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TEACHING LISTENING
AURAL COMPREHENSION INSTRUCTION: PRICIPLES AND PRACTICES
INTRODUCTION
The trend toward in second language education during the last quarter of the twentieth century
has new view on the importance of:
Individual learners and the individuality of learning;
Listening and reading as non-passive and very complex receptive processes;
Listening comprehensions being recognized as a fundamental skill
Real language used for real communication as a viable classroom model.
In 1970s , the trends influenced listening comprehension dramatically and change the status of
listening from one of neglected to one of increasing importance. Instructional program
expanded their focus on pragmatic skills to include listening as well as writing, reading, and
speaking. During 1980s special attention was incorporated into new instructional frameworks.
Throughout the 1990s, attention to listening in language instruction increased dramatically.
TRACING THE HISTORY: LISTENING AND LANGUAGE LEARNING
Aural comprehension establishes a base for the development of oral language within the
speech chain of listening and speaking (Denes and Pison 1963, p.1). In particular, listening
comprehension grammatical structure and allow new vocabulary items to be contextualized
within a body of communicative discourse.
Making the Case: The Importance of Listening in Language Learning
It has taken many years to realizing the importance of listening in second/foreign language
learning. As observed by Rivers, Speaking does not of itself constitute communication
unless what is said is comprehend by another person Teaching the comprehension of spoken
speech is therefore of primary importance if the communication aim is to be reached (1966, pp.
196,204). The reasons of nearly total neglected of listening are difficult to assess. However, in
reality, listening is used far more than any other single language skill in normal daily life. On
average, we can expect to listen twice as much as we speak, four times more than we read, and
five times more than we write (Rivers 1981; Weaver 1972)
Emerging Recognition of the Importance of Listening in Second/Foreign Language Study
Waver commented that, After all, listening is neither so dramatic nor as noisy as talking. The
talker is the centre of attention for all listeners whereas listening activity often seems like
merely beingdoing nothing(1972, pp.12-13). Much language teaching has taken listening
for granted until recent times. Newmark and Diller underscored the need for the systematic
development of listening comprehension not only as a foundation for speaking, but also as a
skill in its own right(1964,20)
Four PerspectiveFour Models of Listening and Language Instruction
Model#1 Listening and Repeating: to pattern-match; to listen and to imitate; to
memorize

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Model#2 Listening and Answering Comprehension Questions: to process discretepoint information; to listen and answer comprehension questions.
Model#3 Task Listening: to process spoken discourse for functional purposes; to listen
and do something with the information, that is, carry out real tasks using the
information received.
Model#4 Interactive Listening: to develop aural/ oral skills in semiformal interactive
academic communication; to develop critical listening, critical thinking, and effective
speaking.
SOME PSYCHOSOCIAL DIMENSIONS OF LANGUAGE AND THE LISTENING
ACT
The Dynamic Process of Communicative Listening: Active, Not Passive
Listening, along with reading, has been labelled as passive skill. However, Anderson and
Lynch (1988) reject a conceptualization of listening as a passive act, calling it a listener-astape-recorder explanation. The implication of the process is to make the students understand
that listening is not passive skill, but an active receptive skill which needs special attention in
language study. Therefore, students can be guided to realize that achieving skill in listening
requires as much work as does becoming skilled in reading , writing, and speaking in a second
language.
Listening in Three Modes: Bidirectional, Unidirectional, and Auto-directional
Bidirectional Listening Mode: It is a two-way or bidirectional communicative
listening. Two (or more) participants take turns exchanging speaker role and listener
role as engage in face to face or telephone verbal interaction.
Unidirectional Listening Mode: A second mode is oneway or unidirectional
communicative listening. Auditory input surrounds us as we move through the day. The
input comes from a variety of sources: overhead conversations, public address
announcement, recorded message, the media, instructional situations of all kinds, and
public performances.
Auto-directional Listening Mode: It is a self-dialogue communication in which we
may not be aware of our internal roles as both speaker and listener/reactor in our own
thought processes.
Psychosocial Functions of Listening: Transactional Listening and Interactional Listening
Brown and Yule (1983a) dividing language functions into two major divisions:
Transactional Language Function: It is message oriented and can be viewed as
business-type talk with the focus on content and conveying factual or proportional
information, and it is used for giving directions, ordering, inquiring, requesting,
relating, checking on the correctness of details, and verifying understanding.
Interactional Language Function: The most important different is that social type
talk; it is person oriented more than message oriented. Its objective is the establishment
and maintenance of cordial social relationship.

