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Effect Of Authentic Listening Materials English Language Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 3138 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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This article is about the role of authentic listening material on students motivation and how it helps them in improving their learning. Many researchers have studied about the authentic materials. They advocate the use of authentic material and have different point of views, but they agree upon one idea: “exposure”, exposure to “real language and real life”, in other words, the advantage students get from being exposed to the language in authentic materials. The authentic materials should be used with the students’ level of knowledge and the students should be aided by their teachers to deal with the difficulties they face.

I Introduction

There are some definitions regarding listening. According to definition by Oxford (1993, p. 206), listening is a complex problem solving skill and it is more than just perception of the sounds. Listening includes comprehension of meaning words, phrases, clauses, sentences, and connected discourse.

In another definition by Oxford dictionary, listening is defined as ” make an effort to hear something; listen to the radio, listen for the bell, to pay attention, heed”.

Listening skill is a significant function in foreign language learning. Among the skills, listening is the important one.

Furthermore, according to Saricoban (1999), considers listening as one of the fundamental language skills. It is a medium through which children, young people and adults gain a large portion of their information, their understanding of the world and of human affairs, their ideals, sense of values, and their appreciation.

Rivers (1978) believes that listening is a creative skill. It means we comprehend the sound falling on our ears, and take the raw material of words, arrangements of words, and the rise and fall the voice, and from this material we create significance. He also states that listening skill is listening with comprehension, attention and appreciation. Then, listening activity needs to integrate skills of language, such as pronunciation, vocabulary mastery, writing, speaking, and

reading. According to Rivers listening skill should be integrated with other skills. So in this case it includes not only the listening activity itself but also writing , speaking, and so on.

There are some problems regarding listening that Underwood (1990) mentions some kinds of them in listening that are directly related to the students themselves. One of the problems is based on the fact that students have established learning habits in the sense that they have been encouraged to understand everything by listening carefully to teachers who probably speak slowly and clearly. Hence, when they fail to understand every word while listening, they stop listening and lose the thread, which seems to be the reason for the state of panic and worrying they usually show before and during listening. In relation to those problems, we cannot deny that students’ motivation plays important role in learning listening.

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As mentioned in Brown (2006), another theme will be motivation. I believe that listening and motivation are interrelated and influence each other . Because listening is so challenging, teachers need to think carefully about making the activities successful and the content interesting. We can create interesting and motivating activities when listening such as using English songs. Thus, the students will be stimulated and not be frightened or worried when they are practicing listening.

There have always been a lot of disputes over the effect of listening in foreign language learning. Some believe that listening should be regarded as an essential element of foreign language proficiency, and as such plays an important role in foreign language programs. Other claim that there must be a strong relationship between listening materials and EFL students’ motivation. As a matter of fact,

student motivation is an essential element that is necessary for quality of education. How do we know when students are motivated? They pay attention, they begin working on tasks immediately, they ask questions and volunteer answers, and they appear to be happy and eager. (Palmer, 2007).

This article describes a classroom research project to investigate whether listening materials increase the classroom motivation of learners, a claim often made but rarely, if ever, tested. But before getting started to describe the impact of listening materials we should take into consideration that what kind of listening materials do we mean? Are they authentic materials i.e. (what native speakers produce and write) or non-authentic ones (by which I mean materials produced specifically for language learners, e.g. exercises found in course books and supplementary materials).

Many writers claim that authentic listening materials motivate learners because they are intrinsically more interesting or stimulating than artificial or non-authentic materials . Proponents of this view include Little and Singleton (1991:124), Freeman and Holden (1986: 67); Allwright(1979: 179); who refer to this as the ‘classic argument’; Little, Devitt, andSingleton (1989: 26) , who add that authentic texts bring learners closer to the target language culture, making learning more enjoyable andtherefore move motivating; King (1990: 70), and Bacon and Finnemann (1990: 459-60), Swaffar (1985: 18),. Far fewer authors maintain that authentic materials reduce learner motivation because they are too difficult: Morrison (1989: 15),Freeman and Holden (1986: 68), and Williams (1983: 187; 1984: 26),.

