Factors causing listening comprehension difficulties for grade 10 students in tran dai nghia high school

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CAN THO UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF EDUCATION ENGLISH EDUCATION DEPARTMENT FACTORS CAUSING LISTENING COMPREHENSION DIFFICULTIES FOR GRADE 10 STUDENTS IN TRAN DAI NGHIA HIGH SCHOOL B.A thesis Supervisor: Trịnh Quốc Lập, Ph.D Researcher: Trần Họa Mi Student’s code: 7062907 Class: English Language Teaching 01 Course: 32 Can Tho, April 2010 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This thesis would not have been completed without the help and support of many people. During my process of carrying out the study paper, I have met lots of difficulties but I have received the great support, guidance and encouragement from my supervisor, teachers, my family and my friends. Firstly, I would like to express my deep gratitude to my supervisor, Mr. Trinh Quoc Lap for his valuable guidance, enthusiastic support, and helpful advice. He had to spend much of his precious time with me. Secondly, I would like to send my sincere thanks to Mr. Nguyen Thanh Tung and Mrs. Pham Thi Mai Duyen for their useful feedback. Thirdly, I would like to send my gratitude to all teachers of English Department for their dedication teaching me much vital knowledge during my student time and to executive staff who gave me valued opportunity to conduct the study. Fourthly, I am grateful to 100 grade 10 students in Tran Dai Nghia high school for helping me fill the questionnaires. Finally, I wish to express my thanks to my family and my friends, who offered me supports and advice. Thus, once again, I would like to express my great gratitude to all of you. i TABLE OF CONTENTS LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS..................................................................................................iv LIST OF TABLES ...................................................................................................................v ABSTRACT............................................................................................................................vi CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION ........................................................................ 1 1.1 General statement of the problem ................................................................. 1 1.2 Statement of the hypotheses, objectives, and research question..................... 3 1.2.1 Hypotheses..................................................................................... 3 1.2.2 Objectives ....................................................................................... 3 1.2.3 Research question ........................................................................... 3 1.3 Organization of the study............................................................................. 3 CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW.............................................................. 5 2.1 Listening comprehension .............................................................................. 5 2.2 The importance of comprehension ................................................................ 5 2.3 Potential factors causing listening comprehension difficulties in second language learning............................................................................................... 6 2.3.1 The text.......................................................................................... 6 2.3.2 The listener ..................................................................................... 9 2.3.3 The speaker................................................................................... 13 2.3.4 The environment ............................................................................ 14 2.4 Justification of the present study ................................................................ 14 CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHOD .............................................................. 16 3.1 Research design......................................................................................... 16 3.2 Subjects ..................................................................................................... 16 3.3 Data collection instrument.......................................................................... 16 3.4 Research procedure .................................................................................... 17 ii CHAPTER 4: RESULTS .................................................................................. 18 4.1 The reliability of the questionnaire ............................................................ 18 4.2 Factors causing difficulties in listening comprehension ............................. 18 4.2.1 The speaker .................................................................................. 19 4.2.2 The listener................................................................................... 20 4.2.3 The text and the environment........................................................ 21 CHAPTER 5: SUMMARY AND DISCUSSIONS ........................................... 23 5.1 Discussions................................................................................................. 23 5.2 Implications................................................................................................ 25 5.3 Limitations.................................................................................................. 26 5.4 Recommendations....................................................................................... 27 5.5 Conclusions ................................................................................................ 27 REFERENCES .................................................................................................. 29 APPENDICES ................................................................................................... 