Psychological Processes: Bottom-Up and Top-Down Listening Schemata

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In accounting for the complex nature of listening to understand spoken language; one is the
externally based bottom-up mode while the other is the internally based top-down mode.
Bottom-Up Processing: It involves the listener playing close attention to every detail
of the language input. Bottom-up refers to that part of the aural comprehension process
in which the understanding of the heard language is worked out proceeding from
sounds to words to grammatical relationships to lexical meanings.
Top-Down Processing: It involves the listeners ability to bring prior information to
bear on the task of understanding the heard language. The resources includes a bank
prior knowledge and global expectations about language and the world. Chaudron and
Richards (1986) note, Top-down processing involves prediction and inference on the
basis of hierarchies of facts, propositions, and expectations, and it enables the listener
or the reader bypass some aspects of bottom-up processing (pp.114-115).
AFFECT AND ATTOTUDES
The focus of developing activities and materials for listening instruction is on the ways
attitudinal and emotional information may be conveyed, both bilingually and nonlinguistically; some of the attitudinal language functions that second language learners need to
experience via instructional listening materials.
Linguistic and Non-linguistic Cues to Affect
As the old saying, its not what you say, its how you say it; however how the ESL learner
recognize and interpret the aspect of how as well as what in two-way or one-way oral
communication. In bidirectional interactive communication, message are conveyed in at least
three ways:
Linguistic message (the words)
Paralinguistic (Vocally Transmitted Meaning)
Extra-linguistic (meaning transmitted through body language)
Intellectual, Emotional, and Moral Attitudes
Van Ek (1976) lists six basic language functions, including three which are:
Intellectual Attitudes
Emotional Attitudes
Moral Attitudes
DEVELOPING LISTENING COMPREHENSION ACTIVITIES AND MATERIALS
The following three important points about listening as language act:
Information processing
Linguistic functions
Dimension of cognitive processing
Principles
In order to get learners attention, three materials development principles are suggested:
Relevance: Both listening lesson content and outcomes need to be as relevance as
possible to the listeners. It is essential for getting and holding learner attention and
provides a genuine motivational incentive.
Transferability/Applicability: At either the content level or outcome level or both
listening lessons need to have transferability/applicability value, internally ( can be used
in other classes) externally (can be used in out of school situations)

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Task Orientation: in formal language classes for teenage and adult students and in
language activity lessons for children, it is productive to combine two different kinds of
focus:
Language Use Tasks: the purpose here is to give students practice in listening for
information and then immediately doing something. These listening and language
use tasks help students to build a base of content experiences and a base of
operational experiences.
Language Analysis Activities: the purpose is to give the students opportunities to
analyze selected aspects of both language structure and language use and to develop
some personal strategies to facilitate learning.
Communicative Outcomes: an Organizing Framework
Listen and Do format is recommended for listening instructional activities in the ESL learner.
Listen and Do in the listening comprehension context implies an outcome objective. The
purpose of oral communication in the real world is to achieve a genuine outcome. According to
Sinclair (1984), an outcome is a realistic task that people can envision themselves doing and
accomplishing something. An outcome is an essential component in both two-way and oneway communication listening comprehension activities. Six broad categories of outcomes are:
Listening and Performing Actions and Operations
Listening and Transferring Information
Listening and Solving Problems
Listening, Evaluating, and Manipulating Information
Interactive
Listening-and-Speaking:
Negotiating
Meaning
through
Questioning/Answering Routines
Listening for Enjoyment, Pleasure, and Sociability
SELF-ACCESS/SELF-STUDY LISTENING AND LANGUAGE LEARNING
The purpose is to provide an inviting listening centre within a conventional language
laboratory or a broader language resource centre. This self-study facility needs to offer a wide
choice of appealing audio and video materials on a variety of topics and at a range of
proficiency levels.
Setting Up a Self-Access/ Self-Study Listening Resource Centre
A self-access/ self-study listening resource centre can be started with a modest listening library
of audio and video recorded material and the teacher-time needed to put materials into selfstudy packets or modules. Ideally, listening materials can be available to the students in a
special language learning centre or multipurpose study room that also a teacher or monitor
present at all times to guide students in the selection and use of materials and equipment.
Alternatively, self-access/ self-study materials can be used in a more conventional language
laboratory setting.
SKILLS AND STRATEGIES FOR PROFICIENT LISTENING
INTRODUCTION: THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING IN LANGUAGE LEARNING
Teacher who want to provide the most effective classroom experience for their second
language students should consider that no other type of language input as easy to process as

