A Full Guide On How to Improve Listening in English for Primary School Students

Improving listening skills in English for primary school students is crucial for their academic, social, and cognitive development. Understanding the problems associated with poor listening skills and the benefits of being a good listener can motivate students and educators to work on enhancing these skills.

Firstly, let us explore the multifaceted problems associated with poor listening skills and the manifold benefits of being an effective listener.

Problems of a Poor Listener

Poor listening skills can manifest in various forms, each with its own set of consequences. At the heart of these problems lies a failure to engage fully with their peers, schoolmates and teachers.

  1. Misunderstanding Instructions: Poor listeners may misinterpret or miss out on crucial information relayed by the teacher, leading to incorrect assignments or tasks and poor performance in the academia.
  2. Difficulty in Following Along: In classes or group activities, they might struggle to keep up with others’ conversations, affecting their participation and ultimately leading to unpopularity and social isolation
  3. Reduced Comprehension: Listening is closely linked to reading and writing skills. Poor listeners might also struggle with comprehension, retention and expression in these areas.

Benefits of Being a Good Listener

Conversely, the benefits of being good listeners are profound and far-reaching. They touch every aspect of our kids’ lives, from personal relationships to all their endeavours from home to the school.

  1. Improved Communication Skills: Effective listening enhances the ability to communicate and interact with others, fostering better relationships and teamwork with their enhanced language skills.
  2. Increased Participation: Students who listen well are more likely to participate actively in class discussions and activities, leading to a more enriching learning experience.
  3. Higher Academic Achievement: Good listeners can comprehend and retain (plus retrieve) information more effectively Such skills are hence, associated with better academic performance, as students can follow instructions, understand concepts, and engage with educational content more effectively.

Here is a comprehensive guide to help primary school students enhance their English listening skills:

Strategies to Improve Listening Skills

1. Create a Listening-Friendly Environment

Incorporate regular or daily listening activities into the classroom routine. This could be listening to stories, songs, or dialogues. You may want to utilize audio and video resources available online. Tools like YouTube, BBC Learning English, and TED-Ed talks offer a variety of engaging content suitable for different age groups. A word of caution though, is that we have to ensure the listening environment is as quiet as possible to minimize distractions so that our kids can focus and be engaged with the dialogue on the other end.

2. Engage with Varied Listening Materials

Stories and fairy tales are great for younger learners as they often involve repetition and clear pronunciation. Music, too, can make learning more enjoyable and memorable if you choose songs and rhymes with clear lyrics or lines and projected at a moderate pace. For slightly older kids, audiobooks and educational podcasts can be both entertaining and informative.

Materials such as suggestions for good podcasts include the following:

  • Little Stories for Tiny People – podcasts for kids with original stories for the family (for example ~ The Blue House: An Honesty Story for Kids)
  • Five Minutes with Dad – How to Change the World – how a father and his two kids tackle everyday issues
  • Tumble – a science podcast for Kids – for your kids’ curious minds and how they will soon fall in love with science

3. Develop Active Listening Skills

Before listening, encourage your primary school kids to predict what they will hear based on the title or pictures. After listening, discuss their predictions and what they actually heard. We could teach our children to listen for main ideas and key details which is detail in our SAE Hougang page. This can be practised through question-and-answer sessions or by summarising what they’ve heard. Always remember to support your listening activities with pictures, videos, or storyboards to help kids visualise what they’re hearing.

4. Incorporate Listening Games and Activities

A classic game is ‘Simon Says’ that requires young kids to listen carefully and follow instructions. With ‘Listen and Do’, one needs to play a recording with instructions (e.g., touch your nose, stand up) and have the kids follow them. I particularly like the ‘Listening Bingo Game’ where I would create bingo cards with words related to a specific topic. As my children hear the words, they mark them on their cards.

If not visit ‘bingobaker.com’. Here there is a sample of 8 bingo cards (downloadable) under Respect and Listening Bingo and its Call List that you can print to prepare for the activity which can be played as a family or when more kids come to the house.

5. Encourage Interaction and Practice

We can role-play where both of us can act out scenarios based on what we’ve listened to, reinforcing our understanding and pronunciation. If we need more participants, we rope in cousins and neighbours and then the interactive approach should work better. In this way I can encourage all the young ones to practise their listening skills in pairs or small groups. They can take turns listening to and repeating phrases or sentences. Here we can take turns to also provide gentle constructive feedback and correct pronunciation and comprehension mistakes to encourage continuous improvement.

6. Integrate Listening with Other Skills

The three combined skill traits that are very important:

  • Listening and Speaking: After listening to a story or dialogue, have our kids retell it in their own words. Do watch their pronunciation but make constructive feedback.
  • Listening and Reading: Pair listening activities with reading the same text. This helps reinforce vocabulary and comprehension.
  • Listening and Writing: Use listening as a precursor to writing activities. Your kids can write down key words, phrases, or a summary of what they’ve heard.

7. Use Authentic Materials

Expose your primary school kids to natural, unscripted conversations to prepare them for real- world listening situations. Use materials that introduce different cultures and customs for global awareness and in order to broaden their horizons while making learning more interesting.

8. Encourage Home Listening Practice

We encourage parents to engage with their children in English listening activities at home, such as watching English cartoons or listening to English children’s songs. You could seek progress reports of your kids from their form or subject teachers in school or at enrichment centres they attend. They may offer other constructive suggestions that both parties can adopt to help support your child’s listening skills development in school and at home.


The problems associated with poor listening skills are significant and can have a detrimental impact on all areas of life. However, by cultivating the habit of effective listening, we can overcome these challenges and reap the substantial benefits that come with being a good listener.

Listening is not just about hearing words; it’s about understanding and empathizing with the other party’s message. It’s a skill that, once mastered, can unlock doors to deeper connections, greater opportunities, and personal growth. In a world that often feels disconnected, especially in today’s digital world, the art of listening can be our bridge to a more meaningful and fulfilling life.

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