This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
THE FACULTY OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHER EDUCATION
NGUYỄN THỊ MAI TRANG
STUDENTS’ PERCEIVED DIFFICULITES IN STUDYING ENGLISH LISTENING COMPREHENSION AT PHAM NGU LAO HIGH SCHOOL
SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF BACHELOR OF ARTS (TEFL)
Hanoi, May - 2011
I hereby state that I: Nguyễn Thị Mai Trang from group 071E1- Fast track program, being a candidate for the degree of Bachelor of Arts (TEFL) accept the requirements of the College relating to the
retention and use of Bachelor’s Graduation Paper deposited in the library. In terms of these conditions, I agree that the origin of my paper deposited in the library should be accessible for the purposes of study and research, in accordance with the normal conditions established by the librarian for the care, loan or reproduction of the paper. Signature
Date: 4th May 2011
Firstly, I would like to express my deep sense of gratitude to my supervisor Ms. Nguyen Thu Hien for her great help and guidance throughout the study and beyond, without whom I could not have finished this graduation paper. I am grateful to tenth form students of Pham Ngu Lao high school for their enthusiastic participation. Their thoughtful sharing and complementation immeasurably contributed to the main data of the study. I am also obliged to Vice-headmaster Mr. Nguyen Van Hoang, Ms. Nguyen Thi Hau and other teachers of Pham Ngu Lao high school for their valuable assistance on the process of data collection. Finally, I would like to show appreciation for my family and my friends for their encouragement to help me overcome difficulties to finish this study.
The study is an investigation of what difficulties tenth form students at Pham Ngu Lao high school (PNL high school) face through listening learning process at high school with a review of theory on listening comprehension based on existing research. To address the research problem, the paper used survey method using questionnaires and focus-group interview as the main research instruments to collect data. Brief description on participants’ studying background and their perceived importance of listening skill at high school were provided as well. It is revealed from the study that tenth form students at PNL high school have difficulties related to linguistic, psychology, materials and learning strategies when they study listening skill. Based on the findings and the students’ suggestions, the researcher proposes some
recommendations for teachers and students to solve the problems.
LIST OF FIGURES AND TABLES Pages Chart 1. The most difficult English skill in students' perception Chart 2. The grade point average of English listening skill of tenth form students Table 1. Students’ perceived importance of the English listening skill Table 2. Basic language difficulties perceived by tenth form students Table 3. Learning strategy difficulties perceived by tenth form students Table 4. Physical setting difficulties perceived by tenth form students Table 5. Materials difficulties perceived by tenth form students LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS PNL: Pham Ngu Lao (high school) EFL: English Foreign Language 41 41 33 37 31 25 26
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page Acknowledgements Abstract List of figures and tables List of abbreviations ii iii iv iv
CHAPTER 1 – INTRODUCTION ............................................................... 1 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 2. 2.1. 2.2. 2.2.1. 2.2.2. Statement of the problem and rationale for the study ...................... 1 Aims and Research questions ......................................................... 3 Significance of the study................................................................. 4 Scope of the study .......................................................................... 5 Organization ................................................................................... 5 Listening comprehension in communication process ....................... 7 Communication process ................................................................... 7 Listening comprehension in communication process ....................... 8 Definitions of Listening comprehension .......................................... 8 Features of listening comprehension in communication process ..... 9
CHAPTER 2 - LITERATURE REVIEW ..................................................... 7
2.2.3. Common EFL learners’ perceived difficulties in studying listening ... comprehension.....……………………………………............10 2.2.3a. Basic language problems................................................................. 11 2.2.3b. Physical Setting .............................................................................. 13 2.2.3c. Materials ......................................................................................... 13 2.2.3d. Learning strategies .......................................................................... 15 2.3. 2.4. Previous studies ............................................................................ 17 An overview of Listening comprehension section in English 10 ..... 19
2.4.1. Objectives ....................................................................................... 19 2.4.2. Materials ......................................................................................... 19 CHAPTER 3 - METHODOLOGY ............................................................. 23
3.1. 3.1.1. 3.1.2. 3.2. 3.3. 3.4. 4.1. 4.2. 4.2.1. 4.2.2. 4.2.3.
Selection of subjects ..................................................................... 23 Setting of study ............................................................................. 23 Participants ................................................................................... 23 Research Instrument ..................................................................... 27 Procedure of data collection.......................................................... 29 Procedure of data analysis ............................................................ 30 FINDINGS ................................................................................... 31 IMPLICATIONS .......................................................................... 45 Implications to teachers of English ............................................... 45 Implications to tenth form students ............................................... 46 Implications to Pham Ngu Lao high school .................................. 47
CHAPTER 4- FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION ......................................... 31
CHAPTER 5 – CONCLUSION ................................................................. 49 5.1. SUMMARY OF FINDINGS ............................................................... 49 5.2. LIMITATIONS ................................................................................... 50 5.3. SUGGESTION FOR FURTHER RESEARCH ................................... 50 REFERENCES ........................................................................................... 50 APPENDICES............................................................................................IV
CHAPTER 1 – INTRODUCTION
1. Statement of the problem and rationale for the study As the result of globalization and social development, international communication plays key role in every aspect of life. English, in accordance with that trend, becomes one of the most popular international languages besides Chinese, French or Espanol. Among four skills
facilitating language learning to achieve successful communication, listening skill is the “key role” (Vandergrift, 1999, p.168) but has been neglected for long time. That many people who still consider
communication just talking and speaking urges English foreign learners to acknowledge this skill’ importance. According to Xu (2011), listening was traditionally viewed as as “a passive process, in which our ears were receivers into which information was poured, and all the listeners had to do was passively register the message” (p.161). He also states that today we recognize listening as an ‘active’ process in which listeners are active to listen what speakers are speaking. However, many EFL learners keep under-evaluating the role of listening comprehension. In practical terms, “listening comprehension is of paramount significance” (Xu, 2011, p163). Xu explains that when speaking a language, a learner is active to use his own language; hence, he can manipulate a relatively narrow range of vocabulary to express an idea. Contradictory, when listening to the reply he or she no longer controls the choice of vocabulary. Therefore, the learner must be prepared to comprehend those words that are a part of the speaker’s active vocabulary. As the result, in order to handle a simple conversation, an individual must have “a much broader competency in listening comprehension than in speaking” (Xu, 2011, p.164).
Since the role of listening comprehension in language learning was taken for granted (Oxford, 1993), it has been paid more attention and assumed “greater and greater importance in foreign language classrooms” (Nunan, 1997). As Vandergrift (1999) suggested, listening should be received considerable concern as “the hard work which deserves more analysis and support” (p.168). Recently, teachers and students tend to change their teaching and learning method from grammar-translation to audio-lingual method, which has better environment for enhancing communication skills. Hence, listening skill has emerged as an important component in the process of second language acquisition (Dunkel, 1991; Feyten, 1991) with communicative purposes. The theoretical framework of this thesis will base on and support for the pre-eminence of listening comprehension in communicative language approach, especially in the early stages of language learning. In Vietnam, listening skill has been included in the curricula, along with the change of English 10 textbook for five years. Nevertheless, in many high schools in Vietnam, teaching and learning listening skill have not received adequate attention yet. Consequently, many Vietnamese students still cannot communicate successfully to foreigners even in the simple daily conversation, though they are good students with high marks in the English tests. Among reasons leading to this upsetting fact, the failure to comprehend native speakers’ ideas because of listening comprehension breakdown (Nguyen, 2008). The thesis paper “Students’ perceived difficulties in studying listening comprehension with English 10 textbook at Pham Ngu Lao high school” attempts to investigate problems that tenth form students in
is said to be the most serious reason
a rural area have to deal with when they study listening skill. From the findings, pedagogical recommendations are provided. The study involves the participation of tenth form students from PNL high school. The researcher chose this group of population to do research on because of two reasons. First, at grade 10, students should be raised the awareness in the importance of listening skill, and recognize their difficulties in studying this skill to have timely solutions to their obstacles. Another reason is that there is that PLN high school has a good quality of teaching and learning. However, teachers and students of school focus much more on the scientific subjects such as Maths, Chemistry or Physics and seem to neglect the role of English subject. The opportunities to take part in international contests, to have good jobs in future of students, therefore, are limited because of their limitation in English. 2. Aims and Research questions First and foremost, the study attempts to examine how tenth form students perceive about the importance of listening skill in comparison with other three skills including speaking, writing and reading. The main purpose of the study is to investigate the difficulties during the process of learning listening comprehension with English 10 textbook in students’ perception. Lastly, the study is hope to raise students’ expectation of teachers and educators who have ability to improve the quality of teaching and learning listening skill at high school in Vietnam. With these initial targets, the result, if positive, is expected to raise helpful implications to teachers of English, students and educators as well.
