“Learning to Listen Sounds” are one of the hallmarks of teaching spoken language through listening. For those new to Listening and Spoken Language (LSL), the sounds checklist is used in auditory teaching activities where objects commonly used in early infant and child routines are accompanied with sounds that are associated with them. Some examples are “Moo” for cow or “Choo-choo” for train.
Not all Learning to Listen Sounds are farm animals or modes of transport. They can include the beginning sounds, phrases, and commands that are commonly spoken in early infant and child routines: sounds like “Mmmm,” when something smells good or “Uh-oh,” when something spills.
Learning to Listen Sounds are a normal part of spoken language acquisition in early learning. Children begin to match people and things with labels as they build understanding through play. These are the first baby steps (so to speak!) in very early vocabulary development.
For those well versed in LSL, the use of Learning to Listen Sounds will be old hat, but it can be helpful to reflect on why we use them in early childhood development.
It’s particularly important to engage children who are deaf or hard of hearing in these sound-object association activities for many reasons.*
(Source: Ellen Rhoades, Ed.S, Certified AVT therapist)
Learning to Listen Sounds are founded on early developmental milestones for understanding language, expressive development, and speech sound development. Used in combination with LSL strategies, they help grow a child’s brain for listening and spoken language.
Everyday routines are teaching moments. Children thrive with predictability and look to their parents as their first and best teachers. Learning in the comfort and safety of their normal routine — when they can predict what will happen next — helps them cope with transition, learn social skills, and build vocabulary. Daily patterns provide the perfect opportunity to practicing new sounds and words. For example…
This checklist can be used as a tool for planning or implementing intervention activities with infants and young children. The Learning to Listen Sounds on the list were chosen because…
Families and LSL interventionists can work together to select items from the list to engage the child in home and intervention activities. When selecting Learning to Listen Sounds we encourage LSL professionals to…
Draw From the Everyday
Many sounds on the checklist relate to things you’d find in most homes — even things found in common children’s toys or in common children's books. In early childhood language development, children first learn words they hear in daily routines because the adults in their home are more likely to reference those things often. Some of the earliest things children learn to group are animals (cow, duck), transportation (train, plane), toys (ball, jump rope), and actions (dance, sing).
Consider Family Culture and Context
When choosing which sounds to work on, consider the family's culture and environment. Did they receive a beloved toy from an abuela that they rarely part with? That toy would be easily accessible, giving them a chance to practice repeating that sound or word throughout the day. Is there a bus route that runs right through their neighborhood? Consider the sounds of the bus for starters.
Include Parents in the Decision Making Process
In addition to being a child’s first and best teacher, parents will be the ones working most closely with that child outside the hours of their weekly intervention session. See if they have any ideas of objects that would be easily accessible, and help them find opportunities in their daily routine.
Just as Learning to Listen Sounds are a common tool, there are common pitfalls to consider.
Be watching for a future post, where we’ll go beyond those first Learning to Listen words and share ideas about moving beyond Learning to Listen sounds. How about you? What are your favorite play routines to implement Learning to Listen sounds into your daily life?
Citation: Rhoades, E.A. (2007). Sound-object associations. In S. Easterbrooks, & E. Estes (Eds.), Helping children who are deaf and hard of hearing learn spoken language (pp. 181-188). Thousand Oaks CA: Corwin Press.
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