COMMUNICATIVE LANGUAGE TEACHING AND LISTENING

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CHAPTER 3 TEACHING LISTENING SKILLS

INTRODUCTION

The previous chapter focused on various aspects about listening, such as the difference between hearing and listening, the listening process, listening strategies that learners employ when listening and factors affecting listening in a foreign language. This chapter provides a review of literature pertaining to the teaching of listening skills within the framework of communicative language teaching. Key issues related to the teaching of EFL listening skills are discussed. These include inter alia teaching of strategies, such as cognitive and metacognitive strategies and an account of studies conducted on the use of strategies in the teaching of listening skills. An overview is also provided of listening teaching activities and best practices for the teaching of listening skills in a foreign language. The role of the teachers and teaching materials during instruction on teaching listening skills and the integration of listening with other skills during instruction are also addressed. In the last section of the chapter, barriers to and factors that can have an effect on the effective teaching of EFL listening skills are discussed.
Listening is the first language skill that people learn. Although listening is considered important in language learning, it is the weakest language skill for the majority of second and foreign-language learners (Vandergrift, 2013:1). Given the explanation provided in chapter one on the importance of listening for learning a language, it is necessary that teachers know how to help their students become effective listeners (Schwartz, 1998:2). For instance, instructors need to understand what ‘high skilled’ and ‘low skilled’ language learners do (Grenfell, 2007:9) so as to come up with learning programmes that can help learners with listening in a second or foreign language.
Fang (2008:25) states that the teaching of effective listening skills can assist learners to capitalise on the incoming language input while for the teachers it helps in facilitating the teaching process. Goh and Taib (2006:222) indicate that it is not easy to teach listening as language teachers are challenged on how to help learners improve in a skill which involves processes that are unobservable (Goh & Taib, 2006:222).

COMMUNICATIVE LANGUAGE TEACHING AND LISTENING

Although communicative language teaching (CLT) is not a theory or a specific method, it is an approach to language teaching that is used in this study to provide a methodological framework for the discussion of listening teaching in a foreign language. Whereas second language teaching in the early 1960s was influenced by behaviourism and embraced grammar-based methodologies such as audio-lingualism which depended on drilling exercises and repetition (Griffiths, 2008:256), the 1970s marked the emergence of communicative methodologies (Richards & Rodgers, 2014:86; Vandergrift, 2012:6). The development of communicative methodologies can, according to Richards and Rodgers (2014:86), be ascribed to the notion of communicative competence and functional approaches to the study of language. The communicative approach to language teaching developed because linguists started to look at language not as a set of rules to be applied, but as a way of expressing meaning. It was realised that learners did not really learn how to apply language effectively in everyday situations by merely studying and applying language rules. The communicative approach significantly influenced the way in which language was taught and led to the development of differentiated courses that took the communicative needs of learners into consideration. Language teaching became learner-centred and meaning was emphasised over form, and fluency over accuracy (Richards & Rodgers, 2014:95; Fang, 2010:113).
Richards and Rodgers (1986:69) define (CLT) as:
A theory of language teaching that starts from a communicative model of language and language use and that seeks to translate this into a design for an instructional system, for materials, for teacher and learner roles and behaviours, and classroom activities and techniques.
Communicative language teaching is aimed at improving learners’ communicative competence in the target language and to enable them to use the target language appropriately as a means of communication in any given social context.
The shift to communicative language teaching was in essence a shift from positivism to post-positivism and more meaning-based views of language. According to Jacobs and Farrell (2010:270), this shift focused the attention of language teaching to the role of the learner, the learning process (rather than the product of learning), the social nature of learning, learner diversity and in particular to authentic learning. It further resulted in a whole-to-part orientation instead of a part-to-whole approach and an emphasis on the importance of meaning rather than rote learning. It emphasised the development of learners’ higher order thinking skills and the application of these skills in situations beyond the classroom. New forms of assessment were applied and teachers were expected to continuously reflect and expand their understanding of teaching through the process of teaching (Jacobs & Farrell, 2001:271). The development of all four language skills was promoted and an integrated teaching approach to teaching the four skills was adapted (Vandergrift, 2013:9).
The communicative approach has recently been subjected to a lot of criticism by scholars such as Bax (2003) who wrote an article titled “The end of CL: A context approach to language teaching” and Harmer (2003:289) who claims that the problem with CLT is that it means different things to different people. Littlewood (2011:542) however argues that it is not yet time to abandon the term and that “…the term CLT still serves as a valuable reminder that the aim of teaching is not to learn bits of language, but to ‘improve the students’ ability to communicate’.” In this study I concur with Harmer’s (1993:70) and Littlewood’s (2011:542) contention that CLT can be regarded as an umbrella term to describe a wide variety of teaching and learning activities to improve students’ ability to communicate.
The communicative approach had a marked influence on the way in which listening was taught and is still being taught. Xiaoxian and Yan (2010:16) indicate that traditional listening tasks used in foreign language learning encouraged a passive view of listening skills where learners viewed listening as a receptive activity, that is, they simply received and recorded what they heard instead of making an attempt to integrate the message and seek clarification when they got challenged in the listening process. Whereas the skill was initially merely used to present a new grammar point and consisted of activities where learners had to listen to short passages (Field 2012:207), the communicative approach resulted in the use of authentic material (Vandergrift 2013:8). Several questions on the use of listening material were included in the questionnaire that was compiled for this study. As discussed in section 3.2.2 of this chapter, another aspect of importance in the use of the communicative approach is that it is learner-centred.