To clarify these aims, the paper answers the following research questions: 1) What is students’ perceived importance of studying listening
comprehension? 2) What are the difficulties perceived by tenth form students at Pham
Ngu Lao high school in studying listening comprehension English 10 textbook? 3) What are suggestions of tenth form students to overcome their
possible difficulties in studying listening skill? 3. Significance of the study In completion, the study could be of considerable assistance for teachers, course administrators as well as researchers working on related fields. First of all, the result of the study is expected to raise the awareness among teachers of English at PNL high school of the students’ perceived difficulties in studying listening skill. Several implications drawn from the research findings, together with students’ expectation may prove helpful to teachers; so that they can take initiatives to exploit suitable methods and to better engage their students in class activities during listening periods. Besides, findings of the research can reveal much insight into the current teaching and learning listening skill at PNL high school. The research findings are expected to play a part in the process of redefining the significance of listening skill taught at high school in Vietnam.
Lastly, this research could offer useful references for further studies on the related topic area. Some students’ suggestions to the textbook could be a valuable source for educators to make some needed change with the text book, then to enhance the efficiency of listening comprehension at the early stage of high school. 4. Scope of the study Firstly, the topic of the study is “listening comprehension” which call for a wide variety of approaches and understandings. However, within the framework of this study, the focus is put on investigating “listening comprehension” which defined profoundly by Clark and Clark (1977, cited in Xu (2011), p.161). They give both a narrow and broad definition:
“Comprehension has two common senses. In its narrow sense it denotes the mental processes by which listeners take in the sounds uttered by a speaker and use them to construct an interpretation of what they think the speaker intended to convey... Comprehension in its broader sense, however, rarely ends here, for listeners normally put the interpretations they have built to work”. (p.161).
Secondly, in the study, the two terms “listening comprehension” and “listening skill” are used as alternative terms. It does not mean that the researcher will cover sub-skills in studying listening such as listening for main ideas, listening for details, etc. 5. Organization
This study includes five chapters: Chapter 1: Introduction - describes the research’s rationale, aims, scope, significance and organization.
Chapter 2: Literature review - lays the theoretical foundation for the research which includes definition of key terms and related studies. Chapter 3: Methodology - describes the methods that have been used to collect data and the procedures of collecting and analyzing data that have been followed by the researchers. Chapter 4: Result analysis and discussion - analyzes collected data and gives the implication and recommendation of the study. Chapter 5: Conclusion – ends the study by summarizing its main points as well as presents the limitations of the study and suggestions for further studies.
CHAPTER 2 - LITERATURE REVIEW 2. 2.1. Listening comprehension in communication process Communication process It is vital to put the process of studying listening skill under the light of communication process because the aim of teaching and learning listening skill is to communicate more successfully, especially with the EFL learners. The communication process is generally recognized as the process of sharing ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc among people. When communicating, we mostly combine numbers of skills such as speaking, listening and observing. With regard to the constructing factors of communication process, Geddes & Strurtridge (1982, cited in Nguyen, 2007) suggests the model of three factors: the encoder, the text and the reader. In different context, the encoder can be the speaker or the writer who presents his message in languages, which they call “the text”. The text then will be decoded by the hearer or reader and communication process finishes. Scholar Schanez (1999) also addresses such model but in different names. He defines the first factor as the sender and the last factor as the receiver. In general, both “the encoder” and “the sender” indicate the person who is sending messages to others. “The text” can be interpreted as the message, which “the sender” wants “the receiver” to understand. “The reader” or “the receiver”, therefore, implies the one who is receiving messages. The communication process is successful when “the receiver” can understand “messages” of “the sender”.
The communication success is contributed by several factors. To the “senders”, they should know how to express and perform their ideas clearly and comprehensibly. To the “receivers”, they must know how to catch these delivered messages. Therefore, among many needed skills such as observing, touching, listening skill can be considered to play the most important role in communication process. 2.2. Listening comprehension in communication process
2.2.1. Definitions of Listening comprehension As previously mentioned in the paper, to understand the transformed message of the sender, the receiver has variety of techniques such as observing, touching, and listening. However, the most common way is through listening. The listening process is often described as an information processing perspective and “an active process in which listeners select and interpret information that comes from auditory and visual clues in order to define what is going on and what the speakers are trying to express” (Thompson and Rubin, 1996, p. 331). In other words, unlike hearing, listening is an active process because listeners actively select what they want to know and interpret the information they get. Most importantly, listeners listen with attention, focusing on the stress, pronunciation as well as intonation of speakers. The acknowledgement on the definition of listening comprehension is important in teaching and studying listening skill in high school, especially at grade tenth, when students are forming their learning strategies. They should be prepared and start listening with clear
attention, i.e. know what they are going to listen to, as well as what clues or details they should pay attention to. In addition, it is essential for language teachers to help their students be aware of the importance of listening skill. Firstly, listening skill provides the foundation for all aspects of language and cognitive development, and it plays a life-long role in the processes of communication. A study by Wilt (1950, cited in Wills, 2008), found that people listen 45 % of the time they spend communicating. This study is still cited by Strother, 1987. That finding confirmed what Rankin discovered in 1928, that people spent 70 % of their waking time communicating and that three-fourths of this time was spent listening and speaking. Secondly, listening provides input for the receivers. Bulletin (1952, cited in Wills, 2008) states that, listening is the fundamental language skill. It is the medium through which people gain a large portion of their education, their information, their understanding of the world and of human affairs, their ideals, sense of values, and their appreciation. In this day of mass communication, “the importance of listening cannot be underestimated; it is imperative that it not be treated trivially in second and foreign language curricula” (Morley, 1991, p. 82). 2.2.2. Features of listening comprehension in communication process Listening comprehension is a complex process that involves different factors. This process has been defined by many researchers. Coakley & Wolin (1986) proposes a theory of five stages of listening comprehension, in which they points out how listeners processed the message that they received. In each stage, there are some factors having great influence on listeners namely vocal message, short9
term memory system, background knowledge, physical and mental states, and linguistic proficiency. Faerch and Kasper (1986) also shared the idea with Coak and Wolin (1986). They identified three internal factors in L2 listeners’ comprehension, including learner’s knowledge of the L2 linguistic code, the degree of sociocultural competence and strategic competence, such as learners’ ability to guess what speakers meant from the context. Thompson and Rubin (1996) synthesized 130 studies and he made a conclusion of five major factors that researchers believed to be the most influential in listening comprehension:
i. text characteristics such as speech rate, pause, stress and rhythm, L1/L2 difference, etc ii. interlocutor characteristics such as gender and language proficiency; iii. task characteristics such as task type; iv. listener characteristics such as language proficiency level, memory, attention, affect, age, gender, learning disability in L1, and background knowledge; and v. process characteristics such as top-down, bottom-up, and parallel processing, listening strategies, and negotiation of comprehensible input. (p.302)
2.2.3. Common EFL learners’ perceived difficulties in studying listening comprehension In general, there are many factors leading to difficulties of EFL learners when they study listening skill. This present paper focuses on the five following factors in order to explore tenth form students’ perceived difficulties. The names of these factors were adapted from Yagang (1993) and Rubin (1994). Five investigated problems presented as follow: Basic language problems
Phonetic barrier Vocabulary obstacle Speech rate barrier Psychology factors and Settings Materials Learning strategies
2.2.3 a. Basic language problems Phonetic barriers At the beginning of English studying process, some students have not mastered the correct pronunciation, especially to distinguish homonyms such as “bad-beg-bag”. Therefore, when they listen to English recordings, it may cause many troubles. In his research, Chen (2005) discovered that some learners face some difficulties in recognizing spoken-word or liking sounds. It is difficult for learners at low-level to identify or differentiate individual sounds in a stream of sounds. Goh (1994, cited in Yousif, 2006) states that students faced problems on recognition of familiar words. Although they are familiar with some words, they are unable to remember their meaning immediately. Hence, phonetic barriers attribute breakdown in listening comprehension. Considerable effort should be put on the teaching and learning pronunciation at high school.
Vocabulary obstacle The shortcoming of English vocabulary is another barrier that
prevents students from listening comprehensively. In listening lessons, students mostly practice listening with audio recordings. Hence, they
cannot see speakers’ body language to predict the meaning of speech. With too few English words recognition, students cannot understand what speakers are talking about. Thus, “a limited vocabulary was considered responsible for comprehension breakdown” (Chen, 2005). Speech rate barrier From the perspective of speech rate barrier, Griffith (1992) stated that “Speech rate” includes “normal rate” (i.e. the rate at which people can usually easily comprehend a text) and “threshold rate” (i.e. the rate at which comprehension begins to decrease rapidly). According to his study, native speakers of English can understand what others are speaking at a normal speech rate of 165 to 180 words per minute (w.p.m.). It is potential evidence found by Griffith (1992) that “speech faster than 200 w.p.m. is hard for lower-intermediate learners to understand” and the ideal speech rate for students of this level to perform best is at 127 w.p.m. (p.201). Hence, the actual speech rate does have influence on the success or failure of listening comprehension. High school students often use audio tapes produced by Vietnamese speakers that accompany their textbooks. The speech rate of listening recordings used for tenth form students is often at “a normal rate”. Therefore, students are given opportunity to practice listening comprehension but not to challenge themselves. However, that normal speech rate cannot be true in the situation of high school students in Vietnam. It questions the researcher whether or not that normal speech rate causes difficulties for tenth students. This issue needs to be investigated.
