Luận văn Techniques for improving listening skills of gifted students of Foreign Language Specializing School, College of Foreign Languages, Hanoi National University

To realize the objective of this study, it first starts with an overview on F.l.S.S, C.F.L, H.N.U, in which background, facility, trend of development of the school is mainly presented. Then, for a better understanding about the school, some information about the students and leaning requirements are addressed. In addition, an analysis on teachers, teaching methods, materials and material assessments will be very important for the realization of the study, without it, the researcher will find it impossible to sort out reasonable techniques to improve listening skill for the students.

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vities are successful with groups of varying levels of ability and provide a challenge for the more advanced students but not discouraging those who only gain little success. 1.6.2.2.3. Factors affecting the choice of while-listening activities In addition to the factors which apply equally to while-listening activities, other points need to be considered when selecting while-listening activities. They include: The possibilities for varying the level of difficulty if required. The inconvenience of carrying out activities which require individuals to give their responses orally in the classroom. This kind of work is best done in a language laboratory. Classroom while-listening activities generally have to be limited to those which can be done without the need for each student to respond by speaking. Whether the work is to be done by the students with the teacher present or whether it is to be done as private study, either in the classroom or at home. This will influence the teacher’s choice of activity as he may want to give his students different work according to their levels of ability, to provide additional instructions , or to select activities which generate little or no marking. 1.6.3. Post-listening stage 1.6.3.1. Definition and purpose of post-listening activities Post-listening activities are the activities which are done after the listening is completed. Some post-listening activities are extensions of the work done at the pre-listening and while-listening stages and some relate only loosely to the listening text itself. The purposes of post-listening activities are : to check whether the learners have understood what they need to or not. to see why some students have missed parts of the message or fail to understand the message. to give the students the opportunity to consider the attitude and manner of the speakers of the listening text. to expand on the topic or language of the message and to transfer learned things to another context. to make introduction for the planned work 1.6.3.2. Factors affecting the choice of post-listening activities Mary Underwood says that the attention should be given to the following factors in selecting post-listening activities: the amount of language work the teacher wish to do in relation to the particular listening text. The time which is allowed to do post-listening work. The speaking, reading or writing skills should be included in the post-listening work. The students should work in pair or in groups. The chosen activity should be made motivating. 1.7 .SUMMARY In short , this chapter focuses on the concepts useful for the accomplishment of the study. First comes an overview on the different views of listening comprehension. Then the importance and classification of listening are stated. What is more in this chapter is the potential problems in learning listening. Last comes in the chapter is three stages of the listening session. CHAPTER TWO : PRACTICAL SITUATION OF TEACHING AND LEARING LISTENING TO ENGLISH AT THE FOREIGN LANGUAGE SPECIALIZING SCHOOL, COLLEGE OF FOREIGN LANGUAGES, HANOI NATIONAL UNIVERSITY 2.1. INTRODUCTION To realize the objective of this study, it first starts with an overview on F.l.S.S, C.F.L, H.N.U, in which background, facility, trend of development of the school is mainly presented. Then, for a better understanding about the school, some information about the students and leaning requirements are addressed. In addition, an analysis on teachers, teaching methods, materials and material assessments will be very important for the realization of the study, without it, the researcher will find it impossible to sort out reasonable techniques to improve listening skill for the students. 2.2. AN OVERVIEW ON F.L.S.S F.L.S.S is a school for gifted students of foreign languages. Among these languages are English, French, Chinese, Russian, Japanese and German, the majority are students of English. This school is one of the members of College of Foreign Languages, Hanoi National University. It was established in 1968 and it has become a reliable address for the students all over the north of the country and for those who are interested to major in foreign languages. Currently there are 27 English classes with nearly 700 students . they are 10th, 11th and 12th form students who are aged from 15 to 18. In order to become one of the students of this school, the students who have finished 9th year classes with good results have to take part in a very hard examination of 3 subjects : maths, literature and English. If their results are good enough ,they become 10th form students of the school. At this high school, the students have to try their best to study social and natural subjects, but English is considered the main one. There are 7 periods per week, it means that the students of our school have 4 more periods per week than those at other high schools. Normally, there are 50 students in classes of social and natural subjects, when they have English lessons, the class is divided into two groups with about 25 students in each one and two teachers of English are in charge. As far as the materials are concerned “ English 10, 11 and 12” , workbooks 10, 11, 12 written by the teachers of our school and two listening books : “Listening And Speaking” by Tran Ngoc Oanh and Vu Quynh Nhung (10th form), by Kieu Hong Van and Vu Phuong Anh (11th form). The students are equally taught the four language skills. Among them, listening seems to be the toughest one for the students. Besides reading, listening serves as an indispensable skill in learning English as it provides students with necessary input. In spite of the importance of listening, the students’ and teachers’ effort, listening skill remains the greatest obstacle in their way for success. 