Academic journal article English Language Teaching

The Impact of Mobile Learning on Listening Anxiety and Listening Comprehension

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

The Impact of Mobile Learning on Listening Anxiety and Listening Comprehension

Article excerpt


This study aimed at investigating the impact of mobile learning on EFL learners' listening anxiety and listening comprehension. Fifty students of two intermediate English courses were selected and sampled as the experimental (n=25) and control (n=25) groups. Students' entry level of listening anxiety was assessed by foreign language listening anxiety questionnaire and their listening comprehension was assessed by Key English Test (KET) prior to the study. For one semester the experimental group did their listening activities by using podcasts listened to on their mobile phones and/or portable digital media players. Meanwhile the control group used their desktop computers to do their listening activities. The results of data analysis showed that listening anxiety of the experimental group reduced significantly after the experiment. Further, a significant difference between the experimental and control groups' listening comprehension was found in favor of the experimental group at the end of the experiment.

Keywords: listening comprehension, mobile learning, podcast, listening anxiety

1. Introduction

Listening is an important language skill that contributes to the internalization of language rules and facilitates the emergence of other language skills (Vandergrift, 1997). Although listening might apparently be seen as a passive process, it is actually a complex and active process of interpretation of what listeners hear and what they already know (Vandergrift, 1999). Listening is an interactive process of recognition, perception, and understanding of the oral input (Vandergrift, 2002) and "an intention to complete a communication" (Rost, 2002, p. 40).

Since listening is an unobservable skill, it is the least explicit language skill (Vandergrift, 2004) and second language learners often regard it as the most complicated skill to learn and master (Graham, 2003). Finding reasons of why listening is such a difficult skill is not an easy task and it seems that the answer is taking shape as listening theories and practices are evolving. Listening has been reported to be a difficult skill due to the features inherent in oral input such as phonological and lexical features (Flowerdew, 1994); reduced forms (Ito, 2001); invisible word boundaries (Weber & Cutler, 2006); and irregular pauses, false starts, and intonation patterns (Gilmore, 2007). However, listening can be difficult for some listeners due to their limited processing skill (Buck, 2001) and lack of control over the speech rate (Osada, 2004), or inadequate knowledge of vocabulary, topics, and accents (Buck, 2001).

Listeners' emotional side seems to be among the most important factors that can influence the way the processing of information takes place. One of such traits that can hinder the understanding of oral input is listening anxiety or "the type of anxiety experienced by language learners in situations that require listening" (Bekleyen, 2009). Listening anxiety is believed to receive less attention than other facets of language anxiety because listening was thought to be a passive skill for a very long time and it was thus difficult to be assessed or identified by teachers or researchers (Ghapanchi & Golparvar, 2012).

The characteristics of listening task and the condition of listening are also considered to be important factors affecting listening comprehension. As a result, there has been a surge of interest to investigate the role of different types of listening instruction and materials in listening comprehension (e.g., Goh, 2000). By the advent of technological tools, the experts' attention has been shifted to studying the role of computer-based learning environment on both decreasing language learning anxiety and increasing teaching/learning efficiency. Recently, Web 2.0 affordances (wikis, podcasts, social networking, and blogs) have been found to impact language learning in general and the development of language skills in particular. …

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