Listening is one of the key receptive skills and it is one of the most important outcomes of the language teaching and there is a constant demand in order to enhance the listening skills of young learners. Listening is an active operation and it plays a great role in development of meaning. Listening is based on active engagement that is the listener is actively to derive a comprehensible meaning. As Krashen quoted the term Comprehensible input (CI) ‘we acquire when we understand what people tell us or what we read, when we are absorbed it seems to imply the importance of ensuring that the language level is comprehensible for the learners, which means teachers must understand their learners’ abilities. The young learners need to develop their listening skills in order to develop real life meaning. The listening skill needs to be sharpened so that they are able to understand and thus respond to messages and give their opinions. This implies that the teacher needs to carefully choose materials and purposes for practising listening skills and that they need to have an authentic meaning to young learners, all of which can be attained when the teaching aspirants receive training in a teacher training program like a TEFL course.
Some considerations on listening skills before teaching the young learner:
- Make children feel confident and don’t expect too much from them. Give the children confidence. The teacher should not expect them to always understand every word and they should know everything.
- Give them clear instructions and make sure the learners are made aware of the objective of the listening activity.
- The teacher should develop specific strategies for listening, such a ‘think, pair share’, and the students are also asked to work on their background knowledge to work out on things they are not sure off.
- Set specific listening tasks. The listening task can be categorised in three stages, pre-listening, while-listening, and post listening and have activities for each stage.
- Listening should be based on mostly on student teacher interaction and mostly teacher talk especially for young learners. The teacher can also prepare a set of recorded materials.
- The best way to teach listening is through songs and incorporating ‘to do activities’ in them.
Things the teacher should keep in mind:
- Keep sentences grammatically simple and short
- Mostly talk about topic to what is familiar to the child
- Emphasise key words
- Frequently repeating and paraphrasing
- Teacher should use exaggerated intonation in order to hold the child’s attention
Listening is a process that actively engages the mind in making meaning. So it is the teacher’s duty to make sure that the materials are easy to understand and comprehend as well as within the range and for which the young learners are developmentally ready for. Listening activity requires lot of hard work and patience! And it can be stressful too! So in order to get the optimal outcome of the potential for acquisition of language, you as a teacher need to ensure that the young learners do not feel stressed out and enjoy the whole process.