An investigation into difficulties in learning English listeing skill at Tan Ky high school

  • Số trang: 92 |
  • Loại file: DOC |
  • Lượt xem: 164 |
  • Lượt tải: 0
minhtuan

Đã đăng 15929 tài liệu

Mô tả:

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING VINH UNIVERSITY NGUYỄN THỊ THUẦN AN INVESTIGATION INTO DIFFICULTIES IN LEARNING ENGLISH LISTENING SKILL AT TANKY HIGH SCHOOL MASTER’S THESIS IN EDUCATION Nghệ An, 2014STATEMENT OF AUTHORSHIP I hereby certify that the thesis entitled AN INVESTIGATION INTO DIFFICULTIES IN LEARNING ENGLISH LISTENING SKILL AT TAN KY HIGH SCHOOL i is the result of my own research for the Degree of Master of Education at Vinh University. I confirm that this thesis has not been submitted for any other degrees. Author Nguyễn Thị Thuần ABSTRACT Listening skill is one of the most necessary skills to communicate in the real life. In learning a foreign language, it is more and more important to learn this skill. Everybody knows that in order to listen to a message is not as simple as hearing it, so the listener has to understand the message and responde in the right manner. Realizing the problems from teaching experiences, the author would like to do a research titled An investigation into difficulties in learning English listening skill at ii Tan Ky high school. The thesis study the subjective and objective difficulties of the students in learning the listening skill. Then, it would like to find out the reasons for those problems and the sollutions for both teachers and learners in teaching and learning the listening skill. Therefore, the author applied the qualitative method and descriptive method to do the research. So the collecting data instruments like questionnaires was used to do the study. The results of the research point out the difficulties that students meet when they learn the listening skill in the Tan Ky high school. More importantly, it helps the author find out the causes of those difficulties so that she can work out the right solutions to the problems. With the hope of improving students’ listening competence, the author has tried her best to do this thesis on her own experiences and knowledge in English teaching methodology. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS My MA graduation thesis has been completed with a lot of encouragement and support from my teachers, students, colleagues and family. I would like to express my deep great thank to my supervisor, Assoc.Prof. Dr. Ngo Dinh Phuong, for his indispensable and useful advice, suggestions and support for this thesis. And I wish to thank many teachers for having taught me the iii subjects in the MA TESOL course carefully and given me lots of useful advice so that I could get more background knowledge to complete this thesis. I also wish to send my sincere thanks to the students of the classes I visited in order to gather information for my survey questionnaire. Without their help, this study could not have been successful. I am indebted to my friends, my classmates, as well as my colleagues for their invaluable comments and criticism and also for their continued interest and encouragement. Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to family members whose support and encouragement greatly contributed to the completion of my study. LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS EFL: English as Foreign Language FL: foreign language GE: General English L1: first language iv L2: second language LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES Table 4.1. Students’ attitudes towards English listening......................................... 35 Table 4.2. The difficulties in terms of English vocabulary..................................... 37 Table 4.3. The difficulties in terms of grammar..................................................... 38 Table 4.4. The difficulties related to lack of background knowledge......................40 Table 4.5. The difficulties due to lack of listening skills......................................... 41 Table 4.6. Rank order of difficulties in English listening........................................ 42 v Table 4.7. Students’ views of sources of difficulties............................................... 43 Table 4.8. The students’ needs for English listening materials and equipment.......49 Table 4.9. The students’ needs for teachers’ methodology..................................... 50 Figure 4.1. Students’ attitudes towards English listening........................................ 36 Figure 4.2. Causes of difficulties from materials..................................................... 44 Figure 4.3. Causes of difficulties from teachers...................................................... 45 Figure 4.4. Causes of difficulties from students...................................................... 46 Figure 4.5. Causes of difficulties from the physical setting..................................... 47 vi TABLE OF CONTENTS STATEMENT OF AUTHORSHIP.........................................................................i ABSTRACT.............................................................................................................ii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS...................................................................................iii LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS................................................................................iv LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES.......................................................................v TABLE OF CONTENTS.......................................................................................vi CHAPTER 1:INTRODUCTION...........................................................................1 1.1. Rationale............................................................................................................. 