Academic journal article Journal of Behavioural Sciences

Personality Traits and the Metacognitive Listening Skills of English as a Foreign Language in Pakistan

Academic journal article Journal of Behavioural Sciences

Personality Traits and the Metacognitive Listening Skills of English as a Foreign Language in Pakistan

Article excerpt

The amount of time devoted to the research and teaching of language listening is far less than that devoted to other components of communication such as speaking and reading (Adler & Rodman, 2006; Barker, 1971). Listening research has been a challenge, as there is lack of agreement as to what constitutes listening (Barker, 1971; Janusik, 2004).

Most models and definitions were developed in the early 1970s, and listening researchers grounded their work in the popular attention and memory theories. Findings from later research revealed that listening was indeed a unique characteristic separate from standard characteristics of memory (Bostrom & Byrant, as cited in Sypher, 1984) and, for the most part, appeared unrelated to intelligence (Bostrom & Waldhart, 1980).

These data point to the importance of some non-cognitive factors that might be operative in the apparently cognitive phenomenon. A new dimension in listening research brings forth the importance of affective processes (Bostrom, 1990). However, this dimension of the listening process is not well researched. The present study addresses the ignored affective processes and aims to fill this gap by investigating the importance of personality factors in listening of a language.

Perhaps we are not accustomed to thinking of listening as an activity that evokes an emotional response (Bostrom, 1990). With regard to personality characteristics, most investigations in the mid of 20th century concluded that there is less of a relationship between listening ability and personality (Barker, 1971). But in later years there has been a growing interest in exploring the personality correlates of listening ability (see, for example, Daly, Vangelisti, & Daughton, 1987; Li, 2007; Villaume & Cegala, 1986). An earlier finding in this regard was that high sensation seekers (excitement seekers like extraverts) do more poorly on the lecture listening tasks because this situation may seem boring to them (Bostrom, 1990). Villaume and Cegala stressed that personality traits might predispose a person to poor listening. The Big Five factors of personality may dispose a person to prefer learning by reading or learning by listening (Li, 2007).

The present study focuses on listening of English as a foreign language. It has often been observed that listening to a foreign language is much more difficult than one's first language (Shirbagi, 2010). Success in learning a second or foreign language depends on a variety of factors as compared to that in first language acquisition (Gan, Humphreys, & Hamp-Lyons, 2004). Personality and other affective predictors in L2 (second language) communication and learning have been found to be of paramount importance (e.g., Dewaele & Furnham, 1999; Liyanage, 2004; MacIntyre & Charos, 1996; Samimy & Tabuse, 1992). MacIntyre and Charos found that Big Five factors, attitudes, and anxiety about L2 are strongly related to success in L2 learning and communication. Of the Big Five factors, extraversion has specially been the focus of study as predictor of L2 listening and acquisition (e.g., Busch, 1982; Dewaele & Furnham, 1999; Kiany, 1998; MacIntyre & Charos, 1996). Dewaele and Furnham (1999) maintain that the assumption that extraversion is positively related to L2 learning is not supported by research literature that suggests that extraversion may not be a predictor of success in L2 learning.

Flavell (1979) asserted that metacognition plays an important role in listening comprehension and language acquisition. Self-monitoring/self-regulation, a metacognitive strategy, is positively related to listening and decoding the messages (Mill, 1984; Sypher, 1984). Goh (as cited in Vandergrift, Goh, Mareschal, & Tafaghodtari, 2006) found that the more skilled listeners demonstrated a higher degree of awareness of their listening problems. Based on Flavell's (1979) model and further extension of the model by Goh (as cited in Vandergriftet al. …

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