As a focus of instruction, listening continues to be underrated in many programs, and some of the recommended methods and techniques, as well as some of the published materials, continue to be based on outdated models of language learning and teaching. Students exposed to comprehensible input have better listening comprehension Since listening comprehension is the ability to understand quickly what an individual hears. Listening was originally seen as passive process, in which our ears receive information to digest the message.
Now we recognize listening as an active process in which the learner has to comprehend what heard, so that listeners are as active when listening as speakers are when speaking. “The principal objective of the listening comprehension is to make learners able to understand, and respond appropriately to the language when they are exposed” Teacher’s handbook: contextualized language instruction (Judith L. Shrum, 2000:13, 14, 15) the author infers in the fact that the goal for listening comprehension is the learner to understand the language forms. Humans acquire language in only one way – by understanding messages or by receiving “comprehensible input”’. The theory of Stephen Krashen supports greatly our research questions. The theory described that learners have to be exposed to language form they can understand and/or they are familiar to; otherwise, if learners do not comprehend what hear it will not help to improve their ability to decode the message. The theory infers on the fact that language has to be adapted to the level of the learners to give them a opportunity to respond and start interacting with the language.
That is, input has to be neither difficult to understand nor too easy. Krashen explained that a learner has to be exposed to the immediate next level. Krashen stated “comprehensible input relies on the actual language forms being incomprehensible, not the total message”. This is called “incomprehensible input” which refers to the fact that a learner tries to guess the meaning of a whole phrase by relating al words in a sentence. Krashen claims that language acquisition occurs through understanding messages or, in other words, by receiving comprehensible input.
In other words, according to Krashen’s view skills as listening or reading play the major role in the learning process, and, in contrast, the development of productive skills depends on the amount and type or input received. Listening is an important activity. Second language learners acquire a new language by hearing it in context where the meaning of sentences is made by guessing. Speaking is the result of the acquisition process through listening improvement. There are two specific approaches for listening acquisition.
The first is called “intensive listening” considered as the material used in classrooms for the learners to hear some language forms, this is more practical for practicing a specific language form or structure. In contrast, the second approach, “extensive listening”, exposes the students to a real language directly; this gives the opportunity to hear so many different voices, so many different styles. It also helps to get used to the natural speed of the spoken language. There are two distinct kind of processes are involved in listening comprehension, which are referred to as ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top-down’ processing” English Language Skills, (Mary Finocchiaro, 1966: 50-65). The author of this book states that there are two forms to acquire listening comprehension. The first, Bottom-up refers to the fact of receiving information about the meaning of a message, so comprehension begins when the message is received, in other words, this is an inductive approach by figuring out what the message is.
An example of this process is found when analyzing a group of words said together and split them word by word as “abookofmine”, so the learner has to listen carefully and then comprehend each word said. On the contrary, Top-down processing refers to the use of background knowledge in understanding the meaning of a message. Background is the basis for this approach, and it may take different forms as previous knowledge, situational or contextual knowledge, or knowledge store in long term memory. For example, if an adult is seated in a classroom and children around him, an observer can assume that the adult is reading a story for the children.
If this gets closer to listen what is happening this will confirm what he thought according to his previous knowledge. Listening comprehension takes place at the beginning stage when learning a new language. And, it can have different purposes, but the main one is to communicate efficiently in the second language. Learners speaking skills are the result of listening comprehension Speaking skills and the art of communications is a productive skill. Good speaking skills are the act of generating words that can be understood by listeners. A good speaker is clear and informative.
To understand the nature of listening processes, it is important to consider the characteristics of speaking skills and problems learners may encounter. In comparison with writing skills, speaking skills have very different from writing, what you write can be erased and corrected, but what you speak although it can be immediately corrected the mistake was done anyways. “Speaking skill needs a strong input, and some ideas. Moreover, it requires psychological order of expression as well. All these things are necessary to give the speaker a confidence to express what he is going to communicate”.
