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L2 Listening in China: An Examination of Current Practice



This chapter begins by illustrating the types of obstacles that college-age Chinese learners of English face when listening to spoken English, which typically include both lower and higher level problems. Drawing on the literature and teacher interviews, this chapter moves on to discuss pedagogic strategies taken by Chinese college English teachers to help their students overcome these difficulties. The discussion leads to a set of pedagogical recommendations grounded in current research for teaching listening in China and other similar contexts where English is taught as a foreign language.
© e Author(s) 2018
A. Burns and J. Siegel (eds.), International Perspectives on Teaching the Four Skills in ELT,
International Perspectives on English Language Teaching,
Once a neglected skill, listening has in recent years attracted the attention
of both researchers and practitioners. Second language (L2) researchers
have now acknowledged the key role that auditory input plays in language
acquisition, believing that exposure to such input is an important require-
ment for learners’ language development. Similarly, the teaching of listening
has received greater attention in recent years (Field 2008; Richards 2009;
Vandergrift and Goh 2012). Listening now occupies a prominent place in
many language programmes, often taught as a stand-alone course or inte-
grated with a speaking course. In addition, high-stakes tests (e.g. school
leaving examinations, university admission tests and international standard-
ized prociency tests such as IELTS and TOEFL) often include a listening
Given this increased research and pedagogical interest in L2 listening, one
would expect teachers to be in a much better position to draw pedagogi-
cal insights from research and use these to design instructional procedures
L2 Listening in China: An Examination
of Current Practice
Willy A. Renandya and Guangwei Hu
W.A. Renandya (*) · G. Hu
National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University,
1 Nanyang Walk, Singapore 637616, Singapore
G. Hu
38 W.A. Renandya and G. Hu
that would benet L2 learners and help them become better L2 listeners
(see Santos and Graham, this volume). is, however, may not always be the
case for three reasons. First, teachers may not have access to the professional
literature and consequently may be unaware of recent developments in L2
listening. Second, even those who keep up with the literature may nd con-
icting views about the main factors that aect the processing of spoken text
and about how best to teach L2 listening (Wang 2010; Wang and Renandya
2012). As a result, they may feel bewildered and unable to choose between
these various views. ird, contextual factors such as paucity of suitable lis-
tening materials and lack of access to online resources may constrain teach-
ers from trying out new ways of teaching listening. Many teachers, as noted
by Field (2008) and Siegel (2014), continue to use traditional methods of
teaching L2 listening that focus more on the product than the process of
listening. One such method which is still widely used in L2 classrooms is
known as the comprehension-based approach where students listen to a
recording multiple times and are then required to answer a set of compre-
hension questions as if they were taking a listening comprehension test.
Not surprisingly, L2 learners continue to nd L2 listening to be one of the
most dicult skills to learn (Vandergrift and Goh 2012). ose at the lower
end of the prociency scale nd L2 listening particularly hard. Many have
reported that they are unable to cope with the fast rate of speech, cannot
recognize words they already know in print, have diculty segmenting words
in connected speech and, as a result, fail to form a coherent representation of
the meaning of the text (Zeng 2007). Even those at the more advanced levels
sometimes nd listening to be demanding, as is the case with college English
teachers from China with whom we have been working for several years.
ese are teachers whose overall English prociency is quite advanced but
whose listening skill seems to lag behind other skills such as reading, writing
and speaking. In the general prociency test that we administered as part of
the admission requirements to the postgraduate programme they were apply-
ing for, they tended to perform well on the reading, speaking and writing
components, but scored poorly on the listening segment.
In this chapter we begin by describing the kinds of problems that Chinese
college English learners encounter when listening to spoken English. ese
include both lower level (e.g. speech rate, word recognition) and higher level
(e.g. failure to make schema-based inferences) listening problems. ese
problems are related to the processes of listening rather than to the products,
with the latter being typically focused on in comprehension-based teach-
ing approaches. We then outline pedagogical strategies that Chinese college
English teachers believe are useful to help their students overcome various
3 L2 Listening in China: An Examination of Current Practice 39
listening diculties. In the nal section, we present a set of pedagogical rec-
ommendations grounded in current research for teaching listening in China
and other similar L2 learning contexts, in particular in places where English
is taught as a foreign language.
Why Is Listening Difcult?
Listening is one of the rst language skills that L1 users acquire naturally
in the early years of their lives. ey develop their ability to comprehend
oral language ‘seemingly without eort and attention’ (Siegel 2014: 22).
is, however, is not often the case with L2 learners of English, especially
those who learn English in a foreign language (EFL) context like China.
ese EFL learners get more exposure to written than oral language because
the English language curriculum is typically heavily biased towards literacy
rather than oral skills. As Stephens (2011) pointed out, ‘ese students typi-
cally demonstrate literacy skills that are superior to their oral skills’ (p. 312).
What kinds of diculties do students often encounter? L2 learners have
reported both lower level and higher level problems (Goh 2000). Lower level
problems are associated with inecient processing of the language features
of spoken text (e.g. sound and sound blending, word boundaries in speech
and complex grammatical structures), whilst higher level problems have
more to do with failure to make relevant connections within and between
utterances to comprehend the intended message of the text. A consensus
is lacking amongst researchers about which of these two types of problems
contributes more to L2 learners’ inability to comprehend spoken text, but
there is growing evidence that comprehension failure is often associated with
lower level processing problems (e.g. Field 2009; Goh 2000; Wang 2010;
Wang and Renandya 2012).
