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4 Great Ways to Build Listening Comprehension

What Is Listening Comprehension?

Listening comprehension is the precursor to reading comprehension, so it’s an important skill to develop. Listening comprehension isn’t just hearing what is said—it is the ability to understand the words and relate to them in some way.

For example, when you hear a story read aloud, good listening comprehension skills enable you to understand the story, remember it, discuss it, and even retell it in your own words. You use these same comprehension skills when you read.

How Listening Comprehension Develops

Listening comprehension begins at a young age as babies interact with people around them. It develops as they are read to and as they engage in conversation with their parents. Tone of voice, pauses between words, where the emphasis is placed in a sentence, and the rhythm and pattern of speech all have an impact on the meaning of the words being spoken and the message they are meant to convey.

In the All About Reading Pre-reading program, we foster listening comprehension by discussing stories and characters, expanding vocabulary, and exposing children to a wide variety of listening experiences. In addition, through the poetry in our books, The Zigzag Zebra and Lizard Lou, and through the read-alouds, children absorb language patterns that are not used as frequently in normal conversation, but that are commonly used in books.

In grade school, reading comprehension generally lags behind listening comprehension, so the best way for a child to develop higher levels of comprehension is through non-print sources (read-alouds, discussions, movies, and so on). Even after a child learns to read, listening comprehension continues to be important.

In the All About Reading program, we intentionally develop listening comprehension through story discussions, vocabulary development, and read-alouds. In this way, kids grow in their knowledge of the world, absorb language structure, and make connections between old and new information.

Listening Comprehension Quick Guide Download

4 Fantastic Ways to Develop Listening Comprehension

In addition to the activities built into All About Reading, you can help your child develop listening comprehension skills by engaging in the activities below on a regular basis.

Mashed Potatoes -  a listening comprehension game

Play Fun Games

Play listening skills games such as Mashed Potatoes. This silly game will provide your child with important listening practice and plenty of giggles, too! Hebanz is another great game that will help build listening skills in a way the whole family can enjoy.

The conversation method download

Talk to Your Child

If your child doesn’t understand what words mean, comprehension isn’t possible. The Conversational Method for Teaching Vocabulary is simply talking with your child and expanding upon vocabulary words that he has not yet learned.

12 Reasons Why Teachers Love All About Reading and All About Spelling

Make Reading Aloud Interactive

Read lots of picture books aloud to your child. But don’t just read! You can help your child’s listening skills by turning reading into an interactive activity.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Briefly explain unfamiliar words and situations to help your child build comprehension.
  • Invite your child to make predictions. “What do you think will happen next?”
  • Encourage your child to retell the story (or an exciting part of the story) to family members. Meal times are often a good time for retelling stories.
  • Need book suggestions? Download our extensive list.

12 Reasons Why Teachers Love All About Reading and All About Spelling

Listen to Audio Books Together

Listening to audio books is another great “read-aloud” activity that provides ample opportunities for building listening skills. As you listen to a story together, react to the story, laugh at the funny parts, and express surprise or fear at the appropriate moments.

Listening Comprehension Is One of the Big Five Skills

Listening comprehension is one of the five critical skills for reading readiness that we call the Big Five Skills. The other four skills are:

If you’re ready to tackle the rest of the Big Five Skills, be sure to check out the All About Reading Pre-reading program. Your student will enjoy special games, crafts, and story time read-alouds, and you will love the way your student effortlessly learns essential pre-reading skills.

All About Reading Pre-reading

Do you have any questions about listening comprehension? Post in the comments below!

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Mpho

says:

How reading motivation potentially influence listening comprehension?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Mpho,
Interesting question. I’m unsure that motivation to read does or doesn’t influence comprehension with listening. I know from personal experience that children with good listening comprehension may or may not be motivated to read themselves.

Zeni liwonga

says:

I like it,
And it’s more helpfull

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Zeni!

Tembisa Jack

says:

This is a wonderful programme. I enjoy it a lot.It is helping a lot .

Amankwaa Dominic

says:

I love your resources. Please help me to help my students by your resources.

Irenmwinru Sarah

says:

Great work, it’s awesome.

