IMPROVE PUPILS’ LISTENING SKILLS DURING STORYTELLING AT ACCRA GRAMMAR SCHOOL IN KG2 THROUGH PRACTICAL ACTIVITIES
Listening is a child’s first language skill, and it is the most dominant communication skill in the classroom and in everyday life. Storytelling is one method for improving listening skills. However, studies have shown that listening skills are not given adequate attention in primary schools, particularly through the use of storytelling. As a result, this study looked into the impact of storytelling on the listening skills of Accra Grammar School KG2 students. The study used a quasi experimental pretest-posttest control group design.
Two public primary schools were chosen at random and assigned to experimental and control groups. The experimental group was exposed to illustrated storytelling, while the control group was exposed to non-illustrated storytelling.
Morrow’s 10-Point Scale for Retelling Analysis was used to assess students’ listening skills before and after hearing stories. ANCOVA was used to analyze the data collected. Treatment had a significant main effect on the listening skills of primary one students (F(1,40) = 0.01; p 0.05; 2 = 0.14). Among the recommendations made was that teachers in primary schools use illustrated storytelling in indigenous languages to teach listening skills.
1.1 The Study’s Background
Many African children start primary school at the age of six, and these children are still in their early childhood. According to the World Bank (2011), the early childhood period is the most rapid period of human development. Although each child develops at his or her own pace, all children go through a predictable sequence of physical, cognitive, social, and emotional growth and change.
Physically, six-year-old children have improved use of all of their body parts, allowing for better gross and fine motor skills, as well as increased awareness of their body positions and movements. They are socially interested in their peers’ opinions and abilities, both for social comparison and to make friends. They also have strong emotional bonds with important adults in their lives, such as teachers.
Emotionally, they are not good at accurately understanding another person’s emotions, which may play a role in the reduction of aggressive and disruptive behaviors among primary school children (Tornlinson, 2009). Intellectually, Anthony (2014) noted that they are nearing the end of Piaget’s preoperational period, which is the time when children learn to use language. The majority of children’s thoughts and communications are egocentric (about themselves). Animism is another important characteristic that children exhibit during this stage.
The belief that inanimate objects have human feelings and intentions is known as animism (McLeod, 2012). While some of this thinking actually fosters creativity, encouraging the development of a child’s schema (her foundation knowledge) around animals and habitats is an excellent way to advance the child’s thinking and understanding of the world (Anthony, 2014) Also, because children of this age are concrete learners (Thomlinson, 2009), learning should be supplemented with a variety of visuals or real-world objects in the classroom.
One of the goals of primary education in Ghana is to instill permanent literacy and effective communication skills (FG, 2004). Literacy establishes a solid foundation for a lifetime of opportunities. Literacy in primary school entails developing oral and written communication skills in all subject areas.
Primary school students can improve their literacy skills through instruction and practice in the areas of speaking, reading, writing, and listening (Grayson, 2013). Listening is the process of receiving information through the sense of hearing and interpreting what is heard. Young children benefit from listening comprehension because it prepares them for later reading comprehension (Jalongo, 2008).
This could be why Brown (2012) believes it is critical for a child to develop good listening skills in order to cope with the academic demands of school and to learn adequate literacy skills. Listening ability assists children in guiding their self-inquiry and discovering their unique possibilities. Active listeners can incorporate what they hear more quickly into their knowledge framework than passive listeners. Tramel (2011) observed that children can improve their concentration and memory when they develop good listening skills.
Because of all the language skills that young children develop, listening is the one that develops the earliest and is practiced the most frequently (Roskos, Christie and Richgels, 2003). According to studies on children’s listening, both in and out of school, between 50 and 90 percent of children’s communication time is devoted to listening (Wolvin and Coakely 2000; Gilbert, 2005).
Listening is essential for a child’s development of other skills, such as survival, social, and cognitive abilities. Wolvin and Coakley (2000, p. Listening comprehension is regarded as one of the skills most predictive of long-term academic success (Brigman, Lane and Switzer, 2001). Isbell, Sobol, Lindauer, and Lowrance (2004), Gallets (2005), and Philips (2000) discovered that storytelling improves children’s listening skills in their studies.
