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’s study (1953), femalecollege students spent 42% of their total verbal communication time inlistening while they spent 25% in speaking, 15% in reading and 18% in writing.However, learners still have a great deal of difficulties in listening comprehensionand they really cannot find the problems to resolve; the teachers somehow payno attention to this skill in class so the learners also do not have a chanceto practice. In addition, Dunkel’s (1991b) study reported that international students’academic success in the United State and Canada relied more on reading thanlistening comprehension, 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 learningforeign language of students, they can have trouble with understanding themeaning of what speakers say, they can also have difficulties in finding theanswers for speakers’ questions, and they find it very hard to become skilledin this skill. As a consequence, Mendelsohn (1995, p.133) argues that the taskof both language teachers and students is to find the most suitable strategiesto facilitate 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. (trichnguon sach not-taking) Inaddition, the wide range of strategies taught included the following:metacognitive strategies and cognitive strategies. Metacognitive strategy whichcontains planning, defining goals, monitoring, and evaluating, can bring great benefitsto the learners. This method help learners in managing their time for studying,creating a suitable timetable that they can follow.
Besides, cognitivestrategies consists of predicting content based on background knowledge, visualclues, genre of the segments…; listening to the known; listening forredundancies; listening to tone of voice and intonation; and resourcing, canhave great impacts on learners. Because it raises the confidence of students,with improved self-efficacy, students’ ability in listening to a foreign musicor movie can be enhanced. Improving listening comprehension is very necessaryfor learning process of students because listening is considered as the mostdifficult skill when learning foreign languages as well as it is the foundationfor learners to develop others skills.3.ConclusionsThisresearch attempted to givesome of the factors that influence students’ listening comprehensionskill and strategies for improving their listening comprehension.
Non-nativelearners do not have an innate understanding of what effective listeners do;therefore, it is very necessary for the teachers to share that knowledge withthem, especially, through many strategies. To improve learners’ listening ability, teachers shouldnot only base their teaching on theoretical principles but also use moderntechnology which can bring benefits to students. English listeningcompetence is a complicated and difficult skill that needs consciousdevelopment. It can be best developed with practice when students reflect onthe process of listening without the threat of evaluation. Listeningcomprehension may have effects the capacity of improvement in other languageskills such as speaking, reading, writing, and translating. Because of itsimportant role, it is essential for teachers to provide students numerousopportunities to practice listening skills and to become actively engaged inlistening process.