The efferent listening strategy
The efferent listening strategy is an important listening strategy that helps students learn how to derive the main ideas from the pieces of information they are listening to (Harmer, 2007). This strategy appears to be an important learning tool for both students of elementary and secondary school. Moreover, later in their studies and personal lives, students will find it very beneficial to implement their skills of identifying and grasping the main ideas in the information they hear.
The efferent listening strategy includes the following components: (1) organizing; (2) recognizing big ideas; (3) questioning; and (4) summarizing (Harmer, 2007). Within the frameworks of the efferent listening strategy, students may benefit from utilizing questioning or summarizing techniques for collecting the information about the general idea and organizing it. For example, students may use questions to collect the main facts and to organize them into a logical description of the main idea. The other example is summarizing, which helps students in memorizing big ideas in pieces of information of considerable size. To make a summarizing technique more efficient, teachers may offer their students, graphic organizers. For example, if second-grade students listen to the reading of the fairytale about the three little pigs, they may be asked to complete a graphic chart with a column for each pig that describes what they did to protect themselves from the Wolfe. Implementing the efferent listening strategy may help a teacher to assist one’s students in meeting such important lesson objectives as (1) listening in a large group setting most of the time; (2) listening without interrupting some of the time; and (3) demonstrating listening comprehension by identifying some details.
The activity for developing a specific listening skill: hearing main ideas
The activity is aimed at working with second-grade students during their fairytale reading session (Puspani, 2011). The activity is meant to develop such an important listening skill as hearing main ideas. The materials for the activity are “The Three Little Pigs” book by Patricia Seibert and printed handouts for students with a chart of three columns for each of the three little pigs.
The activity is concentrated around listening to the book reading by the teacher, and the subsequent filling in the given out graphic materials by students. The objective of the activity by students is to identify why one of the three little pigs can protect himself and his brothers from the Wolfe.
The steps, taken by the teacher are:
- Introducing the topic – the teacher explains to students that fairytales contain important lessons for their readers. To see the way it is done, she is going to read “The Three Little Pigs” and ask to hear the main idea in the fairytale.
- Sharing examples – the teacher mentions the example of Cinderella. The main idea in the Cinderella story is that good girls gain huge rewards for their fine acts. This is a good lesson for readers to learn. Then, the teacher explains that the other fairytales contain similar lessons for the audience.
- Providing information – the teacher explains that during listening to the fairytale students will have to be attentive to understand how the three little pigs protected themselves. For example, the first one of them built a house of sticks. The teacher also says that it is important to note whether this little pig succeeded in saving himself.
- Supervise practice – students listen to the reading of the fairytale. Sometimes the teacher stops, and asks questions: “what does the pig do to protect himself? Did it help him?” At the end of the reading, the teacher asks students to fill in the given graphic supplements to answer the question: “why one of the three little pigs can protect himself and his brothers from the Wolfe?”
- Assessment – the teacher evaluates the students’ success: if a student can describe the medium of the house built by each pig, and the effect of the house for the protection, then a student has met an objective of the activity, which is in identifying the main idea.
The strategies for supporting the learning of listening skills
To support the learning of listening skills, it is essential to develop varied components of the best learning practices by students (Gunning, 2010). Among them is the ability to be attentive both in large groups and in small ones; the ability to listen without interrupting; the ability to demonstrate understating when the other people are reading or speaking; the ability to ignore destructions; and the ability to demonstrate listening comprehension using retelling, summarizing, or analyzing the heard information.
The other important practices for supporting the learning of listening skills are setting expectations for listening and using interactive strategies during the process of listening. Students should always have a purpose in mind when they are listening because this will help their attention concentration. They should also be aware of the strategy that the teacher is going to utilize both during the listening process and after it to assess the listening comprehension. Also, it is very important to involve students in the process of listening using utilizing special techniques. For example, a teacher may resort to the use of modern technologies such as the SmartBoard technology for establishing an interactive dialogue with students during the process of reading.
The importance of listening to the development of language
Listening is very important to the development of language because it is the first and the most significant skill, which students develop during the process of mastering language art (Gunning, 2010). According to some of the recent research studies, students spend the same amount of time on listening that they use on writing, reading, and speaking combined (Harmer, 2007). In their daily lives, common people spend 50% of their time listening (Harmer, 2007).
Listening assists in developing important language skills using (1) providing language models that learners can implement in their language practice; (2) expanding background knowledge that enlarges learners’ vocabulary and expands their understanding of the surrounding world; and (3) transferring to reading and the other activities that help learners develop further language learning skills. Below, the three variables will be discussed in detail.
Listening provides language models for students, which includes learning new expressions and turn of phrases, acquiring new vocabulary material, grasping the new sentence structures, and mastering new and more sophisticated patterns of language. Listening is also very effective for expanding the body of background knowledge by students. Without background knowledge, it is almost impossible for students to meet the lesson objectives during language art classes. Finally, listening is an important link in the chain of activities for mastering language. This is explained by the fact that students may transfer the key skills they have learned during listening to other activities such as reading and writing.
Gunning, T. (2010). Creating literacy instruction for all students, 7th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Harmer, J. (2007). Practice of English language teaching. UK: Longman.
Puspani, I. (2011). Teaching Listening and Speaking to Young Learners Folktales. Sino-US English Teaching, 8(8), 499-504.