Theoretical bases of teaching listening

Teaching listening comprehension as a part of educational process at school. Teacher's speech as a basic form of teaching listening comprehension. Principles for developing listening ability. The use of activities developing listening comprehension.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
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1. Theoretical bases of teaching listening

1.1 Teaching listening comprehension as a part of educational process at school

1.2 Teacher's speech as a basic form of teaching listening comprehension

1.3 Principles for developing listening ability

1.4 Teaching listening methods

2. The use of activities developing listening comprehension

2.1 Types of listening activities

2.2 Techniques the teacher uses to develop hearing

2.3 Language techniques in listening assessing proficiency




teacher listening comprehension educational


Language is a medium of communication, which helps the members of a community in the society, to communicate and interact with one another. This involves both verbal and non-verbal communication. Language focuses on listening and reading that can be named as passive or receptive skills, while speaking and writing can be named as, active or productive skills. Listening is one of the important skills in learning a language. The process of acquiring a language starts with listening and ends up in the production of writing. After birth, a child hears variety of sounds and can distinguish among them. Every language has a common and a natural sequence for the development of the language skills. Listening skill is ranked first of all the four folds. This highlights the importance of listening skill in the life of human beings. Students normally face and encounter listening problems especially in foreign languages.

This paper presents arguments for an emphasis on listening comprehension in language learning/teaching. An explanation of how listeners can use strategies to enhance the learning process is presented, with a review of the existing research base on how second language listening is taught. The major part of the paper presents and discusses pedagogical recommendations.

Listening and speaking are often taught together, but beginners, especially non-literate ones, should be given more listening than speaking practice. It's important to speak as close to natural speed as possible, although with beginners some slowing is usually necessary. Without reducing speaking speed it is possible to make a language easier to comprehend by simplifying vocabulary, using shorter sentences, and increasing the number and length of pauses in speech.

Given the importance of listening in language learning and teaching it is essential for language teachers to help their students become effective listeners. In the communicative approach to language teaching, this means modeling listening strategies and providing listening practice in authentic situations: those that learners are likely to encounter when they use the language outside the classroom.

The research available on second-language listening comprehension is insufficient. Comparing with other skills W. Goh said that "there are fewer insights about the process of listening and the way it is learnt". Similarly, D. Richards stated that: "there is little direct research on second language listening comprehension". As for that, we are doing this research not only to help students with better listening but also to contribute a small part to enrich the listening research which has been done so far.

The Topicality of this research is due to the fact that the issues of teaching listening at school is studied insufficiently and require more attention and methodological development.

The aim of the present research is to explore the classification of techniques for teaching listening of a foreign language and developing students' listening comprehension.

The general aims defines the following objectives of the research:

1. To explore listening comprehension peculiarities and fundamental characteristics.

2. To consider listening comprehension methods.

3. To study effective techniques for developing listening skills.

The object of the given research is the process of teaching listening.

The subject is the ways of developing students listening skills using a set of teaching materials which provide the formation of listening skills.

The major methods used in the research process are: the method of linguistic description and analysis, which let us create the theoretical basis of the present course paper. The method of continuous selection was used to single the research material out. The structural, formalization methods were used for working with the results got in the research process. The research material of the work is the exercises taken from different modern course books and manuals. The given material presents a broad field for research. It also gives us an opportunity to rich the set goals of the present research.

1. Principles of teaching listening comprehension

1.1 Teaching listening as a comprehension

Listening as comprehension is the traditional way of thinking about the nature of listening. Indeed, in most methodology manuals listening and listening comprehension are synonymous. This view of listening is based on the assumption that the main function of listening in second language learning is to facilitate understanding of spoken discourse. We will examine this view of listening in some detail before considering a complementary view of listening - listening as acquisition. This latter view of listening considers how listening can provide input that triggers the further development of second-language proficiency.

To understand the nature of listening processes, we need to consider some of the characteristics of spoken discourse and the special problems they pose for listeners. Spoken discourse has very different characteristics from written discourse, and these differences can add a number of dimensions to our understanding of how we process speech. For example, spoken discourse is usually instantaneous. The listener must process it "online" and there is often no chance to listen to it again. Often, spoken discourse strikes the second-language listener as being very fast, although speech rates vary considerably. Radio monologs may contain 160 words per minute, while conversation can consist of up to 220 words per minute. The impression of faster or slower speech generally results from the amount of intraclausal pausing that speakers make use of. Unlike written discourse, spoken discourse is usually unplanned and often reflects the processes of construction such as hesitations, reduced forms, fillers, and repeats. Spoken discourse has also been described as having a linear structure, compared to a hierarchical structure for written discourse. Whereas the unit of organization of written discourse is the sentence, spoken language is usually delivered one clause at a time, and longer utterances in conversation generally consist of several coordinated clauses. Most of the clauses used are simple conjuncts or adjuncts. Also, spoken texts are often context-dependent and personal, assuming shared background knowledge. Lastly, spoken texts may be spoken with many different accents, from standard or non-standard, regional, non-native, and so on [3, p. 48].

