Second language (L2) listening comprehension is a complex process, crucial in the development of second language competence. Listeners use both bottom-up processers (linguistic knowledge) and top-down processes (prior knowledge) to comprehend. Knowing the context of a listening text and the purpose for listening greatly reduces the burden of comprehension. Teachers can help students develop sound strategies for comprehension through a process approach to teaching L2 listening. This will help students learn how to listen and develop the metacognitive knowledge and strategies crucial to success in listening comprehension.
We have the unique ability to learn from listening. With it comes our ability to understand the world. This separates us from the other species on Earth. As babies, we acquire language by listening to the way our parents or family members talk. We then start to copy the words we hear and this will eventually develop into speaking in sentences of our first language. This proves how important the role of listening in language learning is.
Listening has an important place in learning. In fact, it is one of the four macro skills in language acquisition. Other skills, namely reading, speaking, and writing along with grammar are essential to developing language proficiency. Listening as a receptive skill first develops as early as infancy. It awakens awareness of the language, in fact, of any language.
Listening is probably the least explicit of the four language skills, making it the most difficult skill to learn. This chapter begins with a brief overview of cognitive processes involved in listening and their implications for L2 listening instruction. Recent research (1998–2003) on a variety of instructional techniques to help L2 listeners process linguistic input is then reviewed, noting insights that can inform listening instruction, particularly techniques that can teach students how to listen.
Two approaches to listening...