(A Study of Beginner Level Students in TOEIC Preparation Classes)
A Lecturer of STIBA-IEC Jakarta
The objective of this study was to see whether bimodal input (audio and its tape-script) can increase students’ listening comprehension in TOEIC listening section. Three groups of freshmen were involved in this study. Before the experiment began, three groups took the same TOEIC listening pre-test. They were selected and put into three groups with roughly equal level based on pre-test scores. All of the three groups trained in the same listening comprehension skills and strategies, and after that they did the same TOEIC listening post-test. There were two experimental groups, one group was shown the tape-script during the listening exercises) and the other experimental group was provided tape-script in the post listening comprehension practices, while the control is not shown the tape-script at all. By using a projector, presentation slides of tape-script were shown to the two experimental groups, one group was exposed the tape-script and at the same time the students were reading the script, and the other group was exposed with the tape-script after they finished listening, in order to check and analyze some parts in the listening to make sure about they heard and to see the relevant information needed. The pre-test and post-test comparisons showed that all three groups performed better as indicated by the increase of the listening comprehension scores in the post test, so it may show that each group is eager to learn the language. Each has to deal with the test which consists of 100 questions broken down into four parts, photographs, questions and responses, conversations, and talks. The writer does not specify the results based on each part, but on basis of the whole listening section result instead.
TOEIC test consists of 100 questions for Listening Comprehension section and 100 questions for Reading Comprehension section which takes 2 hours. The listening section is more challenging as students have to answer 100 questions within 45 minutes, in which the time includes the directions for each part. The TOEIC test in listening section can not be repeated or paused. Students must be able to use time allocated efficiently, for example by predicting what they are going to hear by reading the answer choices or the questions. However, they must do this strategy very quickly in order to get the information needed in their answers. Even when they can use the time efficiently and use the strategy correctly, it doesn’t guarantee that their answers are correct.
Hayati and Mohmedi (2010) conducted a-six week experiment to 90 students studying at Islamic Azad University of Masjed Soleyman. The participants were chosen from a group of 200 juniors and seniors majoring. The students were carefully selected based on the result of the listening comprehension pre-test so that all of them were roughly equal in term of their level. Those selected were included into three groups. All the groups were given the same listening comprehension materials and practices. All of them had to watch a video program with different treatment according to their groups. After six weeks, their listening comprehension was tested and compared to see the effectiveness of each treatment.
Hayati and Mohmedi (2010) suggest that the facilities and materials are becoming more easily to access because of technology, so teachers can select audio and video material from TV or computer. Hayati and Mohmedi feel the need to research the use of subtitle, since it often appears in video materials used in teaching English. They are certain that there must be influence of viewing subtitle to the Irarian students, and for this reason the experiment has three groups, namely students with English subtitle, students with Persian subtitle, and students without subtitle. This experiment is intended to see whether the script or the subtitle from the video can increase their students’ listening comprehension or not.
In their journal, Hayati and Mohmedi mention that viewing text in the experiment group can increase students’ performance in the listening comprehension test. The finding indicates that the students exposed with English subtitle achieve their highest level of comprehending the teaching materials. While the group with Persian subtitle does not achieve as high level as the group with English subtitle, the group without subtitle performs the lowest of all. The finding may indicate that in their listening comprehension practices, students need script or subtitle to help them perform better.
Listening comprehension is not a simple task, so students need enough preparation in order to increase their listening comprehension scores. The students have to attend the class regularly and do all listening comprehension, but students still find difficulties even when the teacher replays the recording twice or three times.
According to Willis (1999) printed text or tape-script during or after the listening comprehension practices may help students comprehend what they hear. By reading the printed words or information and sentence patterns, students can identify the meanings more clearly and logically. While reading the tape-script might increase students’ listening comprehension skill, to achieve the target is not easy as some other factors may influence the result.
