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TSL 3105 Teaching of Listening and Speaking Skills

in the Primary ESL classroom




This topic aims to help course participants to identify and relate listening
and speaking skillls in the Malaysian primary school syllabus, enhance
their knowledge on developing listening and speaking skills and explore
the techniques in the teaching of listening and speaking skills. It consists
of information on listening and speaking skills and some reflect and
review sections. Some exercises are included for further reinforcement on
the topic. Some suggested useful websites addresses are provided at the
end of the module to give additional support to course participants.


By the end of Topic 2, you will be able to:

A. Identify and interpret listening and speaking skills in the primary

school syllabus
B. Integrate and develop listening and speaking skills
C. Engage the techniques for teaching listening and speaking skills





Learning to speak is the first form of language most of us learn, but we

are probably unaware of how we learnt it, or the level and types of skills
we possess. When we speak, our mind would be processing lots of
information, and this happens in great speed and agility. The processes
are dynamic and constantly change as new meanings arise in a
conversation. This is largely unconscious and we rarely reflect on what it

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TSL 3105 Teaching of Listening and Speaking Skills
in the Primary ESL classroom

This process is the main challenge in teaching speaking and listening.

However, we can all improve our speaking and listening, and developing
greater self-awareness is the key to improving our ability in this area.
Explicit teaching of speaking and listening provides an opportunity to use
interesting and innovative approaches that learners will enjoy.

Let us look at a comparison between the KBSR and KSSR to identify and
understand the role of Listening and Speaking in our Primary school syllabus.

A comparison of KBSR and KSSR


Aims The syllabus for primary school The English Language

aims to equip learners with basic Curriculum for Primary Schools
skills and knowledge of the aims to equip pupils with basic
subjects so as to enable them to language skills to enable them
communicate, both orally and in to communicate effectively in a
writing, in and out of school. variety of contexts that is
appropriate to the pupils level
of development.

Main focus 3M : Reading, Writing, The new curriculum

Counting emphasises on holistic
Skills : speak, listen, read, development of the
write & basic numerical students which
skills (add, subtract, encompasses new
multiply, divide) elements such as
Values : Islamic Studies & grooming of creativity
Moral Education and innovation,
entrepreneurship, and
integration of Information
and Communication
Technology (ICT).

Objectives By the end of the primary By the end of the primary

school, learners should be school, learners should
able to be able to
i. listen to and understand i. communicate with
simple spoken English in peers and adults
certain given contexts; confidently and
ii. ask and answer appropriately in formal
questions, speak and and informal situations;
express themselves ii. Read and comprehend
clearly to others using a range of English texts
simple language; for information and

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TSL 3105 Teaching of Listening and Speaking Skills
in the Primary ESL classroom

iii. acquire good reading enjoyment;

habits to understand, iii. Write a range of texts
enjoy and extract using appropriate
information from a variety language, style and form
of texts; through a variety of
iv. write legibly and media;
express ideas in simple iv. Appreciate and
language; demonstrate
v. show an awareness and understanding of English
appreciation of moral language literary or
values as well as love for creative works for
the nation. enjoyment; and
v. use correct and
appropriate rules of
grammar in speech and

Overall The new curriculum

Principles of development(JERIS) emphasises on holistic
KBSR Acquiring basic skills development of the students
Inculcation of good moral which encompasses new
values elements such as grooming of
Student-centred teaching creativity and innovation,
and learning entrepreneurship, and
Flexible principle integration of Information and
Communication Technology
General education
Lifelong education

KSSR: Curriculum content for Year 1,2 and 3

Presently, the Standard Documents by CDC unit of KPM (Kementerian

Pelajaran Malaysia) lays out the English language curriculum for Year 1,2 and
3. The curriculum content is organized in terms of Content Standards and
Learning Standards.

Content Standards specify the essential knowledge, skills, understandings

and strategies that pupils need to learn.

Learning Standards describe in detail the degree or quality of proficiency

that pupils need to display in relation to the Content Standard for a particular

In the initial stages of learning English, pupils will have the opportunity to
listen to meaningful English input, in the form of stories or oral descriptions by
teachers based on graphic texts. Through listening, pupils become familiar

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TSL 3105 Teaching of Listening and Speaking Skills
in the Primary ESL classroom

with words that willl be introduced in their early reading and writing lessons.
The emphasis in the initial stages willl be on vocabulary acquisition.

