Importance of Listening Comprehension
Listening is one of the most important comprehension skills for every human being. Especially in the context of education of children and adolescents, listening skills assume greater importance. Effective listening is an essential quality to be mastered by students who are learning a foreign language as a second language. In this particular case, the 15 students of my class are learning English as a second language and as these students have intermediate mastery over the language, they need to be properly trained in listening skills through unique methods such as interactive storytelling and/or listening activities through dramatization (Egamnazarova & Mukhamedova, 2021).
In line with the problems of listening comprehension of the students, identification of the hindrances in listening comprehension is of utmost importance. Only after proper identification of the problems faced by students, will one be able to pick strategies for enhancing listening skills. Students often face serious problems in listening and interpretation of audio materials such as classroom lectures and recorded materials. The specific problem that students mostly face is the problem of comprehending the words spoken by native speakers (Zulfikar et al., 2020). Related to addressing this particular problem of the inability of students to differentiate between words and identify the tone of the speaker, I would incorporate a News Listening activity. The main aim of this activity is to increase exposure to native speakers’ tones and utterances. To help the students in the initial stage, the help of subtitles can be implemented. Another problem the students face in listening is related to establishing a connection between linguistic and non-linguistic cues. According to Bisk et al. (2020), the success of communication depends on the establishment of the connection between the linguistic cues and background experiences of humans. In this context, this assumes an important place. The students should be able to connect their experiences with the words being spoken to them. Reception of auditory cues will only effectively be channeled when the students completely understand the connotations of the words and sentences. To address this issue, I plan to design an audio-visual cue game that will help students in connecting between their experiences and what is being spoken to them. According to Lai et al. (2021), the experience of audio and visual cues simultaneously through video games can effectively increase vocabulary among students who are learning English as a second language or foreign language. Other auxiliary methods can be used to engage students in listening activities to enhance their listening skills. Cross-cultural listening activities also have an important part to play in improving listening skills for students. English is an important language for academic purposes and students must master the basic understanding of the language via the four elementary skills, which are- reading, writing, speaking and listening. For students to be able to properly use English for academic purposes, they need to be exposed to the language on an increased level (Newton et al., 2018).
To elaborate on the proposed methods of listening skills enhancement, it can be said that there has been ample research and studies that show the use of interactive and learner-centered teaching methods help students in achieving their goals faster. Fostering an environment of cross-cultural affinity is of immense importance for students to learn more about other cultures. Cultural inclusion also has proved to help students in increasing both knowledge and vocabulary. According to Teo (2019), teaching in the current times demands more attention towards interconnection between cultural landscapes. The author rightly points out that dialogic teaching can be particularly beneficial for teaching a second language. In the present context, the 15 students in my class are having some difficulties in listening comprehension and to address the issue I have planned on incorporating dialogue-based activities such as interactive games and listening to newscasts and holding group discussions on them. De Wilde et al. (2020) suggest that to help students learn to be more adaptive in the second language, teachers ought to use more student-centered approaches that are based on interactions. The authors also suggest that having greater exposure to the second language outside of the dedicated curriculum is of great importance. Research has shown that unique approaches and methods such as integration of games and dramatization activities are effectively influential in helping students develop their listening skills in the second language. According to Barella & Linarsih (2020), studies have proved that students themselves also tend to choose news stories of similar categories to enhance their listening skills. Dolidze (2017) suggests that the use of news content in English can be effective in increasing listening proficiency in ESL classrooms. In this context, the author clearly points out the need to brief the students about the background of the news stories to be taken up for activities. The Newscasts should preferably be of universal importance. Regional stories often lack the diversity that the listening skill activities are aiming to instil among the students. According to Dolidze (2017), teachers and counsellors should positively maximize captions in using audio-visual aids in an ESL classroom. According to the author, an important study shows that the use of captions has effectively guided students in learning English faster.
Identifying Hindrances in Listening Comprehension
Video-based comprehension activities also help students in learning about the setup of the things they are listening to during the activity. Inability to differentiate intonation and words and their connotations in a specific context can lead to students facing problems in listening comprehension. Audio-visual cue games positively help students in recognizing the background of the situation and help them in understanding the connotations of the words. According to Sawadogo et al. (2020), audio-visual aids, especially digital ones can significantly increase attention span among students. An increased attention span positively benefits the students in acquiring the foreign language. To perfectly learn the language proper listening abilities are highly important and only with an increased level of attention will the students be able to get hold of the listening skills for the particular language. Liu & Liu (2020) are of the opinion that information and communication technology holds immense potential in assisting the enhancement of the listening skills of students in an ESL classroom.
