Teaching listening and speaking skills in the middle childhood

Автор: вчитель англійської мови Огаркова Вікторія Ігорівна

вчитель англійської мови Огаркова Вікторія Ігорівна“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains.

The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires”.

William Arthur Ward

Listening is the key to successful speaking, but at the same time it is the most difficult skill for students. Listening is not the same as hearing. It is more about focusing on some specific information.

Let’s have a look at our educational system. In the first class students start learning Alphabet. They are obliged to learn 26 letters. We learn Alphabet songs; write letters learn their shapes etc. But what is the purpose? I call it “learning for learning”.

I propose you to think about babies talking timeline. Babies cannot speak from the first minute of their life. They are born to listen.

Newborn – 3 months – babies hear sounds, your dog barking, and voices and later on they associate certain sounds with lips movements.

4 – 6 months is the time for babbling.

7 – 12 months is time for babbling to transform into the words (like “ma,ma”, “pa,pa”).

13 – 18 months – toddler tries to build words, mostly nouns.

19 – 24 months – “language explosion”, toddlers learn nearly nine words per day. It’s time to build sentences and making mistakes. For example, babies can say “ball” meaning all the objects that have a round shape.

25 – 36 months – time for building short stories.

This speaking timeline shows the development of speaking skills during the first 3 years of life and we are talking about native language and communicative atmosphere. Parents, friends and other children are using the same language. It takes 6 or 7 years for an ordinary child to prepare himself for learning their own language.

At the age of six, our children go to school. They can speak using the words they have heard from someone. With the help of these words, they can build sentences, count and sometimes even read. What do they do? They start learning an Alphabet and practice reading and writing skills. Although, methodologists recommend starting writing period only after reading period (it is nearly 119 lessons).

Now, I want to ask you to think about foreign language. First class is the first time our learners meet with other language. Do they need to start with learning Alphabet? The answer is obvious. They need to listen and produce the sounds and words they hear. Six years is the time of “Memory Birth”. First class learners do not only listen but read words. At this period of time, children are mostly visuals. They remember words according to the shape. They know that the word “dad” has rising-falling-rising shape. That’s why children can read ‘bad” instead of “dad”.

There is no sense in learning letters or pronunciation in the first class. There are so many exceptions in the pronunciation of letters. We are talking about long and short sounds, opened and closed syllables. But it won’t help our learners to speak foreign language. They will be aware of making mistakes. As a result, we have silent learners.

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