Fact File on Listening
Below is a fact file on the multiple ways listening impacts children's speech and literacy development, how this plays a relates to their school experiences, and how this affects children with hearing loss.
- Although listening is the language art that hearing children and adults use the most, it is the one that is taught the least-an inverse relationship between the real world and the classroom (C. B. Smith, 2003a; Swanson, 1984). As a result, listening has been known as the neglected or forgotten language art for more than 50 years (Tompkins, 2002).
- Less than 2 percent of the population has had any formal educational experience with listening (Gregg, 1983), yet as much as 80 percent of the information we obtain is the result of listening. Adults in the United States listen at only 25 percent efficiency, meaning that they are preoccupied, distracted, and forgetful nearly 75 percent of the time (Hunsaker, 1990).
- Children are expected to listen as much as 50 percent of the time in school (Strother, 1987; Wolvin & Coakley, 1988). Even in more developmentally appropriate classrooms, the percentage of children's time spent listening to teachers and peers is about 25 percent (Hiebert, 1990). Outside school, approximately 45 percent of children's time is spent listening (Hunsaker, 1990).
- From the earliest days of life, infants are sensitive to pitch (Saffran & Griepentrog, 2001). Building young children's phonological awareness is supported by research as a way to enhance later reading ability (Adams, Treiman, & Pressley, 1998).
- When toddlers with and without hearing loss were studied during pretend play, there was a positive relationship between word production and opportunities for pretend play (Brown, Rickards, & Bortoli, 2001).
- In children without significant hearing loss, common causes of listening difficulties include recurrent ear infections, lack of appropriate models for listening and learning, learning disabilities, attention deficits, behavior disorders, specific language impairments in the area of comprehension, and difficulty in adapting to the classroom's academic language. Challenges to listening are further exacerbated by the rapid talking rate of many teachers; background noises, distractions, and interruptions in the classroom; and language or dialect differences between the child and teacher or peers (Swain, Harrington, & Friehe, 2004).
- Experts estimate that 50 percent of severe hearing loss is attributable to genetic causes, and that more than 50 genetic syndromes may result in hearing loss (Northern & Downs, 1991).
- After a deaf toddler was equipped with a cochlear implant at 20 months, the child recognized 240 words and spoke approximately 90 words after one year. The combination of cochlear implantation at a young age, family support, and regular intervention was effective (Ertmer & Mellon, 2001).
- If young children have severely unintelligible speech, many clinicians and teachers favor the phonological approach to intervention, which emphasizes the linguistic rules governing syllable formation (Culbertson & Tanner, 2001).
- An intervention where parents of children with communication difficulties were supplied with home activity packets to promote shared listening reported positive effects on parental attitudes and children's listening skills (Stevens, Watson, & Dodd, 2001).
- Children actively engaged in learner-centered child-care environments have better receptive language skills (Dunn, Beach, & Kontos, 1994).
- A developmental view of phonological sensitivity regards it as a single ability (or a set of highly correlated abilities) that moves from sensitivity to sounds and words to sensitivity to phonemes (the smallest units of sound). The sequence is as follows: Children master word-level sounds before syllable-level skills, syllable-level skills before initial consonants in word families (onset/rime), and onset/rime-level skills before phoneme-level skills (sounding out all the parts of a word) (Anthony & Lonigan, 2004, p. 14).
- From a developmental perspective, children can detect phonological information before they can blend, manipulate, or segment sounds. For instance, they notice that the words clock and rock sound similar before they can delete the cl- and r- and replace it with s- to form sock (Mackey & White, 2004).
- The most common cause of early reading difficulty is weakness in children's ability to apprehend, manipulate, and use the sound structure of spoken language. Children who struggle with reading experience difficulty in cracking the alphabetic code that links the smallest units of sound (phonemes) with the corresponding smallest units of writing (graphemes) (Lonigan, 2005). In one study, approximately 50 percent of the reading-disabled children had significantly lower scores on oral language measures than their peers, which is interpreted as evidence of the link between oral and written language skills (Heath & Hogben, 2004, p. 753).
- Researchers found that 56 percent of students with learning disabilities and 28 percent of students who had not been identified as having learning disabilities had problems completing homework assignments. For students with learning disabilities, homework problems are often attributed to poor receptive language and memory deficits, both of which interfere with understanding or remembering what has been assigned (Bryan & Brustein, 2004).
- Children can acquire new vocabulary by listening to their teachers read aloud. Reading aloud is particularly effective at expanding vocabulary when teachers use interactive reading strategies (Bradham & Brown, 2002).
- Lack of communication is the most serious obstacle that parents and families confront (Gonzalez-Men a, 1994). An emphasis on effective listening in family literacy programs can help improve communication (Swick, DaRos, & Kovach, 2001).
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