Listening and Speaking Component

The curriculum content for Year 1,2 and 3 encompasses listening and
speaking, reading, writing, language arts, grammar and word list. In KSSR,
the listening and speaking component is taught simultaneously as one
component. Let us look into the details of this content in the listening and
speaking component.

By end of Year 2, the component on listening and speaking aims at

developing pupils ability to listen and respond to stimulus with guidance,
participate in daily conversations, listen and demonstrate understanding of
text, talk about stories heard; and listen and follow simple instructions. The
learning standards for listening and speaking range from the discrete sound,
word and phrase recognition to an understading of chunks of heard texts.
Listening and speaking are seen as core skills of early literacy. Pupils should
be taught how to listen carefully as well as feel encouraged to speak from the
basic level of sound, word, phrase and move on to structural sentences in
various situational contexts. At every stage, the stress, rhythm and intonation
patterns need to be used correctly. In addition pupils are also encouraged to
recognize, understand and use verbal and non-verbal communication. Oral
communication practice by means of repeating, responding, understanding
and applying what pupils have heard sensitizes their senses to be ready for

Relationship are established through the ability to communicate by listening

first then speaking thoughts, ideas an feelings. It is hoped by the end of
primary school, pupils should become confident speakers who can
communicate clearly, appropriately and coherently in any given context.
Pupils need to listen carefully and respond to what others say and think about
the needs of their listeners. Social conventions in listening and speaking such
as turn taking, politeness and courtesy need to be observed. These are
crucial especially in group discussions where viewpoints and opinions are
exchanged. The use of various text types is recommended; ranging from
teacher stimulated texts to media broadcasts and authentic dialogues.

Exercise 1

Analyse both the KBSR & KSSR syllabus items for


Present your analysis in the form of a chart/ table.

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TSL 3105 Teaching of Listening and Speaking Skills
in the Primary ESL classroom

Compare the syllabus items from Year 1- Year 6 to

locate common traits pertaining to the KSSR
English Syllabus

Reflect & Review

Look through the KBSR and the KSSR English language Syllabus for Year
1 and Year 2.

Give your review based on the following questions:

a. What are the skills focused in the syllabus?

b. What do you think of the syllabus?
c. What method/approach is emphasized/ preferred? (look at the topic,
activity, and objectives)
d. If you are given a choice, which of the syllabus would you choose?

Compare your views and opinions with your coursemates.


Before we learn how to integrate listening and speaking skills in our teaching
and learning process in a Primary ESL classroom, it is essential to understand
how listening and speaking are developed in a child.

Reflect & Review

a. How are listening skills acquired in childhood?

b. How do babies participate in conversations with parents?
c. How do they learn to listen to their own class discussion?

Exercise 2

Read the narrative below carefully and identify the top-down and
bottom-up processes in listening. Refer to Brown (2001) for more

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TSL 3105 Teaching of Listening and Speaking Skills
in the Primary ESL classroom

Sally first tried setting loose a team of gophers. The plan

backfired when a dog chased them away. She then entertained
a group of teenagers and was delighted when they brought their
motorcycles. Unfortunately, she failed to find a Peeping Tom
listed in the Yellow Pages. Furthermore, stereo system was not
loud enough. The crabgrass might have worked but she didnt
have a fan that was sufficiently powerful.

The obscene phone calls gave her hope until the number
was changed. She thought about calling a door-to-door
salesman but decided to hang up a clothesline instead. It was
the installation of blinking neon lights across the street that did
the trick. She eventually framed the ad from the classified

Questions to ponder:

Was the narrative comprehensible? What happens when the

topic is given?
Getting rid of a troublesome neighbour.

What process do you think is involved when you read the above
passage? When do you use the top-down processing? When
do you use the bottom-up processing?

Read the definition of the top-down and bottom-up processing below.

Definition of Top-down and Bottom-up Process

What is meant by ...

Top-down processing ?

Refers to the use of background knowledge in understanding the meaning of

a message.

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TSL 3105 Teaching of Listening and Speaking Skills
in the Primary ESL classroom

Bottom-up processing ?

