Difficulties in english listening skill experienced by firstyear english major students at thuong mai university and suggested solutions

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1 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS On completing this graduation paper, I would like to send my deepest and most sincere gratitude to many people for their invaluable help during the conduct of the research First and foremost, I would like to send my heartfelt gratitude towards my supervisor Ms Do Thi Bich Dao for her constructive and timely feedbacks as well as her constant and unfailing support which were decisive factors to the completion of the study Furthermore, I would love to thank all the teachers who have taught me academic writing and research methodology I would also like to say the sincerest thanks to those first-year English major students who have enthusiastically participated in the study Their participation has been crucial to the completion of the research On a personal note, I express my truly gratitude to my family and friends who emotionally and spiritually comforted me through the challenging time of conducting the research The study could not have been completed without their continual encouragement ABSTRACT Today, the position of English in the areas of life is increasingly important and necessary In order to learn English well and fluently, learners must improve their language skills Listening which can be regarded is the most difficult skill in learning foreign languages in general and English in particular, is the skill that learners face many difficulties and challenges Students at Thuong Mai University also face many difficulties in English listening There are many domestic and foreign authors studying the areas of listening skill However, there has not been any specific study aimed at first-year English major students of TMU Therefore, the researcher conducts a study on difficulties in English listening skill experienced by first-year English major students This thesis focuses on three main issues: the attitudes of first-year English major students at TMU toward English listenning skill; difficulties in English listening skill experienced by first-year English major students at TMU and suggested solutions to help freshman at Thuongmai University improve their listening skill This study is conducted based on quantitative methods Survey questionnaires were used to distribute 100 students in classes (K54N1, K54N2, K54N3, K54N4) to collect data Raw data was converted to numbers and percentages From the results obtained, there were conclusions drawn about students' attitudes and their difficulties in English listening skill In general, freshmen were aware of the importance of listening skill and most of them valued this as the most difficult skill in English skills First-year students face many difficulties in listening (subjective difficulties and objective difficulties) From the research findings, the researcher offerred suggestions and recommendations to help students solve difficulties in listening to English The researcher hopes this study can help first-year students improve their listening skill and support the further studies avoid shortcomings and limitations TABLE OF CONTENTS LIST OF TABLES, FIGURES, AND ABBREVIATIONS TABLES FIGURES ABBREVIATIONS TMU: Thuong Mai University CHAPTER I: OVERVIEW OF THE STUDY The first chapter includes an overview of the research topic The first problem mentioned is the reason for studying the topic as well as previous research and the aims of the study In addition, Chapter I also points out the salient features of the research subjects and scope of the study Moreover, this is also the chapter outlining the research methodology used in the study process Finally, this chapter is also a chapter that summarizes the parts of the organization of the study 1.1 Rationale of the study Today, the influence of English on the world is extremely important English is an important and necessary language in all areas of life such as: Economy, Education, Technology, Diplomacy, Defense, etc Therefore, the universalization of English for Vietnamese people is extremely necessary However, the proficiency of using a foreign languag e is extremely difficult and time consuming Vietnamese people need an appropriate and advanced training program, and with an effort to reach the world, they can quickly use the world's common language in the period of 4.0 Technology When starting to learn a new language, most people will learn to listen first Like the mother tongue learning process, humans all followed the voice of an adult when they were young, and then start babbling When a child hears the tone of an adult, he can feel the emotions of adults like: angry, happy, shouting or cheering, etc After that, they hear how adults communicate with each other by saying words and learn how to follow That is why people bring the characteristic voice of the land they were born After going to school, children can learn to read and write Therefore, listening practice is extremely important in learning foreign languages in general and English in particular Listening is an extremely important and difficult skill to practice Therefore, there are many research papers on the factors affecting this skill or the difficulties of learners when listening to English However, my study focuses on studying the listening skill of first-year English