1 1.2.The aim of the study............................................................................................2 1.3.Research questions..............................................................................................3 1.4.The scope of the study.........................................................................................3 1.5. The organization of the study.............................................................................3 CHAPTER 2:THEORETICAL BACKGROUND AND LITERATURE REVIEW.................................................................................................................. 5 2.1. Previous students related to the topic..................................................................5 2.2. Theoretical background......................................................................................8 2.2.1. Listening and listening comprehension............................................................8 2.2.1.1. Definition of listening...................................................................................8 2.2.1.2. The Importance of Listening Skills...............................................................9 2.2.1.3.Types of listening........................................................................................10 2.2.1.4. Factors involved in listening comprehension..............................................12 2.2.2. Listening difficulties for students at high schools..........................................14 2.2.2.1. Linguistics problem....................................................................................14 2.2.2.2. Listening skill problems.............................................................................14 2.2.2.3. Other difficulties.........................................................................................16 2.2.3. Causes of difficulties in L2 listening.............................................................17 2.2.3.1. Low motivation..........................................................................................17 2.2.3.2. Insufficient listening skill...........................................................................18 vii 2.2.3.3. Lack of background knowledge..................................................................21 2.2.3.4. Listening material.......................................................................................22 2.2.3.5. Teaching methods.......................................................................................23 2.2.3.6. Heterogeneous classes................................................................................23 2.2.4. Overview of the “Tieng Anh 11” Textbook...................................................25 2.2.4.1. General Description....................................................................................25 2.2.4.2. Objectives and Approaches to the Textbook Development........................25 2.2.4.3. Teaching Approaches of the “Tieng Anh 11” Textbook.............................26 2.2.5. Summary.......................................................................................................27 CHAPTER 3:METHODOLOGY.........................................................................29 3.1. Research questions...........................................................................................29 3.2. The setting of the study....................................................................................29 3.2.1. The institution................................................................................................29 3.2.2. The students...................................................................................................30 3.2.3. The teachers...................................................................................................30 3.3. The participants................................................................................................31 3.4. Data collection instrument................................................................................31 3.5. Data collection procedure.................................................................................33 3.6. Data analysis.....................................................................................................33 CHAPTER 4: FINDINGS AND DISCUSSIONS................................................34 4.1. Overview..........................................................................................................34 4.2. Findings and discussions..................................................................................34 4.2.1. Students' attitudes towards learning English listening...................................34 4.2.2. Students' perception of English listening difficulties.....................................36 4.2.2.1. Difficulties with vocabulary.......................................................................36 4.2.2.2. Difficulties with Grammar..........................................................................37 4.2.2.3. Difficulties related to Lack of Background Knowledge..............................39 4.2.2.4. Difficulties due to Lack of Listening Skills................................................40 4.2.2.5. Rank order of English listening difficulties................................................41 viii 4.2.3. Causes of difficulties.....................................................................................42 4.2.3.1. The listening materials................................................................................43 4.2.3.2. The teachers................................................................................................44 4.2.3.3. The students................................................................................................45 