Brown (2001) suggests that there are eight factors that make listening difficult. First of all, humans cannot remember every detail because of their memory capacity. The information is not easy to store in their brain, especially when what they hear contains a lot of clauses, and this often makes students fail to focus on the main point of what they are listening to. Second, spoken language has more redundancies than the written version, so when the students are listening to the recording, they may find that the speaker repeat, rephrase, or beat about the bush before stating the main point. Third, reduced forms such as “wanna go?” for “Do you want to go?”, especially in an informal conversation can confuse the students. Fourth, spoken language contains variations such as hesitations, false starts, corrections, pauses, grammatical errors as they are less organized than the written form. Fifth, the use of informal language such as casual conversation and slangs as well as idiomatic expressions are not easy for non-native speakers to grasp. Sixth, the native speakers usually speak at normal pace, but it is often regarded as too fast for non-native speakers, and this can cause students of L2 fail to interpret the message that they hear. Seventh, English has varieties of stress, rhythm, and intonation which can make meanings different. For the L2 learners, these varieties are not easy to notice, which can make them hard to understand the meanings. Eighth, listening comprehension requires interaction between the students and the teacher, and as the part of the teaching instruction, the teacher may say something in English, and the students must listen carefully to the teacher’s instruction, but unfortunately students are often reluctant to ask their teacher to clarify the important information from the instruction.
Celce-Murcia (2001) suggests that it is necessary that students use tape-script for the purpose of listening comprehension processes. In this case, students may use a lecture script while the lecturer is discussing or explaining a certain topic. The explanation from a lecture about a subject in the classroom discussion using English is not easy for L2 learners. Topics of certain subjects in academic settings often appear TOEFL listening section exercises in part C (Talks), although in the test students are not allowed to use a tape-script. The use of a lecture script might be beneficial in bottom-up processing because students will be aware of the organizational cues in the lecture texts by circling all the cue words provided in the lecture script to get the main idea, then they may organize some supporting details related to the main idea in the listening. On the other hand, the top-down processing, by having a lecture script, students can predict the content of the next section. This means that the students need read the lecture script before the lecture begins so that they will be able to anticipate what will come next in the lecture. After that they will take notes or check the lecture script from the lecture begins until it finishes. Lecture’s note might be obtained by recording it, so that students might not lose any information from the lecture. The tape-script can be important source of information for learners, especially who are good at reading but poor at listening. In addition, the use of an audio script of the lecture in an important tool when comprehending spoken form of the language is difficult to establish, and this audio script can also be used in listening comprehension activities to see whether the students’ comprehend the lecture or not. As it helps students’ listening comprehension, tape-script might be useful in test preparation of listening comprehension such as in TOEIC or TOEFL classes.
Recine (2015) states that students can use either subtitle or audio script in listening comprehension practices. The purpose of the audio-script is in order for students to check information that they miss, especially the one that influences their listening comprehension. It is important to note that the text is used for checking, not for reading the information the students need. Therefore, students have to focus on listening, while audio-script is ideally given in the second listening activity, to check whether the students can hear correctly or whether they skip certain information or not. The teacher must use the audio-script proportionally, so that the students don’t depend too much on reading the audio-script. He adds that listening comprehension practice is different from reading comprehension practice, and for this reason the listening practice should be allocated more time than the time needed to read the audio-script.
Kvitnes (2013) suggests that some Norwegian television which shows English speaking series has Norwegian subtitles, but TV viewers can switch to English subtitles when they prefer listen to spoken English dialogue instead of subtitles in their own language. According to Danan (2004) teachers may use subtitles in the classroom because the subtitles can help students learn English.
Vanderplank (1988) investigated whether watching programs with subtitles gave benefits for language learning. In his experiment fifteen high-intermediate and post-proficiency level students watched BBC programs with tele-text subtitles and, and after watching the programs, they were asked to give feedback on their experience with the experiment. The finding shows that the group with subtitles can improve their language and develop strategies and techniques. He adds that they are more flexible in using the subtitles according to their need.
In his later study Vanderplank (1990) says that based on his experiment in 1988, he found that the use of subtitles does not distract students’ attention, instead the double modal input is likely to increase comprehension compared to either only script or only sound while watching a video.
Danan (2004) states that teacher must guide learners to develop active viewing strategies so that captions and subtitles of a video can be used efficiently. Based on Vanderplank’s finding (1990), students should actively engage with the subtitle material used while doing listening comprehension practice.
