Hi everybody, I am new to the teaching field and I wanted to know if anybody would help me with this question so I can be more familar with learning more about listening comprehension. Thank you! what factors make listening comprehension easier or more difficult?
Quite a lot of things:
1. Linguistic knowledge (or lack of it)
Does the listener know the elements of the language (vocubulary items, grammatical structures, functions, and so on?)
2. Cultural knowledge (or lack of it)
The language we use has a lot of cultural influences and references, which the listener may or may not be familiar with.
3. Level of tension, stress, fear and fatigue
Comprehension becomes more difficult if the listener feels stressed, tense, afraid, tired, or simply overloaded or overwhelmed, for whatever reason.
4. Motivation to listen
If the listener has a purpose for listening, his/her motivation to understand is greater.
5. L1 interference
A learner’s native language often has an influence on comprehension and production of a second language. For example, the meaning of a grammatical form can be very different in the two languages, and the learner may therefore make an incorrect assumption about this meaning in the second language, negatively affecting comprehension. (This transfer can be positive too, if the feature is similar or the same in both languages).
6. Background noise or other distractions
7. Speaking speed
9. Redundant language
10. Ability or inability to recognise language function
11. Ability or failure to…
– interpret features such as body language, gestures, etc
– anticipate what’s coming at the grammatical or more global level
– recognise sounds
– interpret stress and intonation patterns
– deal adequately with weak forms and hesitation
Hope this helps?
what can the teacher do to make listening comprehension easier?
That’s a pretty broad question, and the answer is the subject of whole books and training courses!
There are a whole range of different types of activity that we do in the classroom to work on listening comprehension.
First of all, we identify an obective for listening:
– Do we want to develop the listening skill itself, or use a listening text for more language-based objectves (exploiting texts for grammar, vocabulary, intonation patterns, etc).
If we want to work on the listening skill itself, we usually choose to focus on a particular sub-skill during any one activity, for example:
– predicting or anticipating
– listening for the gist, or global meaning of the text
– listening for specific information
– listening for detailed information
We also need a suitable text to use. We’ll choose the text according to the objective that we want to achieve, the learners’ level, perhaps restraints imposed by having to follow a particular coursebook…
The text can be:
– authentic or graded (i.e. "real" English versus something created specifically for language learners, for example in a coursebook)
– published or homemade (recorded yourself)
– from many different genres – a business conference call, a weather report, a TV chat show, a domestic argument, and so on…) – again, your learners’ general interests and objectives, and the specific objectives you want to achieve with your listening text will determine the choice of genre.
We also need to choose a type of activity – what will be ask the learners to do with the text before, during and after listening?
We could, for example, ask them to predict the content of the text based on its title, or based on some contextual information that you give them, or based on listening to the first few seconds. With a telephone call, for example, we can have them listen to just the ringing of the phone, and try to predict and anticipate the opening moves of the dialogue.
If working on listening for gist, we could set two or three questions which test their understanding of the global meaning of the text, and if working on listening for specific or detailed information, the task we set could be, for example, open-ended comprehension questions or true/false type questions.
Most importantly, we need to give the learners a reason or motivation to listen, and this affects the choice of text and the choice of activity you set. I already mentioned choosing genres that are relevant to the learners’ objectives, but we can go beyond that too, by thinking about why we would listen to a particular text in real life.
For example, imagine you have a group of businesspeople, and a text where someone is describing his top ten ways to deal with stress in the workplace. If you were listening to this in "real life", what would you do? Would you try and note down on a piece of paper all the 10 ways he mentioned to deal with stress? Or would you listen to them all and make a note of those ways he mentions that are interesting and applicable to you? You can reflect this in the activity that you set your learners. Don’t say
"Listen and write down the 10 ways he mentions to deal with stress".
"Listen and note any ways he mentions that you think you could use"
or something similar. Before this, you might have introduced the context by asking a few students if they are ever stressed at work and why. You’ve aroused their interest in the subject, and you’re now giving them a reason and motivation to listen to the text, rather than the dry "listen and answer the questions" type of activity. Afterwards you could continue with a discussion about why they noted particular items, etc.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of working on listening – as i said it is the subject of whole books. If you have a more specific question about dealing with listening in a particular teaching context, feel free to ask.
1) Choose subjects which are relevant to the students.
2) Prepare the listening beforehand.
3) Make sure all students can hear the audio well.
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