In a study of university students from China who were learning English
in Singapore, Goh (2000) used Andersons three-phase theoretical frame-
work (i.e. perception, parsing and utilization) to categorize their listening
problems. Her study revealed that most of the diculties were lower level
processing problems associated with the rst two phases of perception and
parsing. Similarly, Zeng (2007) reported that the majority of listening prob-
lems (see Table 3.1) that his college EFL students in China encountered
most frequently had to do with lower level processing such as rate of speech,
word recognition, unfamiliar words, complex sentences and unfamiliar
pronunciation (see McAulie and Brooks, this volume, for a listening pro-
gramme designed to address these diculties).
40 W.A. Renandya and G. Hu
In a more recent study, Wang and Renandya (2012) asked 301 students
and 30 teachers in China about the sources of listening diculties using a
38-item questionnaire, which represented ve groups of factors: text-related
factors (e.g. speech rate, vocabulary load), processing-related factors (e.g.
quickly forgetting what is heard), listener-related factors (e.g. anxiety), task-
related factors (e.g. types of post-listening tasks) and environmental fac-
tors (e.g. lack of access to listening materials). e results are summarized
in Table 3.2. As can be seen, both the students and teachers indicated that
text- and processing-related factors caused the most problems, a nding that
conrms earlier studies conducted by Goh (2000) and Zeng (2007), whose
Table 3.1 Top ten listening problems
Source Zeng (2007: 46)
Sources of listening problems %
1. Speaking rate 100
2. Distraction 95
3. Unable to recognize known words 90
4. New vocabulary 85
5. Missing subsequent input 80
6. Nervousness 70
7. Sentence complexity 60
8. Background knowledge 55
9. Anxiety and frustration 45
10. Unfamiliar pronunciation 40
Table 3.2 Top ten items perceived to be the most difcult by teachers and students
Source Wang and Renandya (2012: 85)
Rank order Student perception (N = 301) Teacher perception (N = 30)
Variable Mean Variable Mean
1 Complex sentences 3.81 Fast speed 3.83
2 Phonetic variations 3.78 Complex sentences 3.57
3 Missing subsequent
3.69 Missing subsequent
4 Speaker accent 3.68 Long sentences 3.50
5 News broadcast 3.59 News broadcast 3.50
6 Long sentences 3.53 Speaker accent 3.47
7 Background noise 3.47 Background noise 3.47
8 Catching the details 3.42 Word recognition 3.30
9 Fast speed 3.38 New words 3.30
10 New words 3.37 Phonetic variations 3.30
3 L2 Listening in China: An Examination of Current Practice 41
research participants also attributed listening diculties mostly to language-
related variables (e.g. speech rate, word recognition, new vocabulary, sen-
tence complexity and phonetic variations).
As the results reported above show, micro listening problems are so wide-
spread that Field (2009) concludes that ‘a disturbingly large number of
larger-scale problems of understanding actually have their origins in small-
scale errors of word recognition’ (p. 14). Because of this, Field (2008) and
others (e.g. Renandya and Farrell 2011; Wilson 2003) have called for lis-
tening teachers to pay more attention to lower level, bottom-up processing
problems. Field (2009) provides examples of how simple words and phrases
are often incorrectly perceived by L2 learners: burst may be heard as birth,
invent as prevent, the church where she was buried as the church where she was
married. What is often puzzling and also frustrating to L2 learners is that
they can readily recognize and decode these words in print but fail to do so
when they hear them in speech.
The Teaching of Listening in China
As in other EFL contexts it is only fairly recently that oral skills have started
to gain popularity in China. In recognition of the increased importance
of listening in developing college students’ oral language skills in English,
the weighting of the listening section of the compulsory CET (College
English Test) Band 4 was increased from 15 to 35% in 2008 (Li 2013).
Consequently, listening now receives more instructional attention in college
English classes.
Until recently the teaching of listening has largely reected more tradi-
tional methods (see Li 2013; Wang 2010) characterized by the following
An emphasis on the product rather than the process of listening, with the
main pedagogical aim being to help students extract meaning from the
Use of inauthentic scripted materials devoid of features typically found in
naturally occurring conversational/spoken language;
Test-oriented listening practice whose main purpose is to prepare students
for the CET test;
Overuse of the comprehension-based approach, which puts students on
the perpetual cycle of (i) listening, (ii) answering comprehension ques-
tions and (iii) checking answers.
42 W.A. Renandya and G. Hu
It is worth noting that these features are still commonly found in other
similar EFL contexts where English is not used for genuine communicative
purposes. Siegel (2014), for example, found that in Japan the comprehen-
sion-based approach was still popular with the English teachers he observed
in his study. Overall, the literature seems to indicate that this situation is
also quite common not only in Asia but also in other EFL countries in the
world (Vandergrift and Goh 2012).
More recently, however, newer and more diverse methods of teaching lis-
tening have started to gain some traction (e.g. methods that are more pro-
cess-oriented with a strong metacognitive focus such as those suggested by
Vandergrift and Goh 2012). As a result of greater exposure to newer ways
of teaching listening, teachers are more willing to explore and implement
L2 listening pedagogy that reects current scholarship in L2 listening theory
and research. What is interesting here is that the types of listening problems
that students face remain largely the same (i.e. mostly lower level process-
ing problems), but teachers seem to be more open to consider a wider range
of pedagogical options (see Wang 2010). is trend was evident in Wang
and Renandya’s (2012) study, in which in-depth interviews were conducted
with 10 teachers to nd out what they could do to help students overcome
the listening diculties summarized in Tables 3.1 and 3.2. ese teachers
oered a range of instructional strategies, as discussed below.