Single modality vs. bimodal input
In their experiments, Bird and Williams (2002) had three groups with different treatment, they are a group of single modality, with sound only, a group of single modality with text only, and a bimodal group with sound and text at the same time while learning words.
Bird and Williams say that exposing to audio script prior to listening practice may increase students’ language performance. Presenting written text while listening gives impact to implicit memory because the students become familiar with new phonological forms. According to Bird and
Williams (2002) suggests that text is effective to help students only on the condition that learners find something they hear cannot be grasped easily when they merely depend on the phonological form. Whereas when the students recognize the words, the input from what they hear or from the sound is enough without the presentation of text. Bird and Williams (2002) hope that bimodal input can be beneficial when students’ listening comprehension ability is low. Based on Bird and Williams’ study (2002), bimodal input can increase students’ performance of explicit memory while students are tested to recognize words.
Mitterer and McQueen (2009) investigated the effect of subtitle on how participants can adapt with unfamiliar accent they hear. Mitterer and McQueen (2009) tested two groups, in which one group of participants watched video with subtitles of their own language while the other group of participants watched video with English subtitles. The experiment shows that the group exposed to English subtitle gives better result compared to the group with subtitle of their own mother tongue when the ability of adapting to foreign accent (English) is tested. The finding suggests that adaptation to English accent will improve while participants watch English movies with English subtitle. On the other hand watching English movies with subtitles translated in the participants’ language (other than English) reduces their ability to adapt with English accent.
According to Vanderplank (1990) the teacher plays an important role to manage watching video program based on certain goals. The teacher should keep students’ motivation high so that they can learn more new words or phrases. The students need to be exposed to the language that is simple with basic instruction in such a way that learners can always maintain their interest and motivation.
Study about listening comprehension by Latifi, Mobalegh, and Mohammadi (2011) shows that the use of subtitles is able to improve students’ listening comprehension to the second language. In their study they mention that movie subtitles used after doing listening practices can improve students’ language performance instead of during listening practices. The improvement is obtained as a result of deeper process by the students, and through subtitle shown after listening activities, they can make their knowledge of language more automatic.
According to Hulstijn (2003) subtitles are suitable for second language learners at low level because they are given opportunity to use their knowledge to process what they hear more automatically, and as a result of the bimodal listening input, their listening comprehension can improve when the subtitles are given at post listening comprehension activities. In addition, the use of subtitles or tape-script at the post listening comprehension activities enables L2 learners to analyze words or structure that they need.
However, in the university where the writer conducted experiment does not require lectures to show tape-scripts as the standard techniques in teaching listening comprehension skills in TOEIC preparation classes. The use a tape-script by lecturers while explaining the listening comprehension exercises is optional. The current study aimed at finding out the effectiveness of using tape-script as bimodal input for one experimental group shown the tape-script while practicing and the other experimental group shown after listening comprehension activities, as this technique is assumed to improve students’ listening comprehension ability, but the writer needs to see whether it is while or after the practice that is more effective. The other group, the control group is also included in the study to find whether the students can increase their listening comprehension skill without depending on tape-script as bimodal input.
The writer conducts an experiment to find the answer to the research questions. Three classes of TOEIC preparation for first-year students at a university were involved in the study; one as the experimental group while listening exposed to the tape-script, another experimental group provided tape-script after listening and the other as the control group without tape-script. It means that there are three groups – each group consists of 20 students. All of the groups belong to the same level in term of their listening comprehension ability, which had been shown by similar results in the TOEIC Prediction pretest. All the groups joined a 16-weeks TOEIC prediction class consisting of 14 (2 hours 30 minutes per meeting) weeks of teaching instruction and two weeks of tests, namely TOEIC pre-test and post test. In the study there were three groups, one experimental group was shown tape-script during listening comprehension practices, and the other experimental group was shown tape-script after listening comprehension practices, while the control group was only exposed to the auditory input from the tape recorder. After finishing the program all three groups took TOEIC listening comprehension post test and the results were compared.
