This study was designed to identify the strategies that can be used to improve listening comprehension among junior secondary school students in Nsukka Education Zone. Descriptive survey design was adopted for the study. To carry out the study, a review of literature was done in order to determine the extent of work already done and to know the area to focus attention on. Three research questions and two hypotheses were formulated to guide the study. The hypotheses were tested at alpha level of 0.05 level of significance. A sample of 108 English language teachers was drawn from 35 public schools in Nsukka Education Zone. Three (3) sets of carefully structured fifty seven (57) item questionnaires were developed by the researcher and validated by research experts in Education. These sets of questionnaires were used in collecting relevant data from the respondents. Mean score and standard deviation were used to collate and analyze the data. At the end of the study, it was found out that most of the identified strategies and skills enhance listening comprehension in students. The hypothesis that there is no significant difference in the mean ratings of male and female English language teachers in the strategies they use for improving listening comprehension in students was accepted. The study also shows that there is no significant difference in the mean ratings of N.C.E. and Degree English language teachers in the teaching strategies they use for improving listening comprehension in students. It was also found out that listening skill is the most neglected of all the language skills. It is not even well taught in schools. The researcher therefore recommends that teachers should be trained on this language skill so that they can help the students. The curriculum planners, the government and the students should play their parts effectively so as to enhance listening comprehension among students.
Background of the study
Language is one of the most powerful endowments of man by the creator and listening is embedded in language and enhances it. Based on this fact, it seems necessary to begin by looking at the concept of language according to some writers.
Ezeude (2007:202) sees language as,“…a fathomless and intangible asset for effective communication to humanity right from the time of creation.” As a matter of fact, without language, the existence of man on this earth would have been so boring and uninteresting. Naldman in Azikiwe (1998) is of the opinion that language is a system of articulated sounds organized by human thoughts and used by a group of humans for the purposes of communication. Similarly, for Richards and Rodgers (1995), “Language is a vehicle for communicating meanings and messages.” Hornby (2000) sees language as, “…human and non- instinctive method of communicating ideas, feelings and desires by means of a system of sounds and symbols”. According to Corder (1975) :
We do not teach language for its own sweet sake… we teach language so that our pupils can communicate and be communicated with, so that they may convey meanings and understand meaning, so that they may enter into satisfactory mutual relations with native speakers or writers of the language.
Mgbodile (1999) states that, “Language development proceeds more or less in four sequential stages, namely: listening, speaking, reading and writing.” Each of these stages is necessary for the total language development of the learner. This study focuses on one of the four major skills in language development, which is listening.
For students to improve in their listening skill, there must be certain strategies to be adopted.
Kirkpatrick (1982:521) defines strategy as, “…the art of guiding, forming or carrying out a plan.” Hornby A. S; Cowie, A. P; Gimson, A, C. (2000) defines strategy as, “…skills in managing any affair.” With reference to this topic, these definitions all point to the skills, actions, plans and approaches for improving listening comprehension in our students.
Listening has a vital role to play in language learning and acquisition. It is the first and very important stage in language development. When a child is born into a language environment, he or she is incapable of speaking any other language. Being incapable at this stage to communicate linguistically, the child engages in a very active listening to sounds he or she hears around. It is in the process of this active listening that the structure of his language – phonology and grammar form a pattern in his language acquisition device. The child begins to understand that sounds are related to words, and consequently, they become meaningful to him. As the active listening stage is consolidated and the sounds and expressions of the language make cumulative impact on the child, he or she begins to try out his mental memory of language system in actual speech. He now begins to show greater zeal to join his speech community.
It should be noted that the problem of listening comprehension does not end at pre-primary school level but also extends through primary to secondary school level, especially in the junior classes where it is even worse. This is because the learner has acquired basic knowledge of his mother tongue and combining both languages now becomes very difficult. In view of this problem, Orias (1986:6) advises that, “It is useful for him to be explicitly taught the phoneme inventory of the language and to be guided on how to produce each sound.”