Refers to the use of incoming data as a source of information about the

meaning of a message (decode)
(Richards, 1990)
Micro-skills of Listening Comprehension
Listening Strategies

Looking for key words

Looking for non-verbal cues to meaning

Predicting a speakers purpose by the context of the spoken discourse

Associating information with ones existing cognitive structure

(activating background knowledge)
Guessing at meanings

Seeking clarification

Listening for the general list

Various test-taking strategies for listening comprehension



Types of Listening Activities

Reference: Penny Ur (1996: p112-114)

i. No overt response: Students do not need to do anything in response to

the listening, however, facial expression and body language often show
if they are following or not.
- Stories
- Songs
- Entertainment: films, theatre, video

ii. Short responses

-Obeying instructions
-Ticking off items
-True/ False
-Detecting mistakes
-Guessing information
-Skimming and scanning

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TSL 3105 Teaching of Listening and Speaking Skills
in the Primary ESL classroom

iii. Longer responses

-Answering questions
-Paraphrasing and translating

iv. Extended responses


Criteria for selection of activities

Nature of listening task requirement

- Response- no overt response, short, long or extended response
- Blank interval in the case of cloze
- Difficulty level of task
- Vocabulary level

Nature of the recorded material

- Students proficiency level
- Students interest
- Authentic/ non-authentic
- Number of speakers
- Speed of delivery
- Content of reference
- Complexity of thought and ideas
- Style of utterance- formal, colloquial
- Accent and degree of disturbance
- Complexity of communication situation

Selection of teaching techniques

The selection of teaching techniques and strategies in the classroom

used for beginners, intermediate and advanced students will highly
depend on the characteristics of the students. Teachers should be
aware of the employment of different teaching strategies for students of
different level, who differ in many aspects of learning. To enable
teachers to make the right decision in choosing the most appropriate
techniques in the teaching of listening and speaking skills, it is
essential to do a need analysis of pupils.

Let us look at the characteristics of the pupils in your class! Are they
beginners, intermediate or advance learners?

a. Beginners

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TSL 3105 Teaching of Listening and Speaking Skills
in the Primary ESL classroom

Characteristics of pupils: They cannot distinguish English speech

sounds from noises in the environment or sounds of other languages.
Pupils have no idea of the rules of English pronunciation or grammar.

b. Intermediate

Characteristics of pupils: They have fairly good grasp of the phonemic

system but have difficulty with authentic texts. Pupils cannot handle
features eg hesitations,, false starts, noise etc. However, they can
remember longer phrases & sentences.

c. Advanced

Characteristics of pupils: They are very proficient in the language and

can process language. Pupils can pay attention to language content.
They have interpersonal relations with speakers and can engage in
intellectual discussion. They are also capable of using compensatory
strategies eg infer,predict etc.

Suggested teaching-learning strategies

Before you prepare either a listening lesson or a listening and speaking

lesson, you will need to consider the four main aspects as follows:

A. Length of input-( 1- 3 minutes maximum) for listening texts

B. Type of input- (use educated/ acceptable Malaysian variety)

C. Speed of delivery

D. Outcome of listening / listening and speaking

What kinds of listening tasks are appropriate?

There are numerous activities to choose from for developing listening skills.
Lund (1990) has categorised them according to nine responses that can be
observed as comprehension checks:

Doing: the listener responds physically such as in Total

PhysicalResponse (TPR);

Choosing: the listener selects from alternatives such as pictures,

objects, texts, or actions;

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TSL 3105 Teaching of Listening and Speaking Skills
in the Primary ESL classroom

Transferring: the listener transforms the message such as drawing a

route on map, or filling in a chart;

Answering: the listener answers questions about the text;

Condensing: the listener takes notes or makes an outline;

Extending: the listener goes beyond the text by continuing the story or
solving a problem;

Duplicating: the listener simply repeats or translates the message;

Modeling: the listener performs a similar task, e.g. gives instructions to

a coworker after listening to a model or;

Conversing: the listener is an active participant in a face-to-face


(Carol Van Dozer, Center for Applied Linguistics)

Reflect and Review

Read the following activities and decide which of the following activities
are most suitable for beginners, intermediate and advanced students?

