This study investigated the effect of dictation technique on the achievement on students in English listening comprehension in Abakaliki Education Zone of Ebonyi State, Nigeria. Five research questions and five null – hypotheses were formulated to guide the study. The study design was quasi – experimental. The sample for the study consisted 182 JSS2 students from two co – education schools in Abakaliki Education Zone. The experimental group comprised 100 male and female students from schools in rural and urban areas. The control group comprised 82 male and female students from schools located in rural and urban areas. A multi – stage random sampling technique was used. First to draw the two co – educational schools and two intact classes from each of the schools, and to assign schools to experimental and control groups. Both the experimental group and control group were given the same English listening passage but the difference is that while those in the experimental group were taught English listening comprehension with dictation technique, those in the control group were taught English listening comprehension using the lecture method. The instrument used for data collection was English Achievement Test (EAT) which was marked over fifty. The EAT was validated by three experts. The instrument was trial tested on twenty students from Afikpo Education Zone, Ebonyi State. The data obtained from the trial tests were used to calculate the reliability of the instrument using Kuder – Richardson’s formula. It yielded an index of 0.74. Mean was used to answer the research questions while ANCOVA was used to test the hypotheses as P < 0.05. From the results the experimental group had significant higher achievement score in English listening comprehension than their counterparts who are in the control group. Also, gender had a significant effect on the achievement of students in English listening comprehension but school location did not. In addition, interaction effect between treatment and gender was not significant as well as the treatment and school location was not significant. Based on the findings, it was recommended that English language teachers should adopt dictation technique in teaching English listening comprehension. Different tasks which can aid extensive English listening comprehension activities should be employed from primary schools to junior secondary school being the foundational classes. The curriculum planners should also include the use of dictation technique in the next review of curriculum.
Background of the Study
In recent time, English has been rated as the world most popular language which is characterized by active communication especially the indigenous owners of the language (Abolade, 2004). English is the most popular language which is widely used in international commerce, industry, communication and a source of scientific and technological advancement. English language has played a major role in Nigeria. English language was voluntarily adopted for official and inter-ethnic communication in the country (Akabogu, 2002). English language since then has come to serve various vital functions in the life of the nation. Of all these functions however, its role as the language of education is paramount since education gives life and essence to all other sphere of human endeavour (Obanya, 2002). This function is given greater vigour as a result of the position given to it by the National Policy on Education (2004) which makes English language mandatory in secondary and tertiary education in Nigeria. It is also the language of evaluation in schools as it is used for assessing students after primary school for the First School Leaving Certificate; Junior Secondary School Certificates Examinations and Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations (SSCE), Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and other Professional Examinations.
English language is a school subject and like every other school subject requires formal instruction. Instruction in English language involves instruction on the four basic language skills; listening, speaking, reading and writing. This is because acquiring a new language necessarily involves developing these four modalities in varying degrees and combinations. (Tankersly, 2003). Tankersly also explains that these four skills include associated skills, such as knowledge of vocabulary, spelling, pronunciation, syntax, meaning and usage.
As a result of the importance of English language in Nigeria, the Federal Government (FRN: 2004: 16) in its National Policy on Education states.
The medium of instruction in the primary school shall be the language of the immediate environment for the first three years. During this period, English shall be taught as a subject. From the fourth year, English shall progressively be used as a medium of instruction
The desire of the Federal Government of Nigeria, according to this statement, is to enable students attain some level of proficiency in English to enable them to fully participate in the educational, social, economic, and political aspects of the Nigerian society. Given the importance of English language as a subject, common sense demands that students should perform well in it but instead, the performance has been a downward trend. It is expected that after learning the English language for so many years; students would have reached a certain level of proficiency but it is not so. Marjah (2008), reports that the performance of students in written, reading and spoken English is not encouraging. Consequently, the Chief Examiners Report (WAEC, 2013) reiterated that English language paper was generally within the experience of the candidates, and that the paper compared favourably with those set in previous years. However, according to the report, the candidates’ performance was generally disappointing especially in the areas of expression and mechanical accuracy. In the comprehension section which is relevant to this work, the Chief Examiners reported that the candidates copied out chunks from the passages, indicating their lack of understanding, failure to identify main ideas in a given passage, inadequate skill in making adequate inference as well as limited knowledge of vocabulary. In the area which required the candidates to replace words, they failed to put their options back into the context of the passage to see if the options chosen fitted well. Thus, they lost a lot of marks. For these reasons, proper attention should be given to the teaching and learning of listening comprehension in the English Language.