Speech Rate
Although many of the interviewed teachers realized that the ultimate goal
of L2 listening would be to comprehend authentic texts for eective com-
munication, they acknowledged the fact that their students started at a lower
base and needed structured support to cope with the fast rate of speech. e
majority suggested slowing down the speed so that students can hear the
individual words more clearly. ey also recommended that students should
be encouraged to adjust the speed of their listening text according to their
preference when they do their independent listening practice. e availabil-
ity of digitally mediated listening materials (e.g. podcasts) has made it eas-
ier for students to manipulate the speech rate and choose a speed that they
nd the most comfortable. Another suggestion was to get students to view
the script before they listen to a text spoken at a normal rate, which both
students and teachers in the study found useful for overcoming diculties
associated with speech rate and other listening problems such as word recog-
nition and phonetic variations.
3 L2 Listening in China: An Examination of Current Practice 43
Phonetic Variations
Phonetic variations, many of the teachers in the study believed, seem to
be the main culprit for students’ word segmentation and word recognition
problems. Phonetic variations refer to dierent ways individual words or
groups of words are pronounced in connected speech (e.g. going to is often
pronounced as gonna ). e majority of the teachers felt that class time
should be devoted to focused instruction on problem areas. is can take
the form of an awareness raising activity (i.e. sensitizing students to the par-
ticular speech phenomenon) or focused practice (i.e. practicing how to pro-
nounce words in connected speech).
Word Recognition
Students are often unable to recognize words they already know partly due
to their unfamiliarity with the way words are pronounced in connected
speech, and partly due to their own incorrect pronunciation. Many of the
teachers pointed out that some students were unable to recognize some
words they heard because they pronounced those words dierently from the
speakers in the recording. us these teachers felt that improving students
pronunciation would help to develop and strengthen students’ word recog-
nition skills. A number of the teachers suggested a mixture of instructional
procedures involving reading aloud, repetition, shadowing (listening and
repeating immediately) and teacher correction to help students with their
pronunciation problems.
Unfamiliar Vocabulary
All of the teachers agreed that unfamiliar vocabulary would be one of the
main sources of listening diculty. e majority suggested pre-teaching key
vocabulary items before letting students listen to the recording. Some rec-
ommended that students preview the new words the day before they come
to class so that teachers can devote classroom time to other comprehension-
enhancing listening activities. ey also suggested that additional vocabulary
learning activities should be developed at the post-listening phase in order to
reinforce what students have learned.
44 W.A. Renandya and G. Hu
Complex Sentences
Speech that contains long stretches of utterances and embedded clauses is
perceived to be dicult. is phenomenon is interesting because spoken
language generally contains shorter and simpler utterances. However, in the
context of the study reported in Wang and Renandya (2012), ‘the listening
materials in many coursebooks … were prepared passages read out by native
English speakers with predetermined scripts’ (p. 94). Whilst scripted materi-
als are not without value, they do not represent authentic speech and should
be used sparingly. To help students cope with scripted texts a number of the
teachers recommended making the written script available to the learners to
alleviate the diculty of decoding complex syntax. ese teachers also rec-
ommended repeated listening as a way to help students become used to lis-
tening to complex sentences present in speech.
Processing-Related Problems
When asked about how students could handle processing-related problems
(e.g. being distracted, easily forgetting what is heard), some of the teach-
ers recommended teaching listening strategies, in particular those that can
help students become more aware of their processing problems and enable
them to plan, implement and evaluate their success or failure in overcoming
their problems. Research into metacognitive listening strategies has shown
some promising results (Vandergrift and Goh 2012), and some of the teach-
ers seemed to be keen to incorporate listening strategies in their teaching.
Others, however, had some reservations about the eectiveness of teach-
ing listening strategies, believing that strategies would be useful only for
the more advanced students. ese teachers believed that lower prociency
students would need more practice in lower level processing (e.g. word rec-
ognition and uency practice via repeated listening) to build up their basic
listening skills before they are taught listening strategies.
Pedagogical Recommendations
e discussions above show that teachers are generally aware of the kinds
of listening problems that L2 listeners face, understand the sources of these
problems and are increasingly well informed about the range of pedagogical
3 L2 Listening in China: An Examination of Current Practice 45
options for teaching L2 listening. To further improve their students’ listen-
ing ability they could consider an even wider range of pedagogical options
that reect current scholarship in L2 listening pedagogy. Discussed below
are pedagogical practices that L2 listening experts (e.g. Chang 2016; Field
2008; Richards 2015; Vandergrift and Goh 2012) believe should feature
more prominently in the L2 listening classroom.
Listening as a Process
For many years the focus of L2 listening pedagogy has been on the product
of listening with comprehension as the key objective of instruction. e suc-
cess of a listening lesson has often been described in terms of the number of
post-listening questions students are able to answer correctly or incorrectly.
Little attention has been paid to the process of comprehension, that is, how
students process the various interrelated elements of listening and arrive at
their unique comprehension of the text.
Current L2 listening pedagogy encourages teachers to pay attention not
only to the product but also the process of listening. By focusing on the pro-
cess (e.g. how students infer meaning when the listening input is not clear or
when they lack relevant prior knowledge), teachers are in a better position
to support learners who might experience processing problems at the percep-
tion, parsing and utilization stages of listening. ey can also teach students
metacognitive listening strategies (e.g. directed attention, selective listening)
to help them to plan, manage and evaluate the listening process. Such listen-
ing strategies help students think about the process of listening, reect on and
become more aware of the factors that aect their comprehension, under-
stand the skills and strategies they could use to solve their listening problems,
and thus facilitate the comprehension of spoken discourse (Goh 2000).
