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As we continue to dive into how our new Premium listening assessments (launched on January 19) work, we’ll look into how to access and review the quiz reports. In our last deep dive blog we discussed how to search and assign quizzes with your classes.

Accessing Listening Comprehension Reports

To access your quiz reporting, go to your “Classes” tab. You’ll see each of your classes listed with recent assignments and student status. At the bottom of each class list you can click to see the Class Summary Report, along with the overall class quiz average. It will look something like this:





Class Summary

When you click on the orange button “See Class Summary Report” you can view the quiz data for the class. It might look something like this:

The class summary report lets you easily see how students are performing overall. As students take more quizzes, their cumulative quiz data is seen in this report. You can see the percentage correct by listening skill strand. This class seems to be having some difficulty with Main Idea for example.


Each quiz has a question on these four listening skill strands: vocabulary, literal comprehension, main idea, and inference. There are additional questions focused on: summarizing, drawing conclusions, analyzing purpose, point of view, evaluating reasoning, or finding evidence. So depending on the audio story, students will answer questions on 5 or 6 skill strands, but not all of them are addressed in each quiz. These skill strands are broken out on the reports to give you more data to inform instruction and troubleshoot areas your students might need additional support.


Quiz Report

To look specifically at an individual quiz, click “See Responses” next to the quiz assignment in your Classes tab. Now you’ll see the student results for an individual quiz. For example, look at the class data on the “Coming to America: Immigration” quiz.


You can easily scan by skill strand in this report too. In this report, you can see the questions in the top row by skill strand. If you want to know the answer a student chose, you can click on the x and the details of that question is shown for you.


Student Report

To go deeper into the performance of a specific student, click the student name from either of these reports. Then you can see data from all quizzes the student completed, along with seeing the specific answers they chose for each question.

So, take a look at a few audio stories with quizzes, and start assigning the quizzes to get data  about your students’ listening comprehension skills!   

Today’s post is written by Michael F. Opitz, professor emeritus of reading education from the University of Northern Colorado who has investigated numerous literacy topics, including listening over two decades. His substantive research on teaching listening resulted in his book, Listen Hear! 25 Effective Listening Comprehension Strategies (Heinemann, 2004). He is the author of and coauthor of numerous books, articles, and reading programs. Read his first blog here called 5 reasons why you should teach listening.

Given the importance of listening well to maximize success in and out of school might lead you to wonder if there are any specific guidelines for teaching it. In reviewing listening research, I was able to glean seven. They are as follows:

  1. Set the purpose.
    According to Funk and Funk (1989), students need to understand the purpose for listening to get the most from the experience; they need to listen for rather than to. Having an explicit purpose in mind will help them know where to focus, enabling them to achieve success. Do they need to listen to determine which statements are fact and opinion? Do they need to understand the procedure for carrying out a specific activity? In either case, letting students know up front will make their accomplishment more likely. 
  2. Set the stage.
    Getting ready to listen is like getting in the zone or warming up. A good first step in setting the stage is to tell students the purpose for listening. A second step is to prepare the environment. Eliminating background noise, sitting in an appropriate configuration, and third, telling students what will transpire after they have listened are three ways to set the stage for listening (Devine, 1978; Buttery & Anderson, 1980).
  3. Provide follow-up.
    Funk and Funk (1989) also point out the importance of providing time for follow up. Immediately after students have listened, hold them accountable for whatever it was that they were attending to when listening. Many times this follow up will be in a written format so that there is a paper trail of student learning. Such follow-up enables you to see what they were able to ascertain while listening, thus serving as an authentic assessment of sorts. When reviewing their responses you can see who was able to achieve the stated purpose and who might need additional help. 
  4. Keep it brief.
    More students than not are expected to listen for a good part of the school day and this only increases throughout the grades. Given that some students find listening difficult, either because it is not their favored learning modality or because they are grappling with how to listen, keeping the listening experiences brief and focused will help guard against children tuning out. In telecommunications businessman David Sarnoff’s words, “Make sure you have finished speaking before your audience has finished listening.”
  5. Integrate it.
    Using listening in a variety of subject areas is an excellent way for students to understand how it crosses all content areas. Listening for steps to conduct an experiment in science, propaganda techniques used by the media in social studies, and listening for the argument in English—all are ways for students to capitalize on listening in different content areas. As noted by Moffet and Wagner (1992) “Activities that
    entail attention, as a preparation for action of one’s own, teach listening skills far better than special drills focusing on listening alone.” 
  6. Be a model.
    Jalongo (1996) emphasizes that showing students how to be better listeners through our own example is more powerful than telling them. If we want children to show a speaker respect, for example, we need to do the same.
  7. Avoid repeating yourself and/or student responses.
    Probably easier said than done, nonetheless important, is to say something once and only once. Patterns take time to break, however, which is why this one guideline might be difficult. Rubin (2000) suggests that having students restate questions and answer questions posed by not only the teacher, but peers are two ways to show students the importance of listening.