Listening is a basic and important skill in learning a language. For acquisition of a language, listening plays a pivotal role. Listening is a complex process used to make sense out of what is heard. It involves focusing one’s attention on a particular sound stimulus and trying to understand what is being said (Mayers and Mayers, 2000). Listening also involves the process of selecting, attending to, understanding, remembering and responding to sounds and messages (Morky, 2000). Offorma (2004), defines listening as an active skill of paying attention and understanding which involves the aural process of coding information heard in the long term memory after processing it in the sensory memory and the short term memory. It is an active skill that requires the learners’ attention.
Listening appears to be one of the easiest ways to learn, yet, it is one of the difficult skills to acquire. Listening is a complex, active process of hearing, comprehension and interpretations in which the interlocutors match what they hear with what they already know (Goh, 2000). Rost (2002: 18), defines listening in its broadest sense as “a process of receiving what the speaker actually says (receptive orientation); constructing and representing meaning (constructive orientation); negotiating meaning with the speaker and responding (collaborative orientation); and creating meaning through involvement, imagination and empathy (transformative orientation)”. In classroom teaching and learning, listening is important to get information, obtain direction from the teacher and take down notes while the lesson is going on. Ifionu and Ohuche (2000) summarized the importance of listening by stating that one listens for the main ideas, to make predictions, for signal words or informal key words, to recognize digressions and for chronological order. Listening involves the ability to comprehend what is heard. Comprehension is an ability to understand the meaning of something. Long (2012) points out that comprehension plays an important role in the process of second language acquisition, in storage and retrieval of linguistic input, and the development of learner’s second language. Active listening involves comprehension. Listening comprehension is a complex process, crucial in the development of second language competence. It is the ability to understand what is spoken and to derive meaning out of it. O’Malley, Chamot and Kupper (2008), view listening comprehension as an active process in which individuals focus on selected aspects of aural input, construct meaning from passages, and relate what they hear to existing knowledge.
Listening has an important place in learning as it is one of the four major skills in language acquisition. Even though the other skills such as reading, speaking and writing are essential to develop language proficiency, listening contributes primarily for language expertise. Listening awakens awareness of the language as it is a receptive skill that first develops in a human being. Learning to listen to the target language improves language ability. The sound, rhythm, intonation, and stress of the language can only be perfectly adapted through listening. To understand the nuances in a particular language, one must be able to listen. As we get to understand spoken language by listening, it is easier to improve the other skills and gain confidence (Andrew, 2000) other than being the primary form of communication, listening helps the language learner to understand the beauty of the language. In terms of communicative language teaching, it is said that the basis for communicative competence is listening as it provides the aural input and enables learners to interact in spoken communication and hence language learning largely depends on listening. Thus, listening forms the concrete basis for the complete language proficiency (Colley, 2007).
Listening is the most significant part of communication as it is pivotal in providing a substantial and meaningful response. Especially in learning a language for communicative purpose, listening plays a vital role, as it helps the language learner to acquire pronunciation, word stress, vocabulary and syntax and the comprehension of messages conveyed can be based solely on tone of voice, pitch and accent; and it is only possible when we listen. Without understanding input appropriately, learning simply cannot get any improvement. In addition, without listening skill, no communication can be achieved (Chaudron, 2000). Also, every study conducted regarding the language skills acquisition has proved that when we communicate, we gain 45% of language competence from listening, 30% from speaking, 15% from reading and 10% from writing. With the highest percentage of involvement in the exchange of information in effective communication, listening has to be considered a language forerunner.
