Listening Skill


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This is the presentation of the second chapter of Practical English Language Teaching

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Listening Skill

  1. 1. Listening Damascus University Higher Languages Institute Presented by: Abd Al-Rahman Al-Midani Course Professor: Dr. Ali Soud Al-Hasan November 24, 2013 Practical English Language Teaching Email:
  2. 2. Outline: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. What is Listening? Background to Teaching Listening Principles for Teaching Listening Classroom Techniques and Tasks Listening in the Classroom Conclusion
  3. 3. Language Skills  Language Skills: the mode or manner by which language is used (Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics, 2010).  Language skills are: Listening, speaking, reading, and writing.  Categorization of Language Skills:  Receptive • Listening & reading  Productive: • Speaking & writing
  4. 4. 1. Listening: • Listening: it is an active, purposeful process of making sense of what we hear. • It is not passive because it involves processing & connecting what we hear to our previously acquired knowledge. • It is the process of creating the meaning, “(M)eaning is not in the text, but is something that is constructed by listeners based on a number of different knowledge sources.” Buck (1995). • Listening is not the process of word deciphering; it is understanding the whole meaning behind the words.
  5. 5. 2. Background to the Teaching of Listening • Starting from the 1800s, interest in using children’s acquisition of their mother tongue as a model for foreign language teaching grew resulting in the emergence of Gouin’s Series Method that featured oral & action presentation of new language. • This method was significant because it was the first in which listening played a major role in language teaching methodology. • Later, the Direct Method promoted the teaching listening comprehension & that introducing new bits of information should be presented orally.
  6. 6. • After World War II, Audiolingual Method dominated foreign language teaching. Influenced by the Behavioral Psychology, it highlighted the role of MIM/MEM of new structures which were presented orally as was with the Direct Method. • In the 1970s, the Communicative Language Teaching stressed the importance of listening under the influence of the input hypothesis of Stephen Krashen. • The input hypothesis says, “for language learning to occur, it is necessary for the learner to understand the input language which contains linguistic items that are slightly beyond the learner’s present linguistic competence.” (Richards, et al. 1985) • Listening was important because it is a major source of input.
  7. 7. 3. Principle of teaching Listening 1) Expose students to different ways of processing information: bottom-up vs. top-down. • The distinction between the two ways of processing is based on the way leaners try to understand a text:  Bottom-up processing: learners start from the component parts such as words & grammar.  Top-down processing: learners start from their background knowledge. • How Bottom-up processing operates: are you as time a at word one , slowly English process you When • .word individual each of meaning the catch to easy is it , now doing of meaning all over the understand to difficult very is it , However .passage the
  8. 8. • On the other hand, top-down processing starts from the listeners’ life knowledge. • Learners need to integrate both means of processing; they have to adopt interactive processing (Peterson 2001) by means of pre-listening activities such as brainstorming vocabulary or inventing a dialogue related to the given exercise.
  9. 9. • Two points of caution:  According to Buck (1995), pre-listening & listening activities must be balanced, and we need pre-listening activities to “do two things: provide context for interpretation and activate background knowledge that will help interpreting.”  Tsui and Fullilove (1998) suggested that learners need to make use of their top-down knowledge but keep reevaluating information to avoid missing new information that contradict their knowledge. Learners need specific work on bottom-up processing to become less reliant on guessing from the context.
  10. 10. 2) Expose students to various types of listening:  Listening for specifics: it involves catching concrete information such as names & dates.  Listening for gist/Global listening: it has to do with identifying the main ideas of some text or putting a series of events in the correct order. • These two types do not exist in isolation; we keep moving from the one to the other.  Inference: it’s listening to the implied meaning “between the lines”. Listening for inference occurs simultaneously with other types of listening.
  11. 11. • Although abstract, inference must not be postponed to the intermediate level & above because learners use inference extensively when they lack much vocabulary & grammar. 3) Teach a variety of tasks • Listening tasks should not demand too much production on part of the learner. • Listening activities should be short because listening depends on the working memory. According to Just & Carpenter’s capacity hypothesis (1992), when learners of foreign languages listen to some text, they not only process the text, but also language itself. • Long texts may cause overload for the students.
  12. 12. 4) Consider text, difficulty, and authenticity  Texts: Spoken texts are very different from written ones. They are full of false starts, incomplete sentences & redundancies.  Text difficulty: the most common difficulty learners encounter is related to the speed of speaking. It is useful to have pauses between the sentences to slow down the listening process and allow learners to listen more attentively.
  13. 13. • In addition to speed, Brown (1995) talks about “cognitive load”. This cognitive load is dependent upon six factors:  The number of individual or objects in a text.  The clarity of distinction between these individuals & objects.  Simple spatial relationships are easier to grasp than the complex ones.  The order of events.  The number of inferences the listener has to make.  The information in the text is consistent with the listener’s previous knowledge.
  14. 14.  • • • Text Authenticity: Text must be derived from real life situations. Speed of speaking must be natural as average people speak. Brown & Menasche (1993) suggested looking at two aspects of authenticity:  Task authenticity: tasks must be simulated & minimal/ incidental.  Input authenticity: the input must be genuine, altered, adapted, simulated, and minimal/incidental.
  15. 15. 5) Teach listening strategies • Rost (2002, p. 155) identifies some items as strategies used by successful listeners:  Predicting: this fits into pre-listening activities.  Inferring  Monitoring: good listeners notice what they understand and what they do not understand.  Clarifying: good listeners ask question to clarify ambiguities.  Responding: good listeners reply to what they listen.  Evaluating: good listeners check the soundness of their understanding.
  16. 16. 4. Classroom techniques and tasks • Dictation with Difference: traditional dictation is usually a bottom-up activity. Learners do not need to think of the gist of the text. To avoid this shortcoming, a different dictation can be introduced through the means of filling in the clozes.  Example: A* long road went * ____ a * ____ forest. • Do-it-yourself: Modifying materials to add “listening for specific information”: the textbook may overuses certain types of tasks; therefore, some of them can be modified using these types:  Micro listening.  Bits and pieces.  What I want to know?  Dictation and cloze.
  17. 17. • Listening for gist • Do-it-yourself: adding gist tasks Some books delve into listening for specifics exercises. There are some ways to add gist listening:  Main ideas  What is the order  Which picture • Listening between the lines: Inference tasks • Do-it-yourself inference: places to start working on inference.  Focus on emotions  Look for background information
  18. 18. 5. Listening in the classroom • Listening is always preceded by a pre-listening task which activates the top-down and bottom-up schema. Each listening activity is follows by speaking activity. • “Your story” Dictation: the students work with adjectives. In the pre-listening task, students work in pairs. This focuses on the meaning rather than only grammar. • In the pre-listening task, students match cartoons with names of symptoms of illnesses which are provided by the teacher. This task activates the background knowledge & teaching vocabulary simultaneously. They use their top-down knowledge to be in touch with vocabulary & phrases i.e. bottom-down information.
  19. 19. • After that, the listening activity starts. • Following the listening activity, students brainstorm ideas that they do to remain healthy using the pre-listening and listening activities. • Inference: When students work in pairs, they have time to analyze and understand what they heard. • When these activities are done in pairs, it will be easier for the students. Students listen in different ways and focus on different parts, By working in pairs, they understand what they heard more quickly.
  20. 20. 6. Conclusion • Listening is an active purposeful process that utilizes bottom-up items of language and top-down schema. • Pre-listening activities can be useful means to integrate the two way of processing. • Exposure to variety of tasks enables students to become more successful learners. • The chapter provides examples of how these tasks can be used or modified to utilize them in the classroom effectively.
  21. 21. Thank you very much