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Teaching Listening Listening is a critical element in the competent language performance of adult second language learners whether they are communicating at school at work or in the community Through the normal course of a day listening is used nearly twice as much as speaking and four to five times as much as reading and writing In a recent study of Fortune 500 Corporations Wolvin and Coakley 1991 found that listening was perceived to be crucial for communication at work with regards to entry-level employment job success general career competence managerial competency and effectiveness of relationships between supervisors and subordinates Yet listening remains one of the least understood processes in language learning despite the recognition of the critical role it plays both in communication and in language acquisition As language teaching has moved toward comprehension-based approaches listening to learn has become an important element in the adult English as a second language ESL classroom What are some factors that affect the listening process Listening is a demanding process not only because of the complexity of the process itself but also due to factors that characterize the listener the speaker the content of the message and any visual support that accompanies the message Brown Yule 1983 The Listener Interest in a topic increases the listeners comprehension the listener may tune out topics that are not of interest A listener who is an active participant in a conversation generally has more background knowledge to facilitate understanding of the topic than a listener who is in effect eavesdropping on a conversation between two people whose communication has been recorded on an audio tape Further the ability to use negotiation skills such as asking for clarification repetition or definition of points not understood enable a listener to make sense of the incoming information The Speaker Colloquial language and reduced forms make comprehension more difficult The extent to which the speaker uses these language
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