Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Listening: Are We Teaching It, and If So, How?

Listening: Are We Teaching It, and If So, How? It took a class in the spring on listening. My wife said that it helped me some for a while but I have backslidden since then! I don't agree as I think I listen rather well. This essay looks at listening and gives some ideas for how to teach students to do it better.

From the site:

Listening is the first language mode that children acquire. It provides a foundation for all aspects of language and cognitive development, and it plays a life-long role in the processes of learning and communication essential to productive participation in life. A study by Wilt (1950), which found that people listen 45 percent of the time they spend communicating, is still widely cited (e.g., Martin, 1987; Strother, 1987). Wilt found that 30 percent of communication time was spent speaking, 16 percent reading, and 9 percent writing. That finding confirmed what Rankin had found in 1928, that people spent 70 percent of their waking time communicating and that three-fourths of this time was spent listening and speaking.

One might assume, then, that the development of listening skills gets considerable attention in our schools; but that does not appear to be the case. Burley-Allen (1982) found the classroom emphasis on language modes to be inversely related to the time people use them: students get 12 years of formal training in writing, 6-8 years in reading, 1-2 years in speaking, and from 0-1/2 year in listening. Swanson (1984b) calls this the "inverted curriculum."

Curriculum guides usually call for more extensive instruction in listening than children get; for as Swanson (1984a) found, there is a tendency for teachers not to emphasize the listening objectives. Many studies in the ERIC database suggest that educators have assumed that listening develops naturally (e.g., Abelleira, 1987).

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