Listening involves a sender (a person, radio, and television), a message, and a receiver (the listener). Listeners often must process messages as they come, even if they are still processing what they have just heard, without backtracking or looking ahead. In addition, listeners must cope with the sender's choice of vocabulary, structure, and rate of delivery. The complexity of the listening process is magnified in second language contexts, where the receiver also has incomplete control of the language [2, p. 226].

Given the importance of listening in language learning and teaching it is essential for language teachers to help their students become effective listeners. In the communicative approach to language teaching, this means modeling listening strategies and providing listening practice in authentic situations: those that learners are likely to encounter when they use the language outside the classroom.

Instructors want to produce students who, even if they do not have complete control of the grammar or an extensive lexicon, can fend for themselves in communication situations. In the case of listening, this means producing students who can use listening strategies to maximize their comprehension of aural input, identify relevant and non-relevant information, and tolerate less than word-by-word comprehension. In Listening classes, students are usually given practice in listening but they are not actually taught listening. Practice is not enough.

Research and case studies have told us many things about how listening should be taught. But often, this knowledge has not made the jump into classroom practice. While many classes are based on the idea of giving students lots of practice with English, research tells us that we also need to teach listening. In addition to giving students plenty of listening practices. We should also break the skill of listening into micro-skill components and make sure that our students are aware of what they need to know to understand how to listen to English.

Students need to know and understand:

- how words link together (liaison);

- how vowels weaken (the central vowel);

- how sounds mix together (assimilation);

- how sounds disappear (elision);

- how syllables disappear (ellipsis);

- how helping sounds are used between vowel sounds (intrusion);

- how intonation helps with conversational turn taking (intonation);

- how stress signals new information (prominence);

- how to use grammar to help guess meaning (strategies);

- how to use discourse knowledge to help guess meaning (strategies);

- how to use knowledge of intonation and stress to guess meaning (strategies).

1.2 Teacher's speech as basic form of teaching listening comprehension

Teaching is a very complicated complex process. Its success depends on several factors. One of the most important factors is a teacher himself or herself.

There are three main activities that teachers have to manage simultaneously:

- managing the group;

- managing activities;

- managing the learning.

In many group teaching situations, the role of the teacher is that of facilitator of learning: leading discussions, asking open-ended questions, guiding process and task, and enabling active participation of learners and engagement with ideas. However, small groups function and behave in various ways and have different purposes. Teachers therefore need to be able to adopt a range of roles and skills to suit specific situations, often during the same teaching session. According to McCrorie the roles that may be adopted include that of:

- the instructor, who imparts information to students;

- the neutral chair;

- the consultant, from whom learners can ask questions;

- the devil's advocate;

- the commentator;

- the wanderer, such as in a larger workshop;

- the absent friend [8, p. 6].

Making the shift from teacher as expert to facilitator is sometimes seen as diminishing a teacher's power and authority, but this should not be the case. Facilitating learning is empowering for both the learner and the teacher and frees the teacher from many of the burdens that having to be an "expert" might entail. It would traditionally have been seen as a weakness for a teacher to say "I don't know, let's find out" or "I don't know, do any of you students know the answer?" and clearly clinical teachers need to know more about many topics than their students or trainees, but medical science is changing so rapidly that no one can know everything. Implementing an evidence-based approach to clinical learning and to medical practice involves finding out about the latest research. You can use these techniques and this approach to facilitate your own and your students'/trainees' learning [9, p. 16].

Practical learning a foreign language is possible only under condition when it is used as a mean of communication. A lesson has a lot of opportunities for using a language as a mean of communication between a teacher and a student. While choosing material for a lesson a teacher should take into account certain purposes of a lesson:

a) developing listening comprehension;

b) broadening passive vocabulary and potential foresight skills.

That is why it is essential that material should be comprehensible and having all the qualities listed above. If to speak about grammar constructions used by a teacher during a lesson it is clear he or she cannot use all of them. However, basic structures should be taken into account as students usually memorize the phrases repeated by a teacher as a whole. A teacher has more freedom with lexical material. He or she should include into a lesson new words all the time using such techniques as language guess, context and potential foresight [8, p. 142].

