Scholarly article on topic 'Listening in Foreign Language Teaching Process'

Listening in Foreign Language Teaching Process Academic research paper on "Educational sciences"

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{"Foreign language" / listening / "on-line cours" / "language skills"}

Abstract of research paper on Educational sciences, author of scientific article — Sarka Hubackova

Abstract The paper has two parts, hi the first one the author mentions on the background of her many years of experience some principles which she holds in the use of listening when teaching professional German in her seminary lessons on the University Hradec Kralove and in her choice of suitable listening texts for her tutorial. The second part of the paper describes the students’ and teacher's activities during the listening process and shortly after it, when students use their work sheets. They can check their activities subsequently in their home work, hi this case they have at their disposal all the listening text in printing. The author has published them in a form of a booklet edited by the Faculty. © 2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Academic research paper on topic "Listening in Foreign Language Teaching Process"

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Social and Behavioral Sciences

ELSEVIER Procedía - Social and Behavioral Sciences 47 (2012) 689 - 693


Listening in foreign language teaching process

Sarka Hubackova a*

aUniversity of Hradec Kralove, Rokitanskeho 62, 50003 Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic


The paper has two parts. In the first one the author mentions on the background of her many years of experience some principles which she holds in the use of listening when teaching professional German in her seminary lessons on the University Hradec Kralove and in her choice of suitable listening texts for her tutorial. The second part of the paper describes the students' and teacher's activities during the listening process and shortly after it, when students use their work sheets. They can check t heir activities subsequently in their home work. In this case they have at their disposal all the listening text in printing. The author has published them in a form of a booklet edited by the Faculty.

© 2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer review under responsibility of Prof. Dr. Huseyin Uzunboylu Keywords: Foreign language, listening, on-line cours, language skills;

1. Introduction

Listening is one of the language skills which every foreign language course pays its attention to. The aim of the following paper is to show some specificities typical for the practice of this skill when acquiring a foreign language. This is professional German used in economics in my case.

2. Listening in foreign language teaching process

Incorporating this skill into the teaching process I am based on probable future needs of an expert specialized in his field. I leave out dialogue as an ordinary conversation. I focus on the skill to listen with understanding a coherent speech, for instance a lecture at a specialized conference, an extensive contribution to the discussion on the given theme, a detailed answer to a professional question etc.

*Sarka Hubackova. Tel.: +420493332302; fax: +420493332239 E-mail address:

1877-0428 © 2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer review under responsibility of Prof. Dr. Huseyin Uzunboylu doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.06.718

1. I am aware of the fact that a student devoting to the foreign language study should hear first of all his or her teacher speaking. The teacher's speech should be not only a customary "working" communication with individual students or with his or her seminar group, but a continuous speech concerning a certain specific theme. From time to time I try to perform my own "elocution exercises" on different themes interconnected with economics.

However, even in such cases the teacher's performance should alternate with deliveries of other speakers. On pedagogical grounds it should happen as often as possible. The speakers should be women and men of different ages so that students could have the opportunity to listen to different accents. Moreover the speakers should not have any speech impediment, careless pronunciation or speak a dialect. As speakers, the native ones should be chosen whenever it is possible. To follow out such standards I use the broadcasts recorded from the radio station Deutsche Welle. I mention this fact also for the following reason: It is given by the historic development of my country that it is being taught the Austrian, explicit the Viennese pronunciation of German in Czech secondary schools so far.

2.I choose the extracts representing coherent content wholes performed by one speaker in a relative short time. I select specimens with elements of professional vocabulary. I do not put listening on the programme of every seminar lesson, but I use it so often that I may speak about its regular usage and about a certain system of teaching the listening skill as well. The relatively often listening incorporations into the teaching process have different didactic forms, but on the whole, all of them represent realization of certain principles of mine connected with this kind of teaching. I will speak about them gradually.