31 Appendix 1: questionnaire (English) ........................................................................... 31 Appendix 2: questionnaire (Vietnamese) ..................................................................... 35 iii LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS EFL: English as a foreign language ESL: English as a Second Language IELTS: International English Language Testing System L1: Native Language L2: Foreign Language M: Mean MOET: Ministry of Education and Training of Vietnam SD: Standard Deviation SLA: Second Language Acquisition TOEFL: Test of English as a Foreign Language iv LIST OF TABLES Table 1: Descriptive statistics of factors causing listening comprehension difficulties Table 2: Descriptive statistics of each factor causing listening comprehension difficulties Table 3: The frequency of factors related to the speaker causing difficulties in listening comprehension Table 4: The frequency of factors related to the listener causing difficulties in listening comprehension Table 5: The frequency of factors related to the text causing difficulties in listening comprehension Table 6: The frequency of factors related to the environment causing difficulties in listening comprehension v ABSTRACT In this study, an attempt was made to explore the factors which cause listening comprehension difficulties for language learners. The subjects of the study were 100 grade 10 students in Tran Dai Nghia high school. They all come from basic classes; no one studies in social classes which focus much more on teaching and learning English. The required data for the study were collected by using one questionnaire. Then, descriptive analysis was employed to analyze the responses given to each item in the questionnaires. Finally, the study confirmed that 10th graders in Tran Dai Nghia high school encountered lots of problems with their listening comprehension. The study at last identified four major factors which cause difficulties in students’ listening comprehension. These factors consisted of the text, the listener, the speaker and the environment. vi FACTORS CAUSING LISTENING COMPREHENSION DIFFICULTIES Trần Họa Mi CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION The chapter firstly introduces the general statement of the problem. Besides, the hypotheses, the objectives, and the research question are also included. At last, it provides the organization of the present study. 1.1 General statement of the problem Vietnam has recently joined in World Trade Organization (WTO) with many opportunities as well as many challenges. The country as one of the most fascinating destinations to tourists from all over the world has triggered an explosive interest in English language learning and a severe demand for English studying. Being able to communicate in English – the international language - in order to integrate Vietnam into the world becomes more important to Vietnamese people, especially to Vietnamese students - who play the influential role in how much the country will develop. Grasping the problem, the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) has promulgated the renovation policy. The new English textbook, which focuses on developing listening, speaking, reading and writing skills, but not just on vocabulary and grammar as in the past, has been introduced into all schools’ curricula. Due to this textbook, students are hoped to acquire English proficiency. However, after many years of implementing the new curriculum, the curriculum seems to be not effective as expected. In reality, many Vietnamese students particularly encounter difficulties in using English to communicate because among the four skills, the aural and oral are the most neglected skills. Evidence which supports this claim is the dissatisfactory listening scores of Vietnamese students in standardized tests such as TOEFL and IELTS. For instance, after at least 5 years of studying English, many grade 10 students in Tran Dai Nghia high school, where I had my apprenticeship, cannot understand even plain sentences that their English teachers talk to them. Therefore, in English classes, the mother tongue is used more than the target language; which demonstrates the weakness in listening ability of students. Nevertheless, listening plays an important role in people’s life. A study by Wilt (1950), found that 45 % of communication time was spent for listening, 30 % for speaking, 16 % for reading, and 9 % for writing. According to Bulletin (1952), 1 FACTORS CAUSING LISTENING COMPREHENSION DIFFICULTIES Trần Họa Mi listening, the fundamental language skill, is the medium through which people get a large part of their education, their information, their understanding of the world and of human affairs, their ideals, sense of values, and their appreciation. Moreover, listening ability plays a significant role in the development of other skills. By being able to understand people accurately, students are much more likely to be able to reproduce accurately, refine their understanding of grammar and develop their own vocabulary (Huang, 2009). Anderson and Lynch (1988) pointed out the effect of listening skill on speaking skill as well. They asserted that for L2 learners, effective speaking relies on successful listening. These two researchers also figured out the influence of listening skill on reading skill and, at last, advised both native and foreign learners that “explicit practice to improve listening skills would be advisable and beneficial, both for its own sake and also as a support to reading skill development” (p.18). The globalization of the world economy and the crucial role of the listening comprehension in communication require students to be good listeners since many of them may need to use English for their further study or work. It is a big challenge for language teachers to help their students do so. First of all, in my