2.2.3 b. Psychological factors and Settings According to Yagang (1993), the listening comprehension process is also a relatively complex psychological process. In psychology, it is stated that when a person feels nervous or anxious he or she may not be concentrated. When one felt uncomfortable, his or her ability to listen is greatly reduced. In addition, the external surroundings can also interfere to listening process. Students cannot focus on listening and “take their mind off” the content of the listening passage because of noises which may derive from both the background of the recording and the environmental surrounding. Normally, in a class, the surrounding environment is really important in encouraging students. A student will not concentrate or cannot pay attention to listen the recordings if other ones are talking or playing. The poor-quality of equipment is another factor which may causes difficulties to listeners.
2.2.3 c. Materials Materials used for learning listening skill are many types such books, handouts, pictures, supplementary books. Two aspects related to materials the researcher attempts to focus on are the topics of the books and the difficult level of tasks. From the task perspective, Ferris and Tagg (1996) raised the idea that “Academic listening tasks pose formidable challenges for L2 students, even those highly proficient in English (p.133). Xu (2011) agrees that idea and gives further suggestion that listening materials which are either too easy or too difficult can have counterproductive
effect EFL on learners. For the too easy ones, learners cannot make progress in listening practice. however, dealing with difficult tasks can lead to the interest reluctance in listening acquisition of students. According to Chen (2005), the length of sentences or texts may lead to the difficulties of students’ listening comprehension. In his point of view, a long text with too much information can cause students forget the beginning part of the text, which cause the comprehension breakdown. Flowerdew (1995, cited in Ferris and Tagg, 1996) claimed that long texts require students the ability to concentrate on and understand “long stretches of talk” (p.12). This aspect has been studied for a long time. Brindley (1982, p.1, cited in Richards, 1983, p.231) indicated that EFL learners found longer utterance, especially those containing subordinate clauses, “very hard to understand, owing to limitations on short-term memory load”. Besides long texts, he had a further conclusion that students might face the failure to understand questions which required more than a short and concrete answer (i.e. “why” or “how” questions). Obviously, these factors may pose serious obstacles on students at low level of English when studying listening comprehension. The cultural background of textbooks (i.e. themes and topics) can present an obstacle to comprehension because “language is used to express its culture” (Anderson and Lynch, 1988, p.301). Students must have certain background knowledge about the topics involved in their textbook. It is vital to design listening comprehension tasks for 10th form students with suitable and interesting topics. “Suitable” can be understood as “not too difficult” to students’ level; and “Interesting” means that these topics should be concerned by most of the students.
2.2.3. d. Learning strategies In regards to the types of learning strategies, O’Malley and Chamot (1990, cited in Vandergrift, 1999, p.170) classified these strategies based on the cognitive theory and categorized cognitive activity in language learning into two types: metacognitive and cognitive strategies. Metacognitive strategies include “planning, monitoring and evaluating” as their functions are to “oversee, regulate and direct language learning process”. Cognitive strategies are defined as the ways of controlling the material to be learnt or applying a specific technique to the learning task. The third category, socio-affective strategies, aims to describe the learning process in which learners “co-operate” with their classmates or “question” their teachers for explanation. Though there mentioned strategies have enormous impact on enhancing success in second language listening (O’Malley and Chamot et al.), students do not have “innate understanding” of those; hence, it is the responsibility of language teachers to share that knowledge with them, through strategy instructions. Thompson and Rubin (1996, cited in Vandergrift, 1999, p.170) indicated that instruction has great influence on listening performance of university students learning foreign language. They demonstrated that students who received strategy instruction in listening had higher scores than those who received no instruction. Vandergrift (1999) also mentioned the result of O’Malley and Chamot (1990) to support this idea. They stated that strategy instruction could be “effective in enhancing initial learning”, and that “teachers could do more than simply provide comprehension input by pairing strategy instruction in listening tasks”.(p.170).
The involvement of teachers at “pre-listening” and “ postlistening” is really important. Teachers should be aiming in the course, and hence help determine the choice of appropriate methodology and classroom procedures. The basic framework to construct a listening lesson is divided into three stages (cited in ELT methodology 2nd version, p.141) Pre-listening: In pre-listening stage, teachers help their students
prepare to listen to achieve three goals including motivation, contextualization and preparation. Firstly, students should be motivated to listen through interesting activities and tasks prepared by teachers. Secondly, teachers should help students to contextualize and understand the text, topics and the themes as well. Lastly, students are provided with specific vocabulary or expression which may be useful for understanding the recordings. 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 two common forms that post-listening tasks can take. The first one is “reaction to the text”. Discussion as a “response to what they have heard” might be applied to. Another form is “analysis of language”, which involves “focusing students on linguistic features of the text”. Students might have opportunities to develop their knowledge of language such as vocabulary and grammatical structures.
Previous studies Because listening skill is one of the most important skills to make a
good communicator, which people spend approximately 60% of their time listening (Rubin & Thompson, 1994), few studies were carried out to investigate the difficulties in studying listening skill of EFL learners. Yagang (1993) presented the general definition of listening simply that “listening is the ability to identify and understand what others are saying” (p.5). In the listening process, according to him, four main factors which may lead to difficulties for EFL learners the speaker include the message, the listener and the physical setting. He pointed out that many learners find it difficult to deal with the message which its content is not well-organized. When listening, they fail to predict what speakers are going to say in taped message because they are not familiar with “ungrammatical sentences”, “spontaneous topics” or because of taped message. Likewise, they would be challenged when communicating with speakers who may produce redundant utterance or have strange accents. The bigger obtacles might appear if listeners themselves are not master in predicting the information, not familiar with colocation, clichés or different kinds of listening materials. Ferris & Tagg (1996) focused more in academic listening and speaking tasks for ESL students. Through survey conducted with fulltime professors of different colleges and university, Ferris and Tagg analyzed the difficulties of students in studying academic listening. Though students can aware the importance of listening skill, they are quite hesitant and unwilling to participate in class discussions, interact with peers (except for those who speak their native language), or ask
respond to questions. The implications drawn from this study
suggested that teachers should be the ones who help develop the communication strategies and listening strategies of students. Their study is a useful reference for ESL students. However, it would be better if the survey investigated both teachers and students’ opinions. It would be better if students who are in trouble could tell what their difficulties are. Chen (2005) also studied barriers to acquiring listening strategies for EFL learners and suggested some pedagogical implications. The study was conducted based on the report of students of Takming College in Taiwan. His study analyzed seven major categories of learning obstacles including 22 minor groups. They are affective barriers, habitudinal obstacles, learning difficulties related to individual learner’s information processing, English proficiency, and beliefs about listening; problems centering the nature and procedures of strategy use; and the listening materials that learners practiced with. This thorough research can be a useful material in teaching and learning listening comprehension. In Vietnam, teaching and studying listening skill for tenth form students are no longer new or strange because the new English textbook has been used for ten years. It is the fact that listening skill has not received adequate attention and investment. In the article “Sach giao khoa cua thap nien 80” (the textbook of 1980s) which published on website tuoitre.vn, reporter made the judgment on the content of textbook used for high school students. He cited a teacher’ opinion that listening skill was ignored or was not taught in his high school because both teachers and students wanted to focus on examinations which did not include the listening skill test. With not much investment, listening skill still causes many difficulties for students at low-intermediate level.
The present study’s purpose is to obtain information about the listening difficulties experienced by 10th form students of Pham Ngu Lao high school. The study is guided by the following research question: What are the difficulties in studying listening skill perceived tenth form students of Pham Ngu Lao high school? 2.4. An overview of Listening comprehension section in English 10 2.4.1. Objectives The listening comprehension section of “Tieng Anh 10” textbook (English 10) is designed with several passages or conversations, which are related to the topic of each unit according to the objectives, stated at the beginning of the book. The main objective of this section is to help students get familiar with listening skill, correct their pronunciation and grammatical structure mistakes. Moreover, 10th form students will be provided with inputs including vocabulary, grammatical structures and pronunciation for speaking skill via learning listening. The objective of listening section is suitable with the features of listening comprehension in communication process. And if listening skill is successfully taught in high school, starting with 10th form students, it will establish the foundation for students with perfect input to develop their proficiency in English later. 2.4.2. Materials The listening section of English 10 focuses on general interests of life including people, education, technology, travelling, mass media, nature, social life and history. Each unit has a specific topic designed in correlation with the theme of each week. In a forty-five minute period,
students will listen to a recording and do two or three tasks following to check the comprehension. This study’s concern is whether the topics and the tasks are come up with students’ expectation or not. With the data collected from students’ opinions, pedagogical implication for educators and teachers will be suggested. To provide a profound view on “Tieng Anh 10” textbook, the study exploits the book based on the evaluation checklist designed by Peacock (1997). The original checklist was divided into 8 sections and contained 60 items (see appendix II). In consideration of Vietnam context as well as the emphasis on listening section of the book, the researcher decides to leave out a number of items and adjust some others to suit the situation of Vietnam. Section I. General Impression When flick through the book briefly, the book overall appearance is quite attractive and will be appealing to learners with colorful pictures. However, with a more considerate look, the illustration of listening section probably fails to attract tenth form students and motivate them. The pictures designed to illustrate the context of the recordings are not beautiful and mostly depict the picture of countryside schools. The boring decoration may not motivate students in studying. Section IV. Appropriacy In general, the materials, language focus and activities are appropriate for your learners and the textbook also meets the short term goal specific to tenth form students. However, in the long term, listening comprehension section of “Tieng Anh 10” may fail to
stimulate students in applying their knowledge interactively with other skills such as speaking. Section V. Motivation and the Learner Materials used for listening section in the book are not authentic and up-to-date to an acceptable degree. The topics of the textbook use context of village, countryside and sport event that happened long time ago. Therefore, materials used do not arouse intrinsic interest and will not appear interesting to learners. Section VI. Pedagogic Analysis Methodologically the book is in line with current worldwide theories and practices of language learning with three stages: pre-listening, whilelistening and post-listening. Nevertheless, the activities designed for these stages are not varied. Students are normally asked to repeat some words, and answer simple questions related to topics. The balance between listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills development in the book is appropriate to tenth form students and learning situation. The book contains adequate formal learner achievement tests. The textbook has a few activities for communicative interaction and the development of communicative strategies. Students usually do individual work, but not many pair work, group work, and whole-class work. Section VIII. Supplementary Materials
Cassette tapes/CDs are available and of good quality construction. Sound quality of tapes/CDs is good with no hissing, distortion, background noise, or other problems. However, Tapes/CDs do not have a variety of voices and they are native speakers talking at normal speed.
