Teaching Listening and Speaking

Teaching Young Language Learners, Annamaria Pinter, Chapter 5

Listening activities for younger learners:

  • Total Physical Response (TPR) activities, connects learning to physical actions. To make sure learners listen to a lot of natural English with no need to formulate a response. An example could be 'Simon Says', where the teacher or a student, verbally proclaims an action such as: “jump”, “sit down”, “stand up”, etc. The action should however only be replicated by the students if the sentence is prefaced with the phrase: “Simon says”.
  • Storytelling is another enjoyable and effective activity that also allows learners to listen and learn without having to verbally respond.

Listening activities for older learners:

  • TPR-activities can also be useful for older learners, however, the level of difficulty and requirement of processing needs to be adjusted accordingly.
  • Storytelling can be applied with great effect for older learners as well. An increased level of difficulty and awareness of suitability for the particular age group, needs to be taken into consideration.

Speaking activities for younger learners:

  • Activities that involve the teaching and promotion of the use of “unanalysed-chunks”. These can be phrases heard from either teacher output, songs, rhymes, etc. Such phrases can be memorized and used easily without conscious analysis.

Speaking activities for older learners:

  • For older learners, dialogue and drills with phrases can be useful as speaking activities. Repetition and practice can greatly improve speaking abilities.
  • Tasks that facilitate negotiation of meaning. These can force learners to utilize and practice existing vocabulary to express unknown words or phrases.


Simon says can easily be translated to fit the topic of the module, and an example could be that "Simon Says" is changed into "Imperio" for a Harry Potter theme. I did this with the children in my internship, as a distraction when the computer didn't work as we were about to watch the film. The student seemed to find it engaging and fun, and meanwhile we managed to fix the problem.

Storytelling needs to be done with an engaging voice, and I feel like you can lose the attention quite easily from the students.

I have tried to learn many different languages, and I feel that speaking and using the language myself, helps me evolve faster, as well as pinpoint my flaws and development opertunities.


Emil Alexander Holm Thorsen