4.2.3.4. The physical setting....................................................................................46 4.2.4. The students’ expectation in terms of materials.............................................47 4.2.5. The students’ expectation in terms of methodology......................................48 4.3. Sub- conclusion................................................................................................50 4.4. Suggested solutions to learn English listening skills at Tan Ky high school.....50 4.4.1. Increasing students’ listening interest and motivation...................................51 4.4.1.1. Making English listening interesting..........................................................51 4.4.1.2. Using visual aids in teaching listening........................................................52 4.4.2. Raising students’ awareness of the usefulness of English..............................54 4.4.3. Training students to become efficient listeners..............................................54 4.4.3.1. Making students aware of the nature of the listeninging process................54 4.4.3.2. Making students aware of the purposes of listening...................................54 4.4.3.3. Teaching students different listening strategies...........................................55 4.4.3.4. Encouraging students to develop extensive listening habit.........................56 4.4.4. Improving teachers’ classroom techniques and subject background knowledge.....56 4.4.4.1. Suggested Activities for English listening..................................................56 4.4.4.2. Improving teachers’ professional knowledge..............................................62 4.5. Summary........................................................................................................... 62 CHAPTER 5:CONCLUSION..............................................................................63 5.1. Summary of the findings..................................................................................63 5.2. Limitations of the study and suggestions for further study...............................63 5.3. Suggested further research................................................................................64 REFERENCES......................................................................................................65 APPENDIX A. .....................................................................................................69 APPENDIX B........................................................................................................76 ix Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION 1.1. Rationale No one can deny the importance of listening skills in foreign language learning because the key to acquire a language is to receive language input. Krashen, Terrell, Ehrman, & Herzog (1984) claim that acquisition takes place only when students absorb enough comprehensible input. The same claim was supported by Rost (1994) who confirmed that listening is vital in language classrooms because it provides input for learners. As an input skill, listening plays a crucial role in students’ languagedevelopment. Krashen (1985) argues that people acquire language by understanding the linguistic information they hear. Thus language acquisition is achieved mainly through receiving understandable input and listening ability is the critical component in achieving understandable language input. Without understanding inputs at the right level, any kind of learning simply cannot occur. Thus listening is a fundamental language skill, and as such it merits a critical priority among the four skill areas for language students. As an English teacher, with her own knowledge and experience in teaching, the author finds interested in studying the difficulties in learning the listening skill in English. She would like to present the thesis “An investigation into difficulties in learning English listening skills at TanKy high school". She chooses this matter due to the following reasons. First of all, listening is the most important skill in communication in the real life. Listening and speaking are two major parts of communication. They are closely interdependent. We are only able to talk sensibly when we understand what is said to us. If we fail to understand spoken language, we may miss important information and respond in a funny way. Moreover, in learning a language, listening is a useful means of providing learners with comprehensible input, which is an essential component of the whole language learning process. And teaching listening skill in classroom helps learners make transition from 1 classroom English to real- life English more easily and effectively. Therefore, the author would like to do this research so as to help teachers and learners pay more attention to this skill. Secondly, learning listening skill is the most difficult in learning a foreign language. Listening, like reading, is a receptive skill but it is often the most daunting for learners. When reading, a reader usually has more opportunities to refer back to the text to clarify understanding, which a listener cannot do in most listening contexts such as TV programs, meetings, discussions, lectures or conversations. As Harmer said: Whereas the written word stays on the page and can be looked at more than once, the spoken word, unless recorded on tape or record cannot be repeated. Of course in a conversation it is possible to ask someone to say something again, but the fact remains that while a reader can look back at something as many times as he wants, the listener cannot. (Harmer, 1991) What is more, in teaching and learning English listening skill in Vietnam in general and in TanKy in particular, teachers and learners cope with a lot of problems and difficulties because of both objective and subjective reasons. Thus, the author chooses this topic to point out the main difficulties which the learners have met and to find the reasons for them. The last but not least reason for choosing this thesis title is that many learners are not interested in learning the listening skill. They find listening classes boring. On the other hand, practicing listening skill is difficult and it takes long time. It is necessary for teachers to foster the passion for regular listening and to cater for some learners’ need to listen for relaxation and pleasure. That is the reason the author would like to work out some suggestions so as to help teachers motivate their learners to study listening skill more excited and better. 