Read about more ways in which you can implement listening in your classrooms:

February is Black History Month. Why do we celebrate Black History Month? We invite you to consider the following questions about what happens in your classroom from Teaching Tolerance:


  • How often do your students learn about the contributions of black individuals to U.S. society?
  • Are your students able to explain to someone else the contributions that black individuals have made in the United States?
  • How many books or other texts by black writers do your students read during the academic year?
  • How many books or other texts do your students read during the academic year that highlight black experiences?
  • If your students’ readings have black characters, do these characters have positions of power?


Courtesy photo - Central Michigan UniversityUse this month to deepen cultural responsiveness in both your content and practice. We support your efforts with these thoughtful lesson ideas that you can use to discuss black history and the relevance to current events, and to think critically about how you can embed underrepresented groups into your teaching all year round. Read more about the history of Black History Month, and review the lessons and resources below that you can use in your classes this month.

Listenwise Resources

Listening to stories helps connect students to specific moments in time in an authentic way, and helps create empathy. One teacher used an audio story about the Civil Rights Movement, describing the desegregation of a Central High School in Little Rock Arkansas, and said,

“The violence and struggle to gain voting rights became real after listening to the emotions of the speakers and sounds from the event. It really helped students develop empathy, which is harder to do through traditional texts.”


Use these stories to tie in to the lessons you are teaching in class:

Celebrating Individuals

America’s First Black Poet

Listen to learn about the first African-American woman to be published in the United States, Phyllis Wheatley.


Remembering Muhammad Ali

Boxer Muhammad Ali is being remembered as a great athlete and humanitarian. He became a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War, converted to Islam, and he became an ambassador for his religion. He never apologized for his beliefs, even at great personal cost.


Maya Angelou’s Life and Legacy

Maya Angelou was an author, poet and icon. She grew up during segregation and used her work to empower and give voice to the African American community. Her memoir “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” changed the literary world and opened doors for African American authors and women.


Marian Anderson and Segregation in Washington DC

Listen to learn about the racial segregation that existed when Marian Anderson was not allowed to sing in a segregated venue 1939.


First African Woman To Win Peace Prize

Environmentalist and human rights activist Wangari Maathai led the fight against mismanagement of Kenya’s natural resources. She became the first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Listen to hear about her work for peace and democracy.


Remembering Malcolm X

Malcolm X was both charismatic and feared, and he advocated black power and pride as a response to white racism. He was assassinated while on stage giving a speech in Harlem. Listen to hear about the life and legacy of this influential black leader.


Honoring Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman escaped slavery and then used her freedom and the Underground Railroad to free more than 70 slaves. Tubman lived a purposeful life fighting slavery and also fought for women’s suffrage after the Civil War.


How Photography Helped Abolition

Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in the early 1800s, escaped, and went on to become a famous abolitionist. A renowned author, speaker, and activist. Listen to hear how Douglass’s use of photography furthered the abolitionist cause.


Achebe on the ‘Heart of Darkness’

Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe’s 1958 novel “Things Fall Apart” provides a contrast to Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” describing the British colonization of Africa from the perspective of Africans. In this audio story, Achebe talks about how his understanding of “Heart of Darkness” changed over time.


Why did Mandela Protest?

Nelson Mandela, former South African President and leader of the anti-apartheid movement, was also labeled a “terrorist.” As protests against the government grew from peaceful to violent, learn more about why Mandela was forced to call for armed struggle by listening to this story.