Presenting new material should be carefully dosed and balanced. At first a teacher should give 2-4 new expressions a lesson. Besides he or she should add new elements every lesson. But new material should be brought only in case when a teacher is absolutely sure that the old one has been already memorized. A teacher should also take all the measures so that students could understand it correctly. There are several techniques for gaining it:

- a teacher can vary the forms of pronunciation of the same phrases each lesson. For instance, "read please" can be substituted for "will you read". These variants will not cause troubles in understanding as separate parts of it have been already used by a teacher;

- each new word should be pronounced 2-3 times suggesting students guessing what it might mean. For example, the expression "raise your hands" has been mentioned before. The phrase "put down your hands" will be easier to understand. This also helps to develop students' abilities to analysis and synthesis;

- new phrases should be repeated in different ways, in 4-5 lessons new phrases may be included in the questions to students so that they could be ready to face them in real life.

That means the dialogue between a teacher and a student becomes the leading part of having students got used to oral speech in foreign language and, thus, the first fundamental step to auding itself.

1.3 Principles for developing listening ability

Using general knowledge about language skill development, we can draw up some guidelines for developing listening ability.

Listening ability develops through face-to-face interaction. By interacting in English, learners have the chance for new language input and the chance to check their own listening ability. Face-to-face interaction provides stimulation for development of listening for meaning.

Listening develops through focusing on meaning and trying to learn new and important content in the target language. By focusing on meaning and real reasons for listening in English, learners can mobile both their linguistic and non-linguistic abilities to understand.

Listening ability develops through work on comprehension activities. By focusing on specific goals for listening, learners can evaluate their efforts and abilities. By having well-defined comprehension activities, learners have opportunities for assessing what they have achieved and for revision.

Listening develops through attention to accuracy and an analysis of form. By learning to perceive sounds and words accurately as they work on meaning-oriented activities, our learners can make steady progress. By learning to hear sounds and words more accurately, learners gain confidence in listening for meaning [9, p. 7].

One of the main reasons for getting students to listen to spoken English is to let them hear different varieties and accents - rather than just the voice of their teacher with its own idiosyncrasies. In today's world, they need to be exposed not only to one variety of English (British English, for example) but also to varieties such as American English, Australian English, Caribbean English, Indian English or West African English. There are, of course, problems associated with the issue of language variety. Within British English, for example, there are many different dialects and accents. The differences are not only in the pronunciation of sounds (`bath' like `laugh' vs. `bath' like `cat') but also in grammar (the use of `shall' in northern varieties compared with its use in `Standard English' - the southern, BBC-type variety). The same is of course true American, Indian or West African English.

Despite the desirability of exposing students to many varieties of English, however, common sense is called for. The number of different varieties (and the degree to which they are different from the one students are learning) will be a matter for the teacher to judge. But even if they only hear occasional varieties of English, which are different from the teacher's, it will give them a better idea of the world language, which English has become.

The second major reason for teaching listening is because it helps students to acquire language subconsciously even if teachers do not draw attention to its special features. Exposure to language is a fundamental requirement for anyone wanting to learn it. Listening to appropriate tapes provides such exposure and students get vital information not only about grammar and vocabulary but also about pronunciation, rhythm, intonation, pitch and stress.

Lastly, students get better at listening the more they do it. Listening is a skill and any help we can give students in performing that skill will help them to be better listeners [5, p. 97-98].

In order to define listening, we must outline the main component skills in listening. In terms of the necessary components, we can list the following:

a) discrimination between sounds;

b) recognizing words;

c) identifying grammatical groupings of words;

d) identifying `pragmatic units' - expressions and sets of utterance which function as whole units to create meaning;

e) connecting linguistic cues to paralinguistic cues (intonation and stress) and to nonlinguistic cues (gestures and relevant objects in the situation) in order to construct meaning;

f) using background knowledge (what we already know about the content and the form) and context (what has already been said) to predict and then to confirm meaning;

g) recalling important words and ideas.

Successful listening involves an integration of these component skills. In this sense, listening is a coordination of the component skills, not the individual skills themselves. This integration of these perception skills, analysis skills, and synthesis skills is what we call a person's listening ability.Even though a person may have good listening ability, he or she may not always be able to understand what is being said. In order to understand messages, some conscious action is necessary to use this ability effectively, so it is not possible to view it directly, but we can see the effects of this action. The underlying action for successful listening is decision making [9, p. 4].