Bottom-up and top-down views of the listening comprehension process
Buck (2001) believes that people generally need listening comprehension process starting from the lowest detail, and then gradually move to its highest level. There are some steps should be followed – they may start processing listening comprehension with phonemes to identify individual words, after that they have to analyze the sentence, and then at the semantic level the sentence is interpreted literally, and finally this literal meaning is interpreted by looking at the to see what the speaker actually means. Hedge (2002) supports Buck’s view (2001), as he says that we use some steps in a bottom-up in listening comprehension process by segmenting speech into identifiable sounds. After the sounds are identified, we analyze the words, phrases, clauses, sentences, and intonation patterns. The next step is to analyze the message by using clues so that the meaning can be interpreted correctly. When people infer the meaning, they need clues such as the stress and pause as well as non-verbal clues like firm hand shaking, nodding, head shaking and facial expression. In addition, we use of our lexical knowledge to find the relationship between one word with another in a sentence. So, for example a news reader says: The terrible hurricane on the coast of Florida has damaged many houses and caused many families homeless. Then as soon as we hear the sentence, we can immediately identify the agent or the doer is the noun phrase the terrible hurricane, on the coast of Florida is the location, has damaged is the verb or action, many houses is the thing object, many families is the person object, homeless is the effect or result of the damage. In this case, we use our logical categorization and relation of words in a sentence based on our experience of the world because we know that the hurricane is a severe storm, so when we hear the word hurricane we expect that there will be damage and a bad effect because of the hurricane.
Hedge (2002) states that the example of the sentence about hurricane mentioned earlier also indicates that knowledge of syntactic structure can help us to comprehend what other people is saying. People tend to anticipate what other people are going to say, so while listening they might be using commonly used structure such as subject + verb + object. By expecting commonly used structure that they are going to listen to, both adults and children will easily understand the message the familiar structures said by other people. While familiar sentence structures are easily understood, less frequently used sentence structures such as passive voice can be more difficult to interpret, especially by children despite the fact that the structures contain the same message with more or less same words in those structures. Rarely used sentence structures such as passive voice often make children fail to understand what other people are saying because children are not commonly exposed to these structures, even when they are at school. Like wise, parents at home normally teach or communicate using active sentences. Besides the clues that are discussed briefly above, another important thing in the bottom-up process of listening is memory. Listeners use memory during the process of identifying sounds, analyzing the structure, and expecting what is going to come next. In general, listeners do not have to remember every word the heard, so while listening to long or complex sentences, they just focus on the key words and pauses.
In reality, the process is not always and necessarily in that order. Their knowledge of phonemes, individual words, syntax, and semantics may be used simultaneously in listening comprehension. People may process what they hear in any order – the steps are not always necessarily followed. In the first step of processing, they may analyze a sentence to find the meaning of a single word. People have linguistic and world knowledge, so they may be able to grasp what people mean before decoding the sound. It is already common that people need to make use selected attention while listening. For instance, while listeners are paying attention to a long listening passage with much unfamiliar information, they will focus on words that are necessary. In other words, the listeners will select particular words as the gist rather, and they will not use the detailed structure or complete sentences. Therefore, by using only essential information or gist rather then the complete one, listeners will store the gist in their long term memory. During this process, the listeners make use of a top-down process to comprehend what someone else is saying. Buck (2001) suggests that listening comprehension is called a top-down process if some or many types of language are used conveniently in any order or maybe simultaneously. The different types of knowledge influence and interact each other (a process called interactive especially by reading theorists. People do not need to know all the details in listening to confirm or reject their hypotheses. So for example, when we hear a teacher saying “Those students never pay attention to what their teacher says, they often come late and make noise, so ….” What the teacher said may help our hypotheses to say that the teacher is very angry.” Our background knowledge about indiscipline and naughty students will help us to guess that teacher will be angry. Likewise, when we cannot hear clearly, such as at the train station, we may not need acoustic information to make sure that our friend is saying ‘good bye’ or ‘see you later’ as he is waving his hand. In this situation, we do not need to process the sound because waving hands is normally an indication of saying good bye, so we will not ask him to repeat the phrases because the place is too noisy and our friend will be getting farther and farther as the train moves. Although in some cases we may understand what we hear without requiring the acoustic input and the linguistic information, we should not underestimate both acoustic input and the linguistic information. Therefore, in communication people use any relevant information that is available for them. The relevant information may include the acoustic input and the linguistic information and other types of knowledge such as world knowledge, context of communication, and the building of mental representation of the meaning. All of relevant information chosen is very useful for listening comprehension which leads to successful communication.
