Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Effect of Providing Background Knowledge and Previewing Questions on Improving Listening Comprehension of Efl Learners

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Effect of Providing Background Knowledge and Previewing Questions on Improving Listening Comprehension of Efl Learners

Article excerpt


This study investigated the effects of two kinds of advance organizers: previewing questions and providing background knowledge on listening comprehension of EFL learners. 60 advanced EFL learners were randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups and listened to eight listening conversations. Before listening to each conversation, one group previewed questions, a second group was provided with necessary background knowledge about each conversation, and a third group received both the previewed the background knowledge treatments. The fourth group listened to the conversations without any pre-listening assistance. Multiple-choice posttests results revealed positive effects of previewing questions, providing background knowledge, and combined treatments.

KEYWORDS: Advance Organizer, Listening Comprehension, Preview Question, Background Knowledge.

1- Introduction

Listening as an independent and essential component of language learning has come into focus after a significant debate in the L2 literature about its importance. In the 1970s, more attention was paid to listening comprehension, and the status of listening changed from being incidental and peripheral to a status of utmost importance. Scholars paid more attention to this neglected skill and changed their view about listening as a passive skill rather than an active skill. According to Nunan (1998, p.l), "listening is the basic skill in language learning, without listening skill, learners will never learn to communicate effectively". While listening, many EFL learners have difficulty in comprehending spoken English. Lots of factors such as dominancy of their first language, limited knowledge of vocabularies, fast speech, and limited exposure to English outside of the classroom play an important role in this process ( Buck, 2001; Anderson, & Lynch, 1988; Richards, 2008).

Such limitations led Listening to be regarded as a passive skill for many years. Therefore, many scholars now try to unveil such limitations. For instance, Chastain (1988) believes that many teachers and students tend to overlook the importance of listening comprehension henceforth LC). According to him, they do so because their attention is fixed so completely on their ultimate goal, speaking, that they fail to recognize developing functional listening comprehension skills as a perquisite to developing speaking skill. Recently, studies show many internal and external factors which have a considerable effect on second language listening comprehension. Factors such as background knowledge, listeners' characteristics such as age, gender, language proficiency level, motivation, and especially cognitive strategy seem to affect listening comprehension to a large extent. Teachers can also use various types of Advance Organizers (henceforth AOs) activities such as pre-teaching of key vocabularies, previewing questions, providing background knowledge, previewing main ideas, aural descriptions, and introducing culturally unfamiliar concepts and so forth to help learners to increase their listening comprehension proficiency. Mendelson(1995) believes that these kinds of activities enable learners to provide a context for interpretation and learners will use this knowledge as a basis of their hypothesis information, prediction, and inferencing. Therefore, focusing listeners' attention on specific aspects of the listening task will prevent them from using ineffective listening strategies that might negatively affect their listening comprehension such as listening for every word to get the main idea.

With respect to the above mentioned points, this study tries to investigate the impacts of providing background knowledge and previewing questions (henceforth PQs) on the Comprehension of the content of English listening materials.

2. Review of literature

The first part of review of literature focuses on theoretical framework in the area of listening comprehension. …

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