1.4 Teaching listening methods

There are many types of listening activities. Those that don't require learners to produce language in response are easier than those that do. Learners can be asked to physically respond to a command (for example, "please open the door"), select an appropriate picture or object, circle the correct letter or word on a worksheet, draw a route on a map, or fill in a chart as they listen. It's more difficult to repeat back what was heard, translate into the native language, take notes, make an outline, or answer comprehension questions. To add more challenge, learners can continue a story text, solve a problem, perform a similar task with a classmate after listening to a model (for example, order a cake from a bakery), or participate in real-time conversation. Good listening lessons go beyond the listening task itself with related activities before and after the listening. Here is the basic structure [15, p.196]:

Before Listening

Prepare your learners by introducing the topic and finding out what they already know about it. A good way to do this is to have a brainstorming session and some discussion questions related to the topic. Then provide any necessary background information and new vocabulary they will need for the listening activity.

During Listening

Be specific about what students need to listen for. They can listen for selective details or general content, or for an emotional tone such as happy, surprised, or angry. If they are not marking answers or otherwise responding while listening, tell them ahead of time what will be required afterward.

After Listening

Finish with an activity to extend the topic and help students remember new vocabulary. This could be a discussion group, craft project, writing task, game, etc.

Teaching listening skills is one of the most difficult tasks for any teacher. This is because successful listening skills are acquired over time and with lots of practice. It's frustrating for students because there are no rules as in grammar teaching. Speaking and writing also have very specific exercises that can lead to improved skills. This is not to say that there are not ways of improving listening skills, however they are difficult to quantify [16, p. 207].

One of the largest inhibitors for students is often mental block. While listening, a student suddenly decides that he or she doesn't understand what is being said. At this point, many students just tune out or get caught up in an internal dialogue trying translate a specific word. Some students convince themselves that they are not able to understand spoken English well and create problems for themselves.

They key to helping students improve their listening skills is to convince them that not understanding is OK. This is more of an attitude adjustment than anything else, and it is easier for some students to accept than others. Another important point that I try to teach my students (with differing amounts of success) is that they need to listen to English as often as possible, but for short periods of time [17, p. 175].

Students need to apply the same approach to listening skills. Encourage them to get a film, or listen to an English radio station, but not to watch an entire film or listen for two hours. Students should often listen, but they should listen for short periods - five to ten minutes. This should happen four or five times a week. Even if they don't understand anything, five to ten minutes is a minor investment. However, for this strategy to work, students must not expect improved understanding too quickly. The brain is capable of amazing things if given time; students must have the patience to wait for results. If a student continues this exercise over two to three months their listening comprehension skills will greatly improve [18, p. 23].

Effective, modern methods of teaching listening skills encompass everything from interactive exercises to multimedia resources. Listening skills are best learned through simple, engaging activities that focus more on the learning process than on the final product. Whether you are working with a large group of students or a small one, you can use any of the following examples to develop your own methods for teaching students how to listen well.

Interpersonal Activities

One effective and nonthreatening way for students to develop stronger listening skills is through interpersonal activities, such as mock interviews and storytelling. Assign the students to small groups of two or three, and then give them a particular listening activity to accomplish. For example, you may have one student interview another for a job with a company or for an article in a newspaper. Even a storytelling activity, such as one that answers the question "What was your favorite movie from last year?" can give students the opportunity to ask one another questions and then to practice active listening skills [19, p.27].

Group Activities

Larger group activities also serve as a helpful method for teaching listening skills to students. You can begin with a simple group activity. For the first part, divide students into groups of five or larger and instruct them to learn one hobby or interest of at least two other group members. Encourage them to ask clarifying questions during the activity, and you may allow them to take notes if helpful. However, as time passes and their skills grow, you should limit students to only writing notes after the completion of the first part of the group activity. For the second part, have the students sit in a large circle, and then have each individual student share the name and the hobby or interest of the group members that she or he met. This second part of the group activity can also lend itself to additional listening exercises. For example, you may ask students to name a number of the hobbies and interests identified during the sharing session [18, p. 26].

Audio Segments

You can also teach listening skills through audio segments of radio programs, online podcasts, instructional lectures and other audio messages. You should model this interactive listening process in class with your students, and then instruct them to repeat the exercise on their own. First, instruct students to prepare for listening by considering anything that they will want to learn from the content of the audio segment. Once they have written down or shared these ideas, then play the audio segment, allowing the students to take notes if helpful. Once they have gained confidence and experience, repeat this activity but instruct students to not take notes until the completion of the audio segment. You can use shorter or longer audio segments, and you can choose more accessible or more challenging material for this type of exercise.