Types of knowledge used by listeners
According to Buck (2001) natural language is redundant, and this makes weak learners have difficulty to get the main idea of an utterance when a speaker speaks using redundant words. Despite the fact that there are many redundancies in spoken language, listeners can usually find clues from what the speaker says. Based on the clues, listeners can comprehend even when the speaker does not speak very clearly. Since background knowledge plays important roles listeners have to use it to grasps what the speaker despite its redundancy and speed. However, when both listener and the speaker share less background knowledge, it is better to speak more slowly and clearly. When the speech contains too much information with too redundant words, the listeners may find the process of comprehending difficult, so the listeners may ask the speaker to adjust. Flowerdew and Miller (2005) state that in listening comprehension, listeners use their knowledge to understand the meaning, and the types of knowledge they use to comprehend the meaning are phonological, syntactic, semantic, pragmatic, and kinesics knowledge (knowledge about ways how people use movement other than speech while communicating). By making use of phonological knowledge, listeners break down the message into smaller units of sound. By making use of the smallest unit of sound or phonemes, listeners can distinguish between two different consonants in the words big, and pig, and also distinguish between two different vowels such as the words sheep and ship. L2 learners may find difficulties identifying such minimal pairs when there are no such consonants or vowels in their L1. For example, French students studying English usually cannot differentiate between word ship and sheep, Spanish students cannot distinguish clearly the word cut from cat, and Arabic students have to think hard whether the word they hear is ben or pen. But the most important thing in listening comprehension is to know the stressed words. The stressed words are very important because they are usually content words or essential information that the speaker needs to convey to listeners. Whereas the less important words are the function or grammatical words, so speaker does not stress these words. In syntactic knowledge, the listeners link the grammar rules with words in a sentence, then they analyze the words in a sentence based on the grammar rule. The process of analyzing a sentence by using grammar rules is called parsing. By parsing the message they hear, they can differentiate the meanings of two sentences with exactly the same words in each sentence, but with different words arrangement. For example in the following sentences:
• An old woman wearing a golden necklace was chasing a poor girl.
• A poor girl was chasing an old woman wearing a golden necklace.
In the first sentence, the an old woman wearing golden necklace is the subject or the doer and the a poor girl is the object or the recipient. Although the second sentence contains exactly the same words, the meaning is completely different from the first one. Since the noun phrase a poor girl is put before the verb was chasing, now a poor girl is the subject and an old woman wearing golden necklace is an object. Semantic knowledge is the knowledge of how people investigate the meaning based on the interrelationship among the words, phrases, and sentences. Semantic knowledge is also related to the investigation of the relationship between one sentence to another sentence in a discourse. While investigating the relationship between one sentence to another sentence, the focus of the investigation of the meaning of a sentence is not based on the form but on the semantic content. The mental representation of semantic meaning at this sentence level is called a proposition, which is the smallest unit of meaning to determine a truth value. Pragmatics deals with an utterance, not a sentence. The utterance in pragmatics is the specific linguistic realization of a proposition in a certain situation. Pragmatics is important to disambiguate utterances. For example, with knowledge of pragmatics, we can interpret a simple sentence such as okay to have different meanings depending on the context. Therefore, we know that the word okay in the first sentence is different from that in the second sentence:
My exam was just okay.
Okay, I’ll lend you a pen then.
In the first sentence okay means not bad, whereas in the second sentence okay means to agree. Finally, kinesic knowledge is non-verbal means of communication. The non- verbal means of communication includes facial expression, eye contact, and body movement, as well as positioning. The kinesic meanings are often different from one language or culture to another. For instance, a shake of the head does not always mean to say no, because in some culture the shake of the head is an indication of agreement or saying.
