Teaching Listening and Speaking, Research Paper Example


Listening and oral language skills are a vital component of assisting students in the teaching of a foreign language. This paper examines the teaching strategy towards the development of activities for effective listening and how this may be deployed in the classroom. The challenge of learning effective listening skills for EFL teachers can be a daunting prospect. These skills are normally acquired over time with a large degree of practice.  This can be hard for the students as in reality there are no hard and fast rules of teaching English Grammar.  Students often suffer from a ‘mental block’ and the inability to translate or understand specific words.  The early teaching point is to make the learner understand that this is OK and it takes some time to get over the frustration barrier. (Beare, K. 2012)


One approach might be to get the students involved in the development of a song.  This is particularly effective for beginner students.  This might take on the following type of activity framework:-


  • Students consider different types of songs
  • They describe a favorite song and their likes for the song
  • Predict some expressions that might appear in the song


  • Students listen to decide if the song is happy or sad
  • The song is repeated and the students order the verses of the song
  • Students check their answers and correct any errors


  • Discuss what they liked or disliked about the song
  • Whether they would buy the song and for what type of person
  • Write a brief review of the song

Essentially, the students develop the listening skills of pronunciation and comprehension in the singing of words and learning to express their meaning in context of the song. Listening is extremely important in language development because:

  • We spend a large proportion of our time communicating in the language. This includes listening to music (songs), news broadcasts, television, movies etc.  Advances in  technology with computers have raised the importance of the listening skill in language teaching.
  • An important contribution to that of second language acquisition and for the development of the speaking skills
  • Builds the non-linear processing of language and encourages learners to develop high level  strategies to texts.

Songs have always been an integral part of our language learning capability.  This invokes two types of processes in the language teaching process.  The first is termed a bottom up approach  where the listener builds words into sentences and meaning. The other termed the top down approach  get the listener to observe background knowledge in order to decipher the meaning of a message . Both of these skills and observations are useful in the development of comprehension skills. (Schoepp, 2012)


Teachers can adopt differing strategies in order to support the learning of listening skills. A common approach is that of the top down method.  They get the student to listen to the main idea of what is being heard. For example : Going to a restaurant.  What might they predict or infer from this experience e.g. they will meet friends, order wine, order food,  listen to music,  pay the bill etc.  Summarizing is bringing together the collective learning points from what they have heard.  This is a great way for improving language vocabulary, using grammar in the right context and developing language comprehension skills.

It is also important to support the concept of listening for meaning.  That is to get the student to extract the interpretation or meaning from what is heard.  In simplistic terms this follows four basic steps:  (1) Understand the reason for listening (2) The ability to focus on specific events so as to narrow the amount of information to retain at one time (3) Develop a top down or bottom up approach to listening (4) Check your comprehension whilst you are listening, jot down any words that are not understood.  (NCLRC, 2012)


There are a number of different reasons why listening skills are important in language teaching. The first of these relates to the large amount of time we spend communicating in a specific language. As such we spend a large amount of time listening to others in the receive and assimilation of information. Secondly,  listening provides a very important part of helping to develop second language capabilities.  Thirdly the nonlinear processing of a language can help in the development  of holistic strategies to texts. (University of Texas, 2012).

Listening skills are particularly important in early child development and particularly beginner language students.  They help the child in the development and acquisition of language skills. The art of listening is an important party of the continuous ongoing learning experience.  They help the child to hear and interpret information correctly and as such an important part of vocabulary and comprehension development.  Young children develop these skills by interaction with other children and listening to the teacher.  It is the beginning process of creating dialogue and the question and answer process.  The use of repetition helps in the development of conversational skills.  With adult learners the concept of effective listening is an important part of the development of communication skills and assists in the development of Grammar, Vocabulary and Pronunciation  skills.  (Newstat, 2012)

Exercises and Games are a great way to explore listening skills with the younger language learner.  This can use or incorporate visual aids in order to make the learning process more interesting and engaging.


Beare, K. (2012, 1 27). The Challenge of Teaching Listening Skills. Retrieved from About.Com: http://esl.about.com/cs/teachinglistening/a/a_tlisten.htm

NCLRC. (2012, 1 27). The essntials of language teaching. Retrieved from NCLRC: http://www.nclrc.org/essentials/listening/stratlisten.htm

Newstat, M. (2012, 1 29). Listening Skills. Retrieved from A place of our own : http://aplaceofourown.org/question_detail.php?id=111

Schoepp, K. (2012, 1 29). Reasons for Using Songs in the ESL/EFL Classroom. Retrieved from Internet TESL Journal: http://iteslj.org/Articles/Schoepp-Songs.html

University of Texas. (2012, 1 29). Why is listening important? Retrieved from Foreign Language Teaching Methods: http://coerll.utexas.edu/methods/modules/listening/01/