Video Segments

Another helpful resource for teaching listening skills are video segments, including short sketches, news programs, documentary films, interview segments, and dramatic and comedic material. As with audio segments, select the portion and length of the video segment based on the skill level of your students. With your students, first watch the segment without any sound and discuss it together. Encourage the students to identify what they think will be the content of the segment. Then, watch the segment again, this time with sound, allowing students to take notes if helpful for their skill level. After the completion of the video segment, you can have students write a brief summary of the segment, or you can take time to discuss as a group how the segment compares with the students' expectations [18, p. 27].

Instructional Tips

Whatever method you use for teaching listening, keep a few key instructional tips in mind that will help both you and your students navigate the learning process. One, keep your expectations simple, as even the most experienced listener would be unable to completely and accurately recall the entirety of a message. Two, keep your directions accessible and build in opportunities for students not only to ask clarifying questions, but also to make mistakes. Three, help students navigate their communication anxiety by developing activities appropriate to their skill and confidence level, and then strengthen their confidence by celebrating the ways in which they do improve, no matter how small.

Listening-really listening to students is critical to the student/teacher relationship, for knowing their teacher is interested in what they are saying, makes students feel cared about and emotionally connected to school. Since research shows that feeling connected is requisite to students' motivation to learn, showing that we listen is important not only as a matter of kindness, but also as a motivational strategy [20, p. 116].

It is easy to perform routine tasks while listening to students. In fact, at times teachers are evaluated for their multitasking ability; however, unless you appear to be completely focused on the student speaking to you, he is apt think you care neither about what he is saying or him. Consequently, in addition to really listening to students, we must also show we are really listening.

An effective way to demonstrate your attentiveness is to use active listening, a technique extraordinary:

- for gaining self-understanding;

- for improving relationships;

- for making people feel understood;

- for making people feel cared about;

- for the ease with which it is learned.

By using active listening with students, you build the relationship of trust and caring essential to students' motivation to learn. By teaching active listening, you help students overcome poor listening habits such as:

- Turning a speaker off and dwelling on the plethora of internal distractions we all have.

- Letting an early remark of a speaker, with which one disagrees, develop a prejudice which clouds or puts a stop to any further listening.

- Allowing personal characteristics of the speaker or his poor delivery to prevent understanding [21, p. 18].

Although some people recommend giving feedback with a statement rather than a question, the objective remains the same--to clarify either the factual and/or emotional content of the message. By refining the listener's interpretation of his statements, the speaker gains greater insight about his own feelings, he may reap benefits of a catharsis, and he knows the listener is really paying attention to him. The listener improves his ability to focus on a speaker and to think about implied meanings.

Although the feedback step is at the heart of active listening, to be effective, each of the following steps must be taken:

- Look at the person, and suspend other things you are doing.

- Listen not merely to the words, but the feeling content.

- Be sincerely interested in what the other person is talking about.

- Restate what the person said.

- Ask clarification questions once in a while.

- Be aware of your own feelings and strong opinions.

- If you have to state your views, say them only after you have listened.

The main conclusion can be based on following suggestion: there is an analogy between native and foreign languages. In the first case a child goes from hearing to speech. In the second case a student does the same thing, where a teacher's speech is the basic condition and factor predetermining these transfer.

Also it has become clear that recognition is possible under several conditions: solid lexical, grammar and pronunciation skills. There is a methodological recommendation that texts for auding tasks should be given only after working with lexical and grammar items [22, p. 45].

We also have come up with the conclusion that without correct teacher's actions during a lesson there is no possibility to teach students listening comprehension. And a teacher is the one whose speech is indicative for students from the first moment of learning foreign language. That is a teacher should carefully choose material for a lesson and ways of introducing it.

Listening comprehension has a number of roles to play within a language course, and its importance clearly depends on the aims of the program as a whole. It may only be a minor feature, just to give learners exposure to what English sounds like: alternatively, it may have a major function for someone planning to study in English - speaking country or to interact extensively in the language. Whatever its purpose, we have tried to show in this chapter how views on the learning and teaching of listening have developed from a growing understanding both of the nature of the skill itself, and of the variety and range of language on which it can be practiced.

Listening skills are vital for learners. Of the 'four skills,' listening is by far the most frequently used. Listening and speaking are often taught together, but beginners, especially non-literate ones, should be given more listening than speaking practice. It's important to speak as close to natural speed as possible, although with beginners some slowing is usually necessary. Without reducing our speaking speed, we can make our language easier to comprehend by simplifying your vocabulary, using shorter sentences, and increasing the number and length of pauses in our speech.

