TEACHING LISTENING AS AN ENGLISH LANGUAGE
Introduction: English as a foreign language has the greatest motion in Bangladesh. Status of English as the "library language" and the increased "international inter-dependence" are the two reasons of this which led to a greater focus on face-to-face language usage crossing the margin of pen and paper exercise. As the decline of Grammar-Translation method in 1960s proved that language learning might not be limited to "reading and writing" or 'literacy', the provisional continuation of Direct Method confirmed too that 'listening and speaking' that is 'oracy' is not all that is language. Language must be taught in an integrative way where all four skills are focused.
But most often, even in the modern methods of SL teaching, quite surprisingly, listening skill is ignored in a way or another! David Nunan (1997) commented that listening is the "Cinderella Skill" which is overlooked by its elder sister "speaking" in SL learning. As 'to expertise the productive skills like speaking and writing' has become the standard of the knowledge of second language, listening and reading have been turned to be the secondary ones. Besides, in our schools, colleges and even in the higher levels, instructors direct how to read and write, not how to speak or listen. It is believed that these would be mastered by the learners automatically. Although listening had a boost up in 1960s (direct method) and in 1980s (Krashen's input hypothesis, 1981; James Asher's Total physical response, 1988 and Gillian Brown, 1988), it turned a fashion in most cases!
In this article, I have tried to show how listening helps EFL learners to develop language skill. Despite the fact that it is not a research article, a small scale survey has been done at Noakhali Science and Technology University, Bangladesh in order to demonstrate that listening practice is insisted by the learners and they find it functional in language learning.
What is listening?
Listening is a skill in a sense that it's a related but distinct process than hearing which involves merely perceiving sound in a passive way while listening occupies an active and immediate analysis of the streams of sounds. This correlation is like that between seeing and reading. Seeing is a very ordinary and passive state while reading is a focused process requiring reader's instrumental approach. Listening has a "volitional component". Tomatis' (2007) view is, while listening; the desire to listen, as well as the capability to listen (comprehension) must be present with the listener for the successful recognition and analysis of the sound.
What 'listening' really means is 'listening and understanding what we hear at the same time'. So, two concurrent actions are demanded to take place in this process. Besides, according to Mecheal Rost (1991), listening comprises some component skills which are: &bulldiscriminating between sounds,
&bullidentifying grammatical groupings of words,
&bullidentifying expressions and sets of utterances that act to create meaning, &bullconnecting linguistic cues to non-linguistic and paralinguistic cues, &bullusing background knowledge to predict and later to confirm meaning and recalling important words and ides.
As McDonough and Shaw ( 1993) and Rost (1991) explain that a listener as a processor of language has to go through three processes using three types of skills: a. Processing sound/ Perception skills: As the complete perception doesn't emerge from only the source of sound, listeners segment the stream of sound and detect word boundaries, contracted forms, vocabulary, sentence and clause boundaries, stress on longer words and effect on the rest of the words, the significance of intonation and other language-related features, changes in pitch, tone and speed of delivery, word order pattern, grammatical word classes, key words, basic syntactic patterns, cohesive...
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