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Tony Lynch David Mendelsohn. CHAPTER 11(part2) LISTENING. Listening strategies. Learning strategies: Techniques, approaches, or deliberate actions that students take in order to facilitate the learning and recall of both linguistic and content area information

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Tony lynch david mendelsohn

Tony Lynch

David Mendelsohn


Listening strategies

Learning strategies: Techniques, approaches, or deliberate actions that students take in order to facilitate the learning and recall of both linguistic and content area information

People are usually not conscious of how they listen in their first language unless they encounter difficulty.

What do second or foreign language learners need to do when they are listening???

They need to make conscious use of the strategies they use unconsciously in their first language.

Learning strategies are usually divided into metacognitive, cognitive, and social/affective

Meta cognitive strategy: It is developing a conscious awareness of the strategies we find ourselves using as we listen.

Cognitive listening strategy: it would be listening to the way people address each other (Darling or Dr Rose or Jamie)as a clue to the interpersonal relationship between them.

Social/affective strategy: asking for assistance from the interlocutor.

How do skillful listeners use them???

Skillful listeners use them in combination, varying their use according to the needs of the specific situation.

How do we gain insights into listening
How do we gain insights into listening?

Settings WHERE

Methods HOW


1. Experiments

2. Pedagogic Tasks

3. Test Performances

4. real life communication




Experimental investigation has concentrated on aspects such the effects of prosodic patterns or speech recognition. We know that the characteristic patterning of speech in our L1 provides a metrical template that influences the way we process L2 speech.

These unconscious L1 metrical habits caused listeners problems up to relatively advanced levels of L2 proficiency.

Pedagogic tasks


Pedagogic Tasks

The literature on L2 listening has tended to focus on pedagogic settings, such as the lecture theatre.

Test performances
Test Performances

Researchers with access to candidates’ performances in listening in world-wide tests, such as IELTS and TOEFL, have been able to investigate listening skills on a very large scale.

Real life communication
Real life communication

An important source of insight into listening is our own first-hand experience of communicative encounters and the listening problems to which they give rise.


1. Observation

2. Introspection

3. Retrospection




  • Observation takes many forms, from informal noticing of real life examples of misunderstandings to experiments designed to create ambiguities and referential conflicts.

Introspection think aloud protocol
Introspection:(think aloud protocol)

It is Comments by the listener at, or immediately after, the time of listening

Introspection studies are open to three main criticisms:

First: the demands of online reporting may lead listeners to listen differently from normal.

Second: the data obtained can be greatly influenced by the listeners’ skill in verbalizing mental process, especially if the self- reporting is done in the L2

Third: listeners’ reports may reflect prior knowledge, rather their listening.

These last two problems can be reduced by allowing subjects to report in L1 OR by selecting unfamiliar topics.


The listener is asked to recall the experience of comprehending some time later, usually prompted by memory support such as reviewing a recording of the original conversation.

Observation, introspection and retrospection need not be mutually exclusive. Applying them in judicious combination is probably the best approach to finding out how individuals listen and how they deal with comprehension problems.

From theory to practice issue in teaching l2 listening
From theory to practice: issue in teaching L2 listening

The point of contact between theory and application is to be found in the work on learning strategies.

Diagnostic approach: in which a listening lesson would involve pre-listening ,listening and then an extended post-listening session’ in which gaps in the learners’ listening skills could be examined and redressed through short micro listening exercises’

Difficulty factors in listening
Difficulty factors in listening

Five characteristics that affect listening:

  • Text characteristics

  • Interlocutor characteristics

  • Task characteristics

  • Listener characteristics

  • Process characteristics

Listening text will be easier if
Listening text will be easier if:

  • There are few speakers and objects

  • The speakers and objects are distinct and different from one another

  • The spatial relations are clear

  • The order of telling the events matches the order in which the event occurred.

  • The inferences called for are those that one would have predicted.

  • The content of the text fix with what the listener already knows.

Teaching versus testing of listening
Teaching versus testing of listening


1. The students were seldom given any pre-listening activities to activate their schematic knowledge

2. The students were rarely told what sort of questions they would be asked after listening

3. The students were expected to listen to all texts in the same way

4. The listening material was usually audiotaped, depriving the learners of any visual clues

Authenticity of text and task
Authenticity of text and task

Authenticity of text

Authentic: not designed or recorded for nonnative speakers or for language learning purposes.

Is it always possible to use only authentic materials?



For example: if we are teaching students to deduce interpersonal relations between speakers by listening for the ways in which they address each other, it is unlikely that we will find in ‘naturally occurring’ texts sufficient occurrences of the use of names ,nick names and titles to provide adequate practice.

Authenticity of Task

Ever since the advent of communicative language teaching (CLT), efforts have been made by materials developers and teachers to make learning tasks as realistic as possible.

  • Example: information gap

Strategy instruction
Strategy instruction

It is at the root of teaching learners how to tackle a listening text. It involves showing learners clues as to how to get at meaning when there are gaps in their competence making this difficult.


Mendelsohn (1994), as part of his strategy base approach ,offers examples of strategies to determine setting (S) ,interpersonal relationships(I),mood(M) and topic(T)






A: Jane, have you met the new office secretary?

B: No, not yet. Why?

A: She’s really nice. Did you know that she’s pregnant?

Skills training

A certain level of linguistic proficiency is required in order to handle listening comprehension.

  • Some of the features that need to be practiced are:

  • Discriminating between similar sounds

  • Coping with and processing ’fast speech’

  • Processing stress and intonational differences

  • Processing the meaning of different discourse markers

  • Understanding communicative functions and the non-one-to-one equivalence between form and functions