There were many types of listening activities. Those that don't require learners to produce language in response are easier than those that do. Learners can be asked to physically respond to a command (for example, "please open the door"), select an appropriate picture or object, circle the correct letter or word on a worksheet, draw a route on a map, or fill in a chart as they listen. It's more difficult to repeat back what was heard, translate into the native language, take notes, make an outline, or answer comprehension questions. To add more challenge, learners can continue a story text, solve a problem, perform a similar task with a classmate after listening to a model (for example, order a cake from a bakery), or participate in real-time conversation.

To conclude the theoretical part we can say that listening is a difficult process with the same measure for a teacher and for a student. The effectiveness of listening depends on several strategies which can help a teacher make his or her lesson productive. However, the results of research we have accomplished show that the most common difficulty for students is pronunciation, accent and colloquial language. That is why a lesson developing listening skills should take into account these facts [7, p.8].

2. The use of activities developing listening comprehension

2.1 Types of listening activities

Listening is one of the most challenging skills for students to develop and yet also one of the most important. By developing their ability to listen well teachers develop students' ability to become more independent learners, as by hearing accurately they are much more likely to be able to reproduce accurately, refine their understanding of grammar and develop their own vocabulary [10, p.32].

In this chapter we intend to outline a framework that can be used to design a listening lesson that will develop students' listening skills and look at some of the issues involved.

The basic framework on which a teacher can construct a listening lesson can be divided into three main stages:

- Pre-listening, during which teachers help students prepare to listen.

- While listening, during which teachers help to focus their attention on the listening text and guide the development of their understanding of it.

- Post-listening, during which teachers help students integrate what they have learnt from the text into their existing knowledge.


There are certain goals that should be achieved before students attempt to listen to any text. These are motivation, contextualization, and preparation [14, p. 156].


It is enormously important that before listening students are motivated to listen, so a teacher should try to select a text that they will find interesting and then design tasks that will arouse students' interest and curiosity.


When we listen in our everyday lives we hear language within its natural environment, and that environment gives us a huge amount of information about the linguistic content we are likely to hear. Listening to a tape recording in a classroom is a very unnatural process. The text has been taken from its original environment and teachers need to design tasks that will help students to contextualize the listening and access their existing knowledge and expectations to help them understand the text.


To do the task teachers set students while they listen there could be specific vocabulary or expressions that students will need. It's vital that teachers cover this before they start to listen as we want the challenge within the lesson to be an act of listening not of understanding what they have to do.

While listening

When we listen to something in our everyday lives we do so for a reason. Students too need a reason to listen that will focus their attention. For students to really develop their listening skills they will need to listen a number of times - three or four usually works quite well - as practice shows the first time many students listen to a text they are nervous and have to tune in to accents and the speed at which the people are speaking [11, p. 735].

Ideally the listening tasks should guide them through the text and should be graded so that the first listening task they do is quite easy and helps them to get a general understanding of the text. Sometimes a single question at this stage will be enough, not putting the students under too much pressure.

The second task for the second time students listen should demand a greater and more detailed understanding of the text. Make sure though that the task doesn't demand too much of a response. Writing long responses as they listen can be very demanding and is a separate skill in itself, so keep the tasks to single words, ticking or some sort of graphical response [12, p. 527].

The third listening task could just be a matter of checking their own answers from the second task or could lead students towards some more subtle interpretations of the text.

Listening to a foreign language is a very intensive and demanding activity and for this reason we think it's very important that students should have 'breathing' or 'thinking' space between listening.


There are two common forms that post-listening tasks can take. These are reactions to the content of the text, and analysis of the linguistic features used to express the content [14, p, 26].

Reaction to the text

Of these two we find that tasks that focus students' reaction to the content are most important. Again this is something that we naturally do in our everyday lives. Because we listen for a reason, there is generally a following reaction. This could be discussion as a response to what we've heard - do they agree or disagree or even believe what they have heard? - or it could be some kind of reuse of the information they have heard.

Analysis of language

The second of these two post-listening task types involves focusing students on linguistic features of the text. This is important in terms of developing their knowledge of language, but less so in terms of developing students' listening skills. It could take the form of an analysis of verb forms from a script of the listening text or vocabulary or collocation work. This is a good time to do form focused work as the students have already developed an understanding of the text and so will find dealing with the forms that express those meanings much easier [14, p. 27].

