LISTENING SKILLS INSTRUCTION
By: Carmen Willings
Since listening skills will be a major source of information for a student who is blind or visually impaired, it is important to develop good listening skills when the child is young. It is also important to continue to build on those skills as the student progresses through grades. Listening skills will help a child gain information for general learning and understanding of their environment as well as critical safety information needed for safe travel. Listening skills provides information about the immediate and extended environment which can be particularly helpful in developing orientation and mobility skills.
Students may need to be taught the importance of listening. They should be encouraged to not only identify sounds but derive meaning from the sounds they hear and make connections between things they hear including similarities and differences. These skills are important for language development as well as social skill development and good orientation and mobility. Encourage the student to respond to oral instruction in a variety of settings (home environments, classroom, P.E. (e.g., gym, playing fields), outdoors (e.g. playground, yard, concourse), stores (e.g., grocery, mall, department). In the classroom, encourage the student to follow along during oral reading activities.
Present the student with a variety of familiar materials or materials introduced in a lesson. Encourage the student to demonstrate an understanding of words by selecting or touching the item upon request.
Practice repeating back a series of words just heard by playing games where each student adds on a new word and the next person has to repeat the previous words and then add another word. For example, "I went on a trip to the grocery store and bought an apple, a banana, a carrot....." Students can add an item using the alphabet or alternatively, simply add on a theme related item.
Encourage the student to identify a word that is missing. The teacher can orally present a sentence, omitting a key word, and depending on the student's ability, the student selects an appropriate word (from a word bank or group of objects from a topic) to complete the sentence.
Encourage the student to follow directions. There are many fun follow direction games that can be played with students of all ages.
Encourage the student to begin isolating sounds, words and phrases by helping them:
Encourage the student to begin remembering sounds, words, and stories by helping them:
Compare and Relate Words/Sounds
Encourage the student to begin comparing and relating words and sounds by helping them:
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Due to the nationwide shortage of vision professionals, it can be challenging to locate personnel. Announce a job vacancy on the Job Exchange of Teaching Students with Visual Impairments, an online listing of jobs specific to the visual impairment field.
Learning to Listen/Listening to Learn by Lizbeth A Barclay is published by the American Foundation for the Blind. This text provides a systematic development of skills in listening for and interpreting auditory information. Barclay discusses instruction in listening skills at different ages and it includes a continuum chart and a checklist to use in assessment.