Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

A Study on the Effectiveness of Thesaurus on Iranian Upper Intermediate Efl Learners' Listening Comprehension Ability

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

A Study on the Effectiveness of Thesaurus on Iranian Upper Intermediate Efl Learners' Listening Comprehension Ability

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Before 1970s, listening was only considered as a receptive skill (Johnson, 2008, p.299) where "students just listened to repeat and develop a better pronunciation"(Vandergrift 2011). Although the literature base in listening strategy instruction has not received enough attention, strategy instruction for listening task has been increasingly focused by listening experts such as Goh (2000, 2002), Hasan (2000), Mareschal (2002) and Vandergrift (2003b) during the past few decades. Initially, most of the listening strategy studies have been investigating patterns and strategies used by successful versus less successful learners. Then gradually the line of research shifted to focus on effective strategies -based and process oriented approaches to teaching listening skill in order to guide the students "learn to listen" so that they can better "listen to learn" (Vandergrift, 2004).Therefore, listening instructors have the responsibility of teaching students to take advantage of strategies rather than merely providing students with oral passages and testing them (Mendelsohn, 1995).

Despite the wide range of areas investigated in listening strategy research, there is a lack of research looking specifically at how listening strategy use develops or changes over time in the absence of explicit strategy training. An understanding of this pattern of development would seem vital for the planning of listening strategy instruction in particular, and for the teaching of listening in general. Studies that do touch upon strategy development have taken one of three approaches: (1) Comparing cross-sectionally the strategy use of learners at different levels of proficiency; (2) Identifying development within the framework of a program of strategy instruction and (3) Tracing strategy development over time for a single cohort of learners. Therefore, to help language learners to improve their listening comprehension ability, special attention must be gained towards vocabulary expansion. With regard to the relationship between one's knowledge of words in a second or foreign language and one's listening comprehension ability, there are also some studies, though few in number, which show that having good lexical knowledge can have a positive effect on one's listening comprehension. In fact, researching spoken vocabulary has always been more difficult than written vocabulary. That is due to two important features which differentiate spoken language from written language. These two features are permanence and processing time. In fact, as Brown (2001,p.303) states, spoken language is fleeting. When a person says something, it disappears and the hearer has to make immediate perceptions and immediate storage, whereas written language is permanent and, as a result, the reader can return to a word or phrase or sentence, or even to a whole text to understand it better.

The result is that we have a large number of studies providing information about the written form of lexical items, but the amount of research on oral vocabulary is relatively small. One key issue which has not been adequately addressed is how much spoken vocabulary is required to operate in English. For decades, based on the analysis of a half-million word corpus, it was believed that around 2000 word families were sufficient for this (Schonelletal.,1956). Other studies such as Adolph and Schmitt (2003), Staehr (2003) and Nation (2006) have suggested a range of 3000-7000 words as vocabulary size needed to understand spoken language.

As for the research which directly deals with the effect of explicit teaching of vocabulary on listening comprehension, mention can be made of a few studies. For example, Chung and Huang (1998) explored the effects of three advanced organizers (main characters, vocabulary, and main characters of vocabulary) on student comprehension of L2 video-taped material. The results of the study revealed that when provided with vocabulary items as a type of advance organizer, students performed better at comprehension than under the other two conditions. …

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