Why and how do listening exercises help children learn English?
Listening is a skill
Listening is an important skill in our daily lives. We listen all our lives. A skill that requires long practice and consolidation. It is especially important to form it in childhood, because then children are most receptive to memorizing information that they receive aurally.
It has been proven that we remember only 7% of the information we hear. This is not the case with the intonation and melody of the language, which we learn from the earliest childhood, as well as during the process of learning a foreign language.
Each language has a specific melody that is unique to it. In the process of listening, children and students hear this melody and subconsciously try to imitate it until they perform it exactly.
The intonation of the voice is very important, because in English its observance is of special importance.
Imitation – listening exercise
The imitative skills of younger children are amazing. The child imitates spontaneously. This is part of his daily life, he initiates only imitation as a natural way of his own development.
An example of the learning process is when the teacher stands up to the children and says the words in a verse and the children repeat or pronounce the sounds that the children imitate. Even the very fact that they hear it from a teacher further motivates them to pronounce the sound or words correctly on their own.
Pronunciation – one of the purposes of auditory exercises
Numerous articles have been written about pronunciation, and many studies have been done. The facts are as follows:
- Pronunciation is formed in early childhood, when the speech apparatus is still flexible and can easily adapt to unusual sounds, intonations, words.
- Pronunciation can be worked out at a slightly later age, but this is rather an unrealistic expectation. It could happen to people who have a gift for learning new languages.
- Pronunciation is a personal feature that can be worked out and improved continuously.
- Pronunciation is improved through communication or listening exercises.
- Pronunciation indicates a certain stage of a person’s language development.
Proper breathing – a prerequisite for proper speech
It is no coincidence that in the kindergarten there are many exercises for good breathing / “Let’s inflate the balloon”, “Train”, songs, breathing exercises /. The formation of a proper exhalation is important for the child and his future language development. This helps him to make a better pronunciation. It is true that some children have a certain gift, they speak earlier, but this does not make them the only ones who can learn quickly under the influence of hearing exercise. With more perseverance and practice, any child can be taught to pronounce words accurately in English, as long as they have developed habits for the proper course of the process: inhale-exhale.
Auditory exercise – a way to form speaking skills
The child listens to a story. There are many new words in it. The teacher explains the new words in familiar words. The whole process of listening to the new and familiar vocabulary enriches the speech culture of the child. It hears and remembers the way these new words are pronounced. The teacher uses them several times in the lesson so that the child or student can hear them as often as possible and memorize them.
During the listening exercise, there is often a part where the child needs to reproduce the heard set of words. What is valuable in this exercise is the practice itself and repetition. In the same way, the child has learned the native language from his mother, who has repeated the same words many times, in order for the young child to memorize them and at some point to reproduce them.
Processes and duration
In language hearing exercises, three processes take place:
- the accumulation of passive vocabulary
This cycle has a different duration in different children. Some hear the word and are able to reproduce it immediately, eager to hear their own voice. For others, it takes time, depending on their own confidence and motivation. It is much easier to reproduce what is heard in front of other children of the same age and level, so that there is no disturbance from the incorrect pronunciation at the beginning. We remind you again that the speech apparatus in each person is unique and therefore such is the pronunciation.
Types of hearing exercises
There are various types of hearing exercises that we use in our learning process at LuckyKids:
- Stories read by a native speaker / teacher.
- Dialogues played out by the teacher and the students.
- Songs in English.
- Tales and stories of recordings told by native speakers.
- Phonemic exercises for correct pronunciation of sounds.
- Increasingly modern methods for repeating words – recordings that are listened to constantly; sometimes history is used.
- Pronouncing sets of words with the same pronunciation but different spelling.
- Pronouncing sets of words with different pronunciation but with the same spelling.
- Working with flashcards with “tricky words” that do not follow the general rules of pronunciation.
- Work with flashcards with sounds, words, numbers or pictures.
- Reading comprehension.
- Reading to smooth the pronunciation.
- Discussions on a topic.
- Playing real-life situations in English, such as “In the store”, “In the park”, etc.
- Various language games in English, which require auditory perception and speech participation / “Guess which animal I thought” and others /.
- Various didactic games that require auditory perception / “Guess where I live – with animals” /.
- Project work in which English is used as a working language.
- Presenting a project to the rest of the audience, requiring well-developed listening and speaking skills.
Auditory exercises – teacher’s choice
There are many other methods for learning correct pronunciation, for improving the hearing and speaking apparatus. For us, this diversity is an expectation for the teachers themselves, who can choose their effective set of exercises.
Auditory exercises and emotional culture
Nowadays, where time is of the essence and people are in a hurry to finish as much as possible in a minimum of time, the ability to stop and listen is extremely valuable.
Teaching emotional engagement through hearing exercises
This is part of the emotional culture that is taught unconsciously to children through teaching methods. Often the teacher uses an imaginary character or material object (ball, toy) to “give the word to a certain child” to be heard and spoken among the other children. Waiting is not a very common human trait. It requires training and discipline. That is why the listening exercise, by giving a word to a child and waiting for the other participants to hear and understand what it is telling them, works to build the valuable human ability to listen with patience, not just understanding. This is a skill that makes you suppress your own need to speak in order to listen to your interlocutor. This ability is undoubtedly a small part of the child’s emotional intelligence. The earlier we start training it, the better for the person who appears as a result of this training and coaching.
Family and parents – a valuable source of language exercises
Hearing exercises provide a variety of skills in the world of communication that make a child a successful social personality. Many psychologists also recommend daily child-parent communication, the most important thing in childhood. Spending time in the family with loved ones is also part of giving the child a powerful tool for his or her future life. In cases where the family or part of him communicates in English with the child, he or she adds value to the language. The child acquires confidence, becomes responsible for his words, learns valuable qualities such as patience, understanding, choice of words that are good, admiration for the power of speech.