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VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES FACULTY OF POST- GRADUATE STUDIES ------------------- VÕ THỊ NGỌC HÂN AN INVESTIGATION INTO LISTENING STRATEGY INSTRUCTIONS AND APPLICATIONS IN A PRIVATE EFL SCHOOL IN VIETNAM NGHIÊN CỨU VỀ VIỆC HƯỚNG DẪN VÀ ÁP DỤNG CHIẾN LƯỢC NGHE TẠI MỘT TRUNG TÂM ANH NGỮ Ở VIỆT NAM M.A. MINOR THESIS Field: English Teaching Methodology Code: 60140111 Hanoi, 2014 VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES FACULTY OF POST- GRADUATE STUDIES ------------------- VÕ THỊ NGỌC HÂN AN INVESTIGATION INTO LISTENING STRATEGY INSTRUCTIONS AND APPLICATIONS IN A PRIVATE EFL SCHOOL IN VIETNAM NGHIÊN CỨU VỀ VIỆC HƯỚNG DẪN VÀ ÁP DỤNG CHIẾN LƯỢC NGHE TẠI MỘT TRUNG TÂM ANH NGỮ Ở VIỆT NAM M.A. MINOR PROGRAMME THESIS Field: English Teaching Methodology Code: 60140111 Supervisor: Dr. Nguyễn Trường Sa Hanoi, 2014 SUPERVISOR’S REMARKS 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........................................................................................................................................... ........................................................................................................................................... ........................................................................................................................................... ........................................................................................................................................... i JUDGEMENT OF THE EVALUATION BOARD ........................................................................................................................................... ........................................................................................................................................... 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........................................................................................................................................... ........................................................................................................................................... ........................................................................................................................................... ........................................................................................................................................... ........................................................................................................................................... ........................................................................................................................................... ii ACKNOWLEDMENTS First of all, I would like to send my gratefulness to the board of University of Languages and International Studies - Vietnam National University, Hanoi for their allowance for me to carry out the research. The thesis is especially dedicated to Mr. Nguyen Truong Sa; my experienced instructor, whose passionate enthusiasm and precise guidance have come along my journey to fulfill this assignment on schedule. It will be indispensable for me to take into account the contribution I have received from Europe-Vietnam Language School. All of the school‟s staff has provided me with the best assistance in terms of comprehensive knowledge and relevant materials. Finally, I send my best to the six teachers and twelve learners who help me to justify the data. Without their contribution, my thesis would not be completed. iii DECLARATION OF AUTHORITY I, Vo Thi Ngoc Han, declare that this graduation thesis is original and has not been submitted for assessment elsewhere. I declare that this thesis is my own work and does not involve plagiarism or collusion. I give my consent to electric version to be examined by relevant plagiarism software programs. I have made a copy or electronic copy of my assignment, which I can produce if the original is lost for any reason. Date:……/……/…… Vo Thi Ngoc Han iv ABSTRACT Derived from the nature of listening strategies, unconscious activities of learners but conscious of teachers, in combination with the researcher‟s challenges in teaching listening, the research is implemented to investigate listening strategy instructions and applications. Research question that decides content of the research is how listening strategies are instructed and applied in EFL class. It was carried out in Europe-Vietnam Language School where learners are motivated by their apparent learning purposes. Six participants contain three EFL teachers and three EFL students from the teachers‟ classes. Two instruments used were observation and stimulated recall. As a result, despite teachers‟ different preferences of using strategies, learners only get familiar with cognitive and social-affective strategies. Their weaknesses found were their inability in controlling listening processes, problems in pronunciation, and difficulties in building up learning spirit due to their passive learning style. With the investigation into the reality of using listening strategies, the research is in the hope to help teachers and learners remedy their current strategy use with the help of their private school. v TABLE OF CONTENTS SUPERVISOR‟S REMARK i JUDGEMENT OF THE EVALUATION BOARD ii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS iii DECLARATION iv ABSTRACT v TABLE OF CONTENTS vi LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ix TRANSCRIPTIONS OF CONVENTIONS .................................................................... x PART A: INTRODUCTION 1 1. Research background and problem ............................................................................... 1 2. Research aims/ objectives ............................................................................................. 2 3. Research questions ....................................................................................................... 2 4. Context of the study ...................................................................................................... 3 5. Importance/ value of the study ..................................................................................... 4 6. Definitions of some key terms ...................................................................................... 4 PART B: DEVELOPMENT ............................................................................................. 