There are numerous activities to choose from for developing listening skills. T. Lund has categorized them according to eight responses that can be observed as comprehension checks [14, p 27-28]:

Choosing: the listener selects from alternatives such as pictures, objects, texts, or actions;

Transferring: the listener transforms the message such as drawing a route on map, or filling in a chart;

Answering: the listener answers questions about the text;

Condensing: the listener takes notes or makes an outline;

Extending: the listener goes beyond the text by continuing the story or solving a problem;

Duplicating: the listener simply repeats or translates the message;

Modeling: the listener performs a similar task, e.g. gives instructions to a coworker after listening to a model;

Conversing: the listener is an active participant in a face-to-face conversation. [17, p. 48].

2.2 Techniques the teacher uses to develop hearing

Auding or listening and comprehension are difficult for learners because they should discriminate speech sounds quickly, retain them while hearing a word, a phrase, or a sentence and recognize this as a sense unit. Pupils can easily and naturally do this in their own language and they cannot do this in a foreign language when they start learning the language. Pupils are very slow in grasping what they hear because they are conscious of the linguistic forms they perceive by the ear. This results in misunderstanding or a complete failure of understanding.

When auding a foreign language pupils should be very attentive and think hard. They should strain their memory and will power to keep the sequence of sounds they hear and to decode it. Not all the pupils can cope with the difficulties entailed. The teacher should help them by making this work easier and more interesting. This is possible on condition that he will take into consideration the following three main factors which can ensure success in developing pupils' skills in auding:

- linguistic material for auding;

- the content of the material suggested for listening and comprehension;

- conditions in which the material is presented.

1. Comprehension of the text by the ear can be ensured when the teacher uses the material which has already been assimilated by pupils. However this does not completely eliminate the difficulties in auding. Pupils need practice in listening and comprehension in the target language to be able to overcome three kinds of difficulties: phonetic, lexical, and grammatical [4, p. 125].

Phonetic difficulties appear because the phonic system of English and Russian differ greatly. The hearer often interprets the sounds of a foreign language as if they were of his own language which usually results in misunderstanding. The following opposites present much trouble to beginners in learning English:

O -- s tr -- t? A -- o s -- z a: -- o

O -- f dr -- dg d -- z t -- t? o: -- ?:

w -- v d -- v n -- rj ae -- e

Pupils also find it difficult to discriminate such opposites as: o: -- o, a -- A, i: -- i, u: -- u. They can hardly differentiate the following words by ear: worked -- walked; first -- fast -- forced; lion -- line; tired -- tide; bought -- boat -- board.

The difference in intonation often prevents pupils from comprehending a communication. For example, Good ґmorning (when meeting); Good ?morning (at parting). The teacher, therefore, should develop his pupils' ear for English sounds and intonation.

Lexical difficulties are closely connected with the phonetic ones. Pupils often misunderstand words because they hear them wrong. For example: The horse is slipping. The horse is sleeping. They worked till night. They walked till night.

The opposites are often misunderstood, for the learners often take one word for another. For example: east-- west, take -- put; ask -- answer. The most difficult words for auding are the verbs with postpositions, such as: put on, put off, put down, take off, see off, go in for, etc.

Grammatical difficulties are mostly connected with the analytic structure of the English language, and with the extensive use of infinitive and participle constructions. Besides, English is rich in grammatical homonyms, for example: to work -- work; to answer -- answer; -ed as the suffix of the Past Indefinite and the Past Participle. This is difficult for pupils when they aud.

2. The content of the material also influences comprehension. The following factors should be taken into consideration when selecting the material for auding:

The topic of communication: whether it is within the ability of the pupils to understand, and what difficulties pupils will come across (proper names, geographical names, terminology, etc). The type of communication: whether it is a description or a narration. Description as a type of communication is less emotional and interesting, that is why it is difficult for the teacher to arouse pupils' interest in auding such a text. Narration is more interesting for auding. Consequently, this type of communication should be used for listening comprehension. The context and pupils' readiness (intellectual and situational) to understand it. The way the narrative progresses: whether the passage is taken from the beginning of a story, the nucleus of the story, the progress of the action or, finally, the end of the story. The title of the story may be helpful in comprehending the main idea of the text. The simpler the narrative progresses, the better it is for developing pupils' skills in auding. The form of communication: whether the text is a dialogue or a monologue. Monologic speech is easier for the learners, therefore, it is preferable for developing pupils' ability to aud.