CHAPTER 3 - METHODOLOGY
3.1. Selection of subjects
3.1.1. Setting of study The study was taken at Pham Ngu Lao high school (PNL) Thuy Nguyen district, Hai Phong city. According to the statistics in recent five years of Hai Phong Local education and Training department, the
English scores of PNL high school’s students are at the bottom 10, despite their high scores in other subjects such as Math or Literature. Students of this school is also said to be weak at communicating in English. It inspired the researcher to take an interview with students here to investigate the current issue in studying English at PNL high school. The interview’s result, as predicted, reveals that English training is not strength of this high school because it has just been included in curriculum of school for five years. That a few numbers of students taking the university entrance examination with English tests reveals English subject does not receive adequate recognition, not to mention listening skill which is mostly neglected by EFL learners. 3.1.2. Participants The target population of the study is tenth form students of PNL high school, who are attending school year 2010-2013. The pilot study and the real study were conducted when they were at the end of the second semester in 2011. As freshmen, students were supposed to get familiar with listening skill and face considerable difficulties in studying this skill.
215 tenth form students were chosen as the participants of the study. They were selected because of their average scores in English subject ranking from 5 to 10 in the 10-point grading system. Students whose scores of English are above average are expected to provide adequate and sufficient information about their difficulties in studying listening skill so that the greater precision in term of data collected can be achieved. For a thorough understanding about the participants, the first two questions in questionnaire were designed to determine which language skill is considered the most difficult one among four skills taught at PNL high school, and to estimate student’s English level based on their average scores in English subject . Lastly, most of the students of PNL high school are living in villages of Thuy Nguyen district. At secondary school, they did not have much chance to practice listening skill because of the insufficiency of facilities for practicing listening and qualified teachers of English.
Reading 11% Speaking 16% Listening 54% Writing 19%
Chart 1. The most difficult English skill in students' perception
Chart 1 illustrates that among four English skills taught at Pham Ngu Lao high school, Listening skill was evaluated as the most difficult one which accounted for 54% in total. Other skills such as reading, speaking and writing only made up for 11%, 16% and 19% respectively. Though the pilot interview taken with only one fifth of tenth form students at Pham Ngu Lao high school in total but the statistic could clearly reflect the fact that more than a half of participants recognize that they have difficulties in studying listening comprehension after the semester. The scores of students conveyed their English levels more precisely. The survey was conducted with 215 students whose the grade point average of English subject in the first semester are ranged from 5.0 to over 9.0. It should be noted that this school uses the 10.0 grade system. The proposition of participants’ scores was illustrated in Chart 2.
7% 14% 5.0 - 6.0 41% 6.1 - 7.0 7.1 - 8.0 16% 8.1 - 9.0 > 9.0 22%
Chart 2. The grade point average of English listening skill of tenth form students As can be seen from the chart that the number of students who had grades of English listening skill rank from 5.0 to 6.0 makes up for the highest percentage with 41%. In addition, about 22% of participants’ scores are from 6.1 to 7.0. Proportionally more than 60% of respondents had low scores in English ranking from 5 to 7. And proportionally fewer students achieved higher scores rank from 7.1 to over 9.0, which only account for 37% in total. To some extent, the grade point average of the first semester can reflect the respondents’ level in English listening skill. Although they are considered at the pre-intermediate, the average scores of listening skill shows that they may have some troubles in studying listening comprehension. Among 215 students, 178 respondents (82.79%) have studied English for five years, 19 participants wrote that they have learnt English for four years. The number of students who have studied English for more than 6 six years are only 18 students (8.3%). None of respondents has learnt English for less than 4 years. These statistics
showed that most of tenth form students at Pham Ngu Lao high school have become familiar with four skills in English at least for four years. Therefore, it is assumed that their English level can be rated at preintermediate level. In other words, students at grade ten can listen to simple conversational dialogues; understand short-talks or photo description recordings. Based on the experience as well the scores of students, researcher can come to a general conclusion about students’ English level 3.2. Research Instrument The study employed survey method using questionnaires and focusgroup interview. Firstly, questionnaires were used as the main research instrument because the study aimed to exploit a large number of participants. Therefore, the researcher could collect “a huge amount of information” from students (Dornyei, 2003, p.9). Secondly, according to Rabiee (2004) focus-group interview was able to provide information about a range of ideas and feelings that individuals have about certain issues. Therefore, the two research instruments were made advantage of to collect wide, rich and detailed information of particitpants. a. Questionnaires The questionnaire is constructed based on the theoretical framework of literature review and piloted interview taken with 97 tenth form students at Pham Ngu Lao high school, which aims to investigate the most difficult skill in students’ perception. After receiving contributive comments and suggestion of supervisor, questionnaire was revised and came up with the final version. It was then translated into Vietnamese and piloted with 45 tenth form students of PNL high school. Forty-five
students were asked to freely give comments and feedback on the difficulty, ambiguity level as well as wording of questionnaires. The researcher revised the questionnaire again and finally used it to conduct the survey at Pham Ngu Lao high school with 215 participants. The questionnaire uses the Likert-type scale from 1 to 5. Likerttype, as defined by Arnold, W. E., McCroskey, J. C., & Prichard, S. V. O. (1967), consists of a series of declarative statements. Likert (1932) proposed a summated scale for the assessment of survey respondent’s attitudes. Individual items in Likert’s sample scale had five response alternatives: Strongly approve, Approve, Undecided, Disapprove, and Strongly disapprove. The subject is asked to indicate whether he agrees or disagrees with each statement. In this paper, 1 means Strongly disagree and 5 means Strongly agree. Participants were asked to give their opinions by choosing from 1 to 5. The questionnaire consists of two main parts. In part 1, the researcher aims to discover brief information about participants’ background information, including their scores of English subject and the years they have learnt English. The importance of listening comprehension perceived by students is investigated as well. Part 2 consists of three sections, which are based on the procedure of a listening lesson. The three sections are “Pre-listening”, “Whilelistening” and “Post-listening”. The second part was designed to collect the students’ perceived problems in learning listening comprehension. The content of the questionnaire was concerned with the mentioned theories about common difficulties faced by EFL learners in studying listening comprehension in Literature Review.
The questionnaire was written in English and then translated into Vietnamese when being distributed to students. b. Follow-up Interview The focus-group interviews were conducted following the questionnaire phase with the same number of students. Participants formed into the groups of forty-three students. They were asked to provide in-depth information about their difficulties. Their suggestions to overcome their possible difficulties and their expectations towards teachers and PNL high school were exploited in the interview part as well. Information collected from this stage was made advantage of supporting the analysis of the first two research questions as well as to answer the third one. 3.3. Procedure of data collection The procedure of data collection followed these steps. Firstly, the researcher asked for the permission of PNL high school’s head master, teachers of English and tenth form students to conduct the survey at school. 215 students were chosen thanks to the assistance of PNL high school’s teachers. The questionnaire was then carried out within two weeks. In the first week, there were 100 students answering the questionnaires. 115 other participants took part in the survey in the second week. The questionnaire took place when students had free periods to avoid the interference with their studying process and provide enough time for participants to answer questionnaires carefully. Before students
answered, they were instructed and checked for the understanding about the questionnaire carefully. The researcher was waiting while students were answering the questionnaire to ensure that participants could receive on-time assistance if needed. The follow-up interview was processed after students finished their questionnaires. They are free to raise their opinions about their difficulties. 3.4. Procedure of data analysis After collected, the data will be compiled, coded and analyzed. In this study, descriptive statistics analyses were carried out to understand the variables of data, including frequencies and percentages, graphical display of data, statistic of central tendency (the mean, mode and median) and dispersion. The results of the statistic analysis were presented in this section to investigate the problems in studying listening skill. The questionnaires were computed for means, modes, medians and standard deviation (SD) in order to reveal the English problems perceived by tenth form students at Pham Ngu Lao high school.