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spoken language through listening. Through listening, learners can build an awareness of the
inter-working of language systems at various levels and thus establish a base for more fluent
productive skills.
THEORIES OF LANGUAGE COMPREHENSION
Listening is the Primary Channel for Language Input and Acquisition
Nida stated that, learning to speak a language is very largely a task of learning to hear it
(p.53). According to Nord (1981), reception should precede production because reception
enables production. While it is possible to learn to understand without speaking, it is not
possible to learn to speak without understanding. The need to produce utterances may interfere
with the ability to comprehend the language completely, and thus interfere with learning and
memory.
Listening Comprehension is a Multilevel, Interactive Process of Meaning Creation
it means that when good listeners involve themselves with any types of spoken discourse, a
number of processes work in various levels simultaneously to produce an understanding of the
incoming speech. The higher level processes (top-down) are driven by listeners expectations
and understandings of the context, the topic, the nature of the text, and the nature of the world.
The lower level processes (bottom-up) are triggered by the sounds, words, and phrases which
the listener hears as he or she attempts to decode speech and assign meaning.
Models of the Comprehension Process
Listening comprehension describes comprehension of a speakers message as the internal
reproduction of that message in the listeners mind, so that successful listening reproduces the
meaning much as the speaker intended (Clark and Clark 1977). Nagle and Sanders (1986) offer
a model of comprehension that incorporates the distinction between controlled and automatic
processing as well as the active role of the listeners in attention and monitoring. Their model is
specifically intended to describe comprehension in a second language.
Principles for Listening Comprehension in the Classroom:
Increase the amount of listening time in the second language class
Use listening before other activities
Include both global and selective listening
Active top-level skills
Work towards automaticity in processing
Develop conscious listening strategies
Skills and Strategies: A major difference between skills and strategies is that strategies are
under the learners conscious control; they are operations which the learner chooses to use to
direct or to check his or her own comprehension.
Types of Strategies
Strategies specific to listening comprehension are based on general lists and include the
categories of:
Meta-cognitive strategies involves planning, monitoring, and evaluating
comprehension.

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Cognitive strategies are used to manipulate information (rehearsal, organization,


