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The effect of listening instruction on the development of listening skills of university students of English

Petric, Bojana (2000) 'The effect of listening instruction on the development of listening skills of university students of English.' Novelty, 7 (3). pp. 15-29. ISSN 1218-537X

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Listening comprehension has received considerable attention in the fields of applied linguistics, psycholinguistics and second language pedagogy during the last two decades (Anderson & Lynch, 1988; Flowerdew 1994; Rost, 1990; Underwood, 1989; Ur, 1984). Results of the large body of research have shown that listening is not a passive process, in which the listener simply receives a spoken message, but rather a complex cognitive process, in which the listener constructs the meaning using both her linguistic and non-linguistic knowledge. The importance of the listeners’ cognitive and social judgements in the process of listening, in addition to the linguistic knowledge, has been especially emphasised (Rost, 1990). Although most of the findings relevant to understanding how listening operates come from research into listening in the mother tongue, many of the conclusions have had important implications for the teaching of listening in the foreign language. It is widely recognised today that listening is an active skill, or rather, a cluster of various sub-skills, which are both learnable and teachable. Listening is regarded as an essential element of foreign language proficiency, and as such plays an important role in foreign language programmes. Various methodologies for the teaching of listening have emerged (such as Anderson & Lynch, 1988; Brown, 1991; Ur, 1984). These have had a considerable influence on course design and textbook writing, especially in terms of features of materials for teaching listening (authentic vs. constructed), types of listening tasks, ways of raising learner awareness of the listening process and effective strategies for listening, stages in listening activities, and integrating listening with other language skills. The importance that listening receives in foreign language pedagogy today is reflected at various levels: in one form or another, listening is present in syllabuses, coursebooks and teaching materials available on the market, general proficiency language exams and is even the main focus of specialised courses, such as academic listening. However, the teaching of the listening skill has been long overlooked in English language teaching in state education in Yugoslavia. There is a lack of research and literature on the teaching of listening, and this skill is also considerably neglected in the practice of teaching English (Dimitrijevic, 1996). The development of all four language skills is outlined as one of the goals of foreign language instruction in the official national syllabus. However, a closer analysis reveals that there is no systematic approach to the teaching of listening at any level of instruction, since there are no activities or materials that specifically focus on the development of this skill. This implies that there is an underlying assumption that listening skills will develop on their own. This gap between the state-of-the-art methodology for teaching listening and the neglect of this skill in the teaching of English in Yugoslavia was the starting point for an experimental study of listening skills among university students of English. The aim of the study was to compare the development of listening skills in two groups of first-year university students of English: one receiving systematic listening instruction during one semester and the other attending English language instruction without the listening component. The study was conducted during the winter semester of the 1995/1996 academic year at the English Department of the University of Novi Sad. The aim of this paper is to provide an overview about teaching listening, describe the experiment, present the main findings, and discuss their implications for the teaching of English at tertiary level.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
Depositing User: Elena Pupaza
Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2015 14:33
Last Modified: 02 Sep 2015 14:37

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