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Kids and listening
Here are some tips and ideas on how to use the LearnEnglish Kids website for listening practice with your classes.
Where can I find listening materials?
On LearnEnglish Kids you’ll find a variety of listening materials, including:
- Traditional songs such as ‘The wheels on the bus’ and ‘Incy Wincy Spider’ as well as lots of great original kids songs. Depending on copyright some are available to download.
- Traditional and original stories to listen to and/or read.
- Tongue twisters to help with pronunciation and have fun practising English.
- Games in the Tricky words subsection of ‘Speak and spell’.
We need to give learners a reason to listen.
- Giving activities before, during and after listening means that learners are not just listening but are engaged in the task, and actually doing something with what they hear.
- We should also use English in class as much as possible so our learners get maximum listening practice. Even if you are not confident with your own accent they will be learning more than if you speak only to them in your first language.
How can I use the listening materials in class?
Before listening to the songs, short stories or videos, you could:
- Introduce the topic and revise or pre-teach vocabulary with flashcards. You can make your own flashcards with our flashcard maker tool, or look on LearnEnglish Kids to find lexical sets of flashcards. You could drill new words with the learners then play a quick game with the cards. For example, show the class some flashcards then mix them up and remove one - ask which one is missing. Alternatively, show the learners ten cards then turn them over and ask them to remember the pictures.
- Most of the songs, stories and videos have a 'preparation' picture and word matching game with some of the key vocabulary.
- Look at a still image of the song, story or video before you listen, and ask learners to predict which words they are going to hear and what it’s going to be about. Write their ideas and words on the board.
Tasks that learners can do during listening include:
- Checking whether their predictions about which words they would hear are correct.
- Completing the printable worksheets or answering questions. The songs, short stories and videos all come with free printable worksheets, or you can ask your learners your own questions.
- Learners probably need to listen more than once to complete these tasks. The first time they listen for the main idea, then in subsequent listenings for more detail and more depth of understanding.
- Singing along to songs of course! Actions will make the song more memorable and fun. Kids will love copying the actions they see on the screen but feel free to make up your own too!
After listening you could:
- Use the transcripts for language focus, for example, picking out useful expressions, question words or verb structures. Find the transcripts directly under each song, story or video.
- Do any extension activities on the printable worksheets.
- Use the listening activity as a starting point for project work on a similar theme. There are crafts (masks, puppets, games and more) available which you might find useful for this.
- If your learners are registered on the site they can write comments under the material they have listened to. Registration only takes a minute but they need to use a parent or guardian's email address. Encourage your learners to register at home with their help.
With very young learners:
- You could introduce the listening topic and focus attention with puppets. The puppet can talk about a song or story or point to pictures related to the listening material. Use a simple picture on a stick or even a sock.
- While children are listening, get them to respond physically to what they hear. They can point to flashcards on the wall when they hear or see certain characters or words. They could also stand up or shout out each time they hear certain words – depending on how noisy or active you want the children to be. As we mentioned earlier, you can invent actions for songs or let the children invent their own, taking it in turns to be the leader.
- Use flashcards for a ‘run and touch’ activity after listening. You say the word, then learners run (or hop or swim, etc.) to that flashcard on the wall.
What else can I use?
- Tongue twisters can help with pronunciation and are a fun way to practise English. Listen to the tongue twister and then practise saying it. Try slowly at first, and then more quickly!
- Games in the Tricky words section demonstrate the pronunciation of tricky spellings in English.
These are great for individual work on a visit to the computer room, to revise vocabulary, a treat at the end of class, a change of focus in class, or as a warmer at the start of the lesson.
Further reading on listening
- Further reading about teaching listening to young learners:
- This article is specifically about teaching listening to teenagers:
- Here is an article about using songs with primary learners:
When you have used some of these ideas, why not come back to this page and leave a comment below to tell us how your class went. Let us know if you have any additional ideas!