Listening as Comprehension and Acquisition
Listening has traditionally been associated with the teaching of compre-
hension skills. Classroom practices are typically organized around activities
believed to aid understanding of oral discourse. is traditional view of lis-
tening is still widespread in many L2 contexts. Whilst the view of listening
as comprehension has served useful pedagogical purposes, there is a need to
consider listening from a dierent perspective, one of listening as acquisition
46 W.A. Renandya and G. Hu
(Richards 2009). An L2 learner’s oral competence is only as good as his/her
listening ability. Viewed in this way, listening is one of the two main sources
of language input (i.e. reading and listening) that can be exploited to facili-
tate learners’ language prociency development.
In order to facilitate students’ language acquisition processes, teachers can
design listening activities that promote the noticing of language features, in
particular those non-salient language features (e.g. tenses, plurals, non-count
nouns) that students would not normally pay attention to unless these are
highlighted during lessons. Afterwards, students can be encouraged to use
these just noticed language items in speaking and/or writing activities. ere
is considerable research evidence that noticing activities can help learners
restructure their existing linguistic system and further their L2 development
(Richards 2009).
More Focused Practice of Problematic Text Features
As was mentioned earlier, lower level perception problems are often cited as
one of the main sources of listening comprehension breakdown. Students
often say that they cannot understand the text because they are not able to
‘catch the words’, although they know these words in their written form.
Since problems at the perception stage can have negative knock-on eects
on the subsequent processing of the text, perception-related problems
will need to be systematically addressed in the classroom. Wilson (2003)
has called for teachers to give more attention to spoken text features such
as sound assimilation (e.g. tuck it in becomes takitin ) and re-syllabication
(e.g. went in becomes wen tin ) that often cause problems. Regular focused
practice of problematic text features using dictogloss, for example, can sen-
sitize L2 learners to their listening problems and promote greater awareness
of how they themselves can do more focused practice independently out-
side the classroom. In dictogloss, students rst listen to the text for a general
understanding. ey then listen again and jot down key words, which they
use subsequently to reconstruct the original text. During the reconstruction
stage, students are encouraged to pay attention to some language features
that have caused them problems in the past. Deliberately encouraging the
students to notice these problematic features means they will be more likely
to do more independent practice and become more able to deal with these
features in future listening lessons.
3 L2 Listening in China: An Examination of Current Practice 47
Increased Use of Authentic, Media-Based Listening
and Viewing Activities
e increased use of the social media has dramatically changed the way
people use language for communication. Media-based communication dif-
fers from traditional communication in that the former is more interac-
tive and multimodal (see Kozar, this volume). e multimodal nature of
modern communication, which involves both verbal and non-verbal ele-
ments (sound, still and moving images), has made media-based listening
and viewing more enjoyable and comprehensible as well, thus making it
ideal for language learning purposes (Richards 2015). L2 listening teachers,
therefore, should make use of multimodal, media-based materials for their
listening lessons. e ER Central website (
ing-library/) provides media-based listening materials and activities that EFL
teachers from around the world might nd useful. e materials are graded
according to levels of diculty and also organized by categories (e.g. ction
and non-ction, children and adults).
By bringing more authentic, media-based listening and viewing activities
into the classroom, there is a greater chance that learners will see the link
between classroom-based language learning and out-of-class language learn-
ing, and will hopefully continue learning beyond the classroom by doing
independent listening/viewing activities in their free time. Such extensive
listening is not only intrinsically motivating but is also indispensable to the
development of uent L2 listening.
Greater Attention to Developing Listening Fluency
As is the case with L2 reading where uency is a key to the development
of comprehension skills, uency is a necessary condition in L2 listening
too. Fluency refers to one’s ability to read and listen to text smoothly and
eortlessly. Just like in reading, the basic building block of uency in L2
listening is word recognition skills. When learners can recognize words and
word groups fairly quickly without expending much cognitive eort, they
are said to have developed uency in reading and/or listening. As the devel-
opment of uent listening takes time, L2 learners will need to do extensive
listening through narrow listening practice (i.e. listening to materials of the
same genre), shadowing (i.e. listening and repeating immediately) or other
48 W.A. Renandya and G. Hu
extensive listening activities (for examples of such activities, see Chang 2016;
Renandya and Farrell 2011). For classroom-based learning, teachers can
do frequent dictation activities (see Vandergrift and Goh 2012 for a vari-
ety of interesting dictation activities for classroom use) and engage students
in repeated listening practice in the whilst- and post-listening phases of the
Engaging Students in Out-of-Class Listening
and Viewing Activities
e success of language learning, according to Richards (2015), is due to
two factors: what happens in the classroom and what learners do outside
the classroom. Whilst the classroom can provide the initial groundwork for
learners’ language development, educational researchers now acknowledge
that classroom-based language learning can only provide limited learning
opportunities. Richards (2015) contends that ‘e opportunities for learn-
ing or ‘aordances’ available in the classroom are hence quite restricted, con-
sisting of a restricted range of discourse and literary practices’ (p. 6). Because
of this, learners will need to continue learning beyond the classroom where
they can enjoy much richer discourses and be exposed to a wider variety
of language features and functions that occur in meaningful and authentic
communicative contexts. ere is growing evidence suggesting that students
who get regular exposure to comprehensible language by watching English
language movies on TV or the Internet have good listening and speaking
skills compared to those who do not (Richards 2015). Because of the richer
aordances that out-of-class language learning provides, L2 listening teach-
ers should make more concerted eorts to encourage students to do inde-
pendent listening/viewing activities outside the classroom.
