Descriptions of Attention and Listening Levels

The acquisition of listening and attention skills follows a recognised developmental sequence.

Attention

Listening

Level 1

  • Characterised by extreme distractibility
  • Attention flits from one object, person or event to another
  • Any new event, such as someone walking by, will immediately distract
  • Interested in people and voices, more than objects
  • Reacts to foreground and background noises
  • Locates sound by turning

Level 2

  • Concentrates on a concrete task of his own choosing
  • Will not tolerate any intervention by an adult, whether verbal or visual
  • May appear obstinate or ‘wilful’, but in fact his attention is single channelled
  • Must ignore all other stimuli, in order to concentrate upon what he is doing
  • Beginning to listen to sounds and be interested in action songs and rhymes
  • Begins to respond to simple instructions when accompanied by gesture/pointing
  • Interested in large objects as well as faces

Level 3

  • Pupil cannot attend to auditory and visual stimuli from different sources
  • Cannot listen to an adult’s directions while he is playing
  • Can shift his attention to the speaker and back to the game, with adult’s help
  • Responds to and recognises everyday familiar sounds (auditory discrimination)
  • Localises sounds and voices (auditory location)
  • Listens for their own name and responds to simple instructions
  • Can select the most important sounds to attend to at any particular time

Level 4

  • Can spontaneously alternate full attention between speaker and task
  • An increase in the amount of auditory or verbal information that can be retained (auditory memory)
  • Identifies and interprets a wide range of environmental sounds (auditory discrimination)
  • An emerging concept of individual speech sounds (auditory discrimination and phonological awareness)

Level 5

  • Attention is now two channelled
  • He understands verbal instructions related to the task, without interrupting his activity to look at the speaker
  • Concentration span may still be short, but he can be taught in a group
  • Can attend to and interpret information for longer and more efficiently (auditory attention span)
  • Refined discrimination skills; beginning to identify individual sounds or syllables within a word (phonological awareness)
  • Can listen to a short story, in a group setting, for extended periods of time

Level 6

  • Auditory, visual and manipulatory channels are fully integrated
  • Attention is well established and sustained
 


Reference: Cook, J. and Williams, D. (1985) Working with Children’s Language. Winslow Press

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Last updated: 19 July 2012

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