2 1.2. The aim of the study The study is done with the following aims: Firstly, most students find it difficult to learn listening skill so the author of the study would like to find the common difficulties that the learners face when they learn English listening skill at Tan Ky high school. Secondly, the study is carried out in order to survey the real state of learning English listening skills at Tan Ky high school so that we could work out the reasons for those difficulties. Finally, because of the difficulties, many learners are not interested in learning and practicing this skill at the language class, therefore the study would like to suggest some possible solutions to those difficulties. They will be very helpful for the teachers of English at Tan Ky high school, as well as for teachers in other high schools, to motivate their learners in listening classes. These suggestions also wish to help the learners catch up with the speed of a normal conversation in the real life so that they can improve their communication competence. 1.3. Research questions The thesis mainly focuses on answering the three following research questions: 1. What are the students’ difficulties in learning English listening at Tan Ky high school? 2. What are the causes of those difficulties ? 3. What are the possible pedagogical implications that can help to reduce those difficulties ? 3 1.4. The scope of the study The study is a survey which focuses on the identification of the listening difficulties that students of Tan Ky high school encountered with according to their opinions as well as some suggested solutions to help them deal with those problems. 1.5. The organization of the study The research consists of the following chapters: Chapter 1: Introduction This chapter deals with rationale, the aims, the research questions, the scope, the method and the organization of the study. Chapter 2: Theoretical background and Literature review This chapter provide an in-depth review of the previous studies of the issues of teaching and learning English listening skills. It then presents the nature of teaching listening such as definitions of listening, the importance of listening skills, types of listening, factors involved in listening comprehension, Listening difficulties for students at high schools, causes of difficulties in second language listening. Additionally, it gives out an overview of the "Tieng Anh 11" textbook. Chapter 3: Research design and Methodology This chapter present research approach, subjects, data collection instruments and research procedures, data analysis and reliability and validity. Chapter 4: Findings and Discussion This chapter summarize major findings of the study, suggest some implications or recommendations for teachers and learners when teaching and learning listening skills at Tan Ky high school. Chapter 5: Conclusion This chapter summarize what have been done in the research, some limitations of the study and suggestions for further study and suggested further research. 4 Chapter 2 THEORETICAL BACKGROUND AND LITERATURE REVIEW 2.1. Previous studies related to the topic It can be said that listening is one of the most challenging skills for both EFL teachers and learners. Therefore, more and more studies of the issues of teaching and learning this kill have been particularly concerned by a lot of researchers and educators. Yagang (1993) pointed out four major factors that made listening difficult to learners such as the message, the speaker, the listener and the physical setting. He also suggested some solutions to these problems so that EFL teachers could provide their students with suitable listening materials, background and linguistic knowledge, comfortable classroom conditions, enabling skills and useful drills to encourage them to obtain effective listening strategies. Olaofe (1994) studied teaching listening comprehension in large classes. He believed that students could get a lot even under these conditions. In his viewpoint, it was possible to create an interactive learning environment in large listening 5 classes. In this case, the only solution is to work in groups in which all the learners should attempt to do the task individually before getting involved in groupdiscussion. During group reports and presentations, practice in note-taking was emphasized and the whole class participation enhanced. As a result, the usual rowdiness accompanying group presentation is considerably reduced. Jian (2005) paid much attention to teaching listening in a communicative classroom. She showed the disadvantages of traditional listening teaching and discovered some communicative ways to teach listening from her experience. In the traditional classes, teachers act as “a tape-recorder player” and students are “passive listeners”. In contrast, in the communicative classes, students are given a real communicative environment with a variety of listening tasks, materials and listening strategies so that they can become more active and skillful in listening. Therefore, the Communicative Language Teaching requires teachers to eradicate the