Djabborova (2020) points out the significant importance of different activities before and after conducting listening skill enhancement activities. A few of the important activities that aid listening comprehension are- pre-listening activities, during-listening activities and post-listening activities. As part of pre-listening activities, students should be briefly made aware of the background of what they are about to hear. During during-listening activities, teachers should positively administer continuous comprehension activities to assess the efficiency of the lessons being conducted. In the post-listening stage, also comprehension activities are important. In this stage, the students should participate in activities that allow them to make larger connections between what they have listened to and what they already know about the topic. The students’ personal opinions should be asked for at this stage. Plaza Martinez (2022) points out the efficacy that can be achieved by utilizing YouTube videos in order to assist students in developing listening skills. The particular needs of the students in an ESL classroom have to be kept in mind at all times. An important factor that influences the learning pace of the students in an ESL classroom is the fact that English or the foreign language that they are learning is not their mother tongue. In addition, in most cases, the exposure to that particular language is very low for the students. Amelia & Abidin (2018) point out the importance of digital storytelling tools that help ESL students in developing listening skills. The visual aid that digital technology provides effectively assist learners in getting hold of the plot visually. Visual assistance also helps students in acquiring an increased amount of vocabulary. Recent research has also proved the significance of podcasts and other audio-visual media in enhancing listening skills.
In conclusion, it can be said that while developing proper listening skills is indispensable in the context of learning and education, the present context of 15 students’ demands unique approaches and activities be designed. Theoretical learning is important such as intonation, pronunciation and grammar. However, in this case, since the students do not have much time to prepare, practical skill enhancement should be paid more attention to. The two activities in Task 2 will be designed keeping this in mind. The students need increased exposure to English and need an increased amount of interaction or dialogue-based activities.
Unique Approaches to Enhance Listening Skills
Amelia, L. C. H., & Abidin, M. J. Z. (2018). Young ESL Learners' Perception on the Effects of Using Digital Storytelling Application in English Language Learning. Pertanika Journal of Social Sciences & Humanities.
Barella, Y., & Linarsih, A. (2020). Extensive listening practice in EFL classroom with variety of news websites. Pedagogy: Journal of English Language Teaching, 8(1), 43-50.
Bisk, Y., Holtzman, A., Thomason, J., Andreas, J., Bengio, Y., Chai, J., ... & Turian, J. (2020). Experience grounds language. arXiv preprint arXiv:2004.10151.
De Wilde, V., Brysbaert, M., & Eyckmans, J. (2020). Learning English through out-of-school exposure. Which levels of language proficiency are attained and which types of input are important?. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 23(1), 171-185.
Djabborova, F. O. (2020). Ways of developing listening skills of English learners in ESL and EFL classroom. European Journal of Research and Reflection in Educational Sciences, 8(10), 212-216.
Dolidze, T. How to Effectively Use News Articles in the EFL Classroom. In 7th EURASIAN MULTIDISCIPLINARY FORUM, EMF 2017 6-7 October, Tbilisi, Georgia (p. 17).
Egamnazarova, F. A., & Mukhamedova, M. S. (2021). Improving english language listening skill. Academic research in educational sciences, 2(Special Issue 1), 28-32.
Lai, K. W. K., & Chen, H. J. H. (2021). A comparative study on the effects of a VR and PC visual novel game on vocabulary learning. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 1-34.
Liu, M., & Liu, S. (2020). Evolution in Specialty English Education: Authenticity and Information and Communication Technology in the Esl Classroom.
Newton, J., Ferris, D., Goh, C., Grabe, W., Stoller, F., & Vandergrift, L. (2018). Teaching English to second language learners in academic contexts. New York: Routledge.
Plaza Martínez, M. E. (2022). The use of ESL YouTube videos to improve listening skills (Master's thesis, La Libertad: Universidad Estatal Península de Santa Elena, 2022).
Sawadogo, M., Kambou, M. K., & Malgoubri, I. (2020). Digital Audio-visuals Aids and Listening in English as a Foreign Language Classrooms: Digital Audio-visuals Aids and Listening in English as a Foreign Language Classrooms. Asεmka: A Bilingual Literary Journal of University of Cape Coast, (10), 253-269.
Teng, F. (2019). Maximizing the potential of captions for primary school ESL students’ comprehension of English-language videos. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 32(7), 665-691.
Teo, P. (2019). Teaching for the 21st century: A case for dialogic pedagogy. Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, 21, 170-178.
Zulfikar, Z., Aulia, C. T., & Akmal, S. (2020). Exploring Efl Students’ Problems in Listening To English News Broadcasts. Language Literacy: Journal of Linguistics, Literature, and Language Teaching, 4(2), 340-352.
Activity Title: News Listening
Lesson based on Henry Reading the Old Master
Goals and Objectives of the activity:
- To introduce students to a larger vocabulary
- To help students develop efficiency in word recognition
- To encourage students in learning new words
- To enhance the ability to establish a connection between preconceived knowledge and new words
- To help the students in having increased exposure to the English language
Details of the activity:
The activity of news listening is specifically designed for the students’ help in gaining momentum regarding the easy understanding of the English language with a visual cue. As part of the activity, the short story Old Master as read by Henry will also be incorporated. To elaborate further, the news listening activity consists of two 5-minutes long news videos from YouTube that will be shown to the students as part of pre-listening activities. The two videos used are provided as links in the appendix area. The fifteen students will be divided into three groups for the pre-listening activity. The students will be asked to listen to the newscasts as many times as they want to. In addition, the students will be briefed about the contents and the background of the news stories they will listen to.