2.3. STUDENTS AND LEARNING REQUIREMENTS Most of the students have been learning English since they were 6th form students. It means that they have had four years of English in junior secondary schools. The objective of the junior secondary school curriculum is that after four years of English, the students should have general knowledge of grammar and an active vocabulary which they can use mostly in written form. They hardly say a couple of sentences intelligibly in the target language and their listening skill is almost not paid any attention to, their listening ability is hardly developed during that long period of time. So when they become the gifted students of English of FLSS, they have to deal with a lot of difficulties in learning to listen to English. However, the majority of the students have strong and clear motivation and as a result of the awareness of the importance of learning how to listen in a foreign language in general and English in particular, the rest of the students have positive attitude towards learning listening. They all realized that learning listening is not just to get good results but it is also a good way to develop their communication. Moreover, they need English for their further study or for their future use, so they are always trying to work on listening as much and effectively as they can to master this skill. They are , step by step, used to listening to the teachers’ explanation in English and listening and understanding the familiar topics which their teachers or classmates talk about. They are used to listening to the tape-recorder and doing the listening exercises such as : filling the missing words, choosing the correct answers or answering the questions etc. In a short time at this school, the students can meet requirements of learning listening. 2.4. TEACHERS AND TEACHING METHODS In FLSS, there are totally 14 teachers of English aged 25 to 51. All of the teachers were trained in English department, CFL, HNU. Eight of them finished MA course in Post Graduate Department, CFL, HNU and two of them got MA degree in Australia. The oldest teachers have nearly 30 years of teaching experience, and the youngest just have three years. FLSS has a good relationship with Presbyterian Ladies’ College (PLC) in Sydney, so every year there is an exchanging visit between these two schools in order to exchange experience in teaching and studying, the teachers and students, turn by turn , are allowed to spend four or six weeks in PLC, Sydney. During the time staying there the teachers and students have a good chance to talk to or listen to native speakers of English and they have time to live , work and study in a native English environment. Most of the teachers of FLSS are well aware of the important role of the ability to listen to English and the teachers play a very important part in forming students’ ability of listening. Therefore, the teachers have done much to improve the method of teaching listening and help the students to overcome the difficulties. As a result, the students’ ability to listen to English is much better in comparison with this of the students in other high schools. The fact is that not all the teachers use the same techniques and activities to teach listening skill. Some of the teachers choose to use “ getting the students to predict” as the most effective techniques or “giving feed back after each time of listening “ others may take some other techniques into consideration such as : “ using authentic and suitable listening texts”, “ directing students’ listening activities” etc. The teachers have tried to choose the activities that are suitable to their students. It is good for the students to get used to as many types of activities as possible. In order to find out the effective way of implementing the activities, the teachers have to spend a lot of time and have to work hard to choose and design the listening activities that the students can do properly. The following activities are often used : true or false exercises, answering the questions, filling in the blanks, choosing the correct answer, etc The method of teaching listening skill and the listening activities are considered to be the effective way to test and to improve the students’ ability of listening and the quality of teaching and learning listening of the school is improved day by day. 2.5. MATERIALS AND ASSESSMENTS Teaching language skills is not the focus of language study for high school students . The textbooks, thus, do not include materials for listening comprehension. For many years the teachers have had a lot of difficulties to find out the suitable listening materials for the students of FLSS. In the past, it took the teachers much time to choose and design a listening lesson for the students from any source of material available as materials for listening comprehension, from such books as : Streamline, Listen Carefully, Interchange 1, 2, 3 etc. In fact, some of the listening lessons met the demands of the students, but the others still did not. Frankly speaking , The teachers of FLSS coped with a lot of difficulties in teaching listening . Recently things have changed for both teachers and students in teaching and studying listening skill. Due to the fact that the English textbooks have changed from time to time to catch up with the up-to date information, which is seen as a greatest motivation for the students. A group of the teachers consisting of four made an effort to write two listening books : “Listening and Speaking, English 10 and 11”, the listening lessons in the two books were taken from different sources like Active Listening, Tactics For Listening, New Headway (Intermediate ,Upper-Intermediate) , True To Life, Landmark, Lifelines, etc from Cambridge and Oxford University Presses. There are 15 units in book 10, and 10 units in book 11, the students have two periods of listening per week. The topic of each listening lesson is related to the topic of the text in the books : “English 10, English 11”, for example : the text of unit one in book “English 11” is “ Motion Pictures”, the listening lesson of unit one in “Listening And Speaking English 11” is “Films”. There are often four parts in a listening lesson : Getting ready, Let’s listen 1, Let’s listen 2 and Songs. In general, the listening books provide different kinds of activities as well as interesting and useful contents. The listening lessons are well-organized, the topics are interesting and similar , so the students can catch and understand the ideas in details. The students feel pleasing , entertaining whenever they have listening lessons and they can improve not only their listening skill but they can also widen their social knowledge . 