A STUDY OF CHALLENGES IN TEACHING LISTENING SKILLS IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS (EDUCATION PROJECT TOPICS AND MATERIALS)
1.1 BACKGROUND STUDY
Listening comprehension is the process of understanding speech in a second or foreign language (Richards, et al., 1992: 216), They also add that ”The study of’ listening comprehension processes in second language learning focuses on the role of individual linguistic units (e.g. phonemes, words, grammatical structures) as well as the role of the listener’s expectations, the situation and the context, background knowledge and the topic”. Rost (2001: 7) assures that ”The term listening is used in language teaching to refer to a complex process that allows us to understand spoken language”. In addition, Howatt and Dakin (1974, cited in Saricoban 1999) state that listening is the ability to identify and understand what others are saying. This process involves understanding a speaker’s accent or pronunciation, his grammar and vocabulary, and comprehending the meaning. An effective listener is able of carrying out the four elements simultaneously.
Based on these definitions, it is clear that listening involves both linguistic and nonlinguistic knowledge. The linguistic knowledge includes understanding of lexis, grammar, phonology, and discourse. The non-linguistic knowledge may include understanding the context or situation, the topic, and the purpose of the interaction
Listening is not only the most important language skill which is overused by people in real life situations, but also a fundamental part of the process of second language learning. So, training in listening comprehension (LC) is necessary to assist students to make the transition from classroom language to real language more easily and effectively.
In other words, it has a vital role in the development of general communication skills and the English language competence.
According to Bulletin (1952 cited in Saricoban, ibid) listening is one of the fundamental language skills through which children, young people and adults gain a large portion of their education, information, background knowledge of the world, ideals, sense of values, and appreciation. Rost (2001: 7) also supports that
”Listening is not only a skill area in language performance, but is also a critical means of acquiring a second language . Thus, in this day of mass communication it is of vital importance to teach pupils to listen effectively and critically
At this point, interpretations of neglecting the listening skill can be put clearly. It is always the most difficult and challenging task for second language (SL) learners (Paulston 1976 and Eastman 1987 cited in Mee, 2001). According to Vandergrift (2007: 191) the characteristic of listening that makes it difficult is that ”Listening is an invisible mental process making it difficult to describe”, so the listener’s task, here, is more challenging. In addition, the listener is engaged in many processes such as discriminating between sounds, understanding vocabulary and grammatical structures, interpreting stress and intonation, remembering and interpreting this within the immediate, as well as the larger socio-cultural context of the utterance (Vandergrift, 2007 and Wipf, 1984: 346). Moreover, it is not often taught and practised, nor possible to go over again what ones heard, whereas it is simple to read and re-read a difficult page in a book (Broughton et. al, 1978: 66).