To conclude, eective L2 listening is a twenty-rst century language skill
that is indispensable for eective communication and mutual understand-
ing and has a vital role to play in enhancing the quality of life, creating new
opportunities and alternatives. As such, it is a skill that requires adept peda-
gogical choreography. L2 listening teachers must have a clear understanding
of learners’ diculties and sources of problems. Based on this understand-
ing, they need to orchestrate their learning materials and activities to engage
3 L2 Listening in China: An Examination of Current Practice 49
their students in focused instruction targeting their specic problems in the
classroom. Furthermore, they need to design listening activities that involve
their students in extensive listening outside the classroom and in real-world
use of listening skills for genuine communication. Finally, they also need
to foster their students’ strategic competence in managing and controlling
their learning process and in capitalizing on aordances both in and outside
the classroom. e pedagogical recommendations we have presented in this
chapter should be useful for English teachers in China and for those work-
ing in other similar contexts in the world.
Questions for Reection
1. What learner characteristics need to be taken into account when we
decide how to teach L2 listening?
2. What contextual factors should be considered when pedagogical decisions
are made in an L2 listening classroom?
3. What are some of the variables inherent to L2 listening tasks that may
inuence how listening should be taught and learned?
4. In what ways can research on L2 listening inform pedagogy in the L2 lis-
tening classroom?
5. In what ways is the teaching of L2 listening similar to and dierent from
the teaching of other language skills?
Chang, C.-S. (2016). Teaching L2 listening: In and outside the classroom. In W. A.
Renandya & H. P. Widodo (Eds.), English language teaching today: Linking theory
and practice (pp. 111–126). New York: Springer.
Field, J. (2008). Listening in the language classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Field, J. (2009). More listening or better listeners? English Teaching Professional, 61,
Goh, C. M. (2000). A cognitive perspective on language learners’ listening compre-
hension problems. System, 28, 55–75.
Li, Q. (2013). Investigating the metacognitive approach to second language listening
instruction. Unpublished MA dissertation, Nanyang Technological University,
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Renandya, W. A., & Farrell, T. S. C. (2011). ‘Teacher the tape is too fast!’ Extensive
listening in ELT. ELT Journal, 65, 52–59.
Richards, J. C. (2009). Teaching listening and speaking. Singapore: SEAMEO
Regional Language Centre.
Richards, J. C. (2015). e changing face of language learning: Learning beyond
the classroom. RELC Journal, 46, 5–22.
Siegel, J. (2014). Exploring L2 listening instruction: Examinations of practice. ELT
Journal, 68, 22–30.
Stephens, M. (2011). e primacy of extensive listening. ELT Journal, 65,
Vandergrift, L., & Goh, C. M. (2012). Teaching and learning second language listen-
ing: Metacognition in action. New York: Routledge.
Wang, L. (2010). Chinese EFL learners’ listening comprehension difficulties: A com-
parison between teacher and student perspectives. Unpublished MA dissertation,
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Wang, L., & Renandya, W. A. (2012). Eective approaches to teaching listening:
Chinese EFL teachers’ perspectives. e Journal of Asia TEFL, 9(4), 79–111.
Wilson, M. (2003). Discovery listening—Improving perceptual processing. ELT
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University, Singapore.
... With regard to listening comprehension problems, numerous studies have been conducted to date (e.g., Goh, 1999Goh, , 2000Hasan, 2000;Zeng, 2007;Wang and Renandya, 2012;Renandya and Hu, 2018;Namaziandost et al., 2019;Ozcelik et al., 2019Ozcelik et al., , 2020. The most comprehensive one is that of Goh's (1999) who probed into the listening comprehension problems of 40 Chinese ESL learners based on the theoretical framework of Flavell (1979) metacognitive knowledge (i.e., person, task, and strategy). ...
... To elaborate more, similar to Goh (1999), Goh and Taib (2006), Zeng (2007), and Wang and Renandya (2012), text-and listener-related problems were reported the most. This finding is consistent with those of the previous studies (e.g., Graham, 2006;Renandya and Hu, 2018;Ozcelik et al., 2019Ozcelik et al., , 2020 showing that learners blamed themselves as listeners and the difficulty of texts as major hindrances to successful listening comprehension. The most commonly cited factors, namely vocabulary (76%), accent (64%), and prior knowledge (52%), reported by the majority of the learners are discussed below. ...
... In the case of vocabulary, findings were broadly consistent with major trends in other studies (e.g., Goh's 1999;Goh and Taib, 2006;Renandya and Hu, 2018) indicating that learners considered weakness in vocabulary as their most frequent problem, which hinders overall listening. Aligned with the same line, other studies (e.g., Baker, 2015, 2018;Wallace and Lee, 2020) showed that among many variables, vocabulary knowledge was the most important for comprehension. ...
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A review of the various approaches to L2 listening instruction suggests that they were more of text- or communication-oriented approaches and less of learner-oriented ones. More recently, the focus has shifted to engage L2 listeners in their own listening comprehension process through strategy instruction inside the classroom and strategy use outside the classroom. In this regard, Vandergrift and Goh suggested a metacognitive approach to L2 listening instruction in which listening homework is assigned to L2 listeners as an extensive listening activity. Thus, the present article reports on a qualitative study that explores the role of embedding listening homework in metacognitive intervention in the case of English as Foreign Language listening comprehension and the problems learners encounter during listening. A group of intermediate-level male and female learners (N = 25) speaking Persian as the first language participated in embedded listening tasks. As part of a metacognitive intervention, the learners were given listening homework for which they were requested to view five news programs drawn from the BBC website for 5 weeks and complete diaries with a self-directed listening guide before, during, and after watching the programs. Totally, 116 diary entries were analyzed and data about factors influencing their listening comprehension processes and the actual notes they took during planning, monitoring, and evaluating stages of listening comprehension were collected. To categorize and analyze the diary entries, Goh’s framework was used as the analytical framework. Results indicated that diaries with a self-directed listening guide served pedagogical purposes by raising the learners’ metacognitive knowledge and providing them with opportunities to plan, monitor, and evaluate their unseen listening processes. It helped listeners to reflect on their listening homework, find the gap, take action to resolve their listening problems, and experience a sense of achievement and confidence. Possible reasons for findings are outlined and recommendations for future research are presented.