2.6. DATA COLLECTION, FIDINGS AND DISCUSSION 2.6.1. Data collection 2.6.1.1. The subject The survey was carried out with the participation of 200 students of 10th and 11th forms at FLSS, including 8 classes. The questionnaire was prepared in order to get information to fulfill the aims of the study. Measurement instrument was designed for data collection: responded questionnaire. The questionnaire consists of both multiple-choice and open-questions. There are 20 questions from which I can find out the real situation of learning listening of the students, their attitudes towards listening skill, the factors that make the students find it difficult when learning listening and from which I can get students’ opinion about the effectiveness of my suggested techniques for teaching and studying listening skill. All of the students doing the survey have been learning English for 5 or 6 years, they are very good at grammar and doing exercises in writing, but it was only when they became the students of this school that they started to be taught listening skill. However, the survey will surely be reliable as the students are well-aware of their mission, and have enough knowledge of English to answer the questions given. 2.6.1.2. Instruments for data collection To have a good understanding of the issues under discussion, it is essential to refer to an important source of data collection associated with the literature review. All the questions in the survey were designed with a hope that the researcher can get the students’ opinion about listening material they are using, the teachers they are contacting with, and the methods of teaching listening they are adapting to. These questions are close to the techniques that can be worked out to improve the current teaching and learning listening skill at FLSS by means of literature comparison and by cross-checking with information obtained from the responded questionnaire. 2.6.2. Findings and discussion 2.6.2.1. Students’ attitude towards listening skill ( Question 1, 2 & 3 ) Option Question a b c d 1 82% 10% 2% 6% 2 70% 20% 0% 10% 3 25% 55% 12% 8% Table 1 As shown in the above table, most of the students of FLSS learn English in order to pass the exams (82%), only 10% of the students learn English with an aim of communicating, 2% for entertaining and 6% for studying abroad. As for the students attitude towards listening skill, a large number (70%) think that listening skill is the most difficult skill, no students consider listening as difficult as speaking , reading and writing ,a small number of them (10%) find it easy to learning listening, maybe these students used to live in the English speaking countries with their parents when they were little or perhaps they have already attended courses of learning listening Another observation from the table above is that most students see the importance and necessity of learning listening , 25% (very important), 55% (rather). They realize that it is necessary to learn listening for not only listening to the teachers’ explanation, for communicating with teachers and classmates , but also for their long term purposes : successfully communicating in English. It can be concluded that the students of FLSS are interested in learning listening skill, they would like to get some listening improvement and they have good attitudes to listening skill. 2.6.2.2. Students’ attitude towards class- listening practice ( Question 4, 5 & 6) Option Question a b c d e f g h 4 10% 20% 40% 12% 6% 4% 8% 0% 5 20% 8% 22% 12% 16% 20% 2% 6 85% 15% 0% 0% Table 2 From table two we can see that the teachers of English of FLSS have been using various types of listening texts, such as : stories (10%), conversations (20%), songs/poems(40%), descriptions (12%), news(6%), instructions(4%) and announcements(8%). It is true that apart from using the two listening books of the school, the teachers have also used listening lessons from other books which they feel suitable to their students. In some extend , it is a good way to create the students’ motivation and it is certain that the students will feel excited to listen to different topics. Table two also indicates that the students have had a lot of opportunities to cope with different kinds of listening activities in the class-room and their types of listening activities are various, the most popular forms are : true/ false (20%), answering questions (22%), identifying and correcting mistakes (20%), the smaller numbers are : following interactions (8%), gap-filling(12%), chart/form completion (16%). Clearly that the teachers at FLSS are well-aware of the importance of choosing different types of listening activities in order to make the listening lessons less boring and encourage the students to listen effectively. The data in question 6 about the times per week which the students have listening lessons at school show that most of the teachers have obeyed the school curriculum (two periods a week or once per week). The figures in table two are once a week (85%), twice a week (15%). In conclusion, the teachers and students at FLSS are willing to spend their time to improve their method of teaching and learning listening skills. They take advantages of opportunities to practise listening in class. 