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Teaching Listening Comprehension


1. Characteristics of LC as a means and as an aim of teaching.

2. Psychological mechanisms of perception of speech by the ear. Difficulties of perception of the living speech in a foreign language.

3. Chief stages of teaching LC and their interrelation. Exercises aimed at development of auding skills.

4. Ways and techniques of comprehension of dialogue and monologue by ear. Using of the mechanical teaching aids in teaching listening comprehension.


The term “auding” means hearing and comprehension. To aud means to recognize and to comprehend the content of speech. Auding is a receptive kind of language activity. It is both an aim and a means of teaching.

LC as a means of teaching is used as :

1.a way of introduction of the language material in oral form (in a talk, in speech patterns);

2.a means of forming well-set acoustic images of language phenomena (words) together with their meanings, which is ensured by multiple perception of the same material by the ear;

3.a means of acquiring pronunciation habits, because instruction only won’t help pupils to pronounce a sound strange to their mother-tongue if they don’t hear how it is pronounced by a teacher or by the speaker;

4.a major means of teaching speaking. Psychologists and methodologists (beginning with H. Palmer) have admitted the necessity of auding coming before outstripping speaking;

5.and skills in a an effective means of developing habits foreign language;

6.a means of mastering the (teaching) technique of reading aloud, as the mechanisms of reading aloud comprises also acoustic images. The year controls correctness of reading a text aloud.


LC as the means of teaching permits multiple listening of one and the same speech material; while LC as a language activity constitutes a skill of comprehending speech by ear at single (presented but once) perception (presentation).


The psychological mechanisms of auditory perception of the living speech:

Mechanism I - physical perception of speech.

Mechanism II auditory memory, i.e. ability of keeping the accepted images in memory. Short-term memory provides preservation of the coming information during the perception phase.

Long-term memory preserves the articulatory images of words, word-combinations, constructions, rules, which ensure comprehension.

Mechanism IIImechanism of inner speech. It is of broken (interrupted) character. The more familiar the coming information is, the more broken inner speech will be.

Mechanism IVrecognition on the basis of language experience, the limits of the active and passive vocabulary, intonation.

Mechanism Vanticipation. It sets the listener to logical understanding, comprehension.

Mechanism VI Logical comprehension. It requires some interest to what is being said (to the subject), a definite tempo of mental activity, attention and concentration.


Difficulties of listening and comprehension of the living speech

and factors influencing the success of LC

According to prof. Buhbinder, auding is influenced by following factors:

· Inner factors : (interest, level of attention and concentration,

· conviction of significance of the information,

· degree of development of phonemic memory,

· individual peculiarities of pupils’ quick-wittidness, reaction and quick transfer from one intellectual operation to another, etc) which are strictly personal;

Outer factors (the linguistic structure of an audiotext, its content, some situational factors).

Some methodologists specify some other difficulties of audingpsychological extralinguistic and extra linguistic ones.

I. To the extra aural (linguistic) difficulties we refer:

· The volume of the auditory memory;

· Kind of speech to be listened to;

· Tempo of speech. From the very beginning tempo of speech must be normal (within the limits of 200-250 syl/min).;

· The number of presentation and the volume of an utterance. The volume and character of a text for LC in junior forms – descriptive texts consisting of 3-6 sentences (1-2 min.), at the intermediate stage – 10-15 sentences (2-3 min.), in senior forms – 20-25 sentences (3 min.);

· Peculiarities of the speaker’s tembre;

· Props and reference – points of perception:

- semantic (intonation, rhythm, pauses, logical stress, parenthetical phrases);

- formal props (pictures, title);

- visual verbal props (voc. notes).

II. The linguistic difficulties are:

a) phonetic (phonemic oppositions, or contrast sounds: short-long, voiced-voiceless, different intonation patterns and their meaning), tempo, indistinct (defective) pronunciation;

b) lexical (antonyms, lexical constructions, interruptions etc are difficult to comprehend); homonyms, paronyms;

c) grammatical (tense forms, elliptical words and sentences, analytical forms);

d) compositional structure of a text (description or narration or reflection, the beginning or the end of the story);

e) structural peculiarities of a text;

f) the presence of proper names, geographical names, terms.

g) a major linguistic difficulty is the extension of sentences in a text for LC. The more complicated the syntax of a sentence is, the more difficult it is to comprehend it, because it requires a retentive shorten memory. (7+-2 lexical units deep).

h) peculiar stylistic devices, implication, dialectical words (dialectisms), slang words, jargonisms, euphemisms.