CHAPTER 4 - FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION
4.1. FINDINGS This chapter reports the survey findings addressing the three research questions in three parts. The first part reports students’ perceptions of English listening skill (attitude, scores on English subject, etc.) The second part explores their problems (language proficiency, materials, psychology setting factors, etc.). The analysis emphasized on students’ perceptions of English listening skill (attitude, scores on English subject, etc.), their problems (language proficiency, materials, psychology setting factors, etc.) and the suggested solutions they use to try to overcome these problems. 4.1.1. Students’ perceived importance of the English listening skill As illustrated in Table 1, descriptive statistics are presented for the students’ perceived importance of English listening skill.
Students’ perceived importance of English listening skill
Table 1. Students’ perceived importance of English listening skill Mean of the importance is 3.34 which is higher than average of Likert-type rating from 1- Not at all importance to 5 – Extremely important. Moreover, mode and median are equal (=4) and standard deviation is 1.19. These numbers show that most of the students had awareness of the importance of listening comprehension. However, there were still a number of students who did not highly evaluate the role of
listening skill. Besides choosing the most appropriate scale, they were asked to clarify their answers. Most of them did not give extra explanation for their choices, researcher decided to adapt this question in the interview part. When being interviewed, the group of students who highly appreciated the role of this skill reported that listening skill helps them improve their communication skill through complementing their pronunciation and widening their vocabulary. Some of students expected to be more proficiently in listening to English so that they would have chance to talk with foreigners as well as look for a good job in future. Share the quite similar ideas, some students thought listening skill was fairly important to their English study. They did aware the importance of listening skill but assumed that this is the most difficult one among four skills as well. As not being included in the final examinations, listening skill has not paid much consideration by both teachers and students at Pham Ngu Lao high school. Contradictorily, there were seventeen students considered listening skill an unimportant skill. From their points of view, it was too difficult for this group of students to study this skill or to understand what speakers talked in the recordings. Hence, it was no point of studying without understanding anything. These statistics, generally, revealed the truth that some of the students were still unaware of the vital role of listening skill in their English study at high school.
4.1.2. Students’ perceived difficulties in studying listening skill In part II, this paper analyzes the results of the survey in order to discover the difficulties perceived by tenth form students in studying English listening skill. These difficulties are presented as follow.
Basic Language Problems As mentioned in Literature Review, linguistic can be considered the biggest obstacle of most of EFL learners, especially students at lowlevel of English. The following table (Table 2) presents the difficulties in term of language proficiency perceived by students in studying listening skill. By grouping eight related questions in the questionnaires, researcher calculated the mean, mode and median difficulty as well as standard deviation (SD). In this way, we could compare all items individually and in group under the linguistic view.
Items Mean Mode Median SD
Q13. Hard to understand speakers’ strange accents and pronunciations Q14. Unable to catch information because of high speed rate Q10. Unable to catch important and key words to do exercises Q19. Unable to distinguish important words in a connected speech Q20. Find the pronunciation familiar but cannot recognize the words Q12. Do not often pay attention to intonation of speakers Q11. Unable to recognize transitional words
Table 2. Basic language difficulties perceived by tenth form students
As is shown in Table 2, means of the items in groups are higher than the average, which range from 3.19 (Q11) to 3.87 (Q13). These means reveal that participants perceived all mentioned aspect of linguistic as their difficulties. Modes and Medians are mostly in range of 3 to 5 (except for Q11). From which a fact can be drawn that most of students who took part in the survey have difficulties when they study listening comprehension. Furthermore, standard deviation, which shows the dispersion of data, are not too high, rating from 1.1 to 1.4. Hence, the opinions of difference students about the difficulties are quite concentrated and homogenous (not scattered much). Among these difficulties related to linguistic, strange accents and pronunciation of speakers in listening recordings are perceived by the most number of students, whose mean is remarkably high (i.e. mean=3.85). The mode and median are 5 and 4 respectively. With the largest group of students evaluate this difficulty at level 5 and at least half of students choose 4 and 5 for their answers, together with the small standard deviation, it can be confirmed that the majority of students face this obstacles and there is not much significant difference among students’ opinions. The causes of this difficulty are different among students. Some of students firstly said that they were familiar with neither the accents nor the pronunciation of speakers in the recordings because they were different from their teachers’ pronunciations. In class, their teachers of English did not use intonation or stress on words or sentences much. Teachers tried to pronoun words separately and clearly and their intonation seemed to be flat. Secondly, a great number of students shared that their pronunciations were different from the standard pronunciation, just because they lived in a rural area. It is difficult for them to listen to Vietnamese speakers of English not to
mention the native speakers of English. A few participants raised one opinion that some teachers’ pronunciations were not correct.
Consequently, if students imitated their teachers’ pronunciation, they made these pronunciation mistakes as well. Though this idea must be evaluated through observing teachers’ lessons because students themselves might not be qualified to evaluate their teachers, the issue about unqualified teachers still should be taken under consideration. From opinions raised by those students, it can be concluded that sometimes, speakers’ pronunciation are not the main cause of difficulties, but the hindrances come from the listeners themselves whose pronunciations are not good enough to understand the varied types of accents. Other obstacles similarly perceived by many students are “Unable to catch the important key words to do exercises” (Q10) and “Unable to catch information because of high speed rate of recordings” (Q14), which the mean ratings of 3.55 for Q10 and 3.56 for Q14. However, SD of Q10 is slightly smaller than of Q14, thus the dispersion of students’ opinions in Q10 is closer to Mean. It means that a large number of students are able to aware their difficulties. On the other hand, for Q14, because SD is 1.42, the scattered level of students’ opinions about this obstacle is wider. Moreover, the mode of Q10 is just 1.19, smaller than the mode of Q14, which is 5. The two difficulties are related to the amount of information or key words that students were able to catch to do their exercises or at least for comprehension. The first obstacle is the high rate of speed. As previously mentioned, students were familiar with their teachers’ speed which were often slower than the recordings in order to help students have better comprehension. Nevertheless, that
teaching method might lead to students’ difficulties when students had to deal with the high speech rate of speakers in the recordings and in daily conversation. Other reasons for the failure to catch key words in the recordings explained by interviewees were that they did not understand the concept “key words”. In other words, they did not know what types of words in the recording could be recognized as “key words”. Some even could not be able to differentiate words’ types and functions. Those opinions revealed that students’ basic grammatical linguistics were not profound. It would significantly affect on the amount of information they could comprehend. Linguistic factors seemed to have great impact on the amount of listening comprehension. Question 19 and 20 convey that many students could not distinguish words in connected speech and even they found those words’ pronunciation familiar. Means of the two questions are similarly high, which are 3.45 and 3.44. It is understandable because students at low-level may not have much experience in linking sounds. Furthermore, their pronunciation has not mastered and they do not have abundant of vocabulary. Particularly, when asked about whether they could identify the consonants and vowels or not, most of students claimed that they had heard about consonants and vowels but could not differentiate them clearly. As seen in question 11 and question 12, there were many students who claimed that they were unable to recognize additional words, contrast words or transitional devices. Moreover, they do not pay
attention much to speakers’ intonations in the recordings. Though mean ratings for Q11 and Q12 are 3.19 and 3.39, respectively, SDs of two items are quite high in comparison with other items’ (SD (Q11) =1.31 &
SD (Q12) = 1.33). It means that there are a slightly difference in students’ opinions and levels. To conclude, the great number of participants had difficulties in studying listening skill because of linguistic factors including pronunciation, accent, speed or connected speech. Learning strategy difficulties The following table (Table 3) illustrates the difficulties related by tenth form student at PNL high school.
Items Q2. Teachers do not often organize interesting pre-activities related to topics before listening. Q3. I don’t receive clear instructions about recordings and
exercises from teachers. Q7. Teachers do not ask Ss to find and analyze key words and important words in the exercises before listening. Q1. I am not helped to get familiar with topics before listening. Q8. I cannot understand new words in exercises if teachers don’t elicit or explain them to me. Q6. I am not well-prepared before listening. 3.73 5 4 1.25 3.66 5 4 1.14 3.54 3 4 1.13 3.42 4 4 1.27
Items Q26. I have chance to give my opinions and my ideas about what I have learnt in the listening lesson. Q24. Teachers don’t consolidate new language and structures in the recordings after listening. Q22. I cannot answer teachers’ questions
to check the understanding about contents of the recordings after listening. Q25. Teachers don’t organize activities to encourage students to use language and structures after listening such as discussion, debates or role-plays. Q23. Teachers don’t check exercises carefully after listening such as playing the recordings again, stopping at the answers which students are confused and check the understanding of all students in class.