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The use of authentic material

According to Mousavi and Iravani (2012:21) authentic materials are oral and written language materials that are used in daily situations by native speakers of the language. Ma (2010:464) argues that it is important for teachers to consider the features, strategies and methods of communicative listening instruction. Ma (2010:464) suggests that these features imply real-life listening activities in a communicative situation. The communicative situation, according to Ma (2010:464) and Adelmann (2012:512), includes real-life activities such as listening with a purpose, listening to the news on radio or exchanging news over the telephone, discussions with colleagues, asking for directions, asking questions, arguing and taking notes, receiving instructions to go somewhere or do something, retelling stories, participating in an interview, or attending a seminar, lecture or listening to a speech. Ma (2010:465) argues that in classroom practice these real-life listening characteristics should be incorporated to assist learners in the listening process. Schwartz (1998:11) also suggests that the listening activities in a communicative approach to language teaching should roughly mirror real-life tasks.
Sun (2009:58) also emphasises the importance of teaching listening by creating and imitating real-life situations which give learners room to think and express what they heard. To integrate both thinking and expression, teachers need to create first a learning environment that imitates real-life scenes as well as a selection of excellent listening materials. Vandergrift (2003:472) notes that authentic texts can be used to motivate students since they get an opportunity to learn and understand the language as it exists naturally. Mousavi and lravani (2012:22) argue that, for students to cope with English outside the classroom, teachers should avoid speech modification and provide learners with language experiences they would likely encounter in real-life situations. Samples of listening materials should therefore consist of natural language from different sources that give students experience of a variety of topics, situations, and speakers.
Adelmann (2012:514) states that our everyday speech is filled with dialogical relations with others’ words. In real-life listening activities, listeners are expected to give some kind of overt, immediate response which may be verbal or non-verbal to what has been said (Ma, 2010:464-465). Learners, for example, are expected to give some feedback to the instructor; implying that listening comprehension exercises should be based on short, active responses which occur at or between parts of the listening rather than at the end.
Ma (2010:465) elaborates on the role of learner response in real-life listening situations and notes that real-life listening activities expect people to listen with a purpose and with certain expectations. Listeners give an immediate response to what they hear, they see the person they are listening to, some visual or environmental clues give meaning to what they hear, stretches of what is heard come in short chunks and the text that is heard is mostly spontaneous. Ma (2010:465), however, states that some situations may lack one or more of these features. For example, when people watch television they are not expected to respond or when listening to a lecture they may listen to uninterrupted speech for a long period of time. Ma (2010:465) regards the learners’ response as important because the need to produce an overt response gives the learners an immediate motivation to listen, it helps the learners to create certain kinds of meaning which helps them to structure their listening activity and the response provides the learners with a framework to conceptualise the central meaning and to draw relationship with the text. Ma (2010:465) states that the ultimate goal of listening may not necessarily be to get an immediate response, but the information the listener gets may also serve as a basis for discussion or for giving an oral report.

