An Investigation of the Listening Strategies of Intermediate Mandarin Chinese Learners from a Psycho...
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An Investigation of the Listening Strategies of Intermediate Mandarin Chinese Learners from a Psycholinguistic Perspective. Raymond Pai Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center. Listening skill.

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Raymond pai defense language institute foreign language center

An Investigation of the Listening Strategies of Intermediate Mandarin Chinese Learners from a Psycholinguistic Perspective

Raymond Pai

Defense Language Institute

Foreign Language Center


Listening skill

Listening skill

  • Of the four language skills— speaking, listening, reading and writing, listening is the most critical for language learning at the beginning stages. (Rost,1994)

  • Listening is the most frequently used language skill in everyday life. We listen twice as much as we speak, four times as much as we read, and five times as much as we write. (Rivers 1981; Morley, 1991)

  • Listening is a highly integrative skill and research has demonstrated its crucial role in language acquisition (Rost, 1990; Feyten, 1991; Mendelsohn & Rubin, 1995).


What makes listening comprehension difficult

What makes listening comprehension difficult?

  • Listening is probably the least explicit of the four language skills, making it the most difficult skill to learn. (Vandergrift, 2004)

  • It involves physiological and cognitive processes at different levels (Field, 2002; Lynch, 2002; Rost, 2002), as well as attention to contextual and “socially coded acoustic clues” (Swaffar & Bacon, 1993).


What makes listening comprehension difficult1

lack of control over the speed at which speakers speak,

not being able to get things repeated,

the listener's limited vocabulary,

failure to recognize the "signals,"

problems of interpretation,

inability to concentrate, and established learning habits.

Underwood (1989)

What makes listening comprehension difficult?


What makes listening comprehension difficult2

What makes listening comprehension difficult?

  • limited language knowledge,

  • focus on details,

  • limited working memory,

  • limited comprehension due to speed of speech,

  • use of compensatory strategies and contextual factors for guesses.

    (Vandergrift, 2004)


Listening process anderson 1983 1995

Listening Process (Anderson 1983, 1995)

  • Three cognitive processing phases-- perceptions, parsing, and utilization

  • Perceptual processing refers to maintaining attention to spoken input

  • Parsing means encoding the input to establish a meaningful representation in short-term memory.

  • Utilization concerns using the background knowledge to interpret the input for storage.


Listening comprehension problems goh 2000

Listening comprehension problems (Goh, 2000)

  • Perception stage:

    • do not recognize words they know

    • neglect the next part when thinking about meaning

    • cannot chunk streams of speech

    • miss the beginning of texts

    • concentrate too hard or unable to concentrate

  • Parsing stage:

    • quickly forget what is heard

    • unable to form a mental representation from words heard

    • do not understand subsequent parts of input because of earlier problems

  • Utilization stage:

    • understand the words but not the intended message

    • confused about the key ideas in the message


Learning strategy instruction

Learning strategy instruction

A cognitive approach to foreign language learning is predicated upon the assumption that language learners should be mentally active, purposeful, strategic, and conscious of their own learning processes. The process of learning strategy instruction is to help students become aware of the power of their own metacognition and to teach them metacognitive, cognitive and socialaffective strategies to help them become better language learners.

(Chamot, et al., 1990)


Listening strategies oxford 1990 o malley and chamot 1990

Listening Strategies (Oxford, 1990; O’Malley and Chamot, 1990)

  • Cognitive strategies

  • Repetition

  • Resourcing

  • Regrouping

  • Note-taking

  • Substitution

  • Elaboration between parts

  • Elaboration of prior knowledge

  • Summarization

  • Translation

  • Inferencing

  • Affective strategies

  • Emotional control

  • Metacognitive strategies

  • Planning

  • Directed attention

  • Selective attention

  • Self-management

  • Self-monitoring

  • Self-evaluation

  • Social strategies

  • Questioning

  • Cooperation


Current study

Current study

  • 18 students of Chinese Basic Course at DLI (beginning – 48 weeks/1,400+ hours of instruction)

  • Instrument

    • DLPT5 listening results

    • Questionnaire (Ehrman & Leaver Learning Style, personality type, and Barsch Learning Style)

    • Immediate Retrospective Verbalization / Think-aloud sessions

    • Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) by Oxford

    • Language Strategy Use Inventory and Index (LSUII) by Cohen, Oxford, and Chi

  • Pilot and ongoing study with both quantitative and qualitative analyses in progress


Immediate retrospective verbalization think aloud sessions

Immediate Retrospective Verbalization / Think-aloud sessions

  • Students “think-aloud” before and immediately after each listening segment

  • Raise awareness for the students and lead the researchers into the “black box” of the cognitive and metacognitive strategies used for listening comprehension


Immediate retrospective verbalization think aloud sessions1

Immediate Retrospective Verbalization / Think-aloud sessions

  • 本台消息,设在辽宁省山东市温泉疗养院内的全国最大的室内温泉游泳馆日前正式投入使用。这里的温泉水含有四十多种对人体有益的矿物质,对五十多种疾病的治疗有效率高达百分之九十以上。(DLPT5 listening 0+ student)

  • 本台消息,设在辽宁省山东市温泉疗养院内的全国最大的室内温泉游泳馆日前正式投入使用。这里的温泉水含有四十多种对人体有益的矿物质,对五十多种疾病的治疗有效率高达百分之九十以上。 (DLPT5 listening 2 student)


Strategy inventory for language learning sill

Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL)


Strategy inventory for language learning sill1

Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL)

  • Remember more effectively

  • Using your mental process

  • Compensating for missing knowledge

  • Organizing and evaluating your learning

  • Managing your emotions

  • Learning with others


Strategy inventory for language learning sill2

Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL)


Raymond pai defense language institute foreign language center

Language Strategy Use Inventory and Index (LSUII)


Language strategy use inventory and index lsuii

Language Strategy Use Inventory and Index (LSUII)

  • Strategies to become more familiar with the sounds in the target language

    • Practice sounds in the target language that are very different from sounds in my own language to become comfortable with them.

  • Strategies to prepare to listen to conversation in the target language

    • Prepare for talks and performances I will hear in the target language by reading some background materials beforehand

  • Strategies to listen to conversation in the target language

    • Listen for word and sentence stress to see what native speakers emphasize when they speak

    • Pay attention to the rise and fall of speech by native speakers– the “music” of it.


Affective factors in listening

Affective factors in listening

  • Anxiety

  • Motivation

  • Self-Esteem/Confidence

  • Learning style

  • Personality

  • Creativity

  • Willingness to communicate

  • Learner beliefs


Pedagogical implications

Pedagogical Implications

  • The relationship between strategy use and proficiency is very complicated: Issues such as frequency and quality of strategy use do not bear a simple linear relationship to achievement in a second language. (McDonough, 1999)

  • Low reported strategy use is not always a sign of ineffective learning. Also, reportedly high-frequency use of strategies does not guarantee that the learning is successful. In a causal class observation, one might see some learners working eagerly and using many strategies, but… do not employ those strategies effectively. Studies relying solely on frequency data may miss this point. Because frequency results alone do not explain everything about strategy use, it is necessary to include other indices of learners’ behaviors that reflect their decision making. ‘The more, the better’ is not always the case in strategy use. (Yamamori et al., 2003)


Pedagogical implications1

Pedagogical Implications

Encouraging students to take responsibility for their own learning is a loud refrain in current thinking on schooling. To help all students become “self-regulated,” theory suggests the need for a better understanding of the strategies that successful students use to maintain effort and protect commitments in school.

(Randi, and Corno, 2002)


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