Jackie Robinson and Integrating Baseball

In 1947 Jackie Robinson was the first African American baseball player to play in Major League Baseball. He was an older player and was not seen as the best player but had a strong character that helped to successfully integrate baseball.


Integrating College Basketball in the South

This story remembers a time when basketball was not integrated. Listen to learn about the climate in the 1960s and how Perry Wallace, the first black varsity athlete in the Southeastern Conference, survived and thrived. Warning: Quotes in this story contain strong language.


Motivation for Writing ‘A Raisin in the Sun’

Lorraine Hansberry wrote the play “A Raisin in the Sun,” which reveals the struggles black families faced as they attempted to achieve the American dream in the 1950s. Listen to this story to learn Lorraine Hansberry’s motivation for writing this iconic story.


Nubian Pharaohs

The Nubian Pharaohs came from the area of modern-day Sudan and ruled Ancient Egypt for a half century. Listen to learn more about the “Black Pharaohs” and their remarkable history.


The Power of Slave Narratives

First-person slave narratives were the first honest account of the experience and were used by the abolitionist movements to show the reality of slavery. Listen to learn more about the first-person account of freed slave Olaudah Equiano, shared in his autobiography.


Fighting the Fugitive Slave Act

The abolition of slavery in the United States didn’t happen all at once. Slaves who escaped came to states that had abolished slavery, but in 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act was passed. Listen to learn how one man escaped slavery during this time.


Slaves and the American Revolution

Many black slaves joined the British army during the Revolutionary War, as the British had promised emancipation, or freedom, in exchange for their service. Listen to hear more about what happened to the African American slaves after the Revolutionary War.


New Museum Captures History of African-Americans

National Museum of African-American History and Culture opened in Washington D.C. in September 2016. Listen to hear more about this museum displaying 3,000 artifacts that recently opened to the public.

Civil Rights

George Wallace at the School Door

African Americans faced strong, often violent, opposition to equal rights. At the University of Alabama, the state’s Governor, George Wallace stood at the door to protest desegregation. Listen to hear more about his contentious views and his lasting impact on politics.


Lunch Counter Protests of Civil Rights Era

In 1960, four black teenagers demanded service at an all-white lunch counter. Listen to remember one of those protesters and reflection on his life and impact.


Civil Resistance Movements

Listen to hear the research of conflicts and resistance movements over time and the effectiveness of fighting back without violence. Have students use this analysis to better understand the two sides of the Civil Rights Movement – Martin Luther King Jr’s message of nonviolent resistance and Malcolm X’s Black Power philosophy.

Current Events Related to Events in History

Current events happening now relate to many historical events and studying the current events can help students understand the past.


Comparing Black Lives Matter to Civil Rights Movement

Listen to the parallels between the race struggles of Martin Luther King half a century ago and the Black Lives Matter movement of today.


Protests Now and in the Past

The grand jury decision not to indict the police officer responsible for the chokehold death of Eric Garner has led to protests across the country. These efforts require organization, passion and a high degree of communication. Listen to learn how today’s social actions are similar to protests during the Civil Rights Movement.


Integrating Central High: A Pivotal Moment in the Civil Rights Movement

This audio story describes the attempt by nine black students to integrate Central High School in 1957 after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.

Racial Integration at Little Rock Decades Later

Nearly six decades after schools were ordered to desegregate, students at a Little Rock High School still believe today there is work to be done to feel fully integrated. Listen to this story to learn how Arkansas high school students feel about race at their school.

Selma and Civil Rights

The 1965 voting rights march in Selma, Alabama exposed police brutality to the world and set the stage for the passage of the Voting Rights Act. The movie ‘Selma’ tells the story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the movement in Selma in a new and authentic way. Listen to learn more about traditional Hollywood depictions of civil rights and how this movie has broken that mold. WARNING: THIS AUDIO STORY CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE

Selma 50 Years Later

Fifty years ago, protest at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama exposed the nation to the racial injustice and led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, forcing all municipalities to allow black residents to register to vote. Listen to learn more about this historic event in the Civil Rights Movement from people who participated in Bloody Sunday.