major students at Thuong Mai University There are many reasons for me to research on this topic The first reason comes from the reality of English listening skill of first-year major students who are quite weak at this skill Most freshmens were so familiar with the high school curriculum They only focus on learning grammar and vocabulary, but are less interested in practicing language skills like practicing listening English The scores in the listening skill tests at the university are extremely low Most freshmens are afraid to learn to listen or listen to tests Besides, according to Lewis (1993), listening is also the most crucial medium for input in learning a foreign language and by increasing students’ ability to perceive speech and thus aiding language learning Indeed, listening is an important and difficult skill When learning a foreign language, listening is a skill not to be missed Listening skill plays a critical role in the remaining other skills such as speaking, reading and writing All skills are interrelated and used in conjunction with each other in everyday life Most learners will find their listening skill difficult and choose to avoid having to listen to English However, when being a student in English department, first-year students need to raise awareness of the importance of listening skills and try to overcome difficulties Unlike students of other faculties, students in the English Faculty need to be aware of the relationship of listening skill with others, learners should not focus on a certain skill that you find it easy for yourself and ignore other skills Therefore, I want to thoroughly understand the difficulties that new students are having then find the right solutions to help freshmens to improve their listening skill The second reason that the researcher decided to study this topic was that when being a freshman, the reseacher also had many difficulties in practicing English listening It was the fact that my first year listening test scores were not as expected I used to feel frustrated when I heard it because even though I tried, the results did not improve Like other students, I want to improve my listening skill to use specialized English fluently after graduation Ofcouse, learners need a lot of effort The first year is a good time for learners to improve their limitations, especially in listening skill Freshmen have a lot of time and opportunities to research and improve their skills Therefore, the researcher wants to through this study, can find out the difficulties that freshmen are facing, and offer practical solutions for themselves The researcher hopes the results of this study bring benefits not only for the researcher but also the first-year students who are weak in English listening skill Moreover, there have been many researches on listening skill of TMU students, but very few people have studied specifically about difficulties in listening skill that first-year English students have experienced Therefore, I have more motivation to be addicted to the research on this topic to help students in English Department These are the main rationales that promt the researcher to carry out the study of topic “Difficulties in English listening skill expperienced by first-year English major students at Thuong Mai University and suggested solutions” 1.2 Previous studies Before carrying out this topic, the researcher consulted and explored many documents related to the topic of difficulties in English listening skill There is a lot of information and materials related to this issue on the internet, books, newspapers, magazines, scientific papers, etc In the references, the researcher found that the research results and information in the following three authors’ language studies are relevant and useful for the research, they are: The Role of Listening in Language Acquisition; the Challenges & Strategies in Teaching Listening (D Renukadevi, 2014); Factors Affecting Listening Comprehension and Strategies for Improvement (Naci Yildiz and Mustafa Albay, 2015) and Learners’ Listening Comprehension Difficulties in English Language Learning (Abbas Pourhosein Gilakjani and Narjes Banou Sabour, 2016) The first previous study that the researcher refers to is “The Role of Listening in Language Acquisition; the Challenges & Strategies in Teaching Listening” (D Renukadevi, 2014) D Renukadevi was an Assistant Professor of Department of English in Erode Sengunthar Engineering College His study deals with the prime importance of listening in language acquisition and the challenges in attaining listening competence and suggests some strategies to overcome it D Renukadevi declared that “without listening skills, language learning is impossible” The reason was “there is no communication where there is no human interaction” According to him, listening was crucial not only in language learning but also for learning other subjects Today, learners have problems with listening with all the technological advancements in the field of education The study showed main reasons such as: learners spend too little time to improve their listening skills; the inappropriate strategies tested on them in a learning setting may be an important reason for their poor listening comprehension Other causes may from the listening material and physical settings D Renukadevi also suggested some solutions to help langguage learners acquire high level listening skill, such as: • Reduce the burden of comprehension by knowing the context of a listening text and the purpose for listening greatly • Both bottom-up processers (linguistic knowledge) and top-down processes (prior knowledge) can be used by listeners to comprehend • Teachers should play an important role in teaching learners strategies and how to apply them into the listening task • Students should be helped to develop sound strategies for comprehension through a process approach to teach listening The second study that was referrd by the researcher is “Factors Affecting Listening Comprehension and Strategies for Improvement” (Naci Yildiz and Mustafa Albay, 2015) Their study showed three main factors from: listeners, speakers, material and medium The first factor was the intelligence of the learners which decided on how much language input they receive Background knowledge about the topic, another factor, enables the learners to comprehend the listening text better; in other words prior knowledge facilitates comprehension and allows learners to make predictions The second factor was speaker factors They showed clearly factors from the speakers: • Speakers’ ability plays an important role in comprehension Learners may prefer listening activities of native speakers because it can help learners understand better • The pronunciation and accent of the speaker influences comprehension • Delivery speed of the speaker is a major factor in listening comprehension • Listening to well-known and prestigious speakers can motivate learners The other fators came from material and medium, such as: • The choice of listening materials holds a big role in comprehension If message is not conveyed, the materials will not be useful Vocabulary, grammar level and phonological of the material influences comprehension largely • Stress and intonation in the material • The content of the material • The listening environment In the study, they suggested many solutions to help learners improve listening skill They affirmed that all grammatical structures and vocabulary in listening texts must be ensured to be taught beforehand The difficulty of listening texts must be at learners’ level of understanding and listening texts must absorb attention of learners Interesting listening topics motivated learners which finally lead to achievement Speed of delivery must be slightly slower than normal speech The accent of speakers in listening texts influence comprehension so native accents should be preferred And finally a silent and motivating listening environment should be created The third study that the researcher would like to review is “Learners’ Listening Comprehension Difficulties in English Language Learning” (Abbas Pourhosein Gilakjani and Narjes Banou Sabour, 2016) In this study, the researchers reviewed the terms of listening, listening comprehension, listening comprehension strategies, and listening difficulties The researchers showed listening comprehension strategies They are cognitive, metacognitive, and socio-affective They also showed main problems that learners faced with listening comprehension: The quality of listening 10 Business English vocabulary is too much and hard to remember 86 28,38% Different accents and dialects 82 27,06% Speed of speech native speakers of 71 23,43% Intonation communication Total in 64 21,13% 303 100% Table 3.5: Some language barriers obstructing students' English listening skill 3.4 Students’ solutions to improve English listening skill Based on the questions about the difficulties students may face in English listening skill, the researcher offerred some solutions for students to choose These are suggestions to help students solve subjective difficulties to improve their English listening skill The choice of students is re-listed by the researcher in the following table: Solutions Strongly agree 59% Agree Neutral Disagree 34% 7% 00 Listen to English songs 51% 37% 10% 2% Watch movies with English subcriptions for the first time and try to listen dialogues without subcriptions for the next time Practice listening to news in English 82% 14% 4% 00 79% 18% 3% 00 Improve pronunciation skill 33 Listen to foreigners directly 68% 23% 8% 00 Regularly practice listening to tape or disks of the syllabus Average 87% 13% 00 00 71% 23,34% 5,33% 0,33% Table 3.6: Students’ solutions to improve English listening skill 34 From the results, the researcher drawn that most students agreed strongly on the proposed solutions The percentage of students who strongly agreed with the solutions offered by the researcher accounted for 71% Next is the proportion of students agreed with solutions accounting for 23.34% Up to 5.33% of students rated their agreement with suggested solutions in neutral level There were very few students who disagreed with the researcher's solution (0.33%) The above table also shows the order of solutions strongly agreed by the majority of students Most students chose the solution "Regularly practice listening to tape or disks of the syllabus” The only solution with 2% of students disagreed was "Listen to English songs" 35 CHAPTER IV: RECOMMENDATIONS AND SUGGESTIONS In chapter IV, the researcher presents the recommendations and suggestions through the research findings The suggestions and recommendations in this chapter are all made by the researcher herself The researcher hopes to help as many freshmen as possible solve the difficulties in English listening skill The researcher