1. Introduction Listeningis considered as an important factor which contributes to the development oflearners both in daily communication and studying process.
Regarding the totaltime spent on communicating, listening accounted for 40%-50% (Mendelsohn, 1994,cited by Gilakjani & Ahmadi). Moreover, listening comprehension has turnedout as a crucial and specific foreign language skill (Byrnes 1984; Dunkel 1991;Joiner 1991; Krashen 1981; cited by Thompson&Rubin, 1996, p.29, No. 3)leading teachers to find suitable ways to accelerate this skill for theirstudents.
A recent result of listening comprehension research (Rubin, 1994cited by Thompson& Rubin, 1996) indicated five major aspects, which havegreat influences on listening comprehension: text characteristics, interlocutorcharacteristics, task characteristics, listener characteristics and processcharacteristics. Listening involves a complex process of interpreting andassociating meaning from both verbal and non-verbal messages (Nunan, 1998,cited by Gilakjani & Ahmadi).Thereare two subsuming cognitive processes: bottom-up (data-driven) and top-down(conceptually-driven) , which can be used for training learners’ ability inlistening comprehension skill. The purpose of this research is to facilitatethe students’ English overall linguistic capability and oral and auralcompetence.
The researcher attempts to discuss the importance of listeningcomprehension, several difficulties that non-native learners have to overcomein listening comprehension and strategies to resolve this condition. Findingsof this study will be beneficial to foreign language learners for enhancingtheir listening comprehension ability.2.Discussion of findings2.1.The importance of listening comprehension skills.
Listening is the most common used languageskill (Morley, 1999; Scarcella & Oxford, 1992). Purdy (1997) explainedlistening as “the active and dynamic process of attending, perceiving, interpreting, remembering, and responding tothe expressed (verbal and non – verbal), needs, concerns, and information offeredby other human beings” (p.8) . Listening comprehension is a logical andcoherent process (Rost, 2002). It is also considered theoretically as aneffective process in which individuals focus on selected aspects of auralinput, form meaning from passages, and associate what they hear with theircurrent knowledge. To become a good listener, students must have the ability tocomprehend the message, the ability to apply a great deal of strategies andinteractive processes to make meaning, and the ability to reply to what is saidin a wide range of ways, depending on the purpose of the communication.Practicing listening frequently can bring many benefits to the learners intheir works at school or future careers. Wolvin and Coakley (1988) supposedthat, both in and out of the classroom, listening consumes more of dailycommunication time than other forms of verbal communication.
2.2.Several difficulties in accelerating listening comprehension skills. Listening comprehension has an essentialrole in learning foreign languages, the important of this skill in classroominstruction has been more emphasized than others skills, according to Bird’sstudy (1953), female college students spent 42% of their total verbalcommunication time in listening while they spent 25% in speaking, 15% inreading and 18% in writing.
However, learners still have a great deal ofdifficulties in listening comprehension and they really cannot find theproblems to resolve; the teachers somehow pay no attention to this skill inclass so the learners also do not have a chance to practice. In addition,Dunkel’s (1991b) study reported that international students’ academic successin the United State and Canada relied more on reading than listeningcomprehension, especially for those students in engineering, psychology, chemistry,and computer science. One of the reasons why listening is not given proper attentionby the teachers is for the lack of awareness of the significant effect of thisskill on the improvement of students in learning foreign languages. Therefore,listening becomes one of the most enormous obstacle in learning foreignlanguage of students, they can have trouble with understanding the meaning ofwhat speakers say, they can also have difficulties in finding the answers forspeakers’ questions, and they find it very hard to become skilled in thisskill. As a consequence, Mendelsohn (1995, p.133) argues that the task of bothlanguage teachers and students is to find the most suitable strategies tofacilitate learners’ listening comprehension.2.3.
Strategies for learners to accelerate their listening comprehension. One of the most effective methods learnerscan become actively involved in controlling their own learning is by usingsuitable strategies. Vandergift (1999) believed “Strategy development isimportant for listening training because strategies are conscious means bywhich learners can guide and evaluate their own comprehension and responses”. Bothinstructors (Ferris, 1996) and students (Ferris, 1998) acknowledge theimportance of listening comprehension for success in academic settings.Therefore, it is very crucial for learners to find their own strategies toimprove their ability in this skill. The first method should be used by learnersis choosing exact sources of listening. Some video updated by foreigners orprofessional teachers such as: BC, VOA, students’ news, etc.
Because nativespeakers and highly proficient second language learners complete the complicatedprocess of speech comprehension smoothly, learners at lower levels can makesome benefits from repeating through the videos. Especially these videos canhelp learners make acquaintance with listening comprehension and in listeningprocess, they can also improve their vocabulary, their imperfect control of thesyntactic and semantic structure of the language, or other limitations withregard to the elements necessary for communication. Stanchina (1987) engaged ina similar study and pointed out that effective learners were good atco-operating their background knowledge with information in listening lesson. Moreover,students tend to be attracted by these types of learning instead of traditionalways.
The second way is co-operating listeningwith taking note. This strategy is related to comprehending and storing inputin working memory or long-term memory for later retrieval. When learners canuse this strategy fluently, they can improve their listening comprehensionextremely. Because this strategy requires learners a wide range of vocabularyand grammars as well as the good ability of using short-term memory. Inaddition, the wide range of strategies taught included the following:metacognitive strategies and cognitive strategies.
Metacognitive strategieswhich contains planning, defining goals, monitoring, and evaluating, can bringgreat benefits to the learners because this method help learners in managingtheir time for studying, creating a suitable timetable that they can follow.Besides, cognitive strategies consists of predicting content based onbackground knowledge, visual clues, genre of the segments…; listening to theknown; listening for redundancies; listening to tone of voice and intonation;and resourcing, can have great impacts on learners. Because it raises theconfidence of students, with improved self-efficacy, students’ ability inlistening to a foreign music or movie can be enhanced. Improving listeningcomprehension is very necessary for learning process of students becauselistening is considered as the most difficult skill when learning foreignlanguages as well as it is the foundation for learners to develop othersskills.3.ConclusionsThisresearch attempted to give some of the factors that influence students’listening comprehension skill and strategies for improving their listeningcomprehension. Non-native learners do not have an innate understanding of whateffective listeners do; therefore, it is very necessary for the teachers toshare that knowledge with them, especially, through many strategies. To improvelearners’ listening ability, teachers should not only base their teaching ontheoretical principles but also use modern technology which can bring benefitsto students.
English listening competence is a complicated and difficult skill thatneeds conscious development. It can be best developed with practice whenstudents reflect on the process of listening without the threat of evaluation.Listening comprehension may have effects the capacity of improvement in otherlanguage skills such as speaking, reading, writing, and translating. Because ofits important role, it is essential for teachers to provide students numerousopportunities to practice listening skills and to become actively engaged inlistening process.