Help Learners Improve Listening Comprehension Implementating Call English Language Essay

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If we think of a language as a jigsaw puzzle, and we analyse its components, we could find that the four skills, listening, speaking, reading, and writing are fundamental pieces of any language. Mastering a language implies managing to make each skill fit together. Add a sentence to link the previous idea with the following to assemble the jigsaw, and similarly the game there is always a skill which seems to be harder to place than others. I WILL MODIFY THIS PART OF THE INTRODUCTION- it is confusing

So if we ask a student who is learning English, as a second language, to think of the four skills to list them in order of difficulty, they will probably rank listening at the top of it. Hence, listening seems to be a challenging piece to place; one of the most complicated skills to master when learning a foreing language.

What is more, many students, who have claimed being good at English, have undergone a traumatic period the first time they have travelled to an English-speaking country. Depending on the student, they might be able to understand little or nothing of what is said to them (Rixon, 1986). This might be due to the considerable incompatibility between what they hear and how they would probably express what they have heard. Written words can be scrutinized and puzzled over, while spoken words do not. Most students complain that listening is difficult for them because it is temporary and fleeting. Readers could go back to review or look ahead to preview, but listeners could definitely not. Moreover, speech is less clearly segmented than writing, and might be colloquial, and not fluent (Bejar, et al., 2000).

The clarity and careful pronunciation vary in the ammount of consideration speakers show to foreingners. Some of these difficulties are applied to all languages, however, others are closely conected with the approach and training students have to listening. Whatever the approach, listening is a challenge. Not only do learners have to recognize the linguistic information from an acoustic signal, but also make meaning from it in real time.

According to Chapelle & Jamieson (2008) CALL (Computer Assisted-Language Learning) activities seems to be a plausible option to tackle this issue, since the process can be slowed down, the oral language can be captured in text, and word boundaries are shown. Hulstijn (2003) maintains that CALL can be suitable to the development of word recognition skills, as vocabulary acquision and automatic word understanding are two of the most important factors in second-language learning.

Acknowledging that listening is the most frequently employed language skill, and one of the most difficult habilities for learners to master, and being aware of the multiple advantages of introducing CALL activities to teach listening, it is the purpose of this paper to provide a practical approach to help learners improve on their listening.

Method

This is a case study Why? What makes it a case study? It does not look like a case study to me, but as a project.

Participants

The population will be two lower-intermadite groups of adults and and a group of adolescent learners at a language school in Avellaneda, in the Province of Buenos Aires.

Materials

A questionnaire to survey students' needs, and the development of a social network to help them improve their listening. Please explain.

Data processing

The data obtained from the questionnaire will be processed using Microsoft EXCEL to display the results graphically. Then, they will be analysed both quantitatively and qualitatively.

Results

Questionaire

The questionnaire is organized into three parts: the first questions are to check if the students have access to internet; what they use it for and which technological tools they usually use. The second part aims to test students' self perception of their performance in reading, writing, listening, and speaking, and their willingness to improve these skills. The third part is concerned with the students' interests and motivation a list of topics is introduced, and a blank space is provided for them to fill in with additional topics. (The anticipatory "it" can never anticipate a noun)

According to the results, all the students have an email account and almost all have a computer with internet connection at home.Therefore, this is a computer-literate group who have incorporated where? some technological tools such as blogs, wikipages and web browsers . The majority have said they use internet to search information, watch videos in YouTube, and look up words in online dictionaries. They also use it to chat, work, download music, and meet people in social networks such us 'Facebook'. This could be considered an advantage for the development of this project, since the site that will be designed for them is a social network. Thus, they might have no difficulty to operate with it.

Regarding the second part of this questionnaire, the data unveiled a marked tendency: there are two skills, speaking and listening, which are perceived as the most challenging ones; eight percent of the group agree to be good at speaking, and thirty-five percent at listening. While reading and writing rank much higher, eighty-five percent consider themselves to be good at reading, and seventy-one percent at writing. This reveals an inversely proportional(????) relationship between the skills they assert to be good at, reading and writing, and those they do not not, speaking and listening.

In this questionnaire there are also two statements aimed to test: the use of internet to practice English, and the students' willingness to use a website to improve their listening. Regarding the first statement, just thirty-five percent confirmed they use internet to practice English. Yet, when they are asked about the second one, hundred percent answer affirmatively; they would practice listening if there was a site where they could do it.

 

Conclusion

"Training your ear" is an extra curricular project, it is complementary to the course; not compulsory, nor a requirement to access the following level. Hence, the success of this course relies on the students' willingness and motivation to improve on their listening comprehension. Besides, the amount of time they are willing to spend or they have available ……?.