traditional image of recording players and equip themselves with more knowledge and skills. Djiwandono (2006) indicated a technique for teaching listening comprehension that is a combination of cooperative and stragic learning. Students are required to work in pairs or in small groups and then cooperate in comprehending the message of a recorded speech by using listening strategies. This technique helps teachers create a positive classroom atmosphere as well as promotes interaction among students. The above foreign studies, to some extent, have significantly contributed to teaching and learning listening skill. In Vietnam, this issue has also been received much attention via various studies by teachers and educators. It proves that teaching listening skills for Vietnamese learners has become an integral part in the trend of globalization. So far, there have been many researches related to this field. Le Thi Xuan Anh (2001) revealed that “Listening Strategies” were unconsciously used by Vietnamese students at tertiary level. She realized a relationship between the learners’ listening abilities and their strategy choice. The better listeners seem to employ listening strategies more often than the worse ones. 6 Pham Thanh Vinh (2002) investigated the difficulties in listening faced by first-year students of English at Da Nang College of Education. The author discovered four main types of problems that should be taken into careful consideration such as problems in linguistic features, problems in retrieving information, problems in catching the main information and problems in note-taking while listening. Phung Thi Hoai Thu (2008) examined listening difficulties perceived by teachers and students in using the new English textbook for grade 10 at Que Vo II upper-secondary school in Bac Ninh. Teachers encountered the obstacles such as the lack of well-equipped facilities, unfamiliar listening teaching methods, inexperience in teaching listening methodology and approaches. Furthermore, students’ low levels of proficiency in terms of vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, skills as well as learning habits were the reasons why students found it difficult and tough to listen to and they were not confident enough to do listening tasks successfully. Hence, there was a must to create better suitable teaching methods and strategies that could facilitate the effectiveness of listening lessons. Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan (2011) kept on studying the difficulties in teaching listening comprehension in the course book “Head for Business” to the second-year students at Economics Department, Hanoi Open University. She pointed out the challenges that listening teachers often face when teaching the listening comprehension part of the course book such as the lack of academic training for teachers, students’ mixed abilities and passive learning habits, poor facility of teaching and learning, time allocation for listening comprehension as well as characteristics of the listening comprehension. The research also suggested some solutions to improve the efficiency of the listening comprehension. Nguyen Thi Thanh Huyen (2010) suggested using songs as a supplementary material in teaching listening for the first-year non-major students of English at Phuong Dong University in Hanoi in order to erase their prejudice against listening skill, evoke their like and improve the students’ listening state. 7 Do Van Hoa (2010) proposed that the third-year students at Hong Duc University in Thanh Hoa province could improve listening skills through portfolio. The study emphasized the importance of portfolios to the students' self- study in general and the listening skills in particular. Pedagogically, the findings of the study were believed to be useful for teachers to be aware of the essential role of portfolios to the students' self- study in the listening skills. In summary, it can be seen from the above review that researchers focused on studying either the general principles for teaching listening skills or the problems faced by learners in learning listening and suggested solutions to improve their listening skill. Besides, their research subjects were mainly students at the tertiary level, not high school students. On the contrary, this study emphasizes the problems faced by Vietnamese high school teachers in teaching listening and their solutions. 2.2. Theoretical background 2.2.1. Listening and listening comprehension 2.2.1.1. Definition of listening It is thought that listening plays an important role in the process of acquiring a language. However, different scholars defined this concept differently. Listening is theoretically considered as a process in which individuals concentrate on selected area of aural input, construct meaning from passages, and relate what they hear to existing knowledge (O’Malley, Chamot and Kupper (1989)). Rost (1994) states that listening is a complex process which enables us to comprehend spoken message. Anderson and Lynch (1988) define listening as “the means to immediate oral production, the imitation of spoken forms”. Listeners hear the input as well as actively process the message to comprehend. The objective of listening comprehension is that the learners are able to talk and write about what they have heard after listening. The term “active model builder” is used to refer to the listeners’ language; they have to build their own “coherent interpretation” of spoken 8 language. The authors emphasize that the “mental model” which is built as a representation of a spoken message is the result of our combining the new information in what we just heard with our previous knowledge and experience. Buck (2001, p.31) points out that listening is an active process of constructing meaning by utilizing knowledge to the incoming sound in which both linguistic and non-linguistic knowledge are involved. He indicates that “comprehension is affected by a wide range of variables, and that potentially any characteristic of the speaker, the situation or the listener can affect the comprehension of the message”. In short, it can be said that listening is a language skill involving a wide range of “sub-skills”. It is more than simply hearing; it is “decoding” sounds and understanding the meaning behind those sounds. 