... Meanwhile, the appropriate learning instruction, including the curriculum, is also acknowledged as the vital instrument that contributes to the learners' listening improvement. It will be harder for the learners to improve their listening skills when the curriculum designed relied more on the improvement of written and other literacy skills, which predominantly highlight the writing practices and ignore the necessary communicative skills such as speaking and listening (Renandya & Hu, 2018). Furthermore, the listening practice is more disregard and learners squander the crucial resources to acquire the understandable input of the foreign language being learned. ...
... Thus, learners are expected to manage more outclass listening practices to think about how they listen and what they could do to improve their listening skills (Gillian, 2015). EFL teachers can expose the learners to the target language through comprehensive listening practices (Renandya, 2011;Renandya & Hu, 2018). ...
... Moreover, the current L2 listening pedagogy encourages teachers to pay attention not only to the product but also the process of listening (Renandya & Hu, 2018). In this case, extensive listening can effectively help both teachers and learners to focus on the process. ...
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Learning English as a foreign language is very challenging for both teachers and students in Flores, East Nusa Tenggara of Indonesia. The challenges are primarily caused by their lack of exposure to the authentic environment of English. In dealing with this phenomenon, the appropriate listening practices expect to help the learners to obtain and construct their knowledge of English as well as to acquire more comprehensible input. This article reports an investigation on the EFL learners� attitudes toward the extensive listening practices. It applied mixed-method research procedures involving 55 students of the English language and education program of Universitas Katolik Indonesia Santu Paulus Ruteng. The data were collected through a survey coupled with Focus Group Discussions with 15 participants. This research revealed that the learners' attitudes are identified into two main categories called positive and negative attitudes. In this case, 38 % of the participants have positive attitudes toward extensive listening practices and 62% of the participant reflected the negative attitude toward the extensive listening practices. Learners with a positive attitude had a very strong awareness of the significance of listening skills in L2 learning. To improve their listening skills, they develop their listening practices outside the classroom consistently. Meanwhile, learners with negative attitudes were categorized as dependent learners who practiced their listening skills during the listening course only. This group of learners was less aware of the significance of listening skills in L2 learning and their listening practices were highly dependent on the teachers' instruction. It showcased that both of the learners� internal and external factors were strongly contributed to this poor extensive listening practices.� The EFL teachers are then strongly suggested to strengthen the learners� awareness on the significance of Listening Skills in L2 learning as well as design more instructed extensive listening practices outside the classroom.
... Listening has recently gained unprecedented recognition worldwide (Renandya & Hu, 2018), and research into L2 listening has recently focused on metacognitive strategies (Lynch & Mendelsohn, 2020). Listening comprehension is still a big challenge for EFL learners in the classroom and beyond as they try to improve their ability to listen (Goh & Vandergrift, 2022), and to tackle it, language instructors should pay considerable heed to both the listening pedagogy and the process of listening instruction (Vandergrift, 2007). ...
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This study strove to investigate the effect of L1-mediated metacognitive intervention (MI) on the listening comprehension performance, metacognitive awareness, and motivation of Iranian EFL learners. The participants were 330 upper-intermediate EFL learners in three groups, ranging from 17 to 25 years of age. The experimental groups (Ex1 = 110/Ex2 = 110) went through a guided lesson plan in metacognition in L2 (English) and L1 (Persian) for seventeen weeks, which focused on planning, monitoring, and evaluation. The control group (CG = 110), also instructed by the same teacher, listened to the same texts in L2 (English) without any guided attention to process. An actual IELTS TEST, the Metacognitive Awareness Listening Questionnaire (MALQ) and a motivation questionnaire (LLOS-IEA) were used before and after the intervention to track changes in the listening performance, metacognitive awareness, and motivation. The overall results showed that MI caused a considerable variance in the listening performance, metacognitive awareness, and motivation in both experimental groups. The results also illustrated that the medium for the delivery of metacognitive intervention (L1) assisted the learners in experimental group two, who went through L1-mediated metacognitive intervention, to outperform their peers in experimental group one, who were taught in L2, and the control group, who were taught conventionally.
... However, approaches to language teaching have changed it into frustrating, unnatural, and insufficient in many contexts (Jones & Saville, 2016). Studies have shown that EFL/ESL students face challenges in learning English; they encounter problems in listening (Nushi & Orouji, 2020;Renandya & Hu, 2018), speaking (AlHosni, 2014;Soomro & Farooq, 2018), reading (Chandran & Shah, 2019;Hassan & Dweik, 2021), writing (Alharbi, 2019;Nuruzzaman et al., 2018), vocabulary (Alsaif & Milton, 2012;Tran, 2020), grammar (Lin et al., 2020;Spahiu & Kryeziu, 2021), and pronunciation (Al-Ahdal, 2020;Lin, 2014). Students' weaknesses are due to many significant factors that hinder their language achievement. ...
