required teachers to be highly proficient in the target language, which was not always possible. Also, it mimicked L1 learning, but did not take into account the differences between L1 and L2. One key difference is that L1 learners have abundant exposure to the target language, which the Direct Method could not hope to match (Schmitt, 2002: 5). Because of all these limitations and constraints, the direct method lost its popularity and started to be replaced by new insights that could serve as the basis for teaching. These new insights were actually brought about by the fresh ideas of the proponents of the Reform Movement which later laid the ground for new approaches and methods in second and foreign language teaching. The “methods era‟ was experienced; designer methods such as Community Language Learning and Total Physical Response were developed, critiques of any methods appreciated and various debates were hold as to whether follow any method in class or not (e.g., Brown, 2001; Carter & Nunan, 2001; Larsen-Freeman, 2000; Richards & Rodgers, 2001). Within all these transitions in history of ELT, teaching listening waxed and waned. Today, everyone acknowledges the importance of listening within classes. The most active period in the history of approaches and methods was from the 1950s to the 1980s. In the following, two outstanding structural approaches and methods are discussed.
2.2. Definition of Listening by Different Researchers
Listening research has been a challenge, because there is a lack of agreement as to what constitutes listening (Glenn, 1989; Witkin, 1990). This lack of agreement has spawned over 50 definitions and models for listening, but not one testable theory. Most models and definitions were developed in the early 1970, and listening researchers grounded their work in the popular attention. Listening has been defined by different researchers. In L2 can be defined as the ability to understand language used by native speakers. This definition has been proposed by Mendelssohn who says that listening is: “The ability to understand the spoken language of native speakers.” (1984: 64)
Morley (1972) defines listening as involving basic auditory discrimination and aural grammar as well as choosing necessary information, recalling it, and relating it to everything that involves processing between sound and composition of meaning. According to Postovsky (1975) “it ranges in meaning from sound discrimination to aural comprehension (i.e., actual understanding of the spoken language)” (p. 19). Listening is attending to and interpreting oral language. The student should be able to hear oral speech and interpret it. He/ She should be able to segment the stream of sounds, group them into lexical and syntactic units (words, phrases, sentences), and understand the message they convey” (Bowen, Madsen and Hilferty, 1985: 73). Another definition was proposed by O’Malley & Chamot: “listening is an active and conscious process in which the listener construct meaning by using cues from contextual information and from existing knowledge, while relying upon multiple strategic resources of fulfil the task requirements.” (1989: 434)
This definition seems to be inclusive of several elements involved in the listening comprehension act. It involves the idea of active and conscious process. The listener builds expectation on the basis of contextual and world knowledge by using different strategies. Traditionally, listening was viewed as a passive process, in which our ears were receivers into which information was poured, and all the listener had to do was passively register the message. Today we recognize that listening is an ‘active’ process, and that good listeners are just as active when listening as speakers are when speaking. Usually we are unaware of these processes in our own language. Schmitt (2002) says that achieving comprehension seems relatively effortless unless we encounter unhelpful demanding conditions, such as poor acoustics or an unfamiliar accent. Under more demanding conditions, we become more conscious of listening processes, and the same thing applies in trying to understand a second or foreign language (L2). Therefore, listening involves making sense of spoken language, normally accompanied by other sounds and visual input, with the help of our relevant prior knowledge and the context in which we are listening. However, rather than thinking of listening as a single process, it is more accurate to conceive of it as a bundle of related processes- recognition of the sounds uttered by the speaker, perception of intonation patterns showing information focus, interpretation of the relevance of what is being said to the current topic and so on.
A content analysis of 50 definitions of listening found that the five most used elements in the definitions were perception, attention, interpretation, remembering, and response (Glenn, 1989). However, it is important to note that no definition has been validated or universally accepted. A further examination of listening definitions over the pas 50 years demonstrates that the basic elements included in a listening definition have not changed. Consider the following definitions:
……. Listening is an attachment of meaning to oral symbols (Nichols, 1948)
……. Listening is hearing, understanding, remembering, interpreting, evaluating, and responding (Brownell, 2002).
