In this blog post, Hannah demystifies the listening test which forms part of the assessment morning for Kings College Wimbledon at 7+. She gives five recommendations for resources to use as well as her top tips on how to support your child.
“The listening test is approximately 25 minutes long and is played via speakers. All candidates hear the same recording. It will comprise a short listening exercise and a final section based on following the instructions heard in the recording.”
The test corresponds to the spoken language aspect of the national curriculum which runs from Year 1 to Year 6. It asks students to, among other things,“develop competence in … listening to enhance effectiveness of communication across a range of contexts.”
While there are no past papers made available for the test yet, below are 5 ideas to support your child in preparing for this aspect of the exam.
BBC School Radio: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schoolradio
This resources offers a number of stories across different subjects to encourage listening skills. Why not listen to one of the stories and ask your child to retell you the key points or ask them some questions based on what they have heard? There are accompanying videos to support listening which you may want to use at the early stages.
You can buy audio books from most bookshops or online. The Book People in particular have some good deals on buying collections of books which are good for long car journeys or for listening to via headphones. https://www.thebookpeople.co.uk/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?categoryId=141710&catalogId=10051
All You Can Books have a huge collection of children’s classic books available to download, often for free. http://www.allyoucanbooks.com/catalog/children?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI-pekwNCR3AIVyb3tCh1WxwqIEAAYAiAAEgJU6fD_BwE
When using audiobooks, play a short section and ask your child some questions like:
If your child does not pick up the key points the first time round, encourage them to listen again to the same recording, seeing if they pick up any extra information the second time. If they are still struggling, tell them to listen out for a specific part or word or an answer to a question to focus what they are listening out for.
First News Live https://live.firstnews.co.uk/ and Newsround https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/news/watch_newsround offer short daily news clips for children, summarising the day’s news. Why not listen to it with your child, with or without the video and then discuss some of the key news items? There will be some topic specific vocabulary. You could keep a log of these in a book as they might recur. Ask them to share what they think about the different issues on the news. Encourage them to use the topic specific vocabulary they heard in the clip where possible. As with the Audio books, there will be a lot of information in these clips. Try to get them to listen out for a specific bit of information e.g. Where was the earthquake?
For younger children, apps like Fun with Directions help to develop listening skills by asking children to respond to different instructions they hear by selecting the right object on the screen.
Getting your child to practice mental maths tests where the questions come on a CD or an audio recording is a good way to support your child with their listening while also practicing their Maths skills. Educational Publishers like CGP and Rising Stars have books with accompanying CDs with mental Maths tests. https://www.risingstars-uk.com/series/mental-maths/products/mental-maths-tests-for-new-curriculum-year-1-teachers-book-and-cd-rom-1
The resource I have found that most closely mirrors a specific listening practise paper is the Listening Skills Pack available from Teaching Packs website. It includes a range of games and activities designed to improve children’s listening comprehension. They have linked activity sheets for each listening activity for your child to do while listening. It is available to buy from their website, Teaching Skills Packs or at the following link. https://www.teachingpacks.co.uk/the-listening-skills-pack/
No matter which resource you choose to support your child’s listening, whether from the above list or not, here are 5 general principles for listening:
Ensure quiet. Background noise can be very distracting for a child so make sure the place they do this activity is quiet.
Use speakers. This mirrors the style of the exam. It may not always be practical to play a recording out loud so, in these instances, your child could listen through headphones. However, it would be best if the child learns to listen along with other sounds and also, ideally, with other people around. All of these things support your child to tune into the recording.
Practise little and often. The best way to practise a skill is in regular short bursts. Try sitting down for just 10 minutes in a session at first. You can then aim to build up over time as your child’s listening improves.
Make notes. At first, your child may not be able to hear and remember everything. The first time they hear a short clip, encourage them to note down the words and phrases they hear. This may need to be modelled by an adult. After listening, encourage them to use the words and phrases to explain what they heard, even if it was only a snippet and not all of the information. Then play the same recording again and ask them to add to their first notes and see if they heard anything extra which helps them to understand it more.
Clear a space. Try to ensure the child sits at a desk while doing the listening with a pencil and paper. Ensure there are no toys or objects around which could become a distraction or something to play with during the exercise.
Finally, your child is having to listen all of the time, as people speak to them, as they watch TV or listen to music. Speak to your child as much as possible and get them to repeat back what you have said if it is instructions to check they have listened accurately.