3. Conditions of presenting the material are of great importance for teaching auding, namely:

- the speed of the speech the pupil is auding. The hearer cannot change the speed of the speaker;

- there are different points of view on the problem of the speed of speech in teaching auding a foreign language.

Consequently, in teaching listening comprehension the teacher should bear in mind all the difficulties pupils encounter when auding in a foreign language. To fulfill the task the teacher must train his pupils in listening comprehension beginning with the first lesson and throughout the whole period of instruction. These are the techniques the teacher uses for the purpose:

1. The teacher uses the foreign language:

- when giving the class instructions;

- when presenting new language material (words, sentence patterns);

- when checking pupils' comprehension;

- when consolidating the material presented;

- when checking pupils' assimilation of the language material covered.

These are the cases when the target language is used as a means of communication and a means of teaching. There is a great deal of auding in all the points of the lesson. This raises the problem of the teacher's speech during the lesson. It should be correct, sufficiently loud, clear, and expressive. But many of the teachers are too talkative. We can hear them speaking most of the time. Moreover, some teachers speak a great deal in Russian. Conducting a lesson in a foreign language gives the teacher an opportunity to develop pupils' abilities in hearing; to train them in listening to him attentively during the lesson; to demonstrate the language as a means of communication; to provide favorable conditions for the assimilation of the language; to perfect his own speaking skills; to keep his own speech under control, i. e., to keep himself from undue talkativeness.

2. The teacher uses drill and speech exercises for developing listening comprehension.

We can group drill exercises into exercises designed for overcoming linguistic difficulties, and exercises which can eliminate psychological difficulties.

The first group of drill exercises includes:

Phonetic exercises which will help the teacher to develop his pupils' ear for English sounds;

- listen to the following words and raise your hands when you hear the words with [ae] (The teacher says: desk, pen, ten, bag, etc.);

- listen to the following pairs of words and say in what sound they differ: pen -- pin; bed -- bad; eyes -- ice; white -- wide.

Lexical exercises which will help the teacher to develop pupils' skills in recognizing words:

- listen to the words and recognize the word "boy" among other words: a baby, a toy, a boat, a boy, a girl;

- listen to the following words and raise your hands when you hear the words referring to plants: street, tree, grass, class, flower, and tower;

- listen to the following sentences and say whether the word country has the same meaning in both sentences:

I usually spent my holidays in the country.

The Soviet Union is a large country.

Grammar exercises which help the teacher to develop pupils' skills in recognizing grammar forms and structures:

- listen to the following words and raise your hands when you hear words in plural: desk, tables, book, box, pens, books, boxes, etc.;

- listen to the following sentences and say in which one the word help is used as a noun. He can help you. I need his help.

The second group of drill exercises includes:

1. Exercises which help the teacher to develop his pupils' auditory memory:

- listen to the following words and try to memorize them. (The teacher pronounces a number of words pointing to the object each denotes: a carrot, a potato, a cucumber, a tomato. Afterwards pupils are told to point to the object the teacher names.);

- listen to the phrases and repeat them. The teacher says: on the table, in the box, near the blackboard;

- listen to the sentences and repeat them. (The teacher says: I like tea. Ann doesn't like tea. She likes milk.);

- listen to the sentences and repeat them in the same sequence. (The teacher says: In the evening we have tea. I like it very much. The teacher may increase the number of sentences for pupils to memorize.).

2. Exercises which are designed for developing pupils' attention:

- listen to the following text: I have a sister. Her name is Ann. Mike has no sister. He has a brother.

- Now say what is the name of Mike's sister is.

- listen to the text. (The text follows.) Now say which sentence was omitted (added) when you listened to it a second time.

3. Exercises which develop pupils' visual imagination:

- listen to the following definition and give it a name: We write with it on the blackboard. We take it when it rains.

- listen and say which season it is: It is cold. It often snows. Children can skate and ski.

4. Exercises which help the teacher to develop his pupils' logical thinking:

- listen to the sentences and say whether they are logically arranged: Her name is Mary. This is a girl.

Drill exercises are quite indispensable to developing pupils' skills in listening comprehension. Speech exercises are designed for developing pupils' skills in auding. Several groups of exercises may be suggested:

a) Exercises which teach pupils to understand texts different in content, form, and type. Pupils are asked to listen to a description or a narration; the text may be a dialogue, it may deal with the life of people whose language the pupils study, or with the pupils' environment:

- listen to the story. Your task is to define its main idea. You should choose one among those suggested by the teacher;

- listen to the story. Your task is to grasp as much information as you can. While auding try to put down key words and sentences; they will help you to convey the context of the story.

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