Modern methodological literature contains directions as to usage and influence of a context in comprehension of a text. It may be of 3 kinds:

- favourable;

- neutral;

- unfavourable.

Favourable influence is produced by a text, which:

· Is interesting to the pupils of a particular age-group from the point of view of emotional colouring;

· Has a simple plot;

· Is logically characterized by the development of events;

· Is free from too many details;

· Doesn’t contain too many proper and geographical names, terminology;

· Has but several evidently unfamiliar words distributed, preferably presented not at the beginning of the text or a context (Context is a sentence or a group of sentences united by a sense – common idea).


Chief stages of teaching LC are:


anticipation While-listeningPost-listening


How to organize LC of a text presented by a teacher or a tape recorder in steps.

Step I. Introductory talk with the aim to prepare pupils for comprehension of a text by the ear;

Step II. Prediction. Aim –to prepare students for listening, focusing on the situation and encouraging students to predict:

a) working at the title of a text;

b) removing the language difficulties of the text (phonetic, lexical, grammatical).

Step III. Setting an aim for primary comprehension of the text.

Step IV. Primary presentation of the audiotext to the pupils with the help of visual props (pictures, adequate to the content of the text) or verbal props (key-words, word combinations, phrases).

Step V. Checking up understanding of the general content of the text.

Step VI. Setting an aim for the second presentation of the text;

Step VII. The second presentation of the text/gist listening (for specific information) – to understand the text in depth – the words, details, structures (with the help of verbal (graphic) props);

Step VIII. Checking up understanding of the details of the text

Step IX. Summing up and follow-up activities.

In accordance with the classification of ex-ses accepted in Methods of FLT, ex-ses in teaching listening comprehension may be grouped into:

· language (preparatory) ex-ses;

· speech ex-ses.

To language ex-ses we can refer phonetic ex-ses aimed at perceiving separate words on the flow of speech by the year, separate comprehending phrases and understanding their rhythmic and intonation pattern, types of sentences.

The requirements to the speech ex-ses for T.LC are as follows:

1. they should provide proper drill in LC with the regard of its psychological and linguistic nature as a language activity (limited time of comprehension, tempo of speech), peculiarities of different language activities (dialogue, monologue);

2. they should be of training character, i.e. they should help learners to overcome grammatical, lexical and structural difficulties of LC not in isolation, as it takes place in language ex-ses, but in connected speech;

3. they should provide the formation of auding skills step by step in accordance with the level of pupils’ command of the target language, the character of the text etc.

4. ex-ses in comprehension of a definite language form (lexical, grammatical, phonetical material of an audiotext).


Such ex-ses should provide intuitive comprehension of language material, which can be made possible if: a) well-set auditory images of language phenomena are created;

b) long-term and short-term auditory memory is developed; c) inner speech in the target tongue has a developed, i.e. broken character.

Stages of formation of Listening Comprehension:

Stage One – preparatory ex-ses. Aim – to remove linguistic and psychological difficulties before the presentation of an audiotext, so that the listener could concentrate his attention on comprehending the content.

For example:

· listen to a pair of words and say what sounds are the same in them;

· try to recognize a new word among the familiar ones (clap your hands…);

· name nouns which are most often used with the following adjective.

· Define the function of a word (is it a verb, noun or adj).


Stage Two – speech ex-ses. Aim: to develop skills of comprehension of speech under conditions similar to natural ones. These ex-se teach pupils to divide an audiotext into parts, to state the main idea of a text, to extract new information from the text. speech ex-ses are subdivided into ex-ses in auding a) a dialogue and

b) a monologue.



Ways of checking up understanding

You can control LC:

a) orally and in writing;

b) in the mother tongue or in the target language if the pupils’ level of mastering the target language is enough to convey the information;

c) extralinguistic and linguistic ways - draw, underline, perform an action. Pupils are supposed to know the requirements to auding a particular text (e.g. the number of details).

· Multiple choice tests (choose the correct answer out of 3-4);

· Fill in the blanks in the graphic variant;

· Answer the questions;

· Choose a suitable picture;

· A discussion in the mother tongue;

· Underline the correct answer (or raise your hand when…);

· Make up an outline of the story;

· Perform an action;

· Retell the text according to the plan/ key-words;

· Put the pictures in the logical order, described in the story;

· Colour the picture according to the content of the text;

· Draw a picture of…


Lecture 10

Date: 2015-02-16; view: 1119

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