CHAPTER 1 ORIENTATION TO THE STUDY
1.1 INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND TO THE PROBLEM
1.2 EXPLORATION OF THE PROBLEM OF LISTENING IN ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE IN THE ETHIOPIAN CONTEXT
1.3 RATIONALE FOR THIS STUDY
1.4 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.6 RESEARCH AIM AND OBJECTIVES
1.7 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
1.8 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
1.9 TRUSTWORTHINESS, VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY
1.10 DEFINITION OF KEY TERMS
1.11 CHAPTER DIVISION
1.12 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 2 A CRITICAL REVIEW OF LISTENING COMPREHENSION
2.1 INTRODUCTION
2.2 THE CONCEPT OF LISTENING
2.3 THE LISTENING PROCESS
2.4 TYPES OF LISTENING
2.5 LISTENING COMPREHENSION: THEORETICAL INSIGHTS
2.6 MODELS OF LISTENING COMPREHENSION
2.7 THE USE OF STRATEGIES
2.8 FACTORS AFFECTING LISTENING COMPREHENSION
2.9 RELEVANT RESEARCH INTO FOREIGN LANGUAGE LISTENING COMPREHENSION
2.10 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 3 TEACHING LISTENING SKILLS
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 COMMUNICATIVE LANGUAGE TEACHING AND LISTENING
3.3 CONSCIOUS TEACHING OF LISTENING STRATEGIES: THE CURRENT DEBATE
3.4 METACOGNITION AND THE TEACHING OF LISTENING
3.5 APPLICATION OF SCHEMA THEORY TO LISTENING TEACHING
3.6 INTEGRATING LISTENING WITH OTHER LANGUAGE SKILLS
3.7 FACTORS THAT NEED TO BE CONSIDERED WHEN TEACHING LISTENING
3.8 SELECTING LISTENING TEACHING MATERIAL AND ACTIVITIES
3.9 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 4 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 RESEARCH PROBLEM
4.3 RESEARCH DESIGN
4.4 RESEARCH METHODS
4.5 VALIDITY, RELIABILITY AND TRUSTWORTHINESS
4.6 ETHICAL MEASURES
4.7 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 5 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
5.1 INTRODUCTION
5.2 CONTEXTUALISING THE STUDY: RESPONDENTS’ BACKGROUND INFORMATION
5.3 FREQUENCY RESPONSE PATTERNS IN THE QUESTIONNAIRE DATA
5.4 RELIABILITY TESTING AND ANALYSIS OF VARIANCE RESULTS
5.5 ANALYSIS OF DATA OBTAINED FROM INTERVIEWS AND CLASSROOM OBSERVATIONS PERTAINING TO THE FOUR COMPONENTS OF TEACHING EFL LISTENING
5.6 THE USE OF BOTTOM-UP, TOP-DOWN AND OTHER STRATEGIES
5.7 CHALLENGES IN TEACHING AND LEARNING EFL LISTENING
5.8 BEST PRACTICES FOR IMPOVING THE TEACHING OF LISTENING IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE
5.9 SUMMARY OF FINDINGS OF THE STUDY
5.10 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 6 SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Overview of the study
6.3 SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS IN THE LITERATURE REVIEW
6.4 SUMMARY OF FINDINGS OF THE EMPIRICAL STUDY .
6.5 RECOMMENDATIONS
6.6 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
6.7 CONCLUDING REMARKS
REFERENCES
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
LECTURERS’ AND STUDENTS’ PERCEPTIONS OF THE EFFECTIVENESS OF TEACHING LISTENING SKILLS TO ENGLISH FOREIGN LANGUAGE STUDENTS AT THREE ETHIOPIAN UNIVERSITIES

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