts needed for the topic or theme being talked about.

At times it can be useful to encourage children to use their home language, for example when organising initial ideas. In conclusion Although the requirement to teach speaking and listening is found in the programmes of study for English, surely the best practice embeds this teaching in all subjects across the curriculum. Embedding speaking and listening across the curriculum builds on strengths and challenges children in areas where they are lacking. All areas of the curriculum offer distinct opportunities to enhance the topic being taught through talk.

Updated: Feb 22, 2021
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Listening and Speaking Skill. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

Listening and Speaking Skill essay
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