summarization, and elaboration)
Socio-affective strategies have been less studied but are thought to be particularly
important when the listening is two way and meaning can be negotiated between
speaker and listener (cooperative learning, questioning for clarification, and managing
ones emotion in learning situation.
A DEVELOPMENTAL VIEW OF LISTENING SKILLS
Profile of the Beginning-Level Student in Listening
True beginners in second language are:
Lack of adequate bottom-up processing skills
Perceive the new language as undifferentiated noise
Not yet able to segment the speech stream into word units --- to tell where word begins
and another ends.
Have no idea about phonological rules that change sounds in certain environments or
cause reductions of sounds
Not familiar with rules for word formation, inflections, or words order
Their vocabulary store is practically nonexistent
Bottom-Up Processing Goals and Exercise Types, Beginning-Level Listeners
Goal: discriminate between intonation contours in sentences
Listen to sentences with either rising or falling intonation and mark them with
appropriate punctuation for statements (.), question (?), surprise (??), or excitement (!)
(Rost and Uruno 1955, p.54)
Goal: listen for morphological endings
Listen to a number of verbs that end in s or es. For each verb, note the
pronunciation /s/, /z/, or /z/ (Benz and Dworak 2000, p.189)
Goal: recognize syllable patterns, number of syllables and words stress
Listen to a short radio commercial. In each word, count and note the number of
syllables, and underline the stressed syllables. Then practice reading the commercial
aloud to your partner, preventing the stress pattern. (Benz and Dworak 2000, p.47-48)
Goal: be aware of sentences fillers in informal speech
Listen to sentences and identify sentence fillers such as well, I mean, I like, you
know (Foley 1994b, p,82)
Top-Down Processing Goals and Exercise Types, Beginning-Level Listeners
Goal: discriminate between emotional reactions
Listen to a statement about a vacation and decide whether or not the speaker enjoyed
the vacation (Richards 1995, p.29)
Goal: get the gist or main idea of a passage
Listen to a dialogue and decide what type of weather is being described. Find the
picture that shows the weather. (Benz and Dworak 2000, p.80)
Goal: recognize the topic
From a list of possible topics predict the topics that people will discuss when they dont
know each other well. Listen to a series of short conversations in different settings and
note which topics are actually discussed. (Benz and Dworak 2000, p. 71-72)

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Interactive Processing Goals and Exercise Types, Beginning-Level Listeners
Goal: use speech features to decide if a statement is formal or informal
Look at five pictures which show people meeting each other. Based on extra-linguistic
information such as setting , age, and professions of the people, predict whether the
language will be formal or informal. Listen to the short dialogues to confirm your
prediction. Analyze features of the speech (note, speed, word choice) to determine what
makes an introduction more formal. (Benz and Dworak 2000, p. 5-6)
Goal: compare information in memory with incoming information
Read a sentence and then listen to a sentence on a tape to decide if the meaning is the
same or different. (Foley 1994a, p.71)
Goal: compare information that you hear with your own experience
Listen to statements about recycling in the US; compare them with recycling in your
country. Tell whether your country is the same or different
Profile of the Intermediate-Level Learner
Intermediate-level learners continue to use listening as importance source of language input to
increase their vocabulary and structural understanding. Intermediate-level are:
Have internalized the phonemic system of the language fairly well
May have little understanding of the complexities of phonological rules that govern fast
speech (reduction, elisions, assimilations, etc)
Need practice in word recognition in discriminating fine differences in word order and
grammatical form, in registers of speaking, and emotional overtones.
Bottom-Up Processing Goals and Exercise Types, Intermediate-Level Listeners
Goal: find the stressed syllable
Listen to a list of multi-syllable words. Repeat each one and check whether the stress is
on the first, second or third syllable. Note which syllables were more frequently
stressed (Carlisi and Christie 2000, p.153-154)
Goal: recognize words with reduced vowels or dropped syllables
Listen to series of statements about sports activities and use word stress to determine
whether the speakers are saying can or cant (Gill and Hartmann 2000, p.810
Goal: recognize words as they are linked in the speech stream
Listen to a series of short sentences with consonant/vowel linking between words. Mark
the linkages on the answer sheet (Hagen 2000, p.16)
Top-Down Processing Goals and Exercise Types, Intermediate-Level Listeners
Goal: discriminate between registers of speech and tones of voices
Listen to sentences with either flat or varied intonation and determine whether the
speaker is enthusiastic, friendly, or sincere by the amount of pith change and energy in
the voice (Gill and Hartmann 2000, p.120-123)
Goal: listen to identify the speaker or topic
Listen to four short conversation with people making small talk and match each to a
picture of speaker and the setting (Gill and Hartman 2000, p.10-11)
Goal: find main idea and supporting details
Listen to a short conversation between two friends. On your answer sheet are scenes
from television programs. Find and write the name of the program and the channel.
Decide which speaker watched the program. (Schecter 1984, p.22)