Despite the numerous benefits of teaching children to listen, an examination of the teaching and learning activities in our primary schools revealed that it is not given adequate attention. According to Smith (2003), despite the fact that listening is the most commonly used language skill, it is the one that is taught the least in the classroom.
Listening may have been neglected or poorly taught due to the misconception that it is a passive skill and that simply exposing learners to spoken language provides adequate instruction in listening comprehension (Call, 1985). What many people don’t realize is that stories with illustrations are essential for teaching children to listen.
Tales and stories are effective and useful listening materials for children to develop both their first and second language listening comprehension and literacy (Zevenbergenn and Whitehurst, 2003). One of the oldest methods of communicating ideas and images is through storytelling (Mello, 2001). Young children in traditional African societies were told stories by their parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts.
Folktales, according to Omoleye (1977), played an important role in Ghanaians’ community life. Despite the fact that the stories were unwritten, they have been passed down through generations without losing their uniqueness. As important as storytelling is for young children’s education, it is not given adequate attention in primary schools (Mello, 2001 and Philip 2000).
It has been observed that children spend more time with electronic media and less time listening to stories because parents’ lives are so hectic that they no longer have time to read bedtime stories to their children (TalkTalk Group, 2011); instead, they prefer their children to spend their evenings watching television and playing games (Paton, 2012).
Several studies have found that factors such as gender and background knowledge can have an impact on listening skills. According to Tanner (2001), men and women have very different communication styles that influence how they listen. Women, for example, listen to understand the emotions of others in order to find common interests, whereas men listen in order to take action and solve problems.
Furthermore, males listen to hear facts, whereas females are more aware of the communication’s mood (Booth – Butterfield, 1984). Purdy (2000) investigated the listening stereotypes that have contributed to the persistent belief that one gender performs better as listeners than the other.
The characteristics of good and bad listeners were gathered. The top 30 most common characteristics of good listeners (top 30) and poor listeners (top 28) were randomized, and participants were asked to rate each on a scale of male, somewhat-male, true of both sexes, female, somewhat-female.
The findings revealed that the majority of the positive characteristics were associated with females, while the negative characteristics were associated with males. In a study on the effects of storytelling and story reading on the oral language complexity and story comprehension of young children conducted by Isbel et al. (2004), there was little difference in language measures for preschool boys and girls within and between groups exposed to storytelling and story reading.
Stevens (1980) defined background knowledge as “what one already knows about a subject” and “all knowledge learners have when entering a learning environment that is potentially relevant for acquiring new knowledge” (Biemans and Simmons, 1996).
Culture influences all aspects of life and is an important aspect of background knowledge. Culture has a significant impact on all aspects of the learning process (Al-Issa, 2006). This means that listeners’ cultural backgrounds can influence their listening abilities. Few studies have been conducted to investigate the relationship between cultural background and listening skills.
Bakhtiarvand and Adinevand (2010), for example, investigated the effect of cultural familiarity on Iranian EFL (English as a Foreign Language) learners’ listening comprehension. The posttest results revealed that participants who listened to the target culture texts (English and American) outperformed all other participants who did not listen to the target culture texts.
A similar study by Samian and Dastjerdi (2012) found that cultural familiarity improved the listening comprehension of Iranian EFL (English as a Foreign Language) learners. It is therefore critical to determine whether cultural background influences primary school students’ listening skills, particularly when they are told indigenous stories with illustrations. This study investigated the effects of using practical activities to improve students’ listening skills during story telling at Accra Grammar School in kg2.
1.2 Problem Description
Listening is an important skill in which students must become proficient. It is an important method of language learning, as well as the foundation for other language skills (Vandergrift, 1999; Rost, 1990). It is especially important in educational settings where a foreign language is used as the medium of instruction. As in Ethiopia, listening ability has a significant impact on students’ achievement in other fields of study. As a result, effective listening becomes one of the determinants of a student’s success or failure (Tarone and Yule, 1989.)
