Investigation Into The Listening Obstacles Education Essay

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Listening is the first and earliest skill that each person learns and uses to learn about the world around him. Atwater declares that in the first years of formal education at school, students spend 50% or more of their communication time listening, followed by speaking, reading and writing in that order. Thus, when approaching any foreign languages, learners should begin their acquisition with listening skill. One's grammar enhances if he or she learns to listen to the language before speaking it (Benson and Heilt, 1978). Learning English is not an exception. In most Vietnamese educational institutions in general and at Quy Nhon University in particular, English teachers focus on reading, writing skills and grammar and pay much less attention to building and developing students' listening abilities. Therefore, the low outcomes in listening exams are not surprising. What are the obstacles blocking students' listening comprehension? And what strategies do the students should use to improve this situation? Many previous studies issue the listening obstacles and that's a fact. Concretely, Flewerdew and Miller (1996: 25-26) states that the listening comprehension's difficulty has three sources: speed of delivery, new words and concepts not met before, difficulty in concentration, and those related to physical environment. Other obstacles including the message, the speaker, the listener and the physical setting are identified by Yager (1994 in Hassan, 2000: 139). In addition, listening strategies are also mentioned in other research studies. Specifically, for Rubin (1975), "strategies" are "techniques or devices which a learner may use to acquire knowledge" (p.43). Also, Anderson (2003) takes the term further: "strategies" are "conscious actions that learners take to improve their language learning" (p.3). According to Oxford Advance's Learner Dictionary, this term is defined as "a plan that is intended to achieve a particular purpose".

In this thesis, a book by Paul Edmunds, Nancie McKinnon, Jeff Zeter, titled Building Skills for the TOEFL iBT Second Edition is used as a specific tool for research purpose. In fact, TOEFL iBT is a useful measure to judge learners' ability on using and understanding English at the university level. In listening TOEFL iBT in particular and other listening materials in general, although many students learn that it is necessary to utilize strategies in listening skill, how to use those strategies systematically is a problem. Others do not care much about listening strategies and do not learn how useful and effective these strategies are. As a student of English at Quy Nhon University, I set myself targets that this thesis could identify the difficulties encountered in listening TOEFL iBT and could provide students with specific strategies. As a result, the thesis title goes as An Investigation into Listening Obstacles and Strategies in TOEFL iBT for Third-year English Major Students at Quy Nhon University.

Aims of the study

The main purpose of this study is to make an investigation into the listening obstacles and strategies that English Majors K33 can have. This study focuses on several specific purposes:

To refer to particular theoretical background relating to listening TOEFL iBT (based on the book titled Building Skills for the TOEFL iBT Second Edition by Paul Edmunds, Nancie McKinnon, Jeff Zeter)

To identify and analyze obstacles the students have

To provide useful strategies to help students to become an effective listener

Scope of the study

Due to limited time, ability and research conditions, the scope of this study is confined in its population, only on English major students in General English K33. Therefore, the study's generalization should be limited and its results may not be representative of a larger population of students at Quy Nhon University.

Research questions

Towards the aims of research, the researcher supposes several research questions as follows:

What are the obstacles blocking students listening comprehension in TOEFL iBT?

What strategies do the students use to overcome in listening TOEFL iBT?

How can the strategies help students get achievement in listening?

Methods of the study

In order to achieve the aims mentioned above, quantitative and qualitative methods will be carried out and the following tasks have to be done:

Carry out a survey on the English listening scores of English major students in General English K33 by collecting data.

Use questionnaires, listening test(s), and as a means of qualitative methods to find out the students' obstacles and their learning strategies for listening TOEFL iBT.

Design of the study

To accomplish the objectives of the study, this graduation thesis is divided into five main parts:

Chapter1: Introduction presents introduction including the rationale for the research, the aims, the scope, the research questions, the methods used, and design of the study.

Chapter 2: Literature review consists of a review of previous studies related to the problem mentioned in the study and some theoretical knowledge. Also in this chapter, some definitions of terms that used in this study are presented.

Chapter 3: Methodology gives the aims and objectives of the study. The chapter presents the research design as well as research method, data collection and data analysis.

Chapter 4: Findings and discussion discusses the results of the investigation basing the results of the survey and data analysis. The analysis mainly focuses on solving the research questions.

Chapter 5: Conclusion draws the conclusions and provides some solutions to improve the habit of using strategies of third-year English Major Students at Quy Nhon University.

With the above orientation, a detailed table of contents of the study is intended as follows:



Aims of the Study

Scope of the Study

Research Questions

Method of the Study

Design of the Study


2.1 Preview of Previous Studies

2.2 Theoretical Background

2.2.1 Listening obstacles

2.2.2 Listening strategies

2.2.3 Theory listening of TOEFL iBT Listening Materials Conversations Lectures Listening Question Types Basic Comprehension Pragmatic Understanding Connecting and Synthesizing??? Information


Aim and Objectives of the Study

Method of the Study

Data Collection

3.3.1 Sample(s) of a Listening Test

3.3.2 Questionnaires


Steps in the Research Process

Data Analysis



4.1 Analysis of the Questionnaires

4.2 Strategies of Listening Comprehension in TOEFL iBT

4.2.1 Bottom-up and Top-down Strategies

4.2.2 Metacognitive and Cognitive and Socioaffective Strategies

4.3 Effectiveness of the Strategies

4.4 Summary


5.1 Conclusion

5.2 Implications

5.3 Limitation

5.4 Suggestions for Further Research


I hopefully expect the outcomes of this study as the following:

Firstly, the person(s) in the interview can share their experience when they take part in a real TOEFL iBT examination.

Secondly, the participants could be divided into three groups (G1: who do not know much about listening strategies and do not use them; G2: who know something about listening strategies but do not use them systematically; G3: who know and use listening strategies well). From this, the thesis can point out the relationship between listening strategies and listening achievement.

Thirdly, after finishing this thesis, students can understand what strategies are and can use them effectively and systematically. Thus, the number of obstacles in listening, especially in listening TOEFL iBT, can be reduced.



Details of job



Carrying out the introduction and literature review

- Finding as many documents relating the research study

- Reading thoroughly, using some of the documents as quotation

- Choosing the approach to the problem and the theoretical background


Collecting data and working on the result to draw specific comments

- Developing questionnaires

- Working on the questionnaires returned by the informants

- Analyzing and making discussion of the result

- Suggesting some implication for practicing listening skill with the systematical application of strategies


Working on the thesis drafts

Working on the drafts and making correction several times to

 I underscore my commitment to accomplishing this research paper as scheduled under the instruction of my supervisor.


Võ Thị Thanh Diệp Võ Phạm Hoàng Anh