2.2.1.2. The Importance of Listening Skills In daily life, people spend much time listening: students listen to their teachers, children listen to their parents, and adults listen to the news on TV and radio. Therefore, listening is said to be the most common communicative activity in daily life: “we can expect to listen twice as much as we speak, four times more than we read, and five times more than we write” (Morley, 1991: 82). In language use, the listening skill plays an integral part. It consists of various types of listener’s knowledge: knowledge of phonology, vocabulary, and semantics of the language in use, culture of its people, his life experience in the topic, his ability to predict and respond. It decides his understanding, content and attitudes towards the speaker’s saying or utterance as well. As a result, we will fail to communicate with others if we are bad at listening as Mathews, Spratt and Dangerfield concludes “communication cannot successfully take place unless what is spoken is also understood” (1991: 61). What is more, we cannot develop speaking skills unless we also develop listening skills; to have a successful conversation, students must understand what is said to them. Later, the ability to understand spoken English may become very 9 important for listening to the radio, understanding foreign visitors, studying and so on. In order to develop this ability, students need a lot of practice in listening to English spoken at a normal speed. That is because students can acquire the language of “picking up” structures and vocabulary through listening to spoken English. We should give students as much opportunity to listen to spoken English as possible because they do not have the language environment outside the classroom. Harmer (2000) argues that apart from their teacher’s accents and varieties, the learners should be prepared to hear different ones for the real world listening such as telephone conversations, speeches, broadcast news, announcement, advertisement, etc. In reality, students’ poor listening ability can cause communication breakdown. Listening skill, thus, is an indispensable part in EFL learning environment in Vietnam today. In the current high school curriculum, listening is an essential language skill that takes up 20% of the lesson’s content in English textbooks. In summary, listening provides the aural input that serves as the basis for second language acquisition and enables learners to interact in spoken communication. 2.2.1.3. Types of listening There are many different types of listening. We can classify these according to a number of variables, including listening purposes, the role of the listener and the types of texts being listened to. a. Real-life Listening According to some authors, namely Nguyen Thi Van Lam and Ngo Dinh Phuong (2006), there are two ways of listening in the real life. They are casual listening and focused listening depending on the purpose of listening. Many students feel a big gap between listening activities in the classroom and actual situation. This is because most listening materials including dialogues in 10 textbooks are very grammar-oriented and controlled in many ways. The speaker often speaks with perfectly controlled speech, voice, tone, accent and correct grammar. Whereas, in real-life conversations learners encounter various people with different gender, age, accent, speed, voice, tone. There may be improper grammar usage, incomplete sentences, redundancy, contractions, overlap and so forth. There are two ways that people often listen in real-life; they are “casual” and “focus” listening. Many students have a habit of listening to a radio while studying or the television is on while we are doing something else. We listen with no particular purpose. This kind of listening is called “casual” listening, the typical feature is that we do not listen closely and intentionally, thus we may not remember much of what we hear or nothing is left in our mind. “Focus” listening happens when listening for a particular purpose to get the information we need to know or to study the language. In this case, we often listen with much attention, but we do not listen to everything with equal concentration. There is an association between listener expectation and purpose and his comprehension. If the listener expects and needs are intentional, his listening is likely accurately perceived and understood than that which is expected, irrelevant or helpful. In real-life listening, we depend largely on visual information, including speaker’s facial expression, posture, movement and appearance. When a listener engages in listening, vocal massage filters through the short-term memory system first, and at this time, the listener focuses on auditory or visual stimulus and concentration on the message received. Therefore, visual stimuli play a very important role in listening. As for Ur (1992), it would seem reasonable to say that classroom practice should usually incorporate such characteristics of real-life listening as: We listen for a purpose and with certain expectations, we make an immediate response to what we hear, we see the person we are listening to, there are some visual or environmental clues as to the meaning of what is heard, stretch of heard discourse come in short chunks, most heard discourse is spontaneous and therefore differs 11
- Xem thêm -