Teaching Oral English (Donn Byrne, 1976: 19, 20, 21). The most relevant purpose of communication is to convince the listeners of the point of view of the speaker. So the speaker should himself very much clear about his views point. No ambiguity of any kind and on any point should be there in his mind. He should be well-versed with the magnetic impact of the wording and its meaning. He should select appropriate words keeping in view the ability of the listeners. Furthermore, he can make his speech more effective with suitable illustration, proverbs and quotations. Truthfulness should be the axel of his speech.
For the solid and for reaching impact he should avoid emotionalism as far as he can. Realities on ground have their own emotional aspect. He should keep his speech restricted to the ground realities. In 1985 Merril Swain developed the comprehensible output theory; “the word ‘output’ was used to indicate the outcome, or product, of the language acquisition process. Output was synonymous with ‘what the learner has learned’”. Speaking (Martin Bygale, 1987: 145-146). The output theory claims that the act of producing language (speaking) constitutes, under certain circumstances, part of the process of second language learning.
This theory states that learners acquire language when they attempt to transmit a message but fail and have to try again. Moreover, this theory is divided in three steps; the first is when the learner faces to what this wants to say and what he is able to say, so here he notices what do not know or only knows a part of the language, then, the second steps lays in the fact when learner says something wrong and someone else corrects it, or give some feedback to the proper use of the language.
And, finally, the third steps talks about that the learner use the language in his output, and this enables him to control and internalize some linguistic knowledge. An authentic oral communication in based in an authentic context The purpose of all language is to communicate people exchanging thoughts from one person to another. To communicate there must be one person to put something “out”, and another person must take something “in”. a language consists of four main skills, two for output and two for input.
In other words, there are two skills for spoken communication and two for written communication. People learn their mother tongue, first learning to speak it and then writing it. Speaking is considered as real language and writing is just a representation. Moreover, within speaking skill we may find accuracy and fluency as the skills to develop while learning a language. “Primary focus is on the exchange of information (the transactional function of conversation), and those in which the primary purpose is to establish social relations” English Language Skills (Mary Finocchiaro, 1966: 67-68).
The author infers about the importance of communication when exchanging information. Oral communication is well defined as a two way process between listener and speaker, involving the productive skill of speaking, and the receptive skill of understanding, comprehension. To understand better the process for good spoken language, we may say that it starts in the receptive skill of listening comprehension, then it becomes in productive skill when speaking. In deep, the ability to understand needs to be considerably more extensive than the ability to speak.
So, every learning process should not be oriented to accelerate speaking, but first the focus must be listening comprehension because speaking will depend greatly on what the learner understands. “They (learners) have actually to learn to listen, just as they have to speak” Mary Finocchiaro Since oral communication has been defined as two-way process involving speakers and listeners, its explanation about how listening helps speaking is explained this way by Paulette Dale in his book Speech Communication (2006: 78, 79, 80). “A language is learned by listening someone else speaks.
And the learner tries to repeat, although could not make it right at first time; but if the learner keeps trying, this will be able to speak fluently at the end of the process”. As explained above, the author agrees with others experts about giving more emphasis to listening skills when learning a new language for learners may develop speaking skills. Listening comprehension becomes in a priority when learning to speak a new language. A learner can use his vocabulary and express some ideas, but when listening to reply this may not be able to do it.
That is why learners must be prepared to comprehend words which are a part of the speaker vocabulary. In order to handle a conversation, a learner must be competent in listening comprehension than speaking, specifically when talking to native person of that language. Attempting to speak before listening comprehension is acquired may cause problems in speaking, the most outstanding issue lays on the fact that the learner will not develop the speaking properly and will have troubles either with accuracy, or fluency, even both.
Beside, learner may get frustrated if his speaking is not good or feels that have some obstacles, and this will not improve the skill, instead this may be a detractor in his learning process. Comprehensible input is very important in the language acquisition process. it builds a listening comprehension through listening materials that have to be selected after a research to adequate it to learners level, an immediate level for them to start developing new vocabulary and language forms.
Listening comprehension of a foreign language has to be developed as a single skill, and that development of linguistic competence is facilitated when training in oral production is not attempted until considerably fluency in listening comprehension has been developed. The language acquisition process can be made less extensive and more productive by working first in enhancing listening comprehension rather than speaking skills. ———————– UNIVERSITY OF EL SALVADOR DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE SEMINAR I LITERATURE REVIEW