Using tape-script in teaching listening comprehension
In teaching listening comprehension classes the learners might not focus only on the auditory input itself. Some scholars suggest the use of tape-script in listening comprehension exercises but with some conditions. Willis (1973) indicates that during listening exercises students may encounter long listening passage which may confuse the students even though they are concentrating and trying hard to comprehend what they hear. During the class there might be more than one listening comprehension passage, and as the passages are getting more difficult some of them may skip several answers, and some of the students may try to guess the answers wildly and some others may lose the focus and may not listen carefully again and may even do not want to write the answers at all. Normally, at the beginning of the listening comprehension practice the students are ready to listen carefully, but when they find out that the task is too hard, the will be demotivated as they might think listening carefully will not help them to comprehend the listening passage. Realizing this condition, the teacher can provide students with the tape-script during or after the listening comprehension exercises so that they can see what they have heard. By having the tape-script, students can compare between what they hear and what actually the recording says by referring to the tape-script. By referring to the tape-script, students can see the information and sentence patterns to understand the meanings more clearly and more logically which can also be explanation to the correct answers.
Little wood (1992) states that visualization in listening comprehension, such as the use of tape-script or a fragmented short text, pictures, and diagrams can help students to see and analyze certain important facts, especially for learners whose listening ability is low. According to Ur (1984) listening comprehension practices provided with tape-script make students feel more confident and more relaxed. The use of text should be given proportionally, that is when students feel that they are not familiar with certain content or there is too much new vocabulary in the listening exercises. If the use of text is not given proportionally during listening comprehension exercises, the students will be too dependent on the tape-script or visual aids rather than their listening ability.
Morley (1984) indicates that by using the tape-scripts in listening comprehension practices, teacher can motivate students to be independent learners. They might be given the listening materials so that they can play, pause, replay the tapes as many times as they want. This also enables students to analyze the sound patterns, vocabulary, information, meaning, and grammatical patterns.
Graham (1997) suggests that students need self study access such as by giving them listening comprehension materials for them to practice at home without direct monitoring from the teacher. In this case the students will be well-prepared, but they still need to discuss the answers by checking tape-script provided in the class room. While self-study activity can be done at home, it can also be done in the class room. In the classroom, as soon as the students finished listening to a passage, they have to find the meaning themselves, without teacher’s explanation. The teacher gives students the opportunity to look up at the dictionary for new vocabulary items or idiomatic expressions found in the tape-script after listening to the tape recorder.
Rost (2002) states that learners need facilities such as self access listening center for their learning convenience. One of the successful principles is to keep tape-script available in the library for reference for at least some of the material. These references can help students to be more familiar with different types of talks or conversations, so students will not be under pressure while doing listening exercise. Students might need English sub-title while watching films. It can improve listening, especially, in dramas, for instance, where there are many idiomatic expressions which are difficult to understand by just relying on replaying some parts of the dialogs in the films.
Hunter and Rae (1991) indicate some listening comprehension practices may need to be accompanied by reading the tape-script, such as in listening to get information, listening for a gist, intensive listening, listening to identify main points, listening for interpretation, making predictions, recognizing words, finding the speaker, recognizing the tone and attitude, selecting a certain item listening for better pronunciation, and listening to discuss certain topics. In doing the listening exercises above, students can read the tape-script before or after listening, or while listening to help them confirm what they hear and discuss problems with vocabulary, grammar, effect, etc.
Phillips (1996) suggests the use of some fragments of the tape-script written on the board as the basis of an interactive question-and-answer method when presenting the listening skills. For example the teacher writes some fragments on the board as follows:
Woman: Great! It’s seven A.M. And you have never been late since you had a new car.
Man: Right. But I still have to get up early or there will be no parking space.
Narrator: What does the man mean?
- ………. no parking space on campus……..
- ………. late now……….
- ………. too spacious
- ………. leaves home early……….
Based on the fragments of the tape-script and the choices, the teacher may ask questions to students, such as: In which line you need to focus in order to get the best answer? What are the key words in the second line? Why is the best answer d? .
Sarich (2014) suggests that teachers may translate the listening tape-scripts when necessary to give explanation to students. However, the teacher should not translate everything because the students should also be given the opportunity to guess. The listening comprehension practice must get higher proportion than reading the tape-scripts otherwise the students don’t get enough auditory input to improve their listening comprehension. In other words listening comprehension input mainly improves because of listening practice rather than reading the tape-script and its translation although the students may sometimes be uncertain and guess the answers about the listening passage.