Despite the fact that authentic listening resources are often seen as having the potential to motivate learners, Rost (2002) points out that some teachers believe authentic material “is too difficult for the students to handle1″(p. 125). Anderson and Lynch (1988) stress, “encourage passive and unsuccessful listening habits where the learners equate ‘listening’ with sitting back and letting a largely meaningless sequence of sound wash over them” (p. 45). Such a view reflects a general concern, no doubt influenced to some extent by Krashen’s (1981) input hypothesis, to ensure that task difficulty be set at an appropriate level. After all, most teachers would want to avoid possibly demoralizing learners with input too far beyond their. Apart from being dispiriting, exposing learners to incomprehensible listening materials can, linguistic competence

II Literature review


DÃ-rnyei believes that ”motivation is one of the most elusive concepts in applied linguistics and indeed in educational psychology in general”.(DÃ-rnyei, 1999, p. 525). he thinks that motivation is hard to grasp and is one of the central problems in educational psychology. A review of the mainstream psychology literature shows the difficulty of the concept of motivation along with the difficulty to conceptualize it. This difficulty in defining motivation is represented, on the one hand, by the several definitions of motivation, 1 and on the other, by the abundance of theories of motivation which are associated with different psychological perspectives on human behavior. In spite of the conceptual distinctions, however, most researchers agree that motivation is related to persons’ choice of a particular action, persistence with it, and effort expended on it. As Oxford and Ehrman maintain: ”The external or behavioral features of motivation include decision-making, persistence, and activity level. The learner decides to choose, to pay attention, to engage in one activity but not others; the learner persists over an extended time. . ..and the learner maintains high activity level” (Oxford and Ehrman, 1993, p.190). 2

These features of the motivated behavior are inbuilt in definitions given by mainstream psychology, as well as FLL literature on motivation. More recently, motivation is ”a process whereby a certain amount of instigation force arises, initiates action, and persists as long as no other force comes into play to weaken it and thereby terminate action, or until the planned outcome has been reached” (DÃ-rnyei, 1998, p. 118). In mainstream psychology, motivation is defined as ”the process whereby goal-directed activity is instigated and sustained” (Pintrich and Schunk, 1996, p. 4). In the FLL field, when in the early 1990s the motivation agenda was reopened towards a more situated approach, as will be mentioned later, Crookes and Schmidt wrote ”. . .teachers would describe a student as motivated if he or she becomes productively involved in learning tasks, and sustains that engagement, without the need for continual acknowledgement or direction” (Crookes and Schmidt, 1991, p. 480).

As it is clear, in the above-mentioned definitions, (a) motivation is a process, (b) it

involves goals which individuals have in mind and try to attain (or avoid), (c) it

requires activity on the part of the individuals; the activities that students involve in are geared toward attaining their goal, and (d) motivated activity is both instigated

and sustained. DÃ-rnyei includes in his definition the phrase: ”. . . as long as no other force comes into play to lessen it and thereby finish action. . .” which is also encompassed in Kuhl’s (Kuhl, 1987) ”control theory” (again from mainstream psychology).

Thus, DÃ-rnyei’ s definition accommodates the possibility of the existence of

factors which could intervene and ”weaken or terminate” the person’s action. The

last parameter allows us to discuss the effects of the milieu (society/parents, school/ teachers) on learners’ motivation. In fact, the inclination to incorporate the impacts of ”contextual transactions” (Paris and Turner, 1994) in the discussions of motivation, has recently become obvious. So we should agree with him because contextual factors are essential in improving motivation in learners.

The need to discuss motivation as functioning in a social context, the classroom in

particular, spurred the boom in research and theoretical postulations in the early

1990s. these discussions and findings have indicated that the interpretive power of the construct of ”integrativeness” for motivation and accordingly, achievement in FLL to occur (Gardner, 1985) had been overestimated.

The use of authentic materials has been widely supported and there is, as Guariento and Morley (2001) mention, “a general consensus in language teaching” (p. 347) that it makes use of the learning process. A principal merit proposed for presenting samples of genuine spoken interaction is that it exposes learners to those language properties that are often missing from concocted texts. As Willis (2003) warns, “there is a serious danger that specifically designed texts will show the language not as it really is, but as the course writers imagine it to be or would like it to be” (p. 224).

Less apparent, perhaps, than the benefit from exposure to this real-world language, is the affective role of authentic resources. Peacock (1997) suggests that amongst language teachers there is a “subjective impression” that these resources confer “a

positive effect on learner motivation” (p. 144). His study found an increase in on-task behavior and observed motivation when a variety of authentic materials were incorporated into language classes.

An approach to motivation has been suggested by Peirce (1995, p. 17); she believes that “investment” would be a more appropriate term, signaling that learners’ ‘invest” in learning a second language in order to increase their cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1991). According to this view, “the notion of investment . . . attempts to grab the relationship of the language learner to the changing social world” (Peirce, 1995, p. 17). Further, rather than prioritizing acculturation to the L2 community, as many previous attitudes studies have done, the notion of investment focuses on the individuals’ self-identity as the locus of concern.