2.6.2.3. Students’ attitude towards home-listening practice (Question 7, 8 & 9) Option Question a b c d 7 12% 16% 18% 54% 8 42% 10% 12% 36% 9 75% 25% 0% 22% 38% 26% 14% Table 3 With the question about the time the students spend listening English at home, the rest rarely listen to English at home, the biggest number (54%) and the number of students who listen to English every-day, 2-3 times a day, once a week is nearly similar , (12%), (16%), (18%). Being asked about the question : “At home, what do you often do if you do not clearly understand the text you are listening?”, 42% of the students listen to the text once more, 10% listen sentence by sentence, the students who listen again until they understand the text are 12%, it is a big surprise that many students (36%) see the tape-script when there is something that they do not clearly understand. To compare the difficulty between record-listening and authentic listening, most of the students find it more difficult to listen to the records ( 75%) than authentic language (25%). It can be calculated from table 3 about the reason for this , the majority of the students (38%) give the reason that they can not see the face and the lip movement of the speakers and 26 % of the students have difficulty in concentrating on a listening session. 22% of them say that they can not ask the speaker to repeat what they do not catch and The others (14%) try to understand every word they hear. It can be drawn from the data above that a lot of students at FLSS are not aware of the self-study of listening at home. Only a few of them spend some time listening to it every-day, most of them have no habit of self-listening practice .Obviously, a lot of students do not have right methods to improve their listening skill , they are not able to concentrate on the process of listening , many students seem to approach listening as task primarily requiring comprehension on a word-by-word basis. The teachers ,therefore ,should give the students some guidance of practising listening at home . 2.6.2.4. Students’ attitude towards their teachers creating listening interest and motivation (Question 10, 11) Option Question a b c d 10 10% 30% 52% 8% 11 6% 32% 52% 10% Table 4 In table 4 it can be realized that most of the teachers usually create interest for their listening lessons by providing some new words and structures (52% students agree that). The smaller number (30%) say their teachers often present some information by giving guiding questions to help them think about the texts before they go ahead. Not a large number (8%) think that their teacher give them some suggestions for doing the tasks and just a few students ( 10%) suppose their teachers attempt to help their students understand the purpose of the listening text. Perhaps the teachers think that new words and structures usually remain the obstacles to their students. However, when the students are asked about their interest in the way their teachers motivate them before, while and after listening lessons, there are only 6% students say they are much interested and 32% rather interested in comparison with 52% say just little and 10% not at all. The figures show that most of the teachers try to motivate their students every listening lesson , they realize the importance of motivation for their students, but the figure shows that the ways the teachers motivate the students seem not to be effective. It can be inferred that maybe the teachers apply the traditional way of teaching listening by providing any new words and structures. This is not able to activate the students to guess the words meaning or to predict the content of the listening texts, as a result ,the students become very passive. Thus, there must be certain changes in the way the teachers create listening interest for their students. 2.6.2.5. Factors that cause difficulties in learning listening (Question 12) Option Question a b c d e f g h 12 0% 10% 4% 38% 20% 26% 0% 2% Table 5 According to the figure in table 5 the most difficult thing facing most of the students is the speaking speed of the speaker (38%). Limited vocabulary and structures cause difficulty for 26% of the students. The following is that they have problem in understanding the accent. There are only a few students (10%, 4%, 2%) saying that the factors of large classes, unfamiliar topics and the context cause them fewer difficulties in listening learning. Finally, all of the students agree that the listening equipment is quite good and the grammar causes them almost no problem. It can be drawn from the above figures that there are three main problems facing the students when they have to listen to the tapes, native speakers or their teachers. Among these keeping up with the speaking speed of the speaker is the most difficult for them. This is not surprising at all as the high school students in general and the students at FLSS in particular tend to work out the meaning of every utterance they hear in the second language, to do this they have to make sure that they can hear all the words within an utterance. They are so busy trying to work out the meaning of one part that they miss the following part, consequently , they fail to grasp the overall meaning of the listening text. That is why the teachers should choose the appropriate materials (tapes with slow speed – for example) and should speak clearly and slowly for the students to understand. Further more, a lot of the students think that their vocabularies and structures are not good enough to comprehend what they are listening to. They often try to catch everything they hear, so they feel panic when they fail to recognize a word or a structure. Therefore , the teachers should give them opportunities to guess the meaning from the relevant clues or work out the meaning from the context or co-context. Moreover the teachers should present some key words and structures and sometimes explain the meaning of the words before allowing the students to do their listening. Together with the two major problems above, another factor which is worth mentioning in learning to listen to English is strange voices and accents. Most of the students say they find it difficult to listen to radio, watch English programmers on TV. In order to help the students get used to listening to different accents, the teachers should encourage them to keep on listening and should use recorded materials in which different accents are presented. In conclusion, these are the only some of the problems among various ones the students encounter when listening. However, it is not simple to find a solution to them, it requires the teachers’ support as well as the students’ efforts. 2.6.1.6. Students’ pre-listening activities (Question 13, 14 & 15) Option Question a b c d e f 13 6% 10% 2% 82% 14 10% 8% 30% 10% 42% 0%

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