Martin Luther King: I Have A Dream

Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech was delivered at the March on Washington on August 28, 1963. In this public radio story you will hear from activists who were present that day and heard the speech.

New MLK Recording Discovered

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963. A recording of the first known version of the “I Have A Dream” speech was recently discovered. Listen to hear about the memories of someone who heard it first as a high school student in 1962.


Other Resources/Lessons:

Slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction15 Minute History is a podcast for educators, students and history buffs about World and US History
Race and U.S. History Classroom Materials & Lessons – Facing History and Ourselves

Black History Month Collection of Lessons – Share My Lesson

Build Literacy Based Anti-Bias Learning Plans – Perspectives for A Diverse America
Teaching About Race, Racism and Police Violence – Teaching Tolerance

Black History Month is Over, Now What? – Teaching Tolerance
Four Black History Month Must-Haves – Teaching Tolerance

What Learning About Slavery Can Teach Us About Ourselves – Teaching Tolerance

Google Doodles throughout February

We Need To Change How We Teach Black History – TIME

Courtesy photo – Central Michigan University

In the aftermath of recent global electoral developments, it’s clear that the way we interpret and synthesize news is important. Britain’s exit from the European Union and the election of Donald Trump are two of the most recognized examples, but fake news and the spread of state-sponsored inaccurate news has led to a geopolitical shift not seen in a generation. Journalistic precedent around reporting facts has also changed. We first heard the term “alternative facts” last week in response to Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s comments about inaugural crowd size.

State-sponsored media is not new but its channels for distribution have intensified the pace at which inaccurate stories travel. Similarly, its online communities and comment spaces have altered the way news is discussed and evaluated. According to a Study from Columbia University and the French National Institute, 59 percent of the news shared on social media has never been read. This has harmful implications for students who spend up to eight hours per day at the computer.


Media Literacy

In K-12, media literacy is an anchor standard of the CCSS and a component of most state standards. Yet, the implementation of a media literacy curriculum has proven challenging. A recently published study from the Stanford Graduate School of Education reveals that 82% of middle and high school students could not distinguish between sponsored content, also called native advertisements, and a real news story on a website.

In order for students to become proficient consumers of news, they should look to professional fact checkers for insight. They should rigorously research the organization sponsoring the content, the author and then ask themselves a series of probing questions: Who funds the organization? Was the author published in other respected publications? Is it well informed and authoritative? Can you find the same ideas across other respected media sources? Urge your students to engage in lateral reading and rigorous fact checking.

Here are things your students can look for when evaluating a news story.

  • Domain Name – Does the story’s domain contain a country code instead of .com? This can be an indicator that you are looking at a fake news source.
  • Contact Us Page – Many legitimate news sites contain a “contact us” page. Sites that lack a “contact us” page should be questioned. Students who visit sites without a contact us page should proceed cautiously.
  • Advertisements – Many fake news sites contain ads for questionable content or products that do not appear on most legitimate news sources.  Keep an eye out for the kind of advertisements that are shown on the page.


Fake News Versus Wrong Facts

Students need to understand that there are now people and organizations in the U.S. and in other countries making up stories and creating false websites to promote these “news” stories. And there are also reporters who make legitimate mistakes and get the facts wrong. In one case, the intent is to deceive, the other it’s an honest mistake that legitimate news organizations will admit to and make a public correction.

At Listenwise, it is our mission is to inspire tomorrow’s citizens by connecting their education to what is happening in the world around them by harnessing the power of listening. NPR has a trusted and venerable history of journalistic integrity. All content found on Listenwise is sourced from the sphere of public radio and any inaccurate facts are retracted and changed.

We empathize with the challenges of finding appropriate content to drive most important discussions. That’s why we have curated three stories on fake news, which is only the start of an ongoing series covering this topic. Working with students to critically evaluate the accuracy, meaning, and power of informational text has never been more important.

Listen to these stories with your class and start a discussion on fake news:

Here are some great stories from the Huffington Post, Slate, Teen Vogue, and The Washington Post about how educators can teach current events in a world of ‘alternative facts.’ If you are searching for further resources to help discuss with your class Teaching Tolerance is always a great resource to check out.