Listening comprehension section of TOEIC
The study has three groups, the first is experimental group provided with tape-script while listening, the second is experimental group provided with tape-script after listening, the third group is control group is not provided with any tape-script. All the three groups were given the same listening TOEIC pre-test questions. At the end the TOEIC prep program they were tested with the same listening post-test questions. The format and the number of questions in the pre and post tests are similar to that of real paper based TOEIC tests. Lougheed (2007) states that TOEIC listening comprehension section of the TOEIC consists of 100 questions which is divided into four parts. In part 1 (photos) students must listen to four descriptions of a photograph (10 questions), in part 2 (question-response), students listen to a question followed by four responses (30 questions), in part 3 (conversation) students listen to conversations followed by some questions (30 questions), in part 4 (talks) students listen to talks followed by some questions (30 questions).
THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK AND RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
Woods (1992) indicates that listening is an active skill whether the listeners have to interact or participate or not. Listening to the radio or watching to news on TV usually does not require audience’s participation or interaction to ask for clarification from the news broadcaster. While listening to the radio or watching TV, the audience does not only need to concentrate but also to process what they hear in order to get the information. While listening people may use top-down processing such as when they want to predict what a speaker is going to say, or people may use bottom-up processing such as when certain words in the sentences become hard to understand because the speaker does not speak clearly so that the listeners may ask the speaker to repeat some phrases to make the information clear. For example, listeners can use the bottom-up process to get someone’s name. To confirm someone’s name, people might need to ask someone else to repeat the name or spell it. People may even write someone’s name when repeating and spelling cannot be heard clearly. People may combine both top-down and bottom-up listening comprehension processes.
Listening to a teacher can be difficult when the students do not have a text book that being discussed. Without the help of a text book listening to the teacher talking about a certain subject might be difficult even in L1, especially when the topic is not familiar for the students. However, for the purpose of language teaching in L2, the use of tape-script mainly because listening to foreign language is not easy to follow, and recognizing sounds guided by a text might help. In addition, by providing tape-script of dialogs, teacher may train students to be familiar with the sound by asking students to complete missing words in a dialog. Filling out missing words of a dialog is an example of bottom-up listening process. This practice facilitates learners to analyze the surrounding words while completing a blank. In this practice, students can analyze the vocabulary and grammatical patterns while at the same time have to match with the correct meaning to complete the blanks. To explain the students, the teacher may need to have fragments of the tape-script written on the board. This technique is very useful, especially to lower level students who should familiarize themselves with the sound and its written form of a foreign language. In addition teacher can distribute copies of tape-script to students to highlight parts, so students can ask questions from parts of listening comprehension to the teacher. They may ask about the reasons for the answers, the meaning, the grammar related to the passage as they need these to comprehend what they heard.
In this study, three groups participating in the experiment. All of them were freshmen who had to take TOEIC prep class. The groups are about the same level, based on the pre-test TOEIC test. They met once a week lasting for 14 weeks teaching instruction, and two weeks of test. In the first half, meeting one through seven, students have to attend the class before taking the midterm exam on the eight meeting. Meeting nine through fifteen is the second half of the teaching instruction, and the sixteenth meeting is the final examination.
Comparing Between The Control (NS) Group and The Experimental Groups – While Listening with Script (WLS) and Post Listening with Script (PLS)
By using SPSS, the statistical data were processed as shown in the chart below. The writer used T-test analysis as non-parametric test to compare between NS, WLS and PLS. When comparing the result between pre and post test using percentage, we see that NS group increases by 8.2 %, WLS group increases by13.36 %, and PLS group increases by15.88 %. However, as we refer to the statistical data output from the t-test, only PLS group shows significant increase, indicated by Ho 0.6. As the Ho is higher than 0.5, it could be concluded that there is correlation between the use of tape-script after listening comprehension practice with better listening comprehension score.
As stated in the finding, all three groups scored better in the post-test. It could be an indication that all techniques used in the three different groups were able to increase students’ listening comprehension performance. However, the use tape-script in the experimental groups performed better than the control (non-script) group. The finding suggests that using tape-script in lower level classes may be helpful in post listening comprehension exercises.