opinion, English teachers need to ascertain the factors that cause difficulties in listening comprehension for their students. Being aware of these factors, teachers can help their students overcome and get success in listening comprehension in particular and in communication in general. However, the real thing is, in Vietnam, very little attention is paid to teaching listening lessons as well as finding students’ difficulties in listening comprehension. Some teachers think that listening is the easiest skill to teach, whereas most students think it is the most difficult skill to tackle. The world context together with my individual desire to help high school students improve their listening and contribute to enrich the listening research which has been done so far, I am interested in doing a research on “factors causing listening comprehension difficulties for grade 10 students in Tran Dai Nghia High School”. 2 FACTORS CAUSING LISTENING COMPREHENSION DIFFICULTIES Trần Họa Mi 1.2 Statement of the hypotheses, objectives, and research question 1.2.1 Hypotheses I hypothesize that four factors: the text, the listener, the speaker, and the environment are major causes to listening comprehension difficulties for 10th graders in Tran Dai Nghia High School. 1.2.2 Objectives The objective of the study is to identify the factors which cause listening comprehension difficulties for grade 10 students in Tran Dai Nghia High School to help students avoid encountering these difficulties so that they can get successful listening comprehension. 1.2.3 Research question The study is conducted to answer the question: Which factors cause listening comprehension difficulties for grade 10 students in Tran Dai Nghia High School? 1.3 Organization of the thesis This thesis consists of five chapters. Chapter 1 is an introduction to general statement of the problem, the research question, the objectives of the thesis, and some hypotheses of the researcher about the factors causing listening comprehension difficulties for grade – 10 students in Tran Dai Nghia High School. At last, it introduces the organization of the present study. Chapter 2 is the theoretical research, literature review. It presents some key terms related to the research question like listening comprehension. Besides, some findings of previous researches related to the problem have also been presented. Chapter 3 presents a description of research methodology which consists of the research design, the procedure, the description of subjects, the instrument, and the description of measures employed. Chapter 4 shows the results of the study. In this chapter, data collected from the instrument will be analyzed critically through charts and tables. Consequently, the 3 FACTORS CAUSING LISTENING COMPREHENSION DIFFICULTIES Trần Họa Mi factors causing listening comprehension difficulties for grade 10 students in Tran Dai Nghia High School will be revealed. Chapter 5 summarizes the research problem, method, results. In this chapter, the researcher discussed the results critically. Next, pedagogical implications, limitations and recommendations are presented. Finally, the conclusion is also included. 4 FACTORS CAUSING LISTENING COMPREHENSION DIFFICULTIES Trần Họa Mi CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW This chapter reviews literature related to the concept of listening comprehension, the significance of comprehension, and potential factors that are claimed to affect the learners’ listening comprehension. At the end of the chapter, justification of the present study is presented. 2.1 Listening comprehension Comprehending a spoken language is a complex process in which the listener constructs a meaning out of the information provided by the speaker (Samuels, 1984). In the listening comprehension process, the listener has an active role in activating many kinds of knowledge, and applying what he knows to what he hears and trying to understand what the speaker means (Anderson & Lynch, 1988). Specifically, the listener has to “discriminate between sounds, understand vocabulary and grammatical structures, interpret stress and intonation, retain what was gathered in all of the above and interpret it within the immediate as well as the larger socio-cultural context of the utterance” (Vandergrift, 1999, p.168). According to Buck (2001), the process of listening comprehension begins with taking an acoustic signal and then processing that in some ways to understand the text. He also claims that listening comprehension is the result of an interaction between a number of information sources: the acoustic input, different types of linguistic knowledge, details of the context, and general world knowledge, etc.; and listeners use their available information, or whatever information seems relevant to help them interpret what the speaker is saying. 2.2 The importance of comprehension Krashen (1981, as cited in Anderson & Lynch, 1988) has claimed that comprehension is central and possibly prominent in the whole process of language learning; and it may be at the heart of the language acquisition process. Winitz (1981, as cited in Byrnes, 1984) also believes that comprehension is important in both first language and second language learning because of its function as the basic mechanism through which the rules of language are internalized and its chronological production precedence. 5 FACTORS CAUSING LISTENING COMPREHENSION DIFFICULTIES Trần Họa Mi 2.3 Potential factors causing listening comprehension difficulties in second language learning This section summarizes the four factors including the text, the listener, the speaker and the environment (or sometimes called the physical setting) which are emphasized in books of foreign language teaching experience of many years, articles about listening comprehension, and studies conducted on listening comprehension. Anderson and Lynch (1988) state that listening difficulty “can be a product of the interaction between the text, the listener, and the context in which listening takes place” (p.81). 