Are you using other strategies to discuss fake news with your students? What challenges are you facing? We want to hear from you! Please share your insights with us in comments below or at info@listenwise.com.

By now I hope you’ve heard about our new listening comprehension assessments! If you haven’t checked them out login and see what’s new with Premium! (Don’t have Premium yet? Have your students take our Listening Challenge for free!)

First thing, your dashboard will look different. The left column will now hold all your quiz information; any assigned quizzes and most recent data. The middle column is dedicated to your assignments, what’s upcoming, overdue, etc. The third column will look the same with featured current events.

So, how do you find a quiz and assign one for your class? You can search for lessons with quizzes like you normally do in the search bar. Then you can filter your results to show only the ones with a quiz.

The search result will show a fun new check icon that indicates whether or not a lesson has quiz capabilities based on the new quiz icon.

Right now we have around 100 quizzes available and we will be continuously adding more.

Let’s say you’ve found the lesson you want to use with a quiz, maybe “Brown Girl Dreaming.” You click the same orange “assign” button in the top left corner- the drop down shows that you can choose to assign a quiz or create a written assignment.

After choosing “Assign Quiz”, you can preview the quiz as students will see it. When you assign a quiz you can differentiate to give some students the listening supports of the interactive transcript and slower audio. Simply use the “assign by student” to choose which students get which version. Or assign one version to the full class and just enter a due date. It’s that easy.

Once you click the green “Assign” button you’re all set!

Your “Assignments” tab now lists BOTH your assignments and quizzes all in one place.

Your “Classes” tab will now show the active quiz and assignment submissions by class, with overall class quiz percentages and access to quiz reporting. We’ll write more about how to access the quiz reporting next – for now, perouse yourself and try assigning quizzes! As always, reach out to us if you need anything at support@listenwise.com.

How well do your students listen? Can they distill main idea or make inferences?

We are excited to announce that we’ve added multiple choice listening assessments to Listenwise Premium. Teachers now have the ability to assess and track 8 different student listening skills! There is no doubt, listening skills have a major impact on children’s career and college readiness, and we are excited to provide new ways to help teachers support student success.

Try it now! Test your own listening or try it (for free) with your students!

We have seen that there are very few curriculum products that address listening skills in middle and high school, which is what inspired us to launch some huge changes to our Premium package today.

How did we create these unique assessments? We designed our multiple choice assessments across 8 different aspects of listening comprehension. This past Fall and Winter we beta tested the auto-scored quizzes with teachers and students across the U.S and received amazing feedback:

“I was surprised to discover through Listenwise that my students needed more help with identifying evidence and understanding inferences. The data from my student assessments was revealing and I’m reworking my approach to instruction in these areas. With Listenwise, listening has now become a class routine, because I see how much impact it has on my students.”

–Lisa Goldman

For more information:

If you have our Premium version you can access the quizzes right away, and if you don’t have Premium access and want to learn more,  contact us here or call us 617-855-8053.

Today’s guest post is written by Andrew Garnett-Cook, a 7th and 8th grade social studies teacher in Brookline, MA.

This past December, I took three days away from teaching to be a co-presenter for Listenwise at the National Council on Social Studies Conference in Washington D.C. I was really excited to meet other Social Studies educators to discuss the value of using public radio stories in teaching, for developing listening skills as well as social and global literacy.

Over these three days, I was rejuvenated by informal conversations and was reminded anew of how much teachers across the country hunger for new ways to engage their students in the value of learning about the past.  I, myself, have discovered new and meaningful ways to engage my students in learning about the past, especially using Listenwise curriculum-aligned stories. During the conference we presented two stories that educators can use to connect the past to present-day issues.

The first story, entitled “Insight Into What It’s Like to be a Refugee” is about a Doctors Without Borders traveling exhibit designed to put people in the shoes of a refugee. The story offers rich opportunity to engage students in a range of topics in American history and places the listener in the shoes of a Syrian refugee. Among things the listener is asked to ponder is what possessions he or she would take if there was little time to decide and you could only select a small number of items. A thought experiment like this helps foster empathy for the displaced. Also, a story like this one can be used in a number of different places in a U.S. or World History curriculum. Topics where this story could connect well include the Jewish Refugee crisis in World War II, Chinese exclusion, or even the expulsion of Jews from Roman Palestine in the 1st century. The themes that tie them all together (being a stranger in a strange land, the impact of war on civilian populations) are ones that transcend time periods. They are universal human experiences brought into your classroom.