Table 3. Learning strategy difficulties perceived by tenth form students As described in Table 3, the means of learning strategy difficulties range from 3.12 to 3.78. The modes and Medians are close to the Means and most of means are equal or higher than Means. The top five means belong to Questions 22, 8, 6, 25 and 23, which are 3.67, 3.66, 3.73, 3.75
and 3.78, respectively. With the rage from 4 to 5, modes and medians of these items are considered very high. The standard deviations of the difficulties related to learning strategy are quite small and their difference is slightly, which rank from 1.0 to 1.33. The results show that most of students shared the difficulties in learning strategies. Among themselves, there were not much different opinions. Difficulties derived in the postlistening stage were highly perceived by most of students. A closer look of pre-listening stage shows that, students were not motivated by their teachers before listening to the tapes. A great number of students agreed that their teachers did not often organize interesting pre-activities (i.e. warm-up activities) (Q2). Moreover, some teachers did not give clear instructions to their students; help analyze key words as well as get familiar with topics of the recordings. As a result, students claimed that they could not understand new words in the exercises because teachers did not explain to them. Besides, most of them said that they were not well prepared before listening periods. Pre-listening, a vital stage, does not receive sufficient attention and preparation of language teachers at PNL high school. Consequently, at post-listening stage, students complained that they could not answer their teachers questions which aim to check the understanding about the content of recordings (Q22). Mean of Q22 is 3.67, mode and median are equal (=4) and SD is 1.12. Question 24, 25 and question 23 show that teachers of English at Pham Ngu Lao high school did not prepare for post-listening stage carefully. Question 23 has the highest mean (3.78) and the smallest SD (1.0). Most of students shared the same difficulties at the high level. In
fact, if teachers do not have much time left, the activities to enhance students understanding and practice what they have learnt such as debates or discussions can be omitted. However, they also neglect basic steps of a listening lesson that checking exercises thoroughly. The high means, modes and median together with small standard deviations of three questions prove that teachers of English at PNL high school frequently neglected the last stage of the lesson. In conclusion, learning strategies before and after listening are frequently ignored by teachers of PNL high school though at low-level of English, students should be formed the learning strategies in studying listening skill by their teachers of English. The poor investment of teachers might lead to many obstacles for students. Psychological factors and Settings
Psychology of students before listening is another concern of the study. As is shown in table 5, many students admitted that they often keep silent and pay attention to T’s instruction. Mean ratings of Q4 and Q5 are similarly equal with 3.46 and 3.44. But the quite high SDs of Q4 and Q5 show that not all of students kept silent and concentrate to their teachers’ instructions. The difference in students’ opinions reflects that silence and attention in listening periods were not ensured. They can affect greatly on the quality of lessons, not only an individual student but also the whole class. Table 5 also reveals another problem that the mean of students who often feel comfortable and eager to study before every listening lesson is
lower than average (mean=2.62) and the median (2) is smaller than the mean. This shows that most of students fail to find motivation in learning this skill.
Mean Mode Median SD
Q17. I cannot be concentrated on listening to recordings from beginning to the end. Q5.I often pay attention to T’s instructions. Q4. I often keep silent to listen to T’s instructions. Q21. Listening facilities are in good quality. Q9. I often feel comfortable before every listening lesson. Q16. I have not practiced listening skill before. Table 4. Physical setting difficulties perceived by tenth form students From these points, we can see that most of students kept silent in class and paid attention to their teachers’ instructions, but many of them do not feel comfortable before every listening lesson. To explain this complicated psychology, many students shared that they were not interested in studying listening comprehension. They kept silent in class simply because they did not want to be addressed by their teachers. 3.44 3 4 1.25 3.19 3 3 1.25
Because of the noise in classroom and the poorly preparation of psychology, a great number of students claim that they cannot be
concentrated on listening to the recording from beginning to the end (mean= 3.19, SD=1.25). Obviously, the amount of listening
comprehension is influenced by this obstacle. About listening facilities, students mostly give optimistic opinions on the quality of facilities with mean rating of 3.46. Materials difficulties
Q15.The exercises are difficult to me because of tricky and long questions. Q18. I don’t have any background knowledge about the topics in the text book.
Table 5. Materials difficulties perceived by tenth form students The feedback of students for material difficulties, again, is not optimistic. Means of Q15 and Q18 are still higher than average 3, which are 3.19 and 3.46. Modes and medians of two questions are from 3 to 4 which reflects that students frequently find the exercise difficult to do and they are not confident with their background knowledge correlated to topics in the text book. About the exercises, interviewees reported that the information for answers is not in the same order as information in the
recording. Additionally, the types of exercises repeatedly keep the same format in which True-False exercise plays the major proportion. Therefore, if teachers do not instruct some techniques before listening, they cannot do exercises. Moreover, some questions require long responded answers but students cannot remember every detail to fulfill these answers. When asked to give some examples, students refused and said that they don’t remember. Topic of listening lesson is another obstacle in listening comprehension. Many students found that they have little or no background knowledge related to topics in textbook. The topics considered the most difficult and unattractive ones are Unit 3-People’s background, Unit 4- Special education, Unit 10-Conversation and Unit 16-Historical Places. It is suggested by students that these above topics should be replaced or improved to be more interesting.
4.2. SUGGESTIONS OF STUDENTS Focus-group interview collected some suggestions of students to overcome their possible difficulties as follow. Firstly, to deal with unusual pronunciation as well as the strange accents of native speakers in the recordings, students seem to be confused to find their own solution. A great number of students prefer to consult their teachers for assistance. It may be considered the good way if teachers of English are qualified and have correct pronunciation. However, they also complain that their teachers are not always free to assist students’ problems. Hence, they would ask their friends who had high scores in English subjects for help. They further explained that they neither know how to check pronunciation in dictionary nor watch movies or films to improve their pronunciation. Asking friends seemed to be the most common way to solve students’ difficulties. In other aspects such as the shortcomings of vocabulary, background knowledge or exercises, students still preferred their friends’ assistance. Some students said that they were not comfortable to consult their teachers. Lastly, students raised their expectation towards their teachers of English and their school. Participants hoped that their teachers would organize some more interesting activities in class, which might arouse students’ interests and motivation. Students also suggested that teachers could consider adapting more updated recordings and texts and expanding the topics of recordings at the end of lessons. Some ideas were raised that teachers could hold out-door activities for students to complete their English together. For PNL high school, students expected that they would
have one or two English native teachers. Students wanted to communicate with native speakers more.
IMPLICATIONS Based on the findings, Literature and participants’ interviewed
answers, the researcher proposes some suggestion for teachers, students, and Pham Ngu Lao high school for the difficulties in studying listening skill. 4.3.1. Implications to teachers of English Students’ awareness of the importance of the English listening skill and their motivation in studying this skill should be raised by teachers. Teachers are the ones who decide the activities in classroom; meanwhile, choosing appropriate tasks for students influences
significantly on the amount of listening comprehension. The deployment of three steps including pre-listening, while-listening and post-listening is very important. In pre-listening, students’ vocabulary and knowledge on the themes or topics should be enhanced thanks to the teachers’ careful preparation. Moreover, students need to be given clear instruction about the length, genre, requirement of recordings and exercises. Understanding what they are going to listen to, what type of information they should pay attention to is definitely important in the success of listening comprehension. Finally yet importantly, teachers should minimize students’ distraction such as noise control, class management.
After listening, teachers can use post-listening activities to check the comprehension, evaluate listening skills and extend the knowledge gained from the recordings. For instance, teachers play the recordings again and stop at confused answers to help students understand clearly. They also ask students to give clues to support their answers. The postlistening can provide opportunities for students to expand the topics or linguistic items of the recordings such as freely raising their opinions on the topics or practicing with new words and grammatical structures. Extra activities outside the class held by teachers to stimulate students’ interest like discussion, debates or role-play are highly appreciated. Students will be more confident and active in using English outside classroom. The teacher could also collect more information and authentic materials such as English videos and films for students. Furthermore, they should consider the difference in English level of students when adapting materials. 4.3.2. Implications to tenth form students At pre-intermediate level, listening skill benefits students in improving their pronunciation, vocabulary and communication; therefore, students should have a high degree of autonomy in approaching this skill. Widening vocabulary is very important as the limited vocabulary poses difficulties to most of students. Hence, reading English books, articles, magazines and watching English teaching programs on television are learning strategies of some students. It will be more efficient if students can have a habit of checking new words in English dictionary from the beginning of their learning process. According to Vandergift (1999) when students first begin to learn a language, they have
difficulties listening for accurate meaning and learning to produce correct sounds at the same time. Therefore, it will be better if they can get familiar with using English dictionary to look into both meanings and pronunciation of words (p.169). With respect to the difficulty related to pronunciation, it is advisable that students practice listening to native speakers’ voices through English songs, English news or stories which are suitable for their level. 4.3.3. Implications to Pham Ngu Lao high school The first shortcomings of facilities for listening study should be improved in both quality and quantity. It will be better if the school has a multimedia room which is equipped with modern facilities such as computers, loud speakers, objectors. This room can prevent the outside noise as well as provide the best condition for students to practice listening. In school, it can establish the broadcasting station and broadcast some information in English such as some life stories, news from outside world, good personalities and the familiar things with students, etc. In addition, the school can found the English club and hold various outside class activities, which encourage students to use English and interact with each other in English such as group work or pair work. They can arouse interests, widen students’ outlook and intelligence, and cultivate listening and speaking ability. According to investigation, the most popular outside class activity is enjoying English program. If possible, school can adapt some TV programs such as “Who wants to be a millionaire”, “Rings the
golden bell” or “Way to Olympia”. Some English contests such as “Hot singers” is also a good way to increase students’ learning interest.