also gives the suggestions for futher studies 4.1 Recommendations 4.1.1 For students 4.1.1.1 Before listening First of all, learners need to be aware of the difficulty of listening skill If students still have many difficulties in listening to English, they must spend more time practicing It can be inferred from the research results that very few students take time to practice listening every day In order to have good and proficient listening skill, listeners must persevere to practice more Diligence, hard work and perseverance will help listeners quickly improve their listening skill According to A J Hoge - The father of the famous method of English learning (Effortless English), to be fluent in only 2-3 months, learners must create massive intensity In other words, they have to listen and read 8-14 hours a day, every day Secondly, students need to prepare to read listening materials before listening For students who are still weak in listening skill, this is an extremely important preparation step For listening materials with long documents, new content or many specialized vocabulary, the reading of the listening material will help students easily remember the main content Thirdly, vocabulary is a very important supporting tool in the process of listening to English In particular, the freshman of English Department must learn and memorize a large number of specialized English words The business English vocabulary is immensely rich and carries a unique economic-specific character Therefore, students should spend time reading books, newspapers, magazines, to find more specialized vocabulary 36 The ability to pronounce is also a factor affecting English listening Students need to pay attention to different pronunciation of native speakers (for example, pronunciation differences between American and British) The standard pronunciation helps listeners recognize words faster and the content is heard more fully In addition, knowledge of pragmatics also helps listeners to listen to the content more easily Based on the grammatical structures, idioms, accents, etc used in the content, listeners can capture the implications and messages conveyed In addition, knowledge of pragmatics also helps listeners to listen to content more easily Based on grammatical structures, idioms, accents, etc used in the content, listeners can capture the implications and messages conveyed 4.1.1.2 During listening Firstly, the listeners need to concentrate highly and pay attention to the content being heard Listeners should not be distracted by external influences like phones, messages, people nearby, etc Pay attention to the content and note the main ideas heard on paper Make a quick, brief note and use the symbols or abbreviations to save time Secondly, if the speed of the tape is too fast, the listener should listen once to grasp the main idea Then listen to each small piece, but the part that has not been heard before it can be played back several times Thirdly, it is not always possible for the listener to hear all the words or a complete sentence In case students cannot hear all the sentences, they should write down the key points and link them together to guess the meaning of the content Listeners should avoid the case of trying to listen to the incomplete parts and miss the content of the behind segments During the listening practice with foreigners, students need to actively communicate with them and are not afraid to ask them to help improve English skills Students should remember the intonation of English-speaking foreigners to avoid being surprised when listening to them Example: Chinese speaks English differently from Thailand 4.1.1.3 After listening 37 There are many students who forget the work they need to after listening Firstly, students should read and memorize new words, new idioms, or new structures in the listening contents In addition to the practice time in class, students should spend themselves some time to replay the heard recordings at home This step helps students memorize lessons longer and achieve higher listening results After hours of listening in class, students should actively take the time to practice listening with many other methods For example: watching English movies, watching English news, listening to English music, etc This enables students to improve their English listening skill in a variety of subjects and areas such as music, society, science, etc, not just the knowledge of business English 4.1.2 For teachers Teachers have a direct impact on the listening learning of students During hours in class, teachers are the ones who directly affect the learning results of students Therefore, teachers also need to improve the quality of teaching to help and support students more Firstly, teachers need to prepare the listening lesson carefully and consider the content of the listening materials in accordance with the student's ability Listening materials need to be diverse and various in contents in order to attract learners' attention Documents should not be too long or too short If the listening material is too long, it can be boring for students So teachers can split the paragraph and divide the listening content to help students understand the content more easily Secondly, teachers should check the quality of the tape, the quality of the speaker and laptop battery They should avoid not obstructing students’ listening process because of unclear tapes