2.3.1 The text One of the main factors believed to affect listening comprehension is the text. According to Anderson and Lynch (1988), some of characteristics of language input which may cause difficulties for L2 learners are “the content of what is said may be fairly unpredictable; it may be abstract in nature; it may deal with a range of complex topics, and it will probably be expressed in quite involves linguistic form” (p.46).  Texts containing unknown words Underwood (1989) states that unknown words in listening texts cause difficulties which listeners may encounter in their listening. For foreign language learners, when encountering an unknown word – a suddenly drop barrier, they stop and think about the meaning of the word; which makes them miss the next part of the speech. As a result, if listeners pause too long over one word or phrase, the meaning of the whole speech may be lost or misinterpreted (Lowe, 1984, as cited in Joiner, 1986).  Texts containing anaphoric terms Samuels (1984) defines an anaphoric term as “a word used as a substitute for a preceding word or group of words” (p.24). According to Pearson and Johnson (1978, as cited in Samuels, 1984), anaphoric terms create difficulties for listeners to comprehend a message. The reason is to understand the anaphoric term; one must locate and identify its referent. This is very difficult because, when listening, one cannot go back in the text to locate the referent. Consequently, comprehension will suffer. 6 FACTORS CAUSING LISTENING COMPREHENSION DIFFICULTIES Trần Họa Mi  Texts containing referring expressions Anderson and Lynch (1988) argue that texts containing a varied range of referring expressions are potentially problematic, even for relatively mature native listeners. To a foreign language listener, it is far more difficult to comprehend such texts. Consequently, the speed of comprehension is reduced when listeners have to make inferences (Haviland & Clark, 1974, as cited in Buck, 2001) or, much more seriously, comprehension is lost.  Length of texts According to many researchers, the length of listening texts is a source of difficulty. Call (1985) claims that listening to long texts may put an additional burden on memory, and may cause lapses in concentration. As a result, listeners lose information and comprehension. For example, listening to a fifty-minute lecture, where physical tiredness can cause listeners’ attention to wander makes them miss parts of the talk (Anderson and Lynch, 1988). And by the time speakers have finished a ten - minute speech, an average person has already forgotten half of what was said (McCutcheon, Schaffer, & Wycoff, 1994). If listeners listen to too long texts, their comprehension will be reduced considerably because they may forget lots of the information provided. To give the reason for a failure to understand long messages, Anderson and Lynch (1988, p.9) state simply because “our mental recorder did not have enough blank tape available to make the recording”.  Texts containing long sentences In Call’s (1985) research, subjects found them especially difficult to digest long utterances with embedded due to the limitations of short-term memory.  Unfamiliar – topic texts Regarding the results of Chinese EFL students’ multiple - choice comprehension test after they have listened to a lecture in Chiang and Dunkel’s (1992) research, the subjects scored higher on the familiar-topic lectures than on the unfamiliar-topic lectures.  Difficulty of texts Anderson and Lynch (1988) claims that if learners listen to listening materials that are so difficult as to be incomprehensible, they may be dispirited; and these materials encourage their passive and unsuccessful listening habits. Accordingly, their comprehension suffers. 7 FACTORS CAUSING LISTENING COMPREHENSION DIFFICULTIES Trần Họa Mi  Linguistic features in texts Yagang (1994) indicates some linguistic features of oral texts which cause difficulties for students to understand these texts. First of all, liaison (the linking of words in speech when the second word begins with a vowel) and elision (leaving out a sound or sounds in rapid speech) make students hard to distinguish or recognize individual words in the stream of speech. Secondly, colloquial words, expressions and slang raise comprehension problems for students those are familiar with formal or bookish English. Thirdly, ungrammatical sentences which may be omitted some elements or added some redundant ones are also a source of comprehension difficulties. As Buck (2001) states that spoken language consists of short phrases or clauses not connected by any formal grammatical relationship because these ones strung together by the coherence of the ideas. Reduced and ungrammatical forms which would be expected to hinder understanding are mentioned by Joiner (1986) as well.  Information organization in texts Glenn (1978, as cited in Anderson & Lynch, 1988) claims that when events in a story are described out of chronological sequence, then it is harder to understand that story.  Specific text types Buck (1990) argues that students who are used to the spoken prose as in news broadcasting and reading aloud written texts may sometimes find the natural dialogues difficult to understand because the former one is characterized by an even pace, volume, pitch, and intonation; meanwhile, the latter kind of listening material is full of hesitations, pauses, and uneven intonation. In other words, there are some specific text types causing certain difficulties for listeners to understand the meaning of texts.  Hesitation phenomena Hesitation presents a major comprehension difficulty to non-native listeners of spontaneous speech (Buck, 2001). In Voss’s (1979) research, 22 nonnative speakers of English were asked to listen to a 210 word passage of spontaneous speech. The passage consisted of a variety of hesitation phenomena: repeats, false starts, filled pauses and unfilled pauses. Results indicated that nearly one-third of all perception errors were connected with hesitation phenomena. 