Malhead“My students aren’t good listeners!” We hear this time and again from teacher. Yet in our classrooms we teach strategies to helps students in reading and writing but we rarely teach listening. Radio is the perfect medium for teaching and honing listening skills in your classroom.

Strategies: Try introducing metacognitive strategies for listening so students think about their listening in order to improve their skills. A metacognitive strategy would monitor the process of listening.  This monitoring includes self direction and self reflection, according to this research paper, and it’s what you want to practice with your students.

Here are 3 good metacognitive strategies you can use in your classroom.

    1. Directed Attention

The more focused the listening the more focused the learning.  Students need to be told they will only be using their hearing, there are no pictures. Minimize distracting noises while listening. If you are listening as a class, consider dimming the lights.  Close the classroom door. Tell students that when their mind wanders, which is normal, just focus on tuning back into the story to get back on track.

When you are using audio with interesting sounds, such as this story about Raising Antibiotic Free Chickens, they will be forming pictures in their minds. They will be hearing sounds that take them to other locations in their minds. Encouraging students to visualize and make “mind movies” while they listen can be a great way to build their capacity to visualize.

    2. Planning and Evaluation

Listening requires that you plan for good focus before, during and after, the audio is played.

  • Before – plan in your head how you are going to listen
  • During – While you are listening ask yourself, am I being a good listener?
  • After – Think back on how you listened. Were you a good listener? What could you improve?  This might make a good class discussion.

When listening to a complex story, such as this story about The Changing Role of NATO, students need to think about a plan for keeping their mind on track in a challenging story.

    3. Problem Solving

Audio storytelling makes difficult stories accessible to all levels of students but you have to prepare them to hear words they don’t know.  You can tell you students to guess the meaning of those words by listening to them in the context of the story. Tell them to think back to everything else they’ve learned to try and guess what makes sense.  Use the meaning of the words they do understand to guess the meaning of the other words.

Many science stories such as Dinoflagellates, have complex scientific terms. Help you students activate their background knowledge before the story starts so they can guess the meaning of the words they don’t know.


Happy Listening!


This majority of this post is taken from a close reading of the research article: Listening Metacognitions: Another Key to Teaching Listening? by Laura Janusik and Shaughan A. Keaton

One thought on “Good Listeners Are Made Not Born”
  1. I like how accessible this site is. I’m going to share the Thanksgiving article with my class. Thank you.

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