In the case of Accra Grammar School, KG2 is the level at which English is taught as a subject and used as a medium of instruction, and where students begin to attend English lessons. As a result, they are expected to comprehend what they hear; however, most students’ listening abilities appear to be inadequate. The researcher of this study has firsthand knowledge of this problem because he was a primary school English teacher and is now a high school English teacher.
It is thought that students should develop academic listening skills while in school. They should be given a variety of listening comprehension exercises and trained to use effective listening strategies (Ur, 1984; Richards, 1985; Harmer, 2001). Some local researchers have similar thoughts. Berhanu (1993) and Mulugeta (1997) are two studies that are worth mentioning because they investigated listener strategies in collaborative discourse and motivation in listening classes, respectively.
Other studies in the field of listening were conducted in addition to Berhanu and Mulugeta’s work. Tewolde (1988) and Semie (1989) conducted research on students’ listening abilities. According to Tewolde’s findings, KG 2 students’ listening ability is below the expected listening level required for them to understand their subject areas. The study, on the other hand, suggests that the students understood some functions, such as definitions.
The study also reveals that the teachers’ language is unsatisfactory and appears to be a problem for the students due to its complexity and errors. Similarly, Seime’s findings show that students at Bahir Dar Teachers College of Science perform below the level expected of them in understanding lectures on physics, chemistry, and mathematics.
According to Mulugeta (1997), the perception of the relevance of the skill, tasks, and texts to their needs in the academic setting accounts for the student’s intrinsic motivation. According to Haregewein’s (2003) findings, there is a mismatch between the teaching practices used by teachers and the methodologies preferred by course book designers for teaching listening sections of the new course book.
1.3 The study’s objective
The primary goal of this research is to discover how to use practical activities to improve students’ listening skills during story telling at Accra Grammar School in kg2. It will, in particular;
To investigate the extent to which teachers use practical activities to improve students’ listening skills during story telling.
To ascertain what changes they can make to the listening lessons they teach
To ascertain the impact of songs on the listening skills of primary one students.
To ascertain the effect of gender on the listening skills of primary one students.
1.4 Research Issues
The following research questions will be addressed by the study.
To what extent do teachers use practical activities to improve students’ listening skills while telling stories?
What, if any, changes do they make to the listening lessons they teach?
What effect do songs have on the listening skills of primary one students?
What effect does gender have on the listening skills of primary one students?
1.5 Importance of the Research
The researcher believes that the study’s findings will help to:
create awareness among classroom teachers in order for them to evaluate their own and the materials they use to teach listening
assist material developers in improving teaching materials and assisting students in developing their listening comprehension skills
Provide feedback to teacher trainers in charge of training teachers in order for them to test their programs and improve their methodological training.
assist other researchers in using these findings as a foundation for further research in the area
The hypotheses listed below were developed and tested.
Ho1: There is no significant main effect of songs on primary one students’ listening skills.
Ho2: Gender has no significant main effect on primary one students’ listening skills.
1.7 The Study’s Scope
There are numerous factors that can contribute to the development of listening comprehension skills. Some of these may include the purpose and context of the listening, the teaching material, and the methods to be used. Learners’ characteristics, as well as their socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, teachers’ capacity, and student-teacher relationships (Haregewein, 2003). All of these factors have an impact on the learners’ Macro and Micro listening skills development.
However, realities force us to exclude all of these factors from a single study of this type. As a result, this study is limited to investigating the actual listening teaching practice in KG2, i.e. the teaching procedures and aids that teachers provide when presenting the listening lessons in terms of methodologies stated in the teachers’ book and listening teaching theories.
1.8 Study Restrictions
A variety of factors can have an impact on listening instruction. However, this study was limited to investigating the practice of teaching listening by taking into account teachers’ backgrounds, preparations for teaching listening, and techniques used in actual teaching listening classes.
In fact, the study’s scope would have been expanded if it had included more schools. However, due to time and financial constraints, the researcher was only able to interview three teachers and eighty students from Accra Grammar School.