Monday, February 15, 2010

The importance of Listening Comprehension

Some teachers say that the students’ level of listening comprehension is commonly lower than any other English skill they possess. Meanwhile, their ability to absorb the lesson of classroom discourse may in fact be higher. The major things happened in the ESL/EFL in Indonesia is that students rarely taught the listening skill properly. They don’t even get the basic of how to comprehend speech which may be said by the native speaker.
In many textbooks used in the school, teachers may find a listening stage in each unit of a course. However, most of them ignore it or skip it to the other English skills, such as writing, reading and speaking. The main reason of this problem is the less facility of the school to support the listening stage in the class. Somehow, teachers may pretend as the native speaker in teaching listening. They may read the text and interactively tries to communicate with the pupils. However, there are some bizarre dialects of English which is cannot be practiced or pronounced well by the teachers.
Teachers really need to model their students using the real conversation of the native speakers. It doesn’t matter if they use a cassettes or video to be analyzed. They can ask students to listen to a text or conversation and listen it scene by scene. Then, they have their students do the comprehending listening exercises. Richards (1990) divulge a clear description of how listening comprehension is acquired by native or non-native listeners. He refers as bottom-up and top-down processing.
Bottom-up processing refers to the decoding process, from the sound to the words, words to grammatical relationship and the final decoding is a meaning. To decode sounds students need to know the code consisting of how the sounds work and how they string together and how the code can change in different ways when it is strung together. Most students have never been taught how English changes when it's strung together in sentences. Otherwise, top-down processing refers to how we use our world knowledge to attribute meaning to language input.


Lady Bie @ Mel March 14, 2010 at 8:49 PM  

I understand your point. Even in Malaysia, we also have our MUET, (Malaysian English Entrance test) the student sometime have trouble in understanding in what the teacher or the recording was all about. The frequency of listening exercise are limited. The importance of listening and reading are not totally emphasize in daily teaching and this would cause the students problem when they further their studies to higher level. Education system should revised and study back on how English should be taught in school to ensure the students capability to speak and understand English. In higher tertiary education, we have to listen to native speakers recording in one of our paper but for some students it was hard to understand to what was being talk in the recording due to the lack of exposure to the speech made by native speaker of English.

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