Irenmwinru Sarah

says:

Great work

Jill

says:

Thank you for all this! It is great!

Peta-Gaye

says:

I find the Conversational Method for Teaching Vocabulary very easy and effective to use with my son. Thank you for the information on this post, it’s a continual work in progress.

Rahel

says:

Thanks for this informative sum up! I am looking forward to trying mashed potatoes, that was new to me.

Jessica

says:

We definitely need to work on this more!

Great tips as always, thanks! I love listening to audiobooks with my son at bedtime.

Elizabeth

says:

Thanks for your excellent guidance.
I haven’t read all the posts, so pardon me if this has already been addressed: I believe it is important to continue to read aloud to children long after they are able to read fluently.
I am finding it vital to continue to read aloud to my teenager, listen to him reading to his younger brother, listen to audiobooks together, & read the books he is reading silently so that we can discuss the book, & I can check the accuracy of his comprehension. My son has auditory processing & language disorders, but that has not prevented us from enjoying excellent literature together. It just takes longer we stop frequently to define words & discuss the text.
I will continue to do so even with my child whose listening comprehension is excellent, not only because the books become more complex as they get older, but because we have such fun with the shared experience.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

We completely agree, Elizabeth! I read aloud to my teenagers almost every school day, in addition to the reading they do themselves! Thank you for pointing this out.

Rachel Fuller

says:

I love these tips. With an extra busy 7 year old, it can be hard to sit and teach and actually have him listen and comprehend what I’m saying. Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Rachel,
You may find our blog post Reading Aloud to Kids Who Can’t Sit Still helpful. Some kids actually listen and comprehend better when they aren’t perfectly still. My own kids love to play with Lego, or draw, or even take a bike apart while they listen to me and they comprehend very well while doing all that stuff.

I hope this blog post gives you some ideas, but please let me know if you if have any questions.

Klevelyn Griffiths

says:

My son is 7 and we’re working on listening comprehension.

Natasha

says:

Having the children act out the story is another fun way of working with comprehension. My students live it and can often quote what characters have said without prompting!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

What a great idea, Natasha! Thanks for sharing it. Acting out stories would be a lot of fun too.

Great information! Hope to put it too work.

Mary Schuh

says:

We love listening to audiobooks; I can tell that it has really helped my 5 year old with his comprehension!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Mary,
It’s great to hear that listening to audiobooks has helped your child’s comprehension! Thank you.

Rae Steele

says:

This is encouraging! Thank you

Julia

says:

I really needed this- thanks!

LeAnn

says:

This post is very helpful. Thank you!

Juill

says:

Useful tips!

Megan

says:

Great ideas!

Holly Berry

says:

I love the activities in the All About Reading program, I can’t wait to try the mashed potatoes game! We are also looking forward to browsing your suggested read aloud book list!!!

Thank you!

Brooke Z

says:

Fantastic ideas. We are just starting AAR level one and I am taking some training on Charlotte Mason’s ideas. Combining her thoughts on dialog, narration and dictation, along with these awesome ideas for comprehension will work wonders, I bet!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Brooke,
Yes! Our materials tend to work very well for those following the Charlotte Mason approach. They have a lot in common.

Lucia Garcia

says:

This article has so much information. Will apply to my children and hope to use the program soon!

Crystal J Spry

says:

My son was having problems with this. He has come such a long way.

Lorna Seadore

says:

Listening Comprehension is difficult for the struggling reader I’m currently working with. He has improved with the addition of read alouds in your program.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lorna,
It’s so great to hear that read alouds have helped improve listening comprehension for your student. Thanks for letting us know!

Sherry Salter

says:

We recently added age appropriate audio books to out reading program and find them very enjoyable.

Jennifer Foerster

says:

Just began ALR Level 1 with my son and he is loving it. Which means, I am too! Just wanted to thank you for not just selling a product, but the tips, tricks, and excellent information you provide for us homeschool mamas. I cannot wait to watch him grow through all for levels!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Aww, you’re welcome, Jennifer. I love that AAR 1 is working so well for your son and you!

Christy S

says:

We love listening to audiobooks & podcasts together! My kids definitely ask for clarification when they don’t know a word. Good to know we’re on the right track!

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