I have respect for reality that means for real student's entrance knowledge of German. And before I can use the recordings already mentioned I use some very short and simple listening exercises. Their aim is to prepare students for listening to good German spoken spontaneously. I am the speaker in most of them myself and I choose example sentences, clauses, verb patterns, collocations, expressions from the textbook students had used at secondary schools. The tasks are for all students the same, I do not practise any differentiation at this stage of teaching. I suppose that every student will work without any foreign help. The tasks are assigned and worded in simple German. Each student obtains his or her own worksheet. There is only one sheet for all tasks. My checking of it is carried on occasionally. It contains the formulation of tasks and relevant questions, some needed expressions and instruction concerning the listening procedure itself. At the initial sequence of recordings I focus on the language. Some example tasks:

a) You will hear two sentences. Write down how many words you can hear in each one. (Students should hear not only the full-meaning words, but also articles and prepositions).

b) (I distribute students the worksheets with six different words before the listening.) Read the words first. Then listen to the sentences and circle the words you have heard. Pay attention, you will hear the sentences only once.

c) I distribute the sheets before listening. Students are asked to underline syllables with stress in two copied sentences. Then they listen to the sentences to check their answers and correct errors. (The exercise concerns prepositions and some verb prefixes in particular.)

d) Before listening students get sheets with three sentences. Their task is to compare them with the input text: The sentences you can read are like the sentences in the recording, but they are not exactly the same. Underline the differences. Try to write down at least one of the sentences as exactly as you hear it in the recording.

e) You will hear two sentences, but there is a mistake in one of them, but in one of them only. Identify it and write it correctly or put down the type of the mistake. (Wrong word order of the subordinate clause.)

f) There are two compound nouns in the sentences, one in each sentence. Write down at least one of the compounds and put down its root words. Pay attention to their gender. (Compounds as a specific language of German.)

g) You will hear some names of countries. Put down the relevant names. Then choose at least three of them and form the adjectives from the chosen proper names. (Focus on ability to hear the difference between proper nouns and customary lexical units.)

Such and similar tasks are short and I incorporate three or four in a seminar lesson. I explain to the students that these recordings are intended to drill their ability to listen not to check it, that they are exercises not exams. Their

main purpose is to get the students used to listening. Such explanations are always stimulating, the students do their task more carefully and they work on their own. Sometimes I use the same type of one recording (with different material) repeatedly in following seminar and I compare the results. They usually are good and very motivating.

As an introductory text of further listening drill I prefer an extract which would stimulate students in a way, which would mention the importance of German in the cultural world etc. Working with such a text, usually not concerning economics, I try to familiarize my students with the kind of further work and with types of exercises and tasks which they will meet in further lessons.

3.I choose the texts in which the author does not repeat anything of their content, although in seminars I use repeated listening very often. I announce students the theme of the text abstract in advance to catch their attention to its content. Sometimes I am successful in arousing their curiosity and in intensifying their interest.

4.I am very particular about the acoustic clearness of recordings, their loudness and adequate volume. I never change their speed. I do not oblige students demanding to slow down the speed of the recording even if I know that it makes their understanding more difficult. But I always explain the reasons of such decision to my students.

5. I connect every listening, even the repeated one, with a task. This is sometimes very simple and I always announce it to students. The tasks may have some segments, but never too numerous. I know that listening a professional text in our own mother tongue we hardly ever realize the fast pace which we get the separate pieces of new information in. I therefore observe, especially at the beginning of a sequence of seminar lessons a certain simplicity of tasks. If we assign a task carrying several parts, then we must take into consideration the time span between the parts. Students must always have a time to carry out the parts of the task closely following one another. The time-lag should be so long that it could contain even a "breathing space" so that students should not go from one task into another one immediately. Precipitate haste gives rise to students' nervousness, its didactic influence is negative, its educational contribution minimal.

6.I work with worksheets. They sometimes contain reprinted parts of texts that students will listen to, sometimes different materials connected with tasks, sometimes a short commentary on how to do them. I will mention some details in my further explanation.

Every use of listening in my seminar groups is a teaching process with its own arrangement and organization. I want to draw some moments of it in outline.