However, the result does not generalize students’ performance using tape-script in the post test as further studies have to be investigated. Ur (1984) warns that the dependence on the tape-script could distract students’ focus since they have to train themselves with what they her, not with what they read. It is true that when the teacher shows the tape-script, students might comprehend better. However, it might be dangerous when the students are reluctant to listen to the recording, and they may try to comprehend what they hear by waiting until the teacher shows the script. Therefore, the teacher must be wise, and should try to guide the students to listen rather than to read. In fact, the use of the tape-script should be limited.
By making use of top-down listening strategies students can actually answer the items from the recording if they really focus on what they hear despite some unfamiliar words. Students should concentrate on relevant information or the gist from the listening comprehension passage, not try to focus on every word. However, to do so is not easy for students of beginner levels due to several factors such as the speed and the length of the listening passage.
In this chapter we elaborate our discussion into three sections: the tape-script effect, further research, conclusion and suggestions.
The tape-script effect
As the listening comprehension passages are often regarded too fast and too long by students of beginner level, they need tape-script. The fact is that students have to face listening passages at normal speed and length. It is impossible to slow down the speed as the sound might become unnatural and funny. In this case by using tape-script in the listening comprehension exercises, the students could make connection between some spoken forms they heard and the corresponding written forms on the tape-script. Therefore, the greater improvement in later listening performance may have been brought about by an increased ability of the experimental group to connect certain spoken forms of the language with the already known written forms
The improvement in the post test shown by all three groups can be the results of students’ familiarity with the test format. Since all of them had never taken TOEIC test, many of them were not sure about the instructions, for example they asked whether they had to cross the answer or blacken the space available on the answer sheets. Some of them were shocked while looking at the number of the questions. As the listening comprehension test consists of 100 questions, they students were not confident on how they manage their time. The lack of answering skills such as this, as well as unfamiliarity with other features of the test, can clearly have a negative impact on the test results. The exercises or practice given after the pretest would have at least familiarized students with various aspects of the TOEIC Prediction. As familiarity to the test format plays important role to make sure about how they allocate their time and understand the instruction, the post-test result may have been partly or exclusively caused by better familiarity with the test format. However, the higher scores in the experimental groups compared to the control group in the listening section of the post-test might also be linked to the use of the tape-script.
Buck (2001) believes that the more students train their listening comprehension skills, the more automatic the utterance processed. As the result of this automatic process students can improve their listening comprehension ability.
According to Alison and Halliwell (2002) adult learners tend to pay attention to a written text more than what they hear. As they prefer to analyze something that they read than what they hear, they may need a tape-script so that they can analyze something that actually they should listen to. Since they are still beginner learners of English, some minimal pairs such as bean and bin, bit and beat, back and bag are difficult to distinguish although they are told to see the context. Their previous experience that focuses too much on the written practice instead of training to listen might contribute to their low skill in listening comprehension. Realizing their weakness in listening comprehension skill, the teacher might use the tape-script so the students can use their ability to read and analyze the grammar as well as the meaning while relying only on listening comprehension is too difficult.
There might be some possibilities that the experimental group improved their listening comprehension abilities because they were able to remember important key words and important information when they got accustomed to relate what they heard to what they read in the tape-script.
The use of tape-script seems to help the students remember some important information that was skipped when the did some listening comprehension practices. When they relate what they hear and what they read in the tape-script, students might get the opportunity to improve their vocabulary as the have time to see or recognize the words through reading rather than through listening. The tape-script might also make the students remember the listening comprehension skills better as they could connect some answers with the listening comprehension skills and strategies as they read the tape-script. In other words reading the tape-script could enhance the students’ memory of the listening comprehension skills and strategies that should be used. Their vocabulary might also improve as the students not only listened (being exposed to the spoken form) but also read the tape-script (being exposed to the written form), and probably spotted some new words worth remembering.
Besides reading a tape-script can help them remember important facts while listening, they can also get more new words. This is good news when the students can use the important facts and key words to answer questions by analyzing the tape-script. However, students might not be able to improve their listening comprehension if they ignore the listening comprehension practice and wait until the tape-script is provided for analyzing what the have listened to.
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