CHAPTER 5 – CONCLUSION
5.1. SUMMARY OF FINDINGS The paper has explored students’ perceived importance and difficulties of studying English listening comprehension. Linguistic aspects emerged as the biggest difficulties of tenth form students at PNL high school. Among those language factors, phonetic barrier is the one faced by a majority of students. Teaching strategies which have great influence on students’ learning strategies are not received adequate investment of teachers. Consequently, being not well-prepared to listen, psychology of students significantly affect the amount of listening comprehension. Furthermore, some topics and speech rate of recordings challenge students as well. The results of the study also indicate that listening comprehension are put little consideration by both students and teachers of English though it is fundamental to other skills in learning a foreign language. From the outcome of the study, the researcher has provided some suggestions to teaching, learning listening skill at Vietnamese high schools in general, and PLN high school in particular. Listening competence is a complex skill that needs conscious development. Guiding students through the process of listening provides them with the knowledge from which they can successfully complete a listening task; it also motivates them and puts them in control of their learning (Vandergrift, 1999). That students’ perceived importance of English listening skill brings a suggestion for emphasizing listening comprehension, which highlights the importance of spending much more time doing it.
5.2. LIMITATIONS The paper unavoidably has some limitations as followed. Firstly, though much effort was put on looking for a well-designed and widely accepted questionnaire, the questionnaire used in the study was designed by the researcher herself mostly based on Literature review and students’ reflection. However, this questionnaire is still not satisfactory enough in term of covering all issues related to listening comprehension. It would be ideal if the researcher could have more time to have deeper look on the matter and provide with more sufficient ideas from students at Pham Ngu Lao high school. With regard to the limitation of time and scale, the participants of study counted to 215 students, which take up for more than a half of tenth form students at PNL high school. Furthermore, the study was just conducted at a high school of Hai phong city. Hence, the findings of the study cannot be overgeneralized to other schools in Hai phong or widely used over the country. 5.3. SUGGESTION FOR FURTHER RESEARCH After this study, it is hoped that there would be more studies which have larger scales and are processed in longer time in order to discover students’ difficulties in studying listening skill at high schools in Vietnam. Hence, educators in Vietnam may have an overall look on the issues of teaching and learning English of high school students can come up with practical plans to improve the issue. Moreover, the further study can construct a better questionnaire
Anderson, A., & Lynch. (1988). Listening. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p.301. Arnold, W. E., McCroskey, J. C., & Prichard, S. V. O. (1967). The Likerttype scale. Today’s Speech, 15, 31-35 Retrieved from the World Wide http://www.jamescmccroskey.com/publications/25.htm Brindley, G., P. (1982). Listening proficiency Adult Migrant Education Service. Web at Sydney:
Chen, Y. (2005). Barriers to acquiring listening strategies for EFL learners and their pedagogical implications. Retrieved from the World Wide Web at http://www.teslej.org/wordpress/issues/volume8/ej32/ej32a2/ Clark, Herbert H. & Clark, Eve V. (1977). Psychology and Language: An Introduction to Psycholinguistics. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc. Coakley, C., & Wolin, A. (1986). Listening in the native language. In B. H. Wing (Ed.), Listening, reading, and writing: Analysis and application (pp. 11-42). Middlebury, VT: Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Dunkel, P. (1988). Academic Listening and Lecture Note-taking for L1/SL Students: The Need to Investigate the Utility of the Aximos of Good Notetaking. TESL Canada Journal, 6 (1988), 11-26. Feyten, C. M. (1991). The Power of Listening Ability: An Overlooked Dimension in Language Acquisition. The Modern Language Journal 75:173-80. “How to teach listening”. ELT methodology 2nd version. Hanoi: Falculty of English Language Teacher Education, Hanoi University of Languages and International studies-Vietnam National University, Hanoi. Faerch, C. and Kasper, G. (1986). The Role of Comprehension in SLL. Applied Linguistics, 7 (1986), 257-74.
Ferris, D. and Tagg, T. (1996). Academic Listening/Speaking Tasks for ESL students: Problems, Suggestions, and Implications. TESOL QUARTERLY Vol. 30, No. 2, Summer 1996 Flowerdew, J. and Miller, L. "Student Perception, Problems and Strategies in SL Comprehension." Journal of Language Learning and Research in South Asia, 23, No. 2 (1992), 60-80. Griffiths, R. (1992). Speech rate and listening comprehension: Further evidence of the relationship. TESOL Quarterly, 26, 385-91. Geddes, M. & Sturtridge, G. (Eds.). (1982). Individualisation. London: Modern English Publications. Goh, C. (1997). Metacognitive awareness and second language listeners. ELT Journal, 51, 361–369. Likert, R. (1932). A Technique for the Measurement of Attitudes, Archives of Psychology, No.140. Paris: The University of Western Ontario. Morley, J. (1991). Listening comprehension in second/foreign language instruction. In M. Celce-Murcia (Ed.), Teaching English as a second or foreign language (2nd ed., pp. 81-106). New York: Newbury House. Nguyen, T., T., T. (2007). Some hindrances encountered by tenth form students in Hanoi in studying reading comprehension with the new English textbook 10-edition II. Hanoi: Falculty of English Language Teacher Education, Hanoi University of Languages and International studies-Vietnam National University, Hanoi. Nunan, D. (1997). Listening in Language learning. Retrieved on http://www.jalt-publications.org/tlt/files/97/sep/nunan.html O’Malley, J. M., & Chamot, A. U. (1990). Learning strategies in second language acquisition. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. Oxford, R. (1993). Research Update on L2 Listening. System 21:205-11. Peacock (1997). Retrieved May 21, 2009 from http://www.essex.ac.uk/linguistics/pgr/egspll/volumel/PDFs/PEACOCKl. Pdf
Rabiee, F. (2004). Focus-group interview and data analysis.
Proceedings of the Nutrition Society (2004), 63, 655–660
Richards, J. C. (1983). Listening comprehension: Approach, Design, Procedure. TESOL QUARTERLY, Vol. 17, No, 2, June 1983 Sanchez, N. (1999). Communication process. Retrieved on http://web.njit.edu/~lipuma/352comproc/comproc.htm Strother, D. B. (1987). Practical applications of research: on listening. Phi Delta Kappan, 68 (8), April 1987, pp. 625-628. Thompson, I. and J. Rubin (1996): “Can strategy instruction improve listening comprehension?” Foreign Language Annals 29-3, pp. 331342 Vandergrift, L. (1999). Facilitating second language listening comprehension: acquiring successful strategies. ELT Journal, 53(3), 168-176. Wills, R. (2008). An Investigation of Factors Influencing English Listening Comprehension and Possible Measures for Improvement. Australia: University of Tasmania. Wilt, M., E. (1950). A study of teacher awareness of listening as a factor in elementary education. Journal of Educational Research, 43 (8), pp. 626636. Xu, F. (2011). Retrieved February 2011 from www.ccsenet.org/ies International Education Studies Vol. 4, No. 1
Yagang, F. (1993). Listening: Problems and Solutions. English Teaching Forum, January 31 Yousif, A. (2006 ). Listening Comprehension Difficulties. Saudi Arabia: Department of English Language, College of Education, Almajmah.
APPENDIX I – QUESTIONNAIRES AND INTERVIEW
1. Does T help you to get familiar with topics before listening? 2. Does T often organize interesting warm-up activities before listening? 3. Do you receive clear instructions about recordings and exercise from your teachers? Do you need to be instructed carefully? 4. Do you often keep silent to listen to T’s instructions? Do you often pay attention to T’s instructions? 5. Do you think you are prepared well before listening? 6. Do you know what key words are? What types of words we should pay attention to when listening? 7. Does T ask you to find and analyze key words and important words in the exercises before listening? 8. Which aspects of new words (meaning, pronunciation, stress, the way to use that word) that you need your T’s explanation? 9. Do you feel comfortable before every listening lesson? Why and Why not? 10. Which factors of linguistic do you find difficult the most (pronunciation, vocabulary, speech rate)? 11. If you have any difficulty in studying listening skill, please specify your solutions to overcome these obstacles: a. Vocabulary limitation: b. Unfamiliar speakers’ accents and intonations: c. Pronunciations d. Lack of background knowledge: e. Difficult questions in listening exercises 12. What are your expectations towards your teachers in improving listening competence for students?
