I recently conducted two simultaneous online polls which asked two important questions about literacy and oracy. The first posed the question “Which is the most important literacy function, listening, speaking, reading, or writing?” The second survey asked respondents to consider “Which is the most neglected oracy or literacy skill, listening., speaking, reading or writing?”
Half the respondents (50%) indicated that listening was the most important of these attributes. In terms of neglect (the second survey) 61% responded that listening was the most neglected skill in the literacy repertoire.
Listening is foundational to the emergence of other literacy competencies. Following birth, children acquire an understanding of the world through listening and speaking, followed in time by reading and writing. To overlook the importance of listening lessens the capacity of children (and adults) to think cognitively, reflect upon and comprehend what is happening around them. At home and school, children should be taught to listen so this becomes an ingrained habit.