An exploration of L2 listening problems and their causes

Gao, Liping (2014) An exploration of L2 listening problems and their causes. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Listening has long been recognised as the most challenging skill for teachers, students and researchers working in the context of L2 English. However, it has also been the least researched of the four language skills, and one that has received the least attention in second language acquisition.

This study identified the listening problems, and their causes, experienced by Chinese university students at intermediate level through multiple perspectives. Included in the investigation were learners’ perceptions, their performance in phonological vocabulary tests and their recognition of words from dictation transcription in terms of lexical processing and spoken word recognition, in addition to learners’ self-reflection and the teacher’s reflection after one-semester of instruction and learning. The ultimate aims of the study were to contribute to our understanding of the nature of listening comprehension and the causes of the difficulties it poses for these learners in order to advance a research-based pedagogy to help them improve their listening comprehension skills. A mixed methods approach was employed, integrating questionnaire surveys, participants’ self-reflections, the Aural-Lex tests, and dictation transcriptions conducted both at the very beginning and at the end of the semester.

Findings suggest that the main difficulties and the causes of these difficulties in listening comprehension for Chinese university students at intermediate level include the following: limited knowledge of phonology, inadequate vocabulary by sound, and poor awareness of the features of connected speech. The study suggests that Chinese university students at this level need to improve their spoken word recognition and develop an awareness of the organisation of sounds in English connected speech, as these cognitive processes play a vital role in proficient listening comprehension. Similarly, it proposes that researchers and teachers working in higher education in the L2 context should work closely together to address intermediate learners’ needs and difficulties, both theoretically and practically, in order to help them enhance their listening comprehension skills.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Pemberton, R.
McGrath, I.
Subjects: P Language and literature > PE English
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Education
Item ID: 28415
Depositing User: Gao, Liping
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2015 14:25
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2016 15:58

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