……. It is a complex, active process in which the listener must discriminate between sounds, understand vocabulary and structures, interpret stress and intonation, retain what was gathered in all of the above, and interpret it within the immediate as well as the larger socio-cultural context of the utterance (Vandergrift, 1999: 168).
The definitions provided by several researchers imply that there is more to add in what is called “listening.” It is not difficult to conclude that listening involves processing. The literature suggests that processing can occur in two different types: bottom-up processing and top-down processing (e.g., Berne, 2004; Brown, 2006; Flowerdew & Miller, 2005; Harmer, 2001; Hedge, 2000; Mc Bride, 2011; Richards, 2008; Rost, 2002; Rubin, 1994). In the bottom-up part of listening process, we use our knowledge of language and our ability to process acoustic signals to make sense of the sounds that speech present to us. In other words, we use information in the speech itself to try to comprehend the meaning. This type of processing uses the clues such as stress, lexical knowledge, syntactic structures, and so forth, that are available in the speech/input, in other words, it includes the use of knowledge of the language (Hedge, 2000). Bottom-up processing is called “data- driven.”
Top-down processing, on the other hand, involves knowledge that a listener brings to a text, sometimes called ‘inside the head’ information, as opposed to the information that is available within thr text itself. It, then, infers meaning from contextual clues and from making links between the spoken message and various typs of prior knowledge which listeners hold inside their heads (Brown, 2006; Buck, 2001; Harmer, 2001; Hedge, 2000; Mc Bride, 2011; Richards, 2008). According to Hedge (2000), the prior knowledge employed in this type of processing is also known as schematic knowledge, and schema includes different categories as formal schema and content schema. Formal schema consists of the knowledge of overall structure of particular speech events such as the knowledge of a lecture having an introduction, overview, various sections, and so forth whereas the content schema includes world knowledge, sociocultural knowledge, and topic knowledge.
2.3 The Importance of Listening
As a source for second-language acquisition the role of listening (SLA) is important (Rost, 2002). Listening provides processable input for all levels of second language learning (Rost, 2002). Beginners, even young learners who cannot read and write well, can establish a foundation for productive skills by listening
. At intermediate and advanced levels, students can increase structural accuracy and vocabulary knowledge by listening. Thus, it is emphasized that listening is the primary channel for language acquisition. Therefore, the development of listening as a skill is important in second language learning. As the current literature suggests, listening is growing in importance more and more and calling for more attention (e.g., Cheung, 2010; Field, 2008; Renandya & Farrell, 2011). Listening is now widely accepted as an essential skill that enables language acquisition to take place, both in mother tongue and in second or foreign language (Rost, 2002). In real life situation we listen for a number of different purposes and our particular purpose will determine the range and balance of listening skills which we need to employ. For instance, in English language classroom, teachers need to ensure that learners experience a range of listening purposes, especially those that might be immediately relevant to their lives outside the classroom. There have been many such lists of purposes provided for teachers (Rivers and Temperley 1978; Ur 1984; Underwood 1989; Richards 1990; McDonough and Shaw 1993).
According to Galvin (1985) there are five general reasons for listening: (1) to engage in social rituals; (2) to exchange information; (3) to exert control; (4) to share feelings; (5) to enjoy yourself. These all seem to relate to participatory listening. But this list, relates to non-participatory listening, seems to fall into six major categories for Underwood (1989). She includes: (1) listening to live conversations in which one takes no part and where the purpose is curious eavesdropping; (2) listening to announcements, news items, and weather forecasts where the purpose is to extract information; (3) listening to or watching plays, radio, and TV entertainment, and
place of articulation. Figure8. Errors and problems by EFL learnersAs demonstrated in the table, there are different reasons behind making such errors ranging from the absence in first language to different manner of articulation. The Read more…