a. Interactive Activities

listening to a word and brainstorming related words, listening to a list

and categorizing the words, following directions

b. Top-down Activities

identifying emotions, understanding meaning of sentences, recognizing

the topic

c. Bottom-up Activities

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TSL 3105 Teaching of Listening and Speaking Skills
in the Primary ESL classroom

discriminating between intonation contours, phonemes, or selective

listening for different morphological endings, word or sentence
recognition, listening for word order

Principles for Designing Listening techniques

Use techniques that are intrinsically motivating

Use authentic language and contexts

Carefully consider the form of listeners responses

Encourage the development of listening strategies

Include bottom-up and top-down listening techniques

Successful Listening Activities

Purpose for Listening

A form of response (doing, choosing, answering, transferring,

condensing, duplicating, extending, conversing)

Repetition depends on objectives and students level

A motivating listening text is authentic and relates to students interests

and needs

Have the skills integrated at the different stages of the lesson : Pre-task
While-task, Post-task

Listening Strategies

Teach student how to listen

Looking for keywords

Looking for nonverbal cues to meaning

Predicting a speakers purpose by the context of the spoken


Associating information with ones existing background

knowledge (activating schema)

Guessing meanings

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TSL 3105 Teaching of Listening and Speaking Skills
in the Primary ESL classroom

Seeking clarification

Listening for the general gist

For tests of listening comprehension, various test-taking


a. Easy to plan Pre Listening Activity



Mind Mapping

Team Interview

b. Easy to plan Listening Task

Agree or disagree (with explanation)
Create Venn diagrams
List characteristics, qualities, or features
Strip story (sequencing game)
Match speech to visuals
Compare and contrast to another speech or text
Give advice

Compare and contrast to your own experience

Create your own version of the missing section
Plan a solution to the problem
Share reactions
Create a visual
Reenact your own version

c. Easy to plan Post Listening Activity

Guess the meaning of unknown vocabulary

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TSL 3105 Teaching of Listening and Speaking Skills
in the Primary ESL classroom

Analyze the speakers intentions

List the number of people involved and their function in the script

Analyze the success of communication in the script

Brainstorm alternative ways of expression


a. What make speaking difficult?



Reduced forms

Performance variables

Colloquial language

Rate of delivery

Stress, rhythm & intonation


b. Tips for Teaching Speaking

Use a range of techniques

Capitalize on intrinsic motivation

Use authentic language in meaningful contexts

Give feedback and be careful with corrections

Teach it in conjunction with listening

Allow students to initiate communication

Encourage speaking strategies

c. Principles of Teaching Speaking to

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TSL 3105 Teaching of Listening and Speaking Skills
in the Primary ESL classroom

- Beginners:

Provide something for the learners to talk about

Create opportunities for students to interact by using groupwork or


Manipulate physical arrangements to promote speaking practice

- intermediate / advanced:

Plan speaking tasks that involve negotiation for meaning

Design both transactional and interpersonal speaking activities

Personalize the speaking activities whenever possible

d. Some examples of Tasks and Materials:

Conversations, guided conversations & interviews

Information gap & jigsaw activities

Scripted dialogues, drama, & role-play

Logic puzzles

Picture-based activities

Physical actions in speaking lessons

Extemporaneous speaking

e. Communicative Tasks

Motivation is to achieve some outcome using the language

Activity takes place in real time

Achieving the outcome requires participants to interact

No restriction on language used

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TSL 3105 Teaching of Listening and Speaking Skills
in the Primary ESL classroom

Some examples of communicative tasks are :

Information gaps

Jigsaw activities

Info gap race


Guessing games


Brown, G., & Yule, G. (1983). Teaching the spoken language. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.

Brown, H.D. (1994). Teaching by principles: An interactive approach to

language pedagogy. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall Regents.

Celce-Murcia (Ed.), Teaching english as a second or foreign language (2nd

ed.) (pp. 81-106). Boston: Heinle and Heinle.

Nunan, D., & Miller, L. (Eds.). (1995). New Ways in Teaching Listening.
Alexandria, VA:

Penny Ur. (1996) Teaching Listening Comprehension. Cambridge University


Further Readings


Click on the links below for more information:

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TSL 3105 Teaching of Listening and Speaking Skills
in the Primary ESL classroom

Teaching of Speaking :

Teaching of Listening: http://www.nclrc.org/essentials/listening/liindex.htm

Teaching of Listening and Speaking :



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