or low battery The teacher should manage the class and ensure that the student is seated and not making noise In addition, teachers should actively create many unique activities during listening hours so that students have more motivation to study For examples: listening activities in teaching can involve dividing the class into different groups to answer the questions related to listening contents In other ways, teachers can give high scores to encourage students to enounce during lessons 4.2 Suggestions for further studies 38 From this research, the researcher would like to make suggestions for further research studies This thesis still has many limitations and shortcomings Hopefully, future researchers can gain experience and better on the research areas related to this topic Firstly, due to the limitation time and ability, the researcher conducted a survey with a small number of participants compared to the total number of students of English Department Therefore, the research results may not be comprehensive and persuasive The results of this study cannot show the whole situation and difficulties that first-year students have experienced The researcher hopes that the following studies can clarify the problem more clearly In addition, the study cannot take all measures to help first-year English major students improve their listening skill The researcher wishes future researchers will add more effective solutions Secondly, this paper is based on quantitative methods so the researcher has given survey questionnaire for students to answer This approach has many drawbacks, such as: students may choose the answers inattentively; students not want to answer too many questions, etc Therefore, the researcher hopes that later studies will conduct more direct interviews with participants This makes the reseach results more realistic and accurate The researcher can also triangulate the data gained from the questionnaire The above are suggestions that the researcher pointed out to help future researchers avoid similar shortcomings and limitations The researcher hopes that the following research papers will be more excellent and more applicable 39 CONCLUSION Through this study, the researcher draws many conclusions about the students' attitudes about English listening learning Although most students thought that listening was a difficult skill, the data showed that only a few students spent a lot of time practicing listening Learners need more effort and hard work to improve listening skill Besides, the research results showed that most students encounterred two main groups of difficulties: subjective difficulties (retricted vocabulary, poor gammar, lack of contextual knowledge, the inability to concentrate) and objective difficulties (about listening material, tape quality, listening environment, etc) From these results, the researcher offers solutions to help students solve difficulties and improve their English listening skill The researcher expects that the results and recommendations of the thesis will be useful for both students and teachers in the process of teaching and learning English listening skill Due to the limitation of time and capacity, this thesis has many shortcomings Hopefully, the further studties will be more experienced and improved REFERENCES A J Hoge (2008), How To Learn English Very Fast Retrieved April, nd 2019 from https://effortlessenglishclub.com/how-to-learn-english-very-fast Abbas Pourhosein Gilakjani & Narjes Banou Sabour (2016), Learners’ Listening Comprehension Difficulties in English Language Learning, English Language Teaching, 6(9), 123-128 Azmi, B M., Celik, B., Yidliz, N., & Tugrul, M C (2014) Listening Comprehension Difficulties Encountered by Students in Second language Learning Class, Journal of Educational and Instructional Studies in the World, 4(4), 1-6 Bloomfield, A (2010), What Makes Listening Difficult? Factors Affecting Second Language Listening, English Language Teaching, 6(9); 130 Bowen, J D., Madsen, H., & Hilferty, A (1985), TESOL Techniques and Procedures, Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle Publishers Buck, G (2001), Assessing Listening, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Chastain, K (1971), The Development of Modern Language Skills: Theory to Practice, Philadelphia: Center for Curriculum Development D Renukadevi (2014), The Role of Listening in Language Acquisition; the Challenges & Strategies in Teaching Listening, Research India Publications, 1(4), 59-63 Eastman, J K (1991), Learning to listen and comprehend: the beginning stages, System, 19 (3), 179-187 Emmert, P (1994), A definition of listening, The Listening Post, 51 (6) Field, J (1999), Bottom-up and top-down, ELT Journal, 53, 338-339 Flowerdew, J., & Miller, L (2005), Second language listening: Theory and practice, New York: Cambridge University Press Goh, C (1999), Teaching Listening in the Language Classroom, Singapore: SEAMEO Regional Language Centre Goss, B (1982), Listening as Information Processing, Communication Quarterly, 30, 304-307 Hasan, A (2000), Learners’ Perceptions of Listening Comprehension Problems, Language, Culture and Curriculum, 13, 137-153 Helgesen, M & Brown, S (1994), Active listening USA: Cambridge University Press Morley, J (2001), Aural Comprehension Instruction: Principles and Practices, Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language, 69-85 Morley, J (2001), Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language, Boston: Heinle and Heinle Naci Yildiz & Mustafa Albay (2015), Factors Affecting Listening Comprehension and Strategies for Improvement, International Journal of Social Sciences & Educational Studies, 1(2), 20-24 Nunan, D (2002), Teaching listening in a Second Language in Featured Speech Retrieved April, 2nd 2019 from http://www.nunan.info Oxford, R (1990) Language learning strategies: What every teacher should know, New York: Newbury House Oxford, R (1993), Research update on L2 listening System, 21, 205-211 Postovsky, V A (1975), Paradoxes in Foreign Language Teaching, Modern Language Journal, 59(1), 18-21 Purdy, M (1997), A Personal and Professional Approach, Lanham, MD: University Press of America Richards, J.C (1990), The Language Teaching Matrix, Cambrigde: Cambridge University Press Rost, M (2002), Teaching and Researching Listening, London: Longman Rost, M (2009), Teacher Development Interactive: Listening, New York: Pearson Longman Rubin, J (1994), A review of second language listening research The Modern Language Journal, 78, 199-221 Underwood, M (1989), Teaching listening, London: Longman Vandergrift, L (1999), Facilitating Second Language Listening Comprehension: Acquiring Successful Strategies, ELT Journal, 53(3), 168-176 Vandergrift, L (1999), Facilitating second language listening: acquiring successful strategies, ELT Journal, 53 (3), 168-176 Vandergrift, L (2007), Language Teaching: Surveys and Studies, Canada: Cambridge University Press Walker, N (2014), Listening: the Most Difficult Skill to Teach, Encuentro, 23, 167175 APPENDIX SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE (For the graduation paper’s topic “Difficulties in English listening skill experienced by first-year English major students at Thuong Mai University and suggestion solutions”) Dear First-year English major students, I am Nguyen Thi Thu Thuong from class K51N6 I am in the process of making a graduation thesis which is about the above topic I hope that some of you can take a little time to help me complete this survey form Your answers will be digitized and used for the study I promise that all your information will be kept and only used for this thesis Sincerely thanks you! PART I: PERSONAL INFORMATION (Please tick the best answer) Which is your class? K54N1 K54N2 K54N3 K54N4 How long have you been learning English? Years Years More than years Which is usually your result level of English listening tests? Level A Level B Level C Level D Level F PART II: WHAT ARE THE ATTITUDES OF FIRST-YEAR ENGLISH MAJOR STUDENTS TOWARD ENGLSH LISTENING LEARNING? (Please tick the best answer) Please evaluate the level of importance of English listening skill compared to other English skills (Reading, writing, speaking): Extremely important Important Normal Not important In your own opinion, how difficult is the listening skill? Difficult Quite difficult Normal Easy How often you practice English listening skill at home? 3.1 How much time you listen to English a day? Under 30 minutes 30 miniutes hour More than hour 3.2 How many days/week you listen to English? day/week 2-3 days/week 3-5 days/week Everyday What is the way you listen for the first time? Listen to key points Focus on the new words Listen word by word Other ways PART III: WHAT ARE SOME DIFFICULTIES EXPERIENCED BY FIRSTYEAR ENGLISH MAJOR STUDENTS IN ENGLISH LEARNING? (Please tick all the suitable answers) What are some difficulties that you have in self-study listening English? LISTENING The inability to concentrate Limited vocabulary Limited contextual knowledge Poor grammar What are some difficulties that you have in listening subjects in your class? Poor tape quality and poor equipments Noises Long documents Bad health What are some difficulties in English obstruct you during listening learning? Business English vocabulary is too much and hard to remember Different accents and dialects Speed of speech of native speakers Intonation in communication If you have other difficulties in listening English, please write clearly in the blank: …………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………… PART IV: WHAT ARE SOME SUGGESTED SOLUTIONS TO IMPROVE ENGLISH LISTENING SKILL? (Please circle the best level: (Strongly agree); (Agree); (Neutral) and (Disagree) Improve pronunciation skill Listen to English songs Watch movies with English subcriptions for the first time and try to listen dialogues without subcriptions for the next time Practice listening to news in English 4 Listen to foreigners directly Regularly practice listening to tape or disks of the syllabus If you have other methods, please contribute in here: …………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………… … Thank you very much for your paticipation in the study! ... three main issues: the attitudes of first-year English major students at TMU toward English listenning skill; difficulties in English listening skill experienced by first-year English major students. .. questionares: • What are the attitudes of first-year English major students at Thuongmai University toward English listenning skills? • What are difficulties in English listening skill experienced by first-year... study is the difficulties in English listening skill experienced by first-year English major students at TMU The study focuses on understanding and investigating the difficulties students face
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