6 CHAPTER 1: LITERATURE REVIEW 6 1.1. Listening comprehension .............................................................................................. 6 1.1.1. The nature of listening ................................................................................. 6 1.1.2. Significance of listening .............................................................................. 7 1.1.3. Difficulties in listening comprehension .................................................... 7 1.2. 1.1.3.1. Problems with spoken language ...................................................... 8 1.1.3.2. Problems in dealing with sounds ...................................................... 9 1.1.3.3. Problems with background knowledge ............................................. 9 1.1.3.4. Problems with mood ...................................................................... 10 Listening strategies .............................................................................................. 10 1.2.1. Nature of strategies ................................................................................... 10 vi 1.3. 1.2.2. Categories of listening strategies .............................................................. 11 1.2.2.1. Metacognitive listening strategies .............................................. 11 1.2.2.2. Cognitive listening strategies ...................................................... 12 1.2.2.3. Social affective strategies ........................................................... 13 Teachers‟ roles in listening .................................................................................. 13 1.3.1. Why listening strategies are taught in the context of classroom ............. 13 1.3.2. What a teacher does in a listening class .................................................. 14 1.4. A review of previous researches on teaching/applying listening strategy .......... 15 CHAPTER 2: METHODOLOGY OF THE RESEARCH 17 2.1. Instruments ................................................................................................................ 17 2.1.1. Observation ................................................................................................... 17 2.1.2. Think aloud/ Stimulated recall ............................................................................. 18 2.2. Participants ................................................................................................................ 18 2.2.1. The teachers ................................................................................................. 19 2.2.1.1. Teacher 1 ...................................................................................... 19 2.2.1.2. Teacher 2 ................................................................................... 19 2.2.1.3. Teacher 3 ....................................................................................... 20 2.2.2. The learners ................................................................................................ 20 2.2.2.1. Learner 1 ....................................................................................... 20 2.2.2.2. Learner 2 ...................................................................................... 21 2.2.2.3. Learner 3 ....................................................................................... 21 2.3. Data collection procedure ........................................................................................... 21 2.4. How to use the data to answer the research questions ............................................... 22 CHAPTER 3: RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS 23 3.1. Teachers‟ strategy instructions when teaching listening ........................................... 23 3.1.1. Teacher 1‟s (T1‟s) ....................................................................................... 23 3.1.2. Teacher 2‟s (T2‟s) ....................................................................................... 24 3.1.3. Teacher 3‟s (T3‟s) ....................................................................................... 25 3.1.4. Summary of the three teachers‟ listening strategy instructions ................... 27 3.2. Learners‟ strategy applications when learning listening ............................................ 27 3.2.1. Learner 1‟s (L1‟s, in T1‟s upper-intermediate class) ................................. 27 vii 3.2.2. Learner 2‟s (L2‟s, in T2‟s primary class) ................................................... 28 3.2.3. Learner 3‟s (L3‟s, inT3‟s intermediate class) ............................................. 29 3.2.4. Summarize of learners ................................................................................ 30 3.3. Teachers‟ and learners‟ problems ............................................................................. 30 PART C: CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS 32 1. Introduction of this chapter ........................................................................................... 32 2. Implication of the study to practice ............................................................................... 32 3. Limitation and suggestion for future research .............................................................. 33 4. Final consideration ........................................................................................................ 34 REFERENCES 35 APPENDIX 1 ...................................................................................................................... I APPENDIX 2 ..................................................................................................................... II APPENDIX 3 ................................................................................................................ VIII SUMMARY OF THE RESEARCH ......................................................................... XXV viii LIST OF TABLES Table 1: Top 10 listening problems ............................................................................. 8 Table 2: Data collection procedure ............................................................................ 