8 FACTORS CAUSING LISTENING COMPREHENSION DIFFICULTIES Trần Họa Mi  Disruption Any disruption or flashback seems to make the information more difficult to understand (Anderson & Lynch, 1988).  The absence of signaling cues in texts Jung (2003) examined the effects of discourse signaling cues on L2 learners' listening comprehension of high-level information and low-level information in academic lectures. Of the 80 Korean EFL learners, 40 learners in signaled group listened to the lecture with discourse signaling cues, and 40 remaining learners in nonsignaled group listened to the lecture without such cues. The results indicated that discourse signaling cues play an important role in L2 listening comprehension. In comparison with the signaled group, the nonsignaled group recalled noticeably worse. 2.3.2 The listener Listeners appear to have considerable impact on listening comprehension. Anderson and Lynch (1988, p.6) argue that understanding is not something that happens because of what a speaker says: “the listener has a crucial part to play in the process, by activating various types of knowledge, and by applying what he knows to what he hears and trying to understand what the speaker means.” Thus, whether or not comprehension occurs depends much on the listener.  Lack of nonverbal forms Samuels (1984) states that when listeners do not see speakers’ body language and facial expressions, they find it more difficult to understand what speakers mean because the nonverbal forms of communication has an important function as at least the verbal forms.  Lack of background knowledge Buck (1990, p.71) states that: It is clear that background knowledge, whether conceived as frames, scripts or schema, is obviously important in listening comprehension… In cases where the listener’s background knowledge for a specific event is different from the speaker, not only may helpful top-down constraints be lacking, but there is the possibility of the listener being led down various garden paths in an attempt to understand events in terms of inappropriate knowledge structures. 9 FACTORS CAUSING LISTENING COMPREHENSION DIFFICULTIES Trần Họa Mi Background knowledge is very important in listening comprehension. If listeners have no knowledge relevant to the particular events being described in the text, then it will be more difficult to understand, or could cause listeners considerable confusion even though the language may not be linguistically challenging (Buck, 2001). The effect of background knowledge on listening comprehension is also demonstrated through Sadighi and Zare’s (2006) study. These two researchers explored the effect of background knowledge on listening comprehension on 24 Iranian EFL learners studying in 2 TOEFL preparation classes. They are divided into an experimental group (in Pouya Language Institute) and a control group (in Shiraz University Language Center). The results of a 50 listening question TOEFL test of language proficiency showed that the control group had a worse performance as compared with the experimental group in the listening test. Finally, the two researchers counseled that teachers need to recognize that students’ background knowledge contributes significantly to students’ comprehension.  Lack of language knowledge Anderson and Lynch (1988) argue that although the L2 system may not always be the principle cause of comprehension difficulty, the L2 learner will still come up against problems that are primarily linguistic. Firstly, if listeners’ knowledge of pronunciation is inadequate, their ability to discriminate sounds will be weak and their comprehension will be impeded. In a research study, Henricksen (1984, as cited in Buck, 2001) indicated that L2 listeners’ comprehension is reduced significantly by the presence of phonological modification. Even higher – level L2 listeners can fail to recognize the language they actually know very well. Therefore, according to Buck (2001), listeners need to know the phonological system – the complex set of rules that determine the pronunciation of connected speech – in order to be able to process natural speech in real time. Secondly, any lack of grammatical knowledge can reduce L2 listeners’ listening comprehension. For example, if they cannot discriminate subordinate clauses from main clauses, even though they understand all the words in the sentence, understanding is unlikely to occur with accuracy. Moreover, if listeners are unable to segment complex embedded sentences into more basic syntactic units – which may result from their lack of the knowledge of grammar, their comprehension will suffer (Samuels, 1984). 10 FACTORS CAUSING LISTENING COMPREHENSION DIFFICULTIES Trần Họa Mi Lastly, Brindley (1997) claims that lack of the knowledge of key lexis can lead to miscommunication or even breakdown. Stæhr (2009), in an empirical study, investigates the role of vocabulary knowledge in listening comprehension with 115 advanced Danish EFL learners. This study thus provides empirical evidence that vocabulary knowledge is an important factor for successful listening comprehension in EFL. Furthermore, when foreign- language students’ knowledge of English clichés and collocations – parts of lexis knowledge - is insufficient, they cannot predict a missing word or phrase. This is a major problem for students (Yagang, 1994).  Lack of sociocultural, factual, and contextual knowledge According to Underwood (1989), even if listeners can understand the surface meaning of the text, they may have considerable difficulties in comprehending the whole meaning of the passage unless they are familiar with the context. Similarly, students in Goh’s (2000) study expressed difficulties in understanding the intended message though they were familiar with literal meaning of words. This may occur because listeners lack sociocultural, factual, and contextual knowledge of the target language. Any insufficiency of such knowledge or gaps in knowledge of the second language culture, of the associations and references available to native users can present an obstacle to comprehension because language is used to express its culture (Anderson & Lynch, 1988).  