The second story, entitled “Climate Change and Human Migration” also presents an exciting opportunity to connect human experiences across time. The story presents new research to help answer the question of why our human ancestors left Africa in prehistoric times. This story fits nicely in an Early Humans unit but it can also be used in science curriculum as well. Through this story, teachers can engage students in larger conversations about the uncertainty of what is known about the past and how new evidence can fundamentally change our understanding of what happened. It also helps open conversation about the impact climate change has had on the human experiences over thousands of years and what its implications for the future might be.

The challenge for any social studies teacher is to figure out ways to make the past relevant to our experiences today. This is not easy. However, public radio provides a lot of opportunities for teachers to bring current events and new research into classes.

Are you finding new ways to teach history within the context of current events? Share what you are doing in the comments below.

Find our slides from NCSS here.

With our new search feature that allows students to search for stories from their homepage, it’s a great opportunity for students to use Listenwise to help support research with other reports and projects. Students can use these stories in research papers, to find evidence to support their opinions, or to find interesting topics they enjoy.

The following guide will show you and your students how to cite a Listenwise audio story and create a bibliography or list of sources.

First, Identify this Information

  1. Listenwise URL
  2. Listenwise Title
  3. Public Radio Title
  4. Public Radio Reporter
  5. Public Radio Source
  6. Public Radio Air Date

On the Listenwise site, this is where you will find each piece of information.


1. Listenwise URL: https://listenwise.com/current_events/729-louisiana-flooding-closes-schools
2. Listenwise Title Louisiana Flooding Closes Schools
3. Public Radio Title Many Baton Rouge Area Schools Remain Closed Due To Flood Damage
4. Public Radio Reporter ROBERT SIEGEL
5. Public Radio Source NPR
6. Public Radio Air Date 08/23/2016

Next, Put the Information in this Format Below

This is our suggested format. If your school uses APA or MLA formats, simply use these pieces of information and organize it in a way that is consistent with your citation conventions.


Public Radio Reporter. Public Radio Air Date. “Public Radio Title.” Public Radio Source. [Audio blog post.] From Listenwise: “Listenwise Title.”  Listenwise URL


Siegel, Robert. (7 Dec 2016). “Many Baton Rouge Area Schools Remain Closed Due To Flood Damage.” NPR. [Audio blog post]. From Listenwise: “Louisiana Flooding Closes Schools.” https://listenwise.com/current_events/729-louisiana-flooding-closes-schools

As humans, we have so many important ways we convey and understand information as we communicate.  We are born with ears, and are never actually taught how to listen—it’s understood how to do it, we just start. As kids we grow up learning how to speak by listening to the people who are close to us, and imitating others. Almost everyone enjoys listening to radio, watching videos, talking on the phone. All of these things help to grow these skills, just by doing them repetitively, but how often do we focus on the these skills that we take for granted? How often do we consciously think that we are learning to read when we listen?

The other language skills such as reading and writing are things that we have to be explicitly taught. Researchers have found that the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing are all integrated and contribute to one’s understanding of the world around them. Reading and listening are receptive skills; writing and speaking are productive skills. And according to research, there are substantial correlations between these four language processes. So when students are listening they are also advancing their other language skills.

While listening and reading share many comprehension processes, there are differences in the way the information is processed. Readers often remember more details and can go back to the text. Listeners construct understanding as they listen and often come away with an overall understanding of ideas (Absalom and Rizzi, 2008). Students who are successful at reading comprehension understand at the sentence level as well as at the understanding the text as an integrated whole (Perfetti, 2007).

Comprehension = Decoding Skills + Language Skills

Reading comprehension involves both decoding print and understanding language. Once students can decode text, their comprehension is dependent on understanding language. (Catts, Hogan, and Adlof, 2005). Students who have not mastered decoding can still learn language skills by listening to stories and content read aloud. Students can listen on a higher language level than they can read, so listening provides a way to improve students’ language skills, making complex ideas more accessible to students and exposing them to vocabulary and language patterns that are not part of their everyday speech (Fountas and Pinnell 1996). For example, students may be able to listen to and understand the plot and character development of Don Quixote and his inner journey, but not be able to decode enough words on their own to make sense of the content while reading.