Listening, unlike the other language skills, is felt comparatively much difficult by the learners, as it has all its interrelated sub skills such as receiving, understanding, remembering, evaluating, and responding (Anderson and Lyneh, 2000). But with the advent of dictation language – teaching and the focus on proficiency, the learning and teaching of listening started to receive more attention. However, listening is not yet fully integrated into the curriculum and needs to be given more attention in a language learning setting by making the teachers understand that merely exposing the students to speaking skill is not sufficient for listening. Again, listening is not an ability that could be developed without assistance. Also, modern textbook writers should not be awfully clever in the way they slip seamlessly from an interesting listening text into explanation and practice of grammar. In classroom teaching and learning, English language teachers should not be disinterested and scared in teaching the oral aspect of the English language curriculum where the listening comprehension is embedded (Aina 2006). Some, also should not see it as time wasting even though most of the sounds are abstract. Many others also have developed negative attitude and transfered such negative traits to their students and teach the sounds theoretically instead of practically should be encouraged to do the teaching rightly. There is no place for listening comprehension in the junior secondary external examinations, again when students are required of listening skill in schools, most of them find their training of listening far from enough.
Listening exercise should be dependent upon students’ skill in listening rather than skills of reading, speaking and writing. In order to become competent L2 listener, it is necessary for learners to develop abilities to segment the speech stream into meaningful chunks and recognize aspects of connected speech. There are different tasks that the students can perform without speaking, reading or writing (Goh. 2000). One is a transforming exercise that involves receiving information in one form and transferring the information or parts of it into another form. One of such examples is the use of dictation task based exercise. Many jobs demand accurate understanding of spoken orders (phone agents, dispatchers, administrative assistants etc). Knowing how to take dictation is a skill with real world applications. There should be a shift from preciously accepted listening pedagogy where teachers teach listening passages as reading comprehension passages and where dictation of those passages are seen as a mechanical drill and spelling checking assessment and towards listening activities that aim to improve students; bottom up processing and decoding skills. Again, students should be helped by their teachers with better listening abilities or skills in classroom teaching and learning situations with the use of different genres like drama, poem, prose, magazines, textbooks excerpts e.t.c. and a number of dictation activities to conduct their lessons.
Conversely, method of teaching English language refers to a way of inculcating the knowledge of English language in the students. Ojukwu, Mbaebie and Anyabolu (2005) see method of teaching English language as the various ways, styles and techniques the English language teacher may apply in impartation of knowledge of English to the students as to foster internalization and understanding. Technique is any exercise, activity and task in the classroom to meet the objectives or goals of learning. A technique is implementation – that which actually takes place in a classroom. It is a particular trick, stratagem, or contrivance used to accomplish an immediate objective. Technique must be consistent with a method, and therefore in harmony with an approach as well (Ozioko, 2003). No particular method of teaching is the best. A skillful teacher uses as many methods and techniques because of the fact that there is no single method that is regarded as the best for all teaching situations (Mohammed, 1999). Very often, it becomes necessary to use different methods of teaching to suit varying situations (Obanya, 2002). However, the success in using these methods depends on the teacher’s intelligent analysis of the educational purposes, the ability and nature of the students in the class and the subject matter that will be treated (Mohammed, 1999).
There is a general belief that method chosen by English language teachers to a large extent determines students’ achievement in the language. Some researchers like Azikiwe (2005), holds the view that method of teaching is indispensible in the teaching-learning process of English as a second language. This view is reinforced by Bodunde (1999) that stresses that the teaching method used by the English language teacher can affect student positively or negatively because it is a weapon of enhancing the language ability of his/her students. There are many teaching methods: these include lecture method, direct method, communicative language teaching method etc. All these methods are conventional teaching methods. They are methods that involve teacher in complete verbal instruction or expression. Communication flows from teacher to students (Anyima, 2011). In conventional teaching methods, students learn the speech sounds like parrots. Students are expected to internalize the rules of the target language through memorization (Azikiwe, 1998).
In the lecture method, lectures are delivered to students from notes, with little discussion, so no serious effort is made to engage the bored minds of the students. This usually leads to a situation whereby students complete their courses or study but still lacking in a coherent body of knowledge or any inkling to how one sort of knowledge relates to the other. The students may likely graduate without knowing how to think logically, write clearly and speak coherently. Panitz (2000), notes that the lecture method of teaching is familiar, easy and requires no imagination. Perhaps this is why it is the dominant method of teaching in Secondary Schools, Colleges and Universities. Johnson, Johnson and Smith (1999), identified six specific pedagogical problems with the lecture method of teaching. They include:
(i) Students’ attention to what the teacher is saying decreases as the lecture proceeds. Students concentrate and assimilate materials for 10-15 minutes, where upon their attention fall.