22 ix TRANSCRIPTIONS OF CONVENTIONS R: Researcher L1: Learner 1 L2: Learner 2 L3: Learner 3 T1: Teacher 1 T2: Teacher 2 T3: Teacher 3 [ ...]: [text translated from Vietnamese into English] T (L)…/ Sti/ …/ …: Teacher (Learner)/ Stimulated recall/ date/ month. x PART A INTRODUCTION 1. Research background and problem In Vietnam, since Doi Moi policy, English is chosen to be the foreign language taught and used in Vietnam (Alter & Moreau, 1995). Goh and Nguyen (2004) pointed out that “the learning of English in the schools gained in popularity” and “English quickly became the first foreign language” (p. 30). Do (2006) concluded that in the decade of 1996-2006, English had been developed with an incredible speed in Vietnam. In the context of globalization, teaching and learning English in Vietnam is a pivotal matter. Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city of Vietnam with the most crowded population. Requirements of English knowledge for economic development of the city are inevitable. Therefore, Ho Chi Minh City has the biggest number of teachers and learners all over the country (Do, 2006). Vu (2007) pointed out that HCMC has become home to the strongest movement towards learning English with the largest number of student learning and taking English examinations in Vietnam. Previous studies on listening strategies mainly used the context of state schools where students are at the same age and have the same learning goal (Thompson and Rubin, 1996; Yu-mei & Lei, 2012; Siegel, 2013; Goh, 2000). However, Do (2006) emphasized that “hundreds of English centers have been established everywhere – Ho Chi Minh City alone has around 300 language centers” (p.8). The centers are attracting learners of different backgrounds aiming to secure a bright future of work by enriching English. In this research, private school is an environment to investigate. It is a different context where learning goal is, in most of cases, not for testing but to improve English competence. Learners in private schools come from different 1 backgrounds, possess various foundations of English, hold a variety of learning purposes, and perform diverse attitudes as well as learning styles. More important, it is teachers‟ job to satisfy each learner‟s needs and goals. In teaching and learning English for communicative purpose, listening is emphasized. It is considered the most vital in oral interaction, as Richards and Renadya (2002) emphasized, “without understanding input at the right level, any learning simply cannot begin, listening is thus fundamental to speaking” (p.239). To be good at the skill, the concept of “listening strategies”- way to facilitate listening learning – is discussed. A question raised is that whether listening strategies are “conscious” or unconscious” (Ridgway, 2000). Teachers‟ role is to instruct learners how to use the listening strategies consciously, because as Oxford (1990) pointed out, “if strategies are unconsciously and automatically used, then explicit strategy training makes little or no sense, so it involves some degrees of conscious awareness on the part of the learner.” (p2). However, to learners, when learning process happens continuously, they do not have time to choose which strategies to employ. Therefore, strategies become autonomous and unconscious. If strategies are unconscious for students, have they been using them effectively? After a long period of time working at some different private schools, the researcher finds that a large number of learners in the private classes still fail to gain success in listening. Therefore, the researcher wonders what problems are obstructing the teaching and learning process. In other words, it is necessary to investigate whether listening strategies is instructed and applied appropriately. 2. Research aims/ objectives This research is carried out to meet its practical purpose. From the failure of EFL learners in listening, the researcher wonders what problems are obstructing the 2 teaching and learning process. In other words, it is necessary to investigate whether listening strategies is instructed and applied appropriately. At first, teachers‟ strategy instructions in the context of classroom are manifested. Secondly, under the directions, learners‟ strategy applications are analyzed. Finally, challenges that affect listening teaching and learning results are also revealed for later surmount. 3. Research questions The general question addressed in this study is: How are listening strategies instructed and applied in EFL class? This question can be answered by addressing these specific questions: 1. How do teachers instruct listening strategies when teaching? 2. How do learners apply listening strategies into their practice in their class? 3. What are the challenges in teaching and applying listening strategies? 4. Context of the study Context chosen in the research is a private English school, Vietnam- Europe International School. The school is located in district 12 of Ho Chi Minh City with one head office at 114 Nguyen Anh Thu street, Trung My Tay ward, district 12 and one branch at 5C, To Ky street, Tan Chanh Hiep ward, district 12. Established in 2010, with the increase of English demand, the private school has continuously developed. The private English school possesses a system of teachers including English experts from Melbourne University of Australia, Foreign teachers and Vietnamese teachers. Until April of 2014, the school has possessed forty five teachers and more than one thousand four hundred learners. Aiming at the main objects as students in The University of Labor and Social Affair (ULSA), the English school has been 3 developing three main curriculums; communication, TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication), and IELTS (International English Language Testing System). Especially, communication program is boosted to meet the need of the majority of English learners. Communication course was chosen for the purpose of this research based on three main criteria. At first, the program requires listening as a major skill. If learners do not use suitable strategies, such as predicting, inferring, recognizing cognates and so on, they will fail to meet listening goals. Next, tasks are composed basing on different contexts, it is significant for students to equip their background knowledge about the contexts and corresponding strategies. Last but not least, without listening, any oral communication cannot be implemented. With the hope of releasing the most objective and reliable results, the researcher chose this program to investigate the thesis issue. The context meets the need of the thesis, a private English school teaching communicative listening with the program requires applications and instructions in strategies. 