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Ellie Chettle Cullyechettlecully@hazel.leicester.sch.uk@ECCMFLwww.myprimarylanguagesclassroom.com

All Ears: developing listening skills in the primary languages classroom

  • To consider the importance and challenges of teaching listening in the primary classroom.
  • To explore a range of engaging listening activities that can be taken back to your own classroom.
  • To flag up free listening resources, suitable for primary learners.


The importance (and challenges) of teaching listening skills

Why are listening skills important?

  • Listening is clearly an essential element of language-learning.
  • Phillips (1993): listening tasks provide pupils with a rich source of language data from which the children will begin to build up their own idea of how the language works
  • Without the ability to listen to spoken language, pupils would find it incredibly challenging to engage in "real-life" interactions with native speakers.
  • Listening is far from a passive process. Learners can and should be actively engaged in listening tasks and activities (Linse, 2005).

What challenges do teachers and learners face?

  • Learners find listening one of the most difficult skills in which to make progress within Modern Foreign Language (MFL) study (Graham, 2006).
  • A lack of authentic listening materials at primary level add to the challenge of teaching listening skills.
  • Lessons are, generally, less than an hour and once week (at best). Pupls aren't immersed in the language all the time.

What does the Programme of Study tell us about listening?

Appreciate stories, songs, poems and rhymes in the language.

Engage in conversations; ask and answer questions; express opinions and respond to those of others; seek clarification and help*

Explore the patterns and sounds of language through songs and rhymes and link the spelling, sound and meaning of words.

National Curriulum. Languages Programme of Study: Key Stage Two

Listen attentively to spoken language and show understanding by joining in andresponding.

What can we do to help children to build the listening skills they need at Key Stage Two?

  • Attunes pupils' ears to the sounds, rhythms and intonation of language.
  • Doesn't have to be for the whole lesson: greetings; simple instructions; and basic classroom vocabulary.

Immersing children in the target language

Published by Brilliant Publications

The importance of phonics

  • Phonics: one of the three pillars of language learning.
  • A good grounding in phonics provides children with the key to crack the code of letters and sounds in the target language: Sue Cave.
  • Sue Cave and Jean Haig's method teaches the sound attached to an image and action.
    • pupils don't actually see the written representation (grapheme) initially but build words with us of image cards representing the phonemes.

Tower of Sounds:

  • Read aloud a list of seven or eight words, some containing the focus sound.
  • Children add a block to their tower every time they hear a word containing the focus sound.
  • Add up the blocks at the end.

Using songs to develop listening skills

  • Missing word: pupils listen to a song with a transcript. Whenever they find a blank, they fill it in with the missing word. Don't forget you can change the speed of song on YouTube by selecting 'playback speed' in settings.

Music for listening:

  • Stand up, sit down: children listen out for key words or phrases in a song and stand up when they hear them.
  • Flashcard ordering: listen for particuar words and order the flashcards according to their order in the song.
  • Guess the topic: play the song without any visual clues. Can any of the children work out what the song is about?

Harnessing technology to develop listening

  • Can be used as a whole-class activity or individually within Google Classroom, for example.
  • Language can be changed to allow for a native speaker voice.
  • A variety of different activities can be created, depending on the aim of the activity.

Using online tools to create listening resources:

Games to develop listening skills

Jacques a dit:

  • Simon Says.
  • Say an instruction, prefacing it with Jacques a dit, if you want the children to copy.
  • If you don't want them to copy, remove the phrase from the beginning of the instruction.
  • A range of flashcards or items between a pair of children on the table.
  • Call out montrez-moi... plus the flashcard or item you want.
  • The first child to find it wins a point.


Loto (en ligne):

  • The partner relays the missing information so that A can record it in their blank box.
  • The pair swaps back and forth until all the boxes are filled.
  • Children work in pairs to fill in the missing gaps.
  • Pupil A chooses a blank square and says its number to their partner.
  • Their partner looks up the information located in the box.

Missing information games:

Loto (traditional):

Tu as un stylo et un cahier?

Tu as une gomme et un crayon?

Dans mon sac il y a un taille crayon, une gomme et un stylo.

Un cahier et un crayon.

Un stylo et une règle.

Dans mon sac il y a un livre et un crayon.

Dans mon sac il y a un taille-crayon, une colle et une règle.

Dans mon sac il y a un cahier, un livre et un stylo.

Une règle et une colle.

Dans mon sac il y a un crayon et un cahier.

Dans mon sac il y a un stylo.

Dans mon sac, il y a une gomme.

la gaufre

La bataille navale:

le petit-beurre

le palmier

la barquette

la brioche

le pain au chocolat

Je n'aime pas


Vrai ou faux?

  • Back on the radar of our secondary colleagues but how can we support this in skill in the primary classroom?
  • Can be the simple writing of words, or more complex phrases.


Finding authentic listening resources for Key Stage Two

  • LiPS Listening Project.
  • Recordings available at https://www.lightbulblanguages.co.uk/listening.htm
  • Finding authentic listening resources aimed at primary learners can be tricky.
  • Without access to recordings of native speakers, pupils become over-reliant on the teacher when taking part in listening activities.
  • The Languages in Primary Schools (LiPS) Facebook group has tried to rectify this with the LiPS Listening Project.

Thank you!