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Published: July 13, 2011


An essential language and communication skill consisting of hearing and then translating aural data into action. Basic to the acquisition of knowledge, listening is one of the first communicative skills learned by infants. Its development, however, depends largely on specific instructional techniques, first by parents and later by elementary school teachers. Parents teach listening most effectively when they themselves listen to children’s chatter. Negative responses to such chatter, no matter how tired, impatient, annoyed or bored the parent may be, tend to discourage children from speaking and, in turn, listening. If listening is unimportant to parents, it becomes unimportant to children.
Although students spend more of their school day listening than talking, a host of factors affect development of their listening skills, including teacher methods of presentation, their lengths of presentation, relevance to daily life, student motivation, distractions, noise pollution and student psychological and/or physical state. Aside from the importance of listening to learn information aurally, listening is also essential for absorbing written materials. For these reasons, development of listening skills has become a formal part of the language arts curriculum, with teachers actively engaging students in listening exercises, such as asking students to describe or summarize, both orally and in writing, what they have just read or heard. Formal listening training should begin in preschool, by teaching children to follow simple directions, to respond to requests for attention, to listen to others quietly and courteously, to take turns talking and not interrupt or distract others, to listen carefully to short stories, to repeat sequences of sounds, to repeat sequences of orally given numbers, and to repeat details of a simple story in sequence.