04 November 2009

TV Kids Are Poor Listeners

TV Kids
A study in 2004 revealed that watching too much television makes children poor listeners.

A literacy test conducted on selected Grade 1 pupils in Metro Manila showed poor "phonological awareness" skills, or the ability to associate letters, words and pictures with their sound. Listening is the building block of reading, according to educators.

Dr. Felicitas Pado, a teacher of beginning reading for 19 years, said the problem is observed globally to too much media exposure of children.

"We have media babies. They're used to viewing. So our pupils have poor listening skills. That's a global problem," said Pado, who is with the University of the Philippines.

Educators like Pado are trying to address the literacy problem among Grade 1 pupils. The Department of Education (DepEd) estimates that up to four out of 10 pupils finish Grade 1 without knowing how to read.

The test was part of the basic reading program undertaken by DepEd officials with the fast-food chain McDonald's.

A total of 4,200 Grade 1 pupils in 14 public schools in Metro Manila underwent the reading program last year.

Pado, who administered the pretest in July and the posttest last February to selected pupils, said the pupils greatly improved their reading and writing skills with the program's help. But she asked Grade 1 teachers to help children develop their listening skills.

"Since beginning reading lies heavily on sound-symbol relationship, listening is an important skill for beginning readers," she said. "The result showed that greater emphasis should still be placed on teaching this skill."

She said the pre-test scores showed "very poor listening ability" among the beginners, though this greatly improved later as shown by the post-test scores.

She said the pupils did not have much problem with visual discrimination skills, or the ability to differentiate letters and words.

"The results show that the children's visual discrimination skills are better developed than their phonological awareness skills," she said.

Under its "Bright Minds Read" program, McDonald's, with the help of DepEd, trained 70 Grade 1 teachers how to better teach their pupils the basics of reading.