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Learning-oriented assessment (LOA) is a highly collaborative and interactive approach that is believed to promote students' language learning. Nevertheless, little is known about Saudi EFL teachers' knowledge, practices, and challenges of implementing LOA in their language classrooms. To this end, this study explored Saudi EFL teachers' knowledge, practices, and challenges of implementing LOA using a quantitative method survey. The Teachers' Learning-Oriented Assessment Questionnaire (TLOAQ) was developed and distributed to 162 Saudi EFL school teachers. The findings indicated that Saudi EFL teachers had a moderate level of knowledge regarding LOA. Besides, they did not implement and practice the principles of LOA efficiently. In addition, EFL teachers reported significant personal, contextual and organizational challenges that limit the implementation of LOA, such as time constraints, large classes, insufficient training, and exam-oriented culture. Besides, the MANOVA results indicated no significant differences in EFL teachers' knowledge and practices of LOA due to gender and years of experience. The findings highlight the need to develop teachers' assessment literacy as well as resolve the difficulties that limit the implementation of LOA to enhance language assessment effectiveness. Future qualitative research should be conducted to have deep insights into the in-class assessment practices in relation to LOA.
... Listening is not an easy skill, especially for L2 learners. Limitations of memory, deficiency of language ability, and unfamiliarity with background culture often cause L2 learners to miss or mishear many important contents in the listening process (Azmi et al., 2014;Renandya and Hu, 2018). Ineffective hearing can lead to a series of communication problems. ...
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This study aims to explore the impact of smartphone applications on Chinese non-English majors' out-of-class English listening learning. The qualitative research method was adopted in this study. Four participants who attended the semi-structured interviews and five online diaries were selected to provide data for the research. The results demonstrate that th e utilization of smartphone apps can indeed have a positive influence on Chinese non-English majors' out-of-class English listening learning, and change their listening learning styles to a great extent. Fragmented learning time and informal learn ing place were widely accepted by students due to the flexibility and portability of smartphone apps, which create more learning opportunities for them and in turn lengthens their learning time. Rich, authentic, high-quality, and up-to-date listening materials, English proficiency tests, and the function of recommendation offered by smartphone apps all provide a great convenience for students. However, this technology is not yet mature and can be further developed by ameliorating some negative factors, such as interference from other functions and applications of smartphones, small screens and reflected light, and lack of guidance and feedback.
... Another interesting feature is the option to make the audio pronunciation much slower by hitting the slow toggle, beneath the pronunciation text box (see Figure 4), to adjust the articulation playback speed to the user's need. There is little doubt that even the normal speed of native speakers is a noticeable obstacle in learning a new language (Renandya & Farrell, 2011;Renandya & Hu, 2018); thus, this feature could be very useful in the beginning stages of learning English. ...
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In an increasingly digital world, online educational resources, apps, and other technologies can serve as incredibly effective tools to facilitate both teaching and learning. One such online tool is the Google Dictionary. This dictionary, an online service of Google, is probably one of the simplest dictionaries for English learners. The definitions usually use simple words and therefore are easy to understand. In addition to the definitions, examples, pictures, and usage notes, there is a separate pronunciation entry with interesting characteristics. This newly added entry provides users with the pronunciation of a word in two different accents, visemes, slow playback, and an option that lets Google collect feedback about the accuracy and helpfulness of the pronunciation recordings from users. This review paper offers a descriptive account of the entry, along with critical evaluation including its strong points and limitations. The review concludes with some suggestions to improve the educational quality of the pronunciation entry..
... There are, however, many listening difficulties, ranging from speed of delivery, inability to recognize word boundaries, lack of background to poor quality of CD players, that seem to impede L2 learners' listening comprehension. Over the last two decades, many studies (e.g., Azmi et al., 2014;Goh, 2000;Renandya & Farrell, 2011;Renandya & Hu, 2018;Teng, 2002;S. Wang, 2010;L. ...
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Listening has long been recognized as a challenging skill for teachers, students and researchers working within the ESL/EFL contexts. Moreover, up until the recent past, it was the least researched of the four language skills in second language acquisition studies. One of the issues regarding the skill that has not been sufficiently investigated is EFL teachers’ views on listening difficulties their students face. This study, therefore, investigates 208 teachers’ views on listening difficulties among Iranian EFL learners. A mixed methods approach, integrating a questionnaire and an interview, was employed. Results from the questionnaire suggested that the top ten identified difficulties ranged from practical issues such as poor quality audio materials to content-based impediments such as unfamiliar topics. Furthermore, ANOVA tests revealed that there was no significant relationship between either the teachers’ educational or professional background and the gravity of the difficulties they reported. Among different components of the questionnaire, the input and process components were highly correlated, indicating that learners’ problems with input perception could lead to problems in listening comprehension. Moreover, based on the results of the interviews, it was concluded that the teachers believed that the learners’ listening difficulties belonged to three categories, namely pronunciation-based, individual-characteristics-based and content-based difficulties. This study suggests that overcoming listening difficulties without listening strategies, though not impossible, seems to be much more time-consuming. Therefore, there are many benefits to both students and teachers if some class time is dedicated to acquaint learners with the strategies.
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For many years, research effort has been devoted to understanding the nature of listening strategies and how listening strategies used by good listeners can be taught to so-called ineffective listeners. As a result of this line of research, strategy training activities have now become a standard feature of most modern listening coursebooks. However, in this article, we maintain that given the lack of evidence of success with this approach to teaching lower proficiency EFL learners and the fact that strategy training places a heavy burden on teachers, an extensive listening approach in the same vein as an extensive reading approach should be adopted. © The Author 2010. Published by Oxford University Press; all rights reserved.