I always begin with the announcement of the recording's theme. I introduce it to my students in simple German and in a periphrastic form. In its formulation I avoid the vocabulary used in the text. Students have to understand its content on the base of their knowledge of German up to now. Therefore, I prepare the draft of my formulation at home, I do not to improvise anything in front of my students. I prepare worksheets and distribute them to the students before the lesson or at its beginning. Worksheets contain tasks in them. Each recording is connected with a concrete task, later on with two or three assignments. Such a task is for all the students the same. All tasks represent a system, its separate elements are graded according to their level of difficulty; much depends on the level of difficulty of the text. The initial tasks are short and simple. In this paper I am dividing them into two groups. The first one aims to language, the second one to the contents of recordings. When practising listening drill I alternate both kinds of recordings regularly. Here are some example tasks of the first group:

a) Listen to the recording. You will hear some of the words listed in your sheets. Circle four at least, one compound among them.

b) Listen to the recording and try to complete the sentences. The words copied in the sheet may help you.

c) First read the sentences in your sheet. Then listen to the recording. You will hear it twice. Are there any differences between the version in the recording and the version printed? If any, underline the most important one.

d) Complete the sentences copied in your sheet. Try to use the words of the recording, but you may use also other expressions as their synonyms to put them in the blanks.

e) The longest sentence of the recording is copied for you in the sheet. Underline the main clause of this sentence. Also the shortest sentence is in your sheet. Try to find out the subject of the sentence. If you consider the word order of this sentence as not correct, correct it. (The subject of the subordinate clause is expressed by the pronoun. The word order is not correct.)

I introduce the second group of tasks mentioning the necessity of a good dictionary. I point out that for understanding of general meaning of any recording there it is not essential to look up every word you think not to know. I must mention here that students have at their disposal the collection of all texts recorded; it was published and titled Hortexte. Students can and should infer as many new words as possible. But when consulting a dictionary they should read not only the lexical meaning of a word but also its grammar characteristics. A good dictionary always shows which preposition follows a certain verb, which words usually compound or combine with others, it brings verb patterns and all irregular forms of words etc. Here are some example tasks of the second group aimed at the contents of recordings.

a) Listen to the recording. Then try to note down at least two answers to the questions in the sheet. (Two copied questions are simple; three are a bit more complicated.)

b) Listen to the recording. You will hear it twice. See how much you can understand and try to express it numerically; at 75 per cent for instance. (This survey is important for my choice of further recordings.)

c) After listening to the recording write down two pieces of information. The questions in your sheet may help you. (There are six questions copied concerning different topics.)

d) Listen to the recording. Then look at the sentences copied and numbered in the sheet. Which two numbers are false? (Six numbered sentences.)

e) Listen to the recording. Do you think the author of the commentary does live in the country she speaks about? Put down one reason if you think so.

f) Listen to, then say which country speaks the recording's author about? (Swiss francs are mentioned in the broadcast.)

g) You will hear - among others - also ten words printed in the sheet. If you know the words, write their Czech equivalents and underline them. Try to infer the meaning of the remaining words and put down your estimates.

I take into account the fact, that the texts selected for the listening exercise will contain some words or expressions that might be new to students. Sometimes I of course choose a text even for its new words, especially for professional terms, sake. Then I make a cautious estimate of those words. In students' worksheets I print them in the same order as they are heard in the recording. I insert also some words which are not in the broadcast. I select the expressions similar acoustically to the relevant word. So for instance the word "Volkswirtschaft" is printed between "Wissenschaft" and "Bereitschaft". Students have to decide quickly, but they need not do anything else than mark in the given list the words they hear gradually in the broadcast. I check students' answers looking at the sheets they work with during the listening process. It is not quite a reliable checking, but it is immediate and quick. No sooner had the recording finished, I know approximately which word or expressions has been difficult. I hold students' attention also in the way that I insert at least one word among the selected ones that is quite customary and I can suppose students know it. The fact that the used words are printed in the sheet gradually in accordance with the heard text is advantageous for students with wider vocabulary. As soon as they have finished with one word, they can concentrate to the next one. Some tasks are based on the fact that German has simpler pronunciation rules than for instance English. Students are able to estimate the written form of a heard word with greater certainty. I neither analyse nor evaluate students' answers. I arrange a repeated listening instead and invite them to correct their mistakes. I do the same even if the number of mistakes seems to be minimal. In my experience this repeated listening discovers any uncertainty in the decision and students often rectify the same word they had marked correctly during the first listening.