(ii) For a lecture to be effective, it takes an educated intelligent person oriented toward an auditory learning style.
(iii) Lecture method tends to promote only lower- level learning of factual information.
(iv) Lecture method is limited by an assumption that all students need the same information presented orally at the same time and at the same pace, without dialogue with the presenter/teacher in an impersonal way.
(v) Students tend not to like lecturing
(vi) Lecture method is based upon a series of assumptions about the cognitive capabilities and strategies of students. It assumes that all students learn auditory, have high working memory capacity, have all required prior knowledge, have good note-taking strategies and skills and are not susceptible to information processing overload. Perhaps, this is why Panitz adds that aside from threats of obsolescence, pedagogically, learning is a flawed approach to teaching and must be replaced by more effective teaching paradigm.
In the conventional lecture method with the current problem of large student populations and the delineating nature of learning in large classrooms as well as a decline in students’ entry level, the students’ skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing have shaken people’s confidence (Marjah, 2008). The acquisition of listening skill is essential in language learning. Students should be able to listen to enable them acquire the right speech skills. Without adequate knowledge of speech skills students may have difficulties in pronunciation, spelling and intonation. Adequate acquisition of speech skills leads to fluency in speech and reading. Comprehension is necessary in listening and when this skill is badly taught comprehension suffers as a result of poor background in listening.
In contrast, another technique that may be used in teaching listening comprehension is dictation technique. Dictation technique (DT) was developed by Vandergrift a linguist at Cambridge University in 1975 (Blanche, 2004). Dictation technique is a writing activity that involves writing down what someone says or reads out as it is being said or immediately after it is said (Blanche, 2004). The use of dictation as a valuable language teaching and learning technique has gone through a long history and has been used for centuries all over the world. Dictation ensures attentive listening, concentration and teaches students to write from dictation. It equally trains students to distinguish sounds and helps them learn pronunciation and develop aural comprehension (Blanche, 2004). Alkire (2002), summits that dictations have long played a significant role in the English language curriculum in Nigeria particularly in primary schools. It often acts as a memorization exercise or spelling-check assessment. The situation is that pupils particularly the less capable ones either work under stress or give up because they perceive it as a boring and threatening lesson. They may gradually develop a negative attitude towards dictation lessons and this tends to hinder their learning.
Dictation should be treated as a teaching and learning exercise in which pupils learn to improve their language learning rather than being a mechanical drilling or assessing tool. Though it has been neglected for a long time, second language teachers (L2) and in fact foreign language (FL) teachers have to learn how to use only the parts of older methods that are relevant in today’s context. Teachers can use different genres and a number of dictation activities to conduct their lessons so as to change a boring, threatening and stressful classroom atmosphere into a relaxing, supportive and enjoyable learning environment which subsequently brings a positive influence on learners’ performance. The major function of the language is giving feedback to students on their performance, by which students work through their individual errors. Dictation offers great opportunities for increasing accurate and fluent command of the language through students analyzing their work. At the secondary level of education in Nigeria, dictation is not given a place as part of language teaching and learning activities unless where a teacher uses his or her ingenuity. Teachers should be made to understand the vital contributions dictation could play in a language classroom so as to employ it in instruction.
Using the dictation technique, the following step-by-step procedure is adopted to facilitate listening comprehension.
Step I. Explanation: This involves a brief introduction of what the lesson is all about.
Step II. Assigning to Groups: It involves assigning members of the class to different groups depending on the task(s) or role(s) they have to play.
Step III. Task(s) Assignment: This involves assigning different tasks to each group. Teachers may prepare short paragraph and dictate the sentences in disorder. Next, students check for mistakes in pair work or group work. Later, they are told to put the sentences in the correct order to form a paragraph.
Step IV. Execution of Tasks(s): This involves each group planning on how to monitor, implement and accomplish its task.
Step V. Articulation: Here, groups make presentations depending on the tasks assigned to them. Others are allowed to respond to each group’s presentation. The groups or individuals’ may seek assistance on how to accomplish this presentation before the time. The teacher provides necessary assistance as at when due.