News Listening Activity
The news listening activity is especially targeted at helping the students in helping the connecting between the visual cues and the verbal content of the newscasts. After the students have listened to the newscasts, they will be again divided into separate groups to discuss what they have individually gathered from the newscasts. It is important to note here, newscasts generally stress important words and the specific tone of the newscasts will positively benefit the students in differentiating between words.
As part of the during-listening activity, the students will listen to the short story Old Master as read by Henry. Important to note here, this recording does not have a visual aid. The students then will be asked to individually present visual representations also verbal presentations of the story as they heard it. As part of the during-listening activities, I will administer continuous comprehension tests related to the contents of the story. The students will also be guided with assisting materials to help them understand and connect their pre-acquired knowledge with the short story recording. An informational quiz will also be conducted to evaluate the level of understanding of the students. The informational quiz will contain questions on objective details that can be easily retrieved by the student from the recording.
Apart from the recording and the newscast videos, online dictionaries and other materials such as charts and illustrations will be included.
Details on usage
The recording of the short story
The recording is to be used for listening of the students. They will listen to the recording and the teacher will conduct continuous comprehension evaluations. The continuous evaluation will also help in assessing the level of motivation and attention among the students.
The newscasts will be shown to the students and before showing the videos, the student will be briefed about the contents of the videos. After watching the videos the students will be able to list down the new words, they learned and will be able to connect their conceptions of situations and their verbal representations.
Instructional video and audio
All of the instructions for the activity will be available in both video and audio formats. Both the video and audio instructions will be shown to the students. The evaluation of the responses to the instructions in each case will assist the teacher in catering to the specific needs of the students.
An online dictionary will help students to understand the meanings and connotations of the new words they learned.
Chart for vocabulary
Both the teacher and the students will make this chart. After completing the activity, the students will be asked to make a list of the new words they have learned. In addition, the teacher will also have a chart of the new words that will assist the students if they miss any words.
Illustrations to assist in establishing connections
The teacher will assist the students with illustrations shown through PowerPoint slides to help students establish a better connection between the contents and the words being spoken in the recording.
Written instructional materials
The instructions for the activity will also be provided to the students in written format. This will add more clarity to the understanding of the students.
Table 1: Teaching Materials
(Source: Created by the Learner)
Question 1: Listen to the recording provided and change the ending of the story according to your wish.
Question 2: Add a moral to the story you have heard as part of the activity.
Activity Title: Audi-Visual cue game
Lesson based on: Rosie reading “The Ghost, Bro”
Goals and Objectives of the activity:
- Students will be able to use newly learnt words in a different context
- To help students in understanding the English language when spoken to them
- To develop a better reception rate of the English language through active listening
- To develop the quality of active listening among students
Details of the activity:
This particular activity consists of a game that is administered to the students via both audio and visual cues. This activity is designed to help students in establishing a better connection between visual cues and spoken words. In order for the students to develop better listening skills, they must be guided through visual cues. This game will consist of small videos of less than 2 minutes each. The videos used will be provided as links in the appendix area. The videos will be necessarily muted when shown to the students. This particularly will help the students in developing an imaginative strength. After the videos have been shown to the students, they will be asked to verbally discuss what they individually think about what they saw.
The activity is specifically based on the reading of the ghost story. After the students have watched the videos, they will be asked to listen to the recording of the story. The recording does not have any visual cue attached to it. The students will afterwards be asked to suggest sound effects for the story to make it eerier. The students will also be asked to describe the story from a visual perspective. The students here will have the liberty to paint the story, as they perceived it. This activity will enable the teacher to understand the level of understanding that the students have gained. The visual representation of the students will differ and the creative freedom in this task will particularly help in peer tutoring. The students will also be asked what differences they would like to make in the reading of the story. The students will also be assisted with an array of sounds used for inciting horror. The students will be asked to pick sounds that are appropriate to be attached to the recording of the story.
Usage in the activity
Recording of the story
The students will listen to the recording of the story and they will be asked individually for their opinion and their understanding. They will also be asked to give opinions on the changes they would like to make. Continuous evaluation by the teacher will help the students in gaining momentum in active listening. The evaluation will be based on the creative strength of the students, which is definitely built on what the students have effectively listened to.
Various horror sound effects will be made available to the students for them to understand the link between verbal words and the atmosphere created by sound effects. By evaluating the use of sound effects by students, the teacher can gain an insight into the level of understanding of the students related to their listening proficiency.
Videos for the activity
The videos shown for the activity will assist the students in understanding the link between visual and audio cues in conversational communication.
After completing this activity, the students will successfully be able to understand the spoken words in English even without a visual cue always available.
Table 2: Materials for activity 2
(Source: Created by the Learner)
Question 1: What seems missing in the recording you heard during the activity?
Question 2: Give a different title to the story you have heard during the activity.
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