This book challenges the orthodox approach to the teaching of second language listening, which is based upon the asking and answering of comprehension questions. It critically examines the practices and assumptions associated with this approach and suggests ways of revising them. The book's central argument is that a preoccupation with the notion of 'comprehension' has led teachers to focus on the product of listening in the form of answers to questions, ignoring the listening process itself. The author provides an informed account of the psychological processes whcih make up the skill of listening, and analyss the characteristics of the speech signal from which listeners have to construct a message. Drawing upon this information, the book propsoes a radical alternative to the comprehension approach and provides for intensive small-scale practice in aspects of listening that are perceptually or cognitively demanding for the listener.
This chapter discusses how to teach second or foreign language listening efficiently based on an analysis of the theoretical background and empirical evidence. Firstly some spoken language features are introduced followed by an examination of the previous research on second language listening difficulties. Based on the research findings, a listening lesson designed in a three-phase teaching format is presented, namely pre-listening, while-listening and post-listening. A few activities are suggested for each phase of listening, and finally three outside class listening practice activities are recommended to help ensure the most effective development of second language listening.
This reader-friendly text, firmly grounded in listening theories and supported by recent research findings, offers a comprehensive treatment of concepts and knowledge related to teaching second language (L2) listening, with a particular emphasis on metacognition.
This study examines the approaches considered effective by EFL teachers in solving their learners' major listening difficulties. In-depth semi-structured interviews were adopted to probe into 10 Chinese EFL teachers' beliefs about what they perceived to be effective methods that would assist their students in dealing with their listening difficulties. In the interview, the teachers were asked to identify the main sources of their students' listening difficulties, discuss their preferred approaches to helping their students deal with their listening problems, and describe instructional procedures that would enhance their students' overall listening abilities. The results show that in general these teachers share a preference for a bottom-up approach to teaching L2 listening, stressing the importance of giving priority to developing their students lower level skills such as coping with fast speed and recognizing words in speech. However, differences in opinions are identified among the teachers, especially regarding the degree of importance attached to the teaching of listening strategies. Overall, the results seem to lend support to the argument that enhancing EFL learners' bottom-up processing competence is perhaps the first thing that needs to be addressed to help EFL learners build a solid linguistic foundation before they move on to learning the more advanced listening skills.
This paper contributes to L2 listening pedagogy by exploring listening instruction and examining teachers’ authentic listening lessons. Listening instruction has yet to be investigated systematically, and the literature has typically relied on anecdotal and intuitive accounts of what takes place in listening lessons. Therefore, this paper reports on a practical investigation into listening pedagogy through a review of 30 listening lessons taught and recorded by ten EFL instructors in Japan. Lesson content was transcribed and coded according to a priori categories informed by the literature. These categories included, among others, comprehension questions, bottom-up listening activities, and metacognitive listening strategies. Results revealed some teachers using a range of techniques while others limited their teaching to product-based approaches. The paper provides empirical descriptions of L2 listening instruction in practice and discusses pedagogic implications stemming from the results, including suggestions for how language teachers can expand their repertoires for the teaching of listening.
There are two important dimensions to successful second language learning: what goes on inside the classroom and what goes on outside of the classroom. While language teaching has always been seen as a preparation for out-of-class uses of language, much of the focus in language teaching in the past has typically been on classroom-based language learning. At the same time the limitations of classroom-based learning have been frequently acknowledged. The opportunities for learning or ‘affordances’ available in the classroom are hence quite restricted, consisting of a limited range of discourse and literacy practices. Today, however, the internet, technology and the media, and the use of English in face-to-face as well as virtual social networks provide greater opportunities for meaningful and authentic language use than are available in the classroom. In view of the growing range of opportunities and resources available to support out-of-class learning the paper examines what some of these opportunities are, how they are used, the kinds of learning affordances they provide, and the issues they raise for classroom based teaching as well as second language teacher education.
This is a feature in which individuals are invited to express their personal, and sometimes controversial, views on professional issues. These views are not necessarily those of the Editor, the Editorial Panel, or the Publisher. Reaction to Comment features is especially welcome in the form of a letter to the Editor. © The Author 2010. Published by Oxford University Press; all rights reserved.
In this article, I offer a cognitive perspective on the comprehension problems of second language listeners. I do this by identifying real-time listening difficulties faced by a group of English as a second language (ESL) learners and examining these difficulties within the three-phase model of language comprehension proposed by Anderson (1995, Cognitive Psychology and its Implications, 4th Edition. Freeman, New York). Data were elicited from learners' self-reports through the procedures of learner diaries, small group interviews and immediate retrospective verbalisations. My analysis showed 10 problems which occurred during the cognitive processing phases of perception, parsing and utilisation. Five problems were linked to word recognition and attention failure during perceptual processing. There were also problems related to inefficient parsing and failure to utilise the mental representations of parsed input. A comparison of two groups of learners with different listening abilities showed some similarities in the difficulties experienced, but low ability listeners had more problems with low-level processing. In the last part of the article, I highlight the benefits of researching real-time cognitive constraints during listening and obtaining data through learners' introspection, and offer some practical suggestions for helping learners become better listeners.
Current approaches to teaching listening have tended to emphasize listening for gist, top‐down processing, and listening strategies. These basically focus on teaching students how to cope with authentic language and real‐life situations, as part of the communicative approach. Bottom‐up approaches that focus on word recognition, on the other hand, have been comparatively undervalued. This article therefore describes a technique based on the notion of ‘bottom‐up primacy’ that is nevertheless compatible with current learner‐centred, task‐based teaching. It makes a case for ‘noticing’ as a method of improving listening ability by getting students to discover and then prioritize their own listening difficulties after reconstructing a text.