13. What are your expectations towards your teachers in improving listening competence for students?
I am Nguyen Thi Mai Trang from E1K41, ULIS,VNU. This survey intends to find out the difficulties in studying listening skill of 10th form students at Pham Ngu Lao high school. I would like to ask you to answer these following questions. Your cooperation is highly appreciated. The information you provide will be guaranteed and kept in secret. The survey contains three parts: Part 1_General information & Students’ perceived importance of listening skill Part 2_ Students perceived difficulties PART I_GENERAL INFORMATION & STUDENTS’ PERCEIVED IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING SKILL #1. How long have you been studying English? ……………years #2. What is your average score of English subjects at secondary school? #3. How do you evaluate the importance of listening skill? Please choose an appropriate number on the following scale: Not at all important 1. Please specify your choice ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… PART 2_STUDENTS’ PERCEIVED DIFFICULTIES Please answer the following questions by using a tick on the appropriate number:
1. Strongly disagree 5. Strongly agree
5. Extremely important
Section 1: Pre-listening
1. I am not helped to get familiar with topics before listening.
2. Teachers do not often organize interesting pre-activities related to topics before listening. 3. I do not receive clear instructions about recordings and exercises from teachers. 4. I often keep silent to listen to T’s instructions. 5. I often pay attention to T’s instructions. 6. I am not well-prepared before listening. 7. Teachers do not ask Ss to find and analyze key words and important words in the exercises before listening.
8. I cannot understand new words in exercises if teachers don’t elicit or explain them to me. 9. I often feel comfortable before every listening lesson 1 2 3 4 5
Section 2- While listening
10. I am unable to catch important and key words to do exercises 11. I am unable to recognize transitional words 12. I do not often pay attention to intonation of speakers to understand their emotion or attitudes. ii
13. I hardly understand speakers’ strange accents and pronunciations
14. I am unable to catch information because of high speed rate. 15. The exercises are difficult to me because of tricky and long questions. 16. I have not practiced listening skill before. 17. I cannot be concentrated on listening to recordings from beginning to the end. 18. I do not have any background knowledge about the topics in the textbook. 19. I am unable to distinguish important words in a connected speech.
20. I find the pronunciation familiar but cannot recognize the words.
21. Listening facilities are in good quality. 1 2 3 4 5
Section 3- Post listening 22. I cannot answer teachers’ questions which check the understanding about contents of the recordings after listening. 23. Teachers do not check and correct exercises carefully after listening such as playing the recordings again, stopping at the answers which students are confused and check the understanding of all students in class. 24. Teachers do not consolidate new language and structures in the recordings after listening. 25. Teachers do not organize activities to encourage students using language and structures after listening such as discussion, debates or role-plays. 26. I have chance to give my opinions and my ideas about what I have learnt in the listening lesson.
Thanks for your cooperation! iii
APPENDIX II The original coursebook evaluation checklist The following is the coursebook evaluation checklist designed by Peacock, retrieved May 21, 2009 from
The items that our group has changed or adjusted are highlighted. COURSBOOK EVALUATION CHECKLIST This checklist is designed for evaluating coursebooks used for teaching English as a Foreign Language to beginning to upper intermediate level adult learners. Name of evaluator........................................................................ Title of coursebook ...................................................................... Publisher ................................................................................ Date of publication....................................................................... Stated level of learners ................................................................ Cost of student’s book ................................................................. Cost of teacher’s book ................................................................. Cost of cassette tapes ................................................................... Is book now available (Yes/No) ........................................................ If No, when will it be available?.................................................. This checklist is designed to produce a score for any coursebook evaluated. Scores are not explained in absolute terms but can be used for comparison if more than one coursebook is evaluated. Rate the criteria below numerically on a scale from 0 to 2 in the blank space before each one, as follows: 2 = Good
1 = Satisfactory 0 = Poor. The scoring table is given at the end of the checklist. Section I. General Impression ( ) 1. Flick through the book briefly. The overall appearance is attractive and will be appealing to learners. ( ) 2. Overall, the book appears to be up-to-date. ( ) 3. The book’s description of itself appears to match the contents. Section II. Technical Quality ( ) 4. The book is durable, with a strong cover, and is printed on good quality paper. ( ) 5. The printing and illustrations are of high quality and the book has an attractive layout, without densely cluttered pages. It has been well edited. ( ) 6. Colour is used but not to a distracting extent. Section III. Cultural Differences ( ) 7. Any cultural bias in the book is restricted to a degree acceptable to your learners. ( ) 8. (Teaching in a non-Western culture) Cultures other than Western or American are also portrayed in the book. ( ) 9. The cultural tone overall is appropriate for use in your setting. Section IV. Appropriacy ( ) 10. The materials, language focus and activities are in general appropriate for your learners.
( ) 11. The coursebook will meet the long and short term goals specific to your learners. ( ) 12. Learners are not asked to perform roles or activities unacceptable in your setting. ( ) 13. The activities are adaptable to personal learning and teaching styles. Section V. Motivation and the Learner ( ) 14. Materials used in the book are authentic and up-to-date to an acceptable degree. ( ) 15. Materials used have intrinsic interest and will appear relevant and interesting to learners. ( ) 16. Materials with variety and pace are used. ( ) 17. Personal involvement of learners in encouraged. ( ) 18. The book encourages learners to assume responsibility for their own learning. ( ) 19. There is a problem-solving and competitive element. ( ) 20. The book exploits the social nature of classrooms. Section VI. Pedagogic Analysis ( ) 21. Methodologically the book is in line with your school’s approach to language learning. ( ) 22. Methodologically the book is in line with current worldwide theories and practices of language learning. ( ) 23. Pronunciation: there is sufficient work on recognition and production of individual sounds.
( ) 24. Pronunciation: there is sufficient work on recognition and production of stress patterns and intonation. ( ) 25. The balance between listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills development in the book is appropriate to your particular learners and learning situation. ( ) 26. Skills integration is given sufficient attention. ( ) 27. The development of discourse and fluency skills is given sufficient attention. ( ) 28. The book contains adequate formal learner achievement tests. ( ) 29. There are activities for communicative interaction and the development of communicative strategies. ( ) 30. The balance between individual work, pairwork, groupwork, and whole-class work in the book is appropriate for your particular learning situation. ( ) 31. One goal of the book is enabling learners to use English outside the classroom situation. ( ) 32. New structures are presented systematically and in a meaningful context. ( ) 33. New items receive sufficient and varied practice. ( ) 34. The meaning of new vocabulary is presented in context. ( ) 35. The grading of new items is not too steep or to gentle for your learners. ( ) 36. In general the activities in the book are neither too difficult nor too easy for your learners. ( ) 37. The book is sufficiently challenging to learners. ( ) 38. There are mechanisms for giving regular feedback to learners.
( ) 39. Units are not based around a storyline which may force the teacher to use every unit in sequence. ( ) 40. There is variety in the makeup of individual units. ( ) 41. Useful guidance is given to learners on correct use of the book. ( ) 42. The style of speech and texts used is appropriate for our learners. ( ) 43. There is provision for the book to be used for self-study by lone learners. ( ) 44. New items are reviewed and recycled throughout the book. ( ) 45. The book matches the syllabus of your school to a sufficient extent. Section VII. Finding Your Way Through the Student’s Book ( ) 46. There is an adequate contents page. ( ) 47. There is a comprehensive index. ( ) 48. There is a complete summary of functions. ( ) 49. There is a summary of new and reviewed grammar. ( ) 50. There is a list of topics used in the book. ( ) 51. There is a list of new vocabulary. ( ) 52. If tapes are used, there is a transcript in the student’s and/ or teacher’s book. ( ) 53. Sufficient guidance is given for the needs of both experienced and inexperienced teachers. Section VIII. Supplementary Materials ( ) 54. A teacher’s book is available and it gives useful and complete guidance, along with alternative activities. ( ) 55. A workbook is available and it contains appropriate supplementary activities.
( ) 56. Cassette tapes are of good quality construction. ( ) 57. Sound quality of tapes is good with no hissing, distortion, background noise, or other problems. ( ) 58. Tapes have a variety of voices and they are native speakers talking at normal speed. ( ) 59. If the book is part of a series, other books in the series are also suitable for use in your school. ( ) 60. The coursebook, teacher’s book, tapes and workbook are not prohibitively expensive for your students/school. What materials or activities are missing from the book which should be included? ..................................................................................................................... What helpful ways of learning are missing from the book which should be included? ..................................................................................................................... Other comments: .................................................................................. Summation:- ...................................................................................... Evaluator’s Signature......................................................Date: ……/……/…….. SCORING TABLE There are 60 items on the checklist, with 2 points possible for each item. Items should be weighted before using the checklist to reflect their relative importance in your teaching situation. Scoring procedure:
(a) (b) (c) (d)
Enter the desired weightings in the ‘weight’ column. Enter the score you gave for each item. Multiply each score by its weighting factor. Add up the totals to get the final score.
IT EM 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30.
SCOR EX X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
WEIGH = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
ITE M 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60.
SCORE WEIGHT X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
TOTAL = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
TOTAL SCORE FOR THE COURSEBOOK ...................................... Note: The coursebook should be reassessed periodically in the light of the results of learner achievement tests and learner and teacher judgments.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.