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10.1 Listening in the Classroom

durenmgmail-com November 9, 2021

Young students have a short attention span, which can improve with age. Teachers will find that older students can sit calmly and listen for more extended periods. However, it is vital not to overload any student when you are working with listening activities.

When students listen to someone speak, they cannot re-listen in the same way they can re-read. Students will have to concentrate very hard when listening to someone talk, which can sometimes be challenging.

When someone is communicating with us, we will show in some way that we know what the other person is saying, by nodding, etc. If we do not understand, then we say so immediately. We rarely wait until the end of a conversation to answer questions about what was said to us. The activities offered in this section focus on understanding as students listen. There are various types of listening exercise methods, namely: Intensive and extensive.

Extensive listening (listening for the gist or specific pieces of information) – Grasping the overall meaning. This type of listening is common in real-life practice and everyday listening.

Intensive listening (understanding every word) may inhibit the development of excellent receptive skills by encouraging students to pay attention to the meaning of every word and develop tunnel vision (the tendency to focus exclusively on a single or limited objective or view).

Example of Extensive listening vs. Intensive listening

  • Effective listeners use the overall context to help clarify and deduce the meaning of individual words or structures. They tolerate uncertainty, ignore unknown items, or infer their meaning from the context.
  • For example, we have a sentence, “the weather is very hot, so I went for a swim” let us use an analogy where the students do not understand the word “hot.” Extensive listeners take from the sentence that the point is he went for a swim.
  • Intensive listeners would focus on not understanding the word hot and might stress over it or look it up.
  • Active listeners would deduce the meaning of hot by using keywords such as weather and swim.

When it comes to communication, listening is the skill that children will obtain first. When the students begin to learn a foreign language, it is something that they first have to hear. What these students hear will be their primary cause of the language. Teachers will need to provide as much visual back-up as achievable through facial expression, movement, and pictures.

Once something has been said, it can be forgotten. If the students are reading, they can go back and check or re-read something they do not quite understand. However, this is not possible when they are listening. This is why when teachers are speaking and the children are listening, it is vital to say things clearly and repeat them.

For example, do not tell a story from start to end without breaks


  • ‘This story is about John and starts on a warm, summer afternoon. Who is the story about? Whom can we see in the picture? Yes, is it John. It is a warm summer afternoon, and John is… Where is he? In the jungle. Right. They are in the jungle. And what are they doing? He is picking fruit. It is a warm summer afternoon, and John is in the jungle, picking fruit. What happens next? Well…’ and so the story continues.

Let us look at the activities in the following units, which are designed to get students’ attention and, at the same time, help them become active listeners, engage and respond to a speaker, and complete a task by following directions.