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Interactive Processing Goals and Exercise Types, Intermediate-Level Listeners
Goal: use word stress to understand the speakers intent
Listen to a series of statements about money problems. In each statement, circle the
words that are emphasized. With a partner, discuss what is important to the speaker and
how the speaker feels about it (Carlisi and Christie 2000, p.116)
Goal: recognize missing grammar markers in colloquial speech and reconstruct the message
Listen to a series of short questions in which the auxiliary verb and subject have been
deleted. Use grammatical knowledge to fill in the missing words: (have you) got some
extra? (Hagen 2000, p.9-10)
Goal: use context and knowledge of the world to build listening expectations; listening to
confirm expectations
Based on your knowledge of other cultures, predict whether their topics of conversation
in an academic setting will be personal or impersonal, direct or indirect. Then listen to
newcomer describe his experience in that culture and note what kind of culture shock
actually occurred. After listening, discuss with a partner whether your initial idea was
correct and how you have revise your idea because of your added knowledge (Carlisi
and Christie 2000, p.40-42)
Profile of Advance Learner
Advance learners are:
Able to use their second language skills fully to acquire knowledge: they have cognitive
and academic language proficiency (CALP)
No longer simply learning to listen or listening to learn language, for they listen to
language to learn about the content of other areas.
Can listen to longer texts such as radio and television programs and academic lectures.
Their vocabulary includes topics in current events, history, and culture: they can deal
with a certain degree of abstraction
Begin to fill in gaps and can make inferences when the text is incomplete or their
background knowledge is lacking
Their understanding of language remains on a fair literal plane, so that they may miss
jokes, slang, and cultural references
Bottom-Up Processing Goals and Exercise Types, Advance-Level Listeners
Goal: use features of sentence stress and intonation to identify important information for note
taking
Listen to a number of sentences and extract the content words, which are read with
greater stress. Write the content words as notes (Lim and Smalzer 1995, p.50)
Goal: recognize contractions, reduced forms, and other characteristics of spoken English that
differ from the written form
Listen to sentences containing reduced forms and write the sentences as they would
appear without reduction in formal, written English (Leshinsky 1995, p.1-6)
Goal: become aware of common performance slips that must be reinterpreted or ignored
Listen to and look at sentences that contain fillers (uh, er, um) and phrases such
as I mean, you know, short of, and like. Rewrite the sentences without fillers;
omit any words that dont add to the information (Leshinsky 1995, p.6-8)
Top-Down Processing Goals and Exercise Types, Advance-Level Listeners

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Goal: use knowledge of the topic to predict the content of the text
Before listening to a conversation about food, write a description about the way that
food is prepared and eaten in your culture; share this information with others. Use yout
ideas to wrote questions that you think may be answerd in the listening text (Leshinsky
1995, p.27-28)
Goal: use the lecture transcript to predict the content of the next section
Read section of a lecture transcript. Stop reading at juncture point and predict what will
come next. Then read on to confirm your prediction
Goal: recognize point of view
Take notes on a debate about whether or not it is ethical to keep dolphins in captivity.
Afterwards, organize your notes under two headings: the arguments for keeping
dolphins and the arguments against keeping them (Lehinksy 1995, p.95).
Interactive Processing Goals and Exercise Types, Advance-Level Listeners
Goal: use knowledge of phrases and discourse markers to predict the content on the next
segment of the lecture
Identify the lectures intention by his choice of discourse and amrkerks and predict the
kind of information that will follow (Barne 1995, p.221-224)
Goal: make inferences about the text
Listen to a conversation about restaurants, ethnic cuisine, and good food. Read a
number of statements about peoples food preferences and decide if they are possible
inferences based on the text (Leshinsky 1995, p.22)