Having trouble with multiple meanings of words It is a common phenomenon in EFL classes that listeners know only the most common meaning of a word despite the fact that each word may have multiple meanings. Therefore, when listeners encounter a word in one of its less common uses, they are more likely to confuse (Samuels, 1984). Accordingly, listening comprehension difficulties occur.  Lack of motivation and attention Both Samuels (1984) and Underwood (1989) affirm the importance of motivation and attention of listeners in listening comprehension. Without motivation and attention, learning does not occur and comprehension is impeded (Samuels, 1984). The inattention of listeners to speakers is one of the reasons for poor comprehension because comprehension can be weakened seriously when there is even the shortest break in attention (Underwood, 1989). 11 FACTORS CAUSING LISTENING COMPREHENSION DIFFICULTIES Trần Họa Mi  Lack of interests Different listeners often have different motives for listening due to different interests and different needs (Buck, 2001). Thus when some specific listening materials do not attract listeners, they may get out of these; which makes comprehension impossible.  Inability to recognize familiar words It is essential for listeners to recognize words that they have already learnt when they occur within the swift stream of speech. There are some reasons recommended for not being able to identify known words. Firstly, Aiyun (2004) points out that listeners cannot recognize familiar words because they are not familiar with the pronunciation of certain words. In other words, if a listener pronounces the sounds accurately himself, it will be much easier for him to hear the words correctly when said by someone else. Secondly, Rixon (1986) argues that spoken words do not stay still to be scrutinized and puzzled over as written words. Thus it is more difficult for students to identify words in speeches than in writings. In speeches, sometimes sounds are said quickly, in an unemphasized position in a sentence and juxtaposed with other words which may affect its pronunciation. If listeners do not know these changes, they “may simply not recognize it as the same word, or may even miss its existence completely” (Ur, 1984, p.18). Finally, listeners do not have enough time to search their memory for the meaning of some words immediately although they are familiar with the words (Ur, 1984).  Problems with distinguishing sounds In English, the number of words which can be confused or misunderstood by inaccurate perception is moderately large (Ur, 1984). Similarly, Underwood (1989) affirms that there are different words seeming similar in sounds but different in meanings in English (as ship/sheep, meat/meet, fit/feet, write/right, sight/site, etc). When foreign listeners come across such words, they may fail to distinguish one from the other. Therefore, listeners’ comprehension would be impeded much when they encountered such annoying words, including English homonyms and homophones.  Psychological and physical factors Both psychological and physical factors may affect listeners’ perception and interpretation of listening material negatively. It is too tiring to listen to and 12 FACTORS CAUSING LISTENING COMPREHENSION DIFFICULTIES Trần Họa Mi interpret unfamiliar sounds, lexis and syntax for long stretches of time. In listening, the pace is decided by someone else, and the breaks may or may not occur where listeners need them (Ur, 1984). In a word, when listeners are too fatigue, they are most likely to give up listening. As a result, their comprehension undergoes.  Negative personal beliefs According to Galvin and Cooper (1999), personal beliefs may keep listeners from really hearing what other people are saying. Some people believe they know everything about a certain topic; so they do not need to listen carefully to others. This attitude creates closed minds and barriers to listening. 2.3.3 The speaker Speakers who play a significant role in the listening process by providing input are likely to be a considerable source of listening comprehension difficulties.  Unfamiliar accents Accent is a very important variable in listening comprehension. An unfamiliar accent can cause problems, may disrupt the whole comprehension process or can make comprehension almost unattainable for a listener (Buck, 2001). It may occur because many foreign listeners are used to the accent of their own teachers (Buck, 1990; Ur, 1984) or to the standard variety of British or American English (Buck, 1990). Thus, when coping with unfamiliar accents, they feel dismayed; which breaks down their comprehension.  Fast rate of speech It is hardly surprising people everywhere believe that many foreign language learners have trouble with the fast stream of speech in native language. When a speaker speaks more than 3 words per second, listeners have insufficient time to process everything such as thinking about the precise meaning of each word, the way relative clauses are constructed, and speculating on what the pronouns may refer to. When the speech rate gets faster, listeners do not have enough time even to process the lexical and grammatical information, and they will begin to miss parts of the text. At the certain speed, their processing will tend to break down completely; and they will fail to understand much at all (Buck, 2001). Galvin and Cooper (1999) affirm that if speakers speak too quickly (i.e. more than 120 to 180 words a minute), the audience will get confused. 13
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