Cheung, Yun Kul The Importance of Teaching Listening in the EFL Classroom 2010-08-28 24p. Guides – Classroom – Teacher English (Foreign Language); Listening Comprehension; Listening Skills; Second Language Instruction; Teaching Methods Teaching Listening Skills
This paper discusses the importance of listening comprehension in learning English as a foreign language (EFL) and argues that more emphasis should be given to listening comprehension. It cites significant research findings in second language acquisition and reviews the relationship between listening comprehension and language learning. Research suggests that listening is prerequisite to other language skills, speaking, reading, and writing, and listening should be the primary skill to be acquired in learning a new language. There are major reasons for applying the listeningfirst approach. Listening comprehension sets a foundation for the future acquisition of speaking. Emphasis on aural comprehension training, and relaxation of the requirement for oral production in the initial phase of instruction, fosters development of linguistic competence, and produces better results than those obtained through intensive oral practice.
I. INTRODUCTION Learning a foreign language is commonly associated with speaking that language, and learners are enamored with speaking the language immediately. As for teachers, they are more than likely to plunge students right into speaking. Children have months of listening to their native language before they even utter their first word. But when a person is taught a foreign language, he is expected to speak the language from day one. Listening should be the first and foremost skill to be acquired in learning a new language. Understanding spoken words is prerequisite to speaking, reading, and writing; comprehension should precede reproduction. Research has shown strong evidence that listening comprehension and language acquisition are closely related. Further, listening skill transfers to other skills, and promoting listening skills before focusing on oral skills results in increased second language acquisition. II. THEORETICAL BACKGROUND The argument emphasizing listening comprehension in language learning is compelling inasmuch as there is sufficient evidence that acquisition of listening skills leads to acquisition of other language skills, i.e., speaking, reading, and writing.
However, language teachers have not fully adopted the listening-first approach. This is probably due to the following: a. Listening is considered a skill that will be acquired naturally by teaching speaking and reading. b. Teaching listening comprehension is not a neatly laid-out method to use. c. Listening may be viewed as passive and is only incidental to learning to speak, which is viewed as active. d. Language teachers themselves have had grammar classes, pronunciation classes, civilization classes, but not listening comprehension classes. Most EFL programs emphasize effective speaking and listening is superficially treated in language classes. Further, there seem to be much fewer teaching materials for listening than for speaking or reading. This is because comprehension processes are still not well understood and because teachers often assume that students will somehow develop listening skills once they are taught speaking. Some of the reasons for applying the listening-first approach are as follows. First, listening comprehension lays a foundation for the future acquisition of speaking. Second, emphasis on aural comprehension training and relaxation of the requirement for oral production in the initial phase of instruction foster development of linguistic competence and produce better results than those obtained through intensive oral practice. Too often, teachers, using the audio-lingual approach, plunge students directly into speaking even when students have...