Step VI. The teacher summarizes the lesson, making sure that each important point in the presentation is taken care of.
Step VII. Assessment: The teacher gives the listening comprehension test to the students.
The reason for the use of dictation technique against the lecture method in teaching listening comprehension is that dictation technique is interactive, participatory, and exploratory and as such facilitates mastery learning. Traditional methods encourage rote learning which is not learning in actual sense. Despite the effect of teaching methods on students’ achievement there seem to be other variables such as gender and school location that affect students’ achievement.
Gender is a significant factor in the students’ academic achievement in both senior secondary school subjects and junior secondary school subjects. Gender according to Uzoegwu (2004) is varied socially and culturally constructed roles, qualities and behaviour that are ascribed to men and women of different societies. The researcher views gender as attributed roles, qualities or features given to men and women of different sociological and cultural entities. Gender in relation to achievement has been an issue of great interest to researchers in education. The effect of gender on students’ achievement in language has been an area of focus by researchers. However, no defined consensus has been reached as there are divergent opinions on which gender achieves better than the other in language studies. Some studies found gender difference while some others came up with no difference. Umo (2001), found out that girls perform better than boys, Uzoegwu (2004) and Anizoba (2004), found out that boys performed better, while others like Oluikpe (2004) and Akabogu (2002), found no gender difference. The issue of gender becomes necessary in this present study since the schools to be used are co-educational. It is necessary to see what effect gender will have on students achievement in English listening comprehension.
Closely related to gender influence or students’ performance in English listening comprehension is school location. School location in this context refers to the geographical position of the school which can be urban or rural. Differences in location imply existence of differences in demographic and socio-economic parameters of the school (Ezema, 2002) and (Underwood, 2000). The studies indicated that due to urban involvement, students in urban schools perform better in second language learning than those in the rural schools. The researcher views school location as a place where schools are situated whether urban or rural. Studies have shown that school location has influence on students’ achievement in many fields of study (Umo, 2001). Anizoba (2004) and Umo (2001), observed that students in school located in the urban area perform better in second language learning than those in schools located in the rural area. While Yusuf and Adigun (2010), show that location had no influence on students’ academic performance. The present study will either enforce or refute the areas of controversy since there are inconsistent research reports with respect to the influence of school location on achievement in some subject areas.
Based on the previous studies, the effects of dictation technique, school location and gender on students’ academic achievement seem to be inconsistent and contradictory. This calls for continuous and further research on the effects of dictation technique, gender and school location on students’ academic achievement from time to time and place to place. Consequently, the aim of this study is to find out the effectiveness or otherwise of dictation techniques, school location and gender on students’ academic achievement in listening comprehension in Junior Secondary Schools in Abakakiki Education Zone Area of Ebonyi State.
Statement of the Problem
There have been consistent reports of poor achievement in English language among Nigerian students over the years. Also, results on students’ performance in Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) in English Language over the years have not been commendable. Students’ academic achievement in listening comprehension at Senior School Certificate Examination has been generally poor. Failure in this subject area has often been attributed to the method and techniques of teaching the listening skill which is the core of the school curriculum. Another observation made is that the inability of the students to listen very well has caused poor performance in their internal and external examination respectively. In the May/June, 2013 Senior Certificate Examination, the Chief Examiners reported that the examination was generally within the learning experience of the candidates, and that the papers compared favourably with previous years. However, candidates’ performance was generally poor. According to this report, the wrong answers to the listening comprehension questions indicated that the candidates did not understand the questions.
The lecture method of teaching with all its problems appears to be the predominant method of teaching language skills in the secondary schools in Abakaliki Education Zone of Ebonyi State. No matter the merits, there is no method that is comprehensive and adequate enough to take care of all the problems and demands of class room teaching process. Perhaps this is why the level of both listening and written English of students’ area as well as their achievement in the subject has not been satisfactory and encouraging. In order to address this problem, the researcher wants to see how far dictation technique can improve students’ achievement in listening comprehension. Although the use of dictation technique has been tried in subjects like government, social studies and chemistry yet, its effectiveness is yet to be determined in the study of listening comprehension in Abakaliki Education Zone Area of Ebonyi State. Also, no study to the best of the researcher’s knowledge explored the effect of dictation technique on students’ achievement in listening comprehension in Abakaliki Education Zone of Ebonyi State in particular.