5. Importance/ value of the study This research will be carried out to meet its practical purpose. It will hopefully take attention of EFL teachers and learners who concerns about improving listening strategies. The research is expected to assist teachers in bewaring of how their learners are dealing with the instructed strategies. Then it finds out effective ways to instruct strategies to learners. On the aspect of learners, the results will help them pay more attention to listening strategies and make use of the strategies more effectively. Finally, the study‟s result is intended to help administrators of private English schools in Vietnam enhance their quality of listening education so that they can serve their learners better. 4 6. Definitions of some key terms Listening comprehension “Listening comprehension is an active process of constructing meaning, and that this is done by applying knowledge to the incoming.” (Buck, 2000, 30) Strategies Language learning strategies are “approaches or techniques that learners use to enhance their progress in developing L2 skills” (Oxford, 1990, 22). They are considered “conscious” for teachers to instruct and “unconscious” or “autonomous” for learner to use frequently because there is no time for learners to employ them in actual situation. Cognitive strategies: the strategies relate directly with processes of listening, in other words, steps of acquiring listening knowledge for reasoning, analyzing, summarizing, and practicing a listening task (Anderson, 1991). Metacognitive strategies for evaluating one‟s progress, planning for language tasks, consciously searching for practice opportunities, paying attention, and monitoring errors. It is the biggest term that controls other strategies (Efteckhary & Gharib, 2013). Social affective strategies: the techniques listeners used to interact, collaborate with others, such as teachers, speakers, or peers to clarify understanding or to lessen their stress during listening (Vandergrift, 2003). 5 PART B: DEVELOPMENT CHAPTER 1 LITEARATURE REVIEW 1.1. Listening comprehension 1.1.1. The nature of listening In common sense, listening comprehension is passive and simple (Thompson & Rubin, 1996; Jung, 2003; Vandergrift, 2004; Rahimi, 2012). On one hand, listening seems passive as it is uncreative and unimaginative when listeners receive speakers‟ information. Speakers, not listeners, control over speed, structure and meaning of a talk (Ridgway, 2000). On another hand, it is thought to as simple because it does not require any production, with good knowledge, learners can be a good listeners (Rahimi, 2012). However, researchers defeated the sense by their arguments. At first, researchers, such as Buck (2000), Underwood (1989), and Vandergrift (1999), defeated the term “passive”; they proved that listening had to be „active‟. Underwood (1989) used the adjective “passive” to indicate “hearing” instead of “listening”. Vandergrift‟s study (1999) affirmed that listeners could not be passive because during listening, they did not merely receive speakers‟ sound but also had to make clear the differences among elements of utterances, such as sounds, vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and prior knowledge as well as what inputted into their mind. Buck (2000) proved, “listening comprehension is an active process of constructing meaning, and that this is done by applying knowledge to the incoming” (p.30). Listening, in addition, is a complicated process requiring people‟s serious concentration and profound knowledge. According to Brody (2004), focusing is never 6 enough for a good listener. The complicated nature of listening is also revealed by language components, such as phonology, syntax, semantics, as well as knowledge of context, which must be done simultaneously (Pearson, 1983 cited in Butt et al., 2010). From the definitions of listening, a conclusion of the skill is drawn. It is not simple to deal with and the level of success in the skill requires numerous factors of an active learning process. Nevertheless, why must learners attempt to be good at the complicated and active process? The reasons will be discussed in the following part. 1.1.2. Significance of listening In Rahimi‟s research (2012), listening in this modern era is regarded a significant goal in numerous teaching curricular of a language. Richards (1999, 200) concluded in his research, “second language acquisition researches have given a major boost to listening.” According to Brown (2001), listening is an important skill through which language learners input linguistic information, or material, in order to produce language. In daily communication, speaking is necessary, but listening is inevitable to maintain a conversation. Misunderstanding or lack of understanding will lead to failure in every dialogue. An oral interaction can never be implemented without listening. Moreover, Vandergrift (1999) noted that “listening comprehension plays a key role in facilitating language learning” (p.168). Good listening competence provides learners with knowledge, confidence, and motivation of language learning (Rost, 2002a). In brief, the significance of listening is revealed by its frequent use in daily life, leading role in communication, and the role as a source of mental benefits including knowledge, confidence, and motivation. Thanks to its importance, the need to achieve it is vital. However, the decisive oral skill is evaluated complicated. The next part will discuss troubles in its applications that listeners have to overcome. 7 1.1.3. Difficulties in listening comprehension As the importance of listening skill discussed, the demand to master it is necessary. However, due to its complicated nature, its success seems to be a challenge. According to Siegel (2013), listening has been considered the most awkward of the four macro skills. The difficulties of listening derive from the following sources. Number Sources of listening problems % 1 Speaking rate 100 2 Distraction 95 3 Unable to recognize words they knew 90 4 New vocabulary 85 5 Missing subsequent input 80 6 Nervousness 70 7 Sentence complexity 60 8 Background knowledge 55 9 Anxiety and frustration 45 10 Unfamiliar pronunciation beside what they 40 usually listen to Table 1: Top ten listening problems (Renandya & Farrell; 2010, 54) From the above problems, I sort them into four main groups; group of numbers 1, 2, and 5 belongs to problems with spoken language, group of number 3 and 10 is 8
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