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1.2. Beliefs about Listening

The importance of listening in language learning has only been recognized relatively recently (Oxford 1993). Since the role of listening comprehension in language learning was taken for granted, it merited little research and pedagogical attention. Although listening played an important role in audio-lingual methods, students only listened to repeat and develop a better pronunciation (for speaking). Beginning in the early 70’s, work by Asher, Postovsky, Winitz and, later, Krashen, brought attention to the role of listening as a tool for understanding and a key factor in facilitating language learning. Listening has emerged as an important component in the process of second language acquisition (Feyten, 1991). This research base provides support for the pre-eminence of listening comprehension in instructional methods, especially in the early stages of language learning.

Listening comprehension has received considerable attention in the fields of

applied linguistics, psycholinguistics and second language pedagogy during the last two decades (Anderson & Lynch, 1988; Flowerdew 1994; Rost, 1990; Underwood, 1989; Ur, 1984). Results of the large body of research have shown that listening is not a passive process, in which the listener simply receives a spoken message, but rather a complex cognitive process, in which the listener constructs the meaning using both her linguistic and non-linguistic knowledge. The importance of the listeners’ cognitive and social judgments in the process of listening, in addition to the linguistic knowledge, has been especially emphasized (Rost, 1990). Some scholars believe that listening is an active process.in traditional view listening was regarded as a passive .

Listening comprehension is viewed theoretically as an active process in which individuals focus on selected aspects of aural input, construct meaning from passages and relate what they hear to existing knowledge.

III Conclusion

In the light of these findings, I recommend that teachers of adult EFL to beginners try appropriate authentic listening materials in their classroom, as they may increase their learners’ levels of on-task behavior, concentration, and involvement in the target activity more than artificial materials. (It is possible to speculate that this would apply equally in intermediate advanced classes.) They may, however, reduce the levels of learner interest engendered by the materials used. It is important that materials selected for the classroom motivate learners, so one criterion for the selection of materials should be their effect on motivation. materials to be significantly less interesting than artificial materials. This stands in direct contrast to the large number of assertions listed above, to the effect that authentic materials are more motivating because they are intrinsically more interesting. These findings are a preliminary indication that this is not the case; learners were more motivated by authentic materials, but not because they were more interesting. These results also indicate that, at least for the learners who participated, interest in the materials in use is quite separate as a component of motivation from levels of attention or action and persistence with the learning task. For this reason it was not possible to say whether authentic materials motivated learners or not. None of the authors who assert that authentic materials motivate learners make this distinction between separate components of classroom motivation, I suggest that in classroom motivation research, treating these two as separate components of motivation would lead to a clearer understanding of the meaning of the construct ‘motivation’, and a more precise picture of the effects of different materials on learner behavior in the classroom.

The generalizability of the results is limited by the small scale of the study and the level of the learners, who were all beginners. It could be argued that the topic (and to a lesser extent the activity based on the material, though these were similar every day) might have affected results. I was unable to control for their effects, being unable to reliably isolate and quantify their inherent motivational level. One indication that levels of class interest in the topic or activity did not significantly affect levels of motivation is the fact that after day 8 of the study, the use of authentic materials invariably resulted in higher levels of on-task behavior and overall class motivation. If a motivational level of the topic or activity was a major variable, this would almost certainly not have been the case. They may well remain as a minor variable.

IV References

Allwright, R. (1979). ‘Language learning through c ommunication practice’ in C.J.

Anderson, A., & Lynch, T. (1988).Listening. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dörnyei, Z. (2001). Motivational strategies in the language classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Feyten, C., (1991). The power of listening ability: an overlooked dimension in language acquisition. Modern Language Journal 75 (2), 173-180.

Freeman, D. and S. Holden. 1986. ‘Authentic listening materials’ in S. Holden (ed.) Techniques of Teaching. London: Modern English Publications: 67-9.

Kienbaum, B. E., A. J. Russell, and S. Welty.1986.Communicative Competence in Foreign Language Learning with Authentic Materials.Final Project Report.Purdue University,Calumet, Indiana.ERIC No.ED 275 200.

Krashen, S. D. (1981). Second language acquisition and second language learning. Oxford: Pergamon.

Little, D. and D. Singleton. 1991. ‘Authentic texts,pedagogical grammar and language awarenessin foreign language learning’ in C. James and P.

Garret (eds.). Language Awareness in the Classroom.London: Longman: 123-32.

Peacock, M. (1997). The effect of authentic materials on the motivation of EFL learners.ELT Journal, 51 (2), 144-154.

Rost, M. (2002). Teaching and researching listening. New York: Longman.

Swaffar, J. K. (1985). ‘Reading authentic texts in aforeign language: a cognitive model’.ModernLanguage Journal 69/1: 15-34.


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