Purpose of the Study
The general purpose of this study is to determine the effect of dictation on listening comprehension achievement of junior secondary school students in English language listening skill. Specifically, the study is aimed at:
- Finding out the achievement of students taught listening comprehension using dictation technique and those taught using lecture method.
- Establish the achievement of male and female students taught listening comprehension using dictation technique and those taught using lecture method
- Determining the achievement of urban and rural students taught listening comprehension using dictation technique and those taught using lecture method.
- Exploring the interaction effect of dictation technique and gender on students’ achievement in listening comprehension.
- Exploring the interaction effect of dictation technique and location on students’ achievement in listening comprehension.
Significance of the Study
The theoretical significance of this study is anchored on constructivist theory of language learning of (1978) by Vygotsky. The theory explains the importance of active involvement of learners in constructing knowledge for themselves. Constructivist learning, therefore, is a very personal endeavour, whereby internalised concepts, rules, and general principles may consequently be applied in a practical real – world context. If the result of this work is established, it will help students to acquire the ability to create their own knowledge in a classroom setting thereby supporting social constructivist theory.
The findings of this study will be of immense benefit to the following people: teachers, students, curriculum planners and Ministry of Education. The result of the study will enable the English language teachers to acquaint themselves with and use the dictation technique of teaching and practice it in teaching and learning. This will make instrument delivery or classroom activities to be learner centred and result oriented. Teaching activities will be interesting to both teachers and students, thereby facilitating English language teaching. For instance, the passage “The Nigerian youth”, the students being able to identify intonation patterns for statement questions and commands on a given passage and identify points of pauses in different sentences, thereby enhancing their oral expression and writing in teaching learning activities.
For students, it will help them work together with a short passage in order to acquire pronunciation skill, sound discrimination, explain key words and expressions, identify appropriate rhythms in poems, and passages listened to, word stress and comprehension of spoken messages heard. It will create in the learner the inherent ability to construct main ideas, supporting ideas, and be able to summarize in short sentences and produce different speeches with reference to consonants and vowel sounds in a given listening comprehension passage. It will also boost the learner’s self-concept and self-esteem, because the student has learned the use thereby motivating them intrinsically to learn the language irrespective of their gender.
It is also expected that the findings of this study will help the curriculum planners to design and integrate functional techniques in the English curriculum. It will help them to integrate dictation as a technique of teaching English listening comprehension.
The Ministry of Education can organize workshops and seminars on the best way of teaching listening comprehension to make the English language teachers adapt to its’ procedure. The technique will also be included in the curriculum used for training teachers. When this work is published, the end users will locate the findings of the study.
Scope of the Study
The study was carried out in secondary schools in Abakaliki Education Zone of Ebonyi State. JSS II students were used for this study. JSSII students are in their second year in junior secondary school and had experienced various aspects of the traditional method of teaching. The study focused on the variables like, effect of dictation on listening comprehension on gender and location so as to find out and compare the achievement of male and female students as well as urban and rural students taught listening comprehension using dictation technique and lecture method.
The following research questions guided the study
- What is the mean achievement scores of students taught listening comprehension using dictation technique and those taught using lecture method?
- What is the mean achievement score of male and female students taught listening comprehension using dictation technique and those taught using lecture method?
- What is the mean achievement scores of urban and rural students taught listening comprehension using dictation technique and those taught using lecture method?
- What is the interaction effect of dictation technique and gender on students mean achievement scores in listening comprehension?
- What is the interaction effect of dictation technique and location on students mean achievement scores in listening comprehension?
The following null hypotheses were formulated to guide the study and were tested at 0.05 level of significant
- There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of students taught listening comprehension using dictation technique and those taught using lecture method.
- There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of male and female students taught listening comprehension using dictation technique and those taught using lecture method.
- There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of urban and rural students taught listening comprehension using dictation technique and those taught using lecture method
- There is no significant interaction effect of treatment and gender on the mean achievement scores of students in listening comprehension.
- There is no significant effect of treatment and school location on the mean achievement scores of students in listening comprehension.