Sometimes the students have to mark words that I had not selected for my explanation but that they need to know to understand the content of the broadcast. They put down such a word in phonetic alphabet or in accordance with

their estimation ("something like..."). I explain also these expressions as simple as possible in German, but I also say the Czech equivalent of the relevant word. I mention, if needed, their proper spelling. Students may, if they want to , work also anonymously. I check all their sheets but they do not serve me as a material for evaluating students' activity or knowledge. The sheets are an excellent aid for the use of the same recording in another seminar group.

Many times the listening focuses on pronunciation. Then I stop the process in the relevant place and I invite students to repeat a shorter clause, a part of a longer sentence, more difficult compound word and to imitate the speaker's performance. Beside the pronunciation I demand to imitate also the speed of the speaker's delivery, the sentence stress and modulation etc. To make the spelling of some words more graphic, I write them on the blackboard. Students put them down in their exercise books.

The phase devoted to vocabulary is followed by work at the content of the recording. I prepare also this phase of teaching very attentively at home. On the other sheet I let copy the tasks, mostly questions, concerning the content of a recording. The tasks are the same for all students again. The questions are not very numerous. Students have to answer them after the repeated listening to the recording. The questions are usually quite easy, but students have to answer them using the words of the text they have listened to. Their involvement in doing these tasks usually shows the extent to which they had understood the text. They have to write their answers. It makes possible to me to check the accuracy of their understanding the context.

I check the understanding also in that way that I pause speaker's voice, a student has to repeat the sentence or a part of it that he has just heard and to translate it. Other students follow his translation, rectify it or formulate it in some other way.

After a sequence of tasks I incorporate a "free" listening; that means a listening without any task. Students have only to listen attentively to the whole recording. I suppose that in their linguistic awareness they will use all that they have learned in seminar lessons. The picture of the group persuades me that it is really so. Whenever I incorporate a free listening, students listen to the recording very attentively and intently. This free listening motivates them very positively. After the sequence of seminar lessons each student can see that he understands the recording that he might see as a very difficult and almost unintelligible one sometime ago.

Formulating task questions I avoid yes-or-no questions. Their educational contribution seems to me two low. But I do not avoid worksheets with long text segments with blanks in them. Putting down the missing words in the gaps according to the recording is a short and simple task, but it must be done very promptly because the recording keeps going on at its own pace. Nevertheless, even in such a case the gaps must not follow close one behind the other. Students must get a real possibility to fill out all the gaps properly. In a variant if this task they get two or three words for each gap on their sheets and they do not write down a missing word into the gap but only mark the suitable one according heard text. I take the first variant for a more efficient one.

Time permitting; students may try to solve this task: The sheet contains three or four sentences again. Some of them are worked with small differences from the heard text and only one of them has the same wording. Students have to mark it. The task seems to be primitive, but if the differences are really very small it demands very careful attention.

The students hand me in their sheets after the lesson for checking. But I do this at home. I tell students some possible comments of mine in the next lesson.


HUBACKOVA,Sarka. 2010. Foreign language teaching with WebCT support. In Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences by Elsevier Ltd., Volume 3, 2010, Pages 112-115. [online] 17. 08. 2010. < 12%2F31%2F2010&_alid=1616991322&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_origin=search&_zone=rslt_list_item &_cdi=59087&_sort=r&_st=13&_docanchor=&view=c&_ct=1&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=4e19b271 7e69b5045df39cc7a55f3d21&searchtype=a>. ISSN:1877-0428.