Increasing Language Skills by Listening

Language skills are essential in creating a mental representation of the whole text to understand it. Higher-level language skills can be developed by listening to stories. This develops language skills in all students, even those who struggle with decoding. Therefore, listening can be used to develop these essential language skills with students of all reading abilities. These language skills can then influence and enhance their reading comprehension. For example, when teaching the comprehension skill of compare/contrast, students can listen to a story about the traditional view of Genghis Khan  as a conqueror and compare that to an author’s view of Genghis Khan as a visionary. Students can learn to use high-level comprehension skills by listening to the content and working with the concepts.

Language Skills

    • Literal Knowledge: Students need to recall descriptions, facts and details to understand the meaning. This includes understanding information that is explicitly stated.
    • Vocabulary:  Students who understand content as a whole are able to construct a mental model of the story. This allows them to find the meaning of unknown words by interpreting them within the context of the story. They are more likely to choose the correct meaning of words with multiple meanings, as well as discover the meaning of words by using the context. Also, when they hear idioms and figurative language they are able to understand them within the whole context, rather than as individual words.
    • Inferencing: Students who have high comprehension make inferences as they listen, connecting pieces of text together. They fill in missing information from their prior knowledge and experience, and go beyond the literal meaning of the content (Bowyer-Crane & Snowling, 2005).
    • Main Idea: When listening, students generalize the content as a whole and identify the main ideas of the information presented. They interpret the information and how it all contributes to a main topic or issue.
    • Summarizing: When students are asked to summarize what they heard, they identify the importance of each detail and retell the key points of information and explain how they contribute to the overall ideas.
    • Analyze Point of View: Students listen to identify and evaluate the speaker’s purpose and main ideas.
    • Evaluating Reasoning: Students  evaluate the reasoning , credibility, and relevance of a speaker or author’s ideas and information.

Using Listening to Improve Reading Comprehension

After seeing the connections between the four language skills, there is much importance in teaching and assessing listening and speaking skills in schools. By growing one skill, students are developing their other language skills. There is strong evidence that higher-level language skills are critical to good reading comprehension and its development. These higher-level skills play an important role in a reader’s or listener’s construction of the meaning of a text. Each of these skills can be taught and assessed in students of all reading levels, by using high-quality listening resources. Developing and practicing these skills while listening can contribute to increased comprehension when reading. These skills can be taught through targeted instruction, discussions, and monitoring progress to meet the needs of all students.



Catts, H. W., Hogan, T. P., & Adlof, S. M. (2005). Developmental changes in reading and reading disabilities. In H. W. Catts & A. G. Kamhi (Eds.), The connections between language and reading disabilities (pp. 25-40). Mahwah,NJ: Erlbaum.

Bowyer-Crane, C., & Snowling, J. (2005). Assessing children’s inference generation: What do tests of reading comprehension measure? British Journal of Educational Psychology, 75, 189-201.

Hogan, T. P., Bridges, M. S., Justice, L. M., & Cain, K. (2011). Increasing higher level language skills to improve reading comprehension. Focus on Exceptional Children, 44(3), 1-19.

Perfetti, C. A. (2007). Reading ability: Lexical quality to comprehension. Scientific Studies of Reading, 11, 357-383.

Are you using a free teacher account and wondering how to have your students access the stories?  

Perhaps you told them to go sign up and they came back to you asking for a class code? We’re here to help!

In the free teacher version, we use “listening links” to simply let students listen to the audio story on their own device.  No student signups.  No class codes.

What is a listening link and how does it work?


In the top left corner of each lesson you’ll see an orange assign button with a link icon. You can use that to get a listening link, which is just a link to a student view of that story. Copy the URL and then share the link however you typically share resources with students. You can even share these links to your Google Classroom!

Do you have other questions about how to navigate the Listenwise product? Check out our most frequently asked questions in our FAQ page.

PS – Premium users can use listening links too!