In order to keep a record of the site activity, it is necesary for students to become members of the site and leave a comment, after completing each lesson . This is the only means to receive feedback from its members. Moreover, as this is a free website of public access everyone could open any lessons without being signed in. Therefore, it is not possible to check how many visitors have actually carried out the lessons. This is unclear. Can you check who has entered the site or can't you?

According to the data obtained, half of the group has become a member of "Training your ear", and only two students have done the first and second lessons, so far. Leaving a comment implies merely answering three questions: the first one intends to measure how much they like the topic; the second one, to measure the degree of difficulty; and the third one to count how many unknown words they recognise. In their comments both learners agreed that they liked the listening, but not too much, and it was not so difficult. Yet, there was a variation in the number of unknown words, one of them posted one while the other one six.

Limitations

Although the website will be designed considering the learners' needs and interests they might not complete the course since it is not compulsory and is to be done in parallel with the regular course at home.

Some may not be used to using technology to improve on listening, and they might not be aware of the advantages of implementing CALL.

Part of them may find autonomous learning a challenge; arduous to cope with since they are not used to distance learning.

You have discussed some results before talking about limitations.

Delimitations

The present study will be conducted at a language school in the city of Avellaneda in the Province of Buenos Aires. It holds an average of 60 students that comprises the entire student body. Since this project is not part of the pedagogic proposal of the language school, it is not compulsory. It merely involves a group of 14 students of a lower-intermediate level who had expressed their interest on improving their listening. Thus, the listening course "Training your ear" is not done in class but in parallel, at home.

A CALL Project

"Training your Ear"

A course to improve your listening comprehension

Aims of the project:

To help learners train their ears on the English language enhancing their listening comprehension.

To foster the development of strategies for listening online, and to become autonomous and independent learners

To include audios which are of interest, and appropriate for learners.

To offer learners extensive listening practice which help them to decode and make meaning.

To provide opportunies so that learners could teach themselves, as they go at their own speed learning; evaluating what they need.

Objectives of the project:

To design a social network for the students to practice listening. This is not the learners' expected performance.

To introduce listening materials that include bottom-up, top-down, and selective listening activities. This is the teacher's aim

To provide listenings with video. Aim.

(TO BE CONTINUED)

The syllabus and the teaching programme

Training your ear has a matrix format with a smothly progresive level of difficulty, granted (?) by the duration or length of the listenings. The course begins with the sounds of English; in the main page, there is a link to the Phonetic Alphabet so that they can have a reference page. Then, learners are required to fill in a Survey; its data is taken into account to design, and edit the website.

Each lesson follows the same design pattern so that learners do not get confused. First, it is provided a brief introduction about the listening topic followed by a succinct instruction. Finally, after doing the listening they must leave a comment by answering three questions.

It provides listening texts with an assortment of accents, and varieties of English: American, British, Australian, Canadian, besides non-native speakers or speakers of English as a second language.

As the website is a social network it allows its members to have an active participation: it gives rise to the construction of their own learning process either in groups or individually. Define Social Network, please. They could upload videos, participate in the Forum to debate an issue or raise questions. It also provides a tab with Resources where they can have access to: other pages with plenty of listening materials, either monolingual or biligual online dictionaries, and pages that provide the lyrics of songs of their interest.

Process map

Time

Materials

Aims

Cross curricular links

Project map

Description

Lesson N° 1

What sign are you?

References

Beatty, K. (2003). Teaching and Researching Computer Assisted Language Learning. London, UK: Pearson Education.

Chapelle, C. A. and Jamieson, J. (2008). Tips for Teaching with CALL: Practical Approaches to Computer-Assisted Language Learning. Pearson Education

Dudeney, G. and Hockly, N. (2007). How to Teach English with Technology, Pearson Education

Dunkel, P. (1990). Computer Assisted and Language Learning and Testing - Research Issues and Practice. New York, NY : Newbury House.

Hardisty, D., and Windeatt, S. (1998). CALL. Oxford, UK: OUP.

Logan, R. K. (1995). The fifth Language: Learning a Living in the Computer Age.

Toronto, CA: Stoddart Publishing.

Newton, C. (2000). "Teaching in Cyberspace", in: English Teaching Professional, 16, 4-6.

Rixon, S. (1986). Developing Listening Skills. In Flavell, R. H. & Vincent, M. (Eds.), Essential Language Teaching Series. Macmillan Publishers Ltd.

Teeler, D., and Gray, P. (2000). How to Use the Internet in ELT, Longman, Essex.

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