Six Myths about the Teaching of Listening

There are six myths or half-truths that are related to the teaching of listening during the process of language learning. They are false rituals which need to be analysed and put into question. Let’s consider them.

1. Listening can’t be taught:

In fact there are many things teachers can do to help students listen effectively. Teachers can continually expose their students to appropriate listening material which should be followed by good practice activities which give students opportunities to listen successfully and build confidence in listening skill. Teachers can teach students some strategies which can guide them to efficient listening.

2. Listening is a passive skill:

Listening is not passive but on contrary it is extremely active. During listening students do many activities. They guess, predict, infer, criticize and above all they interpret. Clearly it is a receptive rather than a passive skill.

3. For students, understanding foreign speakers of English is easier than understanding native speakers.

Of course it depends on other conditions such as the speed of the speaker talk and the amount of exposure to the target language. A further point is that the type of English students are exposed to affects their performance in the listening work they do in classroom.

4. Listening to a foreign language and listening to our native language involve same skills:

There are some differences in applying these skills. When we listen to our language we listen with “half an ear” that is without concentrating fully but still we understand the message. On the other side when we listen to a foreign language, we often need to pay full attention to the message to understand.

5. Students should understand every word while listening in the classroom:

It is not necessary as speech usually consists of words that are not important. Spoken language includes redundancy which makes listening easier because it allows us not to focus fully on every word. But one important point must be considered here, students can afford not to listen to every word when they have a command of basic grammar and vocabulary. In this case, they will be able to decide which words are significant and which ones they can ignore.

6. Students shouldn’t be allowed to read the scripts of recordings:

When it happens, it may be said that students will focus on the reading more than the listening. The solution here is to use the script at the final stage after students listen to the text at least twice. Overall, it must be said that the exposure to the script has its benefits such as allowing students to see the difference between the written and spoken form of words. It also allows them to see which words are “swallowed” and notice prominent grammar points.

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