1. selected aspects of aural input, form meaning from

1. Introduction

    Listening
is considered as an important factor which contributes to the development of
learners both in daily communication and studying process. Regarding the total
time spent on communicating, listening accounted for 40%-50% (Mendelsohn, 1994,
cited by Gilakjani & Ahmadi). Moreover, listening comprehension has turned
out as a crucial and specific foreign language skill (Byrnes 1984; Dunkel 1991;
Joiner 1991; Krashen 1981; cited by Thompson&Rubin, 1996, p.29, No. 3)
leading teachers to find suitable ways to accelerate this skill for their
students. A recent result of listening comprehension research (Rubin, 1994
cited by Thompson& Rubin, 1996) indicated five major aspects, which have
great influences on listening comprehension: text characteristics, interlocutor
characteristics, task characteristics, listener characteristics and process
characteristics. Listening involves a complex process of interpreting and
associating meaning from both verbal and non-verbal messages (Nunan, 1998,
cited by  Gilakjani & Ahmadi).There
are two subsuming cognitive processes: bottom-up (data-driven) and top-down
(conceptually-driven) , which can be used for training learners’ ability in
listening comprehension skill. The purpose of this research is to facilitate
the students’ English overall linguistic capability and oral and aural
competence. The researcher attempts to discuss the importance of listening
comprehension, several difficulties that non-native learners have to overcome
in listening comprehension and strategies to resolve this condition. Findings
of this study will be beneficial to foreign language learners for enhancing
their listening comprehension ability.

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2.
Discussion of findings

2.1.
The importance of listening comprehension skills.

   Listening is the most common used language
skill (Morley, 1999; Scarcella & Oxford, 1992). Purdy (1997) explained
listening as “the active and dynamic process 
of attending, perceiving, interpreting, remembering, and responding to
the expressed (verbal and non – verbal), needs, concerns, and information offered
by other human beings” (p.8) . Listening comprehension is a logical and
coherent process (Rost, 2002). It is also considered theoretically as an
effective process in which individuals focus on selected aspects of aural
input, form meaning from passages, and associate what they hear with their
current knowledge. To become a good listener, students must have the ability to
comprehend the message, the ability to apply a great deal of strategies and
interactive processes to make meaning, and the ability to reply to what is said
in a wide range of ways, depending on the purpose of the communication.
Practicing listening frequently can bring many benefits to the learners in
their works at school or future careers. Wolvin and Coakley (1988) supposed
that, both in and out of the classroom, listening consumes more of daily
communication time than other forms of verbal communication.

2.2.
Several difficulties in accelerating listening comprehension skills.

   Listening comprehension has an essential
role in learning foreign languages, the important of this skill in classroom
instruction has been more emphasized than others skills, according to Bird’s study (1953), female
college students spent 42% of their total verbal communication time in
listening while they spent 25% in speaking, 15% in reading and 18% in writing.
However, learners still have a great deal of difficulties in listening comprehension
and they really cannot find the problems to resolve; the teachers somehow pay
no attention to this skill in class so the learners also do not have a chance
to practice. In addition, Dunkel’s (1991b) study reported that international students’
academic success in the United State and Canada relied more on reading than
listening comprehension, especially for those students in engineering,
psychology, chemistry, and computer science. One of the reasons why listening is not given proper attention
by the teachers is for the lack of awareness of the significant effect of this
skill on the improvement of students in learning foreign languages.
Therefore, listening becomes one of the most enormous obstacle in learning
foreign language of students, they can have trouble with understanding the
meaning of what speakers say, they can also have difficulties in finding the
answers for speakers’ questions, and they find it very hard to become skilled
in this skill. As a consequence, Mendelsohn (1995, p.133) argues that the task
of both language teachers and students is to find the most suitable strategies
to facilitate learners’ listening comprehension.

2.3.
Strategies for learners to accelerate their listening comprehension.

   One of the most effective methods learners
can become actively involved in controlling their own learning is by using
suitable strategies. Vandergift (1999) believed “Strategy development is
important for listening training because strategies are conscious means by
which learners can guide and evaluate their own comprehension and responses”. Both
instructors (Ferris, 1996) and students (Ferris, 1998) acknowledge the
importance of listening comprehension for success in academic settings.
Therefore, it is very crucial for learners to find their own strategies to
improve their ability in this skill.

   The first method should be used by learners
is choosing exact sources of listening. Some video updated by foreigners or
professional teachers such as: BC, VOA, students’ news, etc. Because native
speakers and highly proficient second language learners complete the complicated
process of speech comprehension smoothly, learners at lower levels can make
some benefits from repeating through the videos. Especially these videos can
help learners make acquaintance with listening comprehension and in listening
process, they can also improve their vocabulary, their imperfect control of the
syntactic and semantic structure of the language, or other limitations with
regard to the elements necessary for communication. Stanchina (1987) engaged in
a similar study and pointed out that effective learners were good at
co-operating their background knowledge with information in listening lesson. Moreover,
students tend to be attracted by these types of learning instead of traditional
ways.

    The second way is co-operating listening
with taking note. This strategy is related to comprehending and storing input
in working memory or long-term memory for later retrieval. When learners can
use this strategy fluently, they can improve their listening comprehension
extremely. Because this strategy requires learners a wide range of vocabulary
and grammars as well as the good ability of using short-term memory. (trich
nguon sach not-taking)

     In
addition, the wide range of strategies taught included the following:
metacognitive strategies and cognitive strategies. Metacognitive strategy which
contains planning, defining goals, monitoring, and evaluating, can bring great benefits
to the learners. This method help learners in managing their time for studying,
creating a suitable timetable that they can follow. Besides, cognitive
strategies consists of predicting content based on background knowledge, visual
clues, genre of the segments…; listening to the known; listening for
redundancies; listening to tone of voice and intonation; and resourcing, can
have great impacts on learners. Because it raises the confidence of students,
with improved self-efficacy, students’ ability in listening to a foreign music
or movie can be enhanced. Improving listening comprehension is very necessary
for learning process of students because listening is considered as the most
difficult skill when learning foreign languages as well as it is the foundation
for learners to develop others skills.

3.
Conclusions

This
research attempted to give
some of the factors that influence students’ listening comprehension
skill and strategies for improving their listening comprehension. Non-native
learners do not have an innate understanding of what effective listeners do;
therefore, it is very necessary for the teachers to share that knowledge with
them, especially, through many strategies. To improve learners’ listening ability, teachers should
not only base their teaching on theoretical principles but also use modern
technology which can bring benefits to students. English listening
competence is a complicated and difficult skill that needs conscious
development. It can be best developed with practice when students reflect on
the process of listening without the threat of evaluation. Listening
comprehension may have effects the capacity of improvement in other language
skills such as speaking, reading, writing, and translating. Because of its
important role, it is essential for teachers to provide students numerous
opportunities to practice listening skills and to become actively engaged in
listening process.