Listening has long been the neglected skill in second language (L2) teaching, learning and assessment. Nunan (`1998) states that, “Second language listening comprehension is a complex process and crucial in the development of second language (L2) competence; yet, the importance of listening in language learning has only been recognized relatively recently.” According to the writers, “Since the role of listening comprehension in language learning was overlooked, it merited little research and pedagogical attention in the past.” According to Otagburuagu, Obah, Onuigbo and Okorji (2007:1), “Although listening is an important skill used and needed at every moment of daily living by all and sundry, it is the most neglected in the teaching of language arts, especially in Nigeria.” Azikiwe (1998:110) states that, “Some people feel that since all teaching and learning situations involve a great deal of listening, the skills are being taught simultaneously with other language skills.” This assumption is wrong and shows how listening is taken for granted. It is important to note that in the classroom situation, most of the time, listening occurs while the teacher or others speak. Listening is therefore compulsory for learning and so help should be given to students for efficient listening, since the purpose of listening in class is to acquire and retain information for future use. Neville (1985) found that, “Good listeners made good readers, while poor listeners are most often poor readers too.” Some other research results have proved this statement right. For example Garrod (1986) and Cole and Jakimik (1980). Nooteboom (1983) also has suggested that, “Speech production is affected by speech perception; the hearer has become an important factor in communication discourse.” This illustrates the need to integrate pronunciation with communicative activities; to give the students situations to develop their pronunciation by listening and speaking. De Boer, kaufers and Miller (1951) cited in Azikiwe (1998) lament that, “Thousands of studies have been conducted in the other three components of communication while that on how listening can be improved is still extra-ordinarily scarce.” As a result of this neglect by teachers, students, researchers, school administrators and curriculum planners, students performance has been adversely affected not only in English language as a subject but also in other subjects because all other subjects are taught using the English language which is the official language. This has been attributed to lack of comprehension of spoken utterance. A close examination of senior secondary school certificate examination (SSCE) November /December 2002, 2005 and 2007 chief examiners’ report on English Language reveals that, “Generally the performances of the candidates were not impressive.”
According to the chief examiners, represented by Ndow, O. A. (2002- 2005) and Djangmah (2007), “The main weakness of the candidates has to do with insufficient exposure to the language skills, especially the listening and speaking skills.” They went further to advise teachers at the secondary school level to always try and expose the candidates to speech and vocabulary development in order to remedy these problems.
Despite the importance of listening in one’s life, a lot of problems arise among learners of English as a second language. These problems are caused by some factors, which are physical and psychological. Here, if the listener is sick or has no interest in the topic of the speaker, he may not pay full attention to what is being said. The second is environmental factor. If the environment is not conducive, students cannot listen successfully. For example, a noisy environment (noise from cars, market, factories, lack of seats in the classroom, dilapidated buildings . Another problem is linguistic factor, whereby the mother tongue of the learner interferes with the target language. The inadequate vocabulary of the listener is also a problem. There is also the pedagogical factor, which has to do with inadequate teaching competence and content mastery on the part of the teacher. Attempts are not made by teachers in secondary schools to improve listening comprehension in students. This is because most teachers do not know how to go about this. This results in the students being faced with the problem of aural and oral communication during and after school life. They also fail English language because they are not adequately exposed to listening experiences.
All these problems could however be eliminated if only teachers, students, curriculum planners and school administrators can adopt good strategies for improving listening comprehension in students. Some of these strategies would be identified in this study.
Statement of the Problem
Listening comprehension is very important in one’s daily communication as has been expressed in the background of this study. It is also discovered that inadequate attention is given to it and this greatly affects students’ performance badly in English language. This is because students are not adequately exposed to listening comprehension exercises. Baldeh (1990) is of the view that, “Poor teaching method is one of the major factors that hinder listening comprehension in students.” As a result of this, the researcher wants to determine the strategies that could be employed for improving listening comprehension in junior secondary school students learning English as a second language.
Purpose of the study
The major purpose of this study is to identify the strategies for improving listening comprehension in English language among junior secondary school students in Nsukka Education zone of Enugu state. Specifically, the study seeks to:
- identify some comprehension skills,
- identify some listening skills, and
- determine the teaching strategies that can be used to improve listening comprehension in students.
Significance of the study.
The study is worthwhile based on the fact that the findings will hopefully be of great significance to several groups of people. The study will be beneficial to the Ministry of Education, especially the education policy makers and curriculum planners in Enugu State. Having made these problems of listening known to them, they may wish to revisit the education policies and programmes for improvement in language learning. This group of people will also find in this study a source of re-assessment on whether or not listening skill should be given a place in the language curriculum as a topic of discussion in classroom. With this study also, this group will come to realize that listening is an important aspect of language and therefore, efforts should be made to organize workshops, seminars and in-service training for English language teachers from time to time. This will help update the teachers’ knowledge on effective strategies to be employed for improving listening comprehension skills in students.
The study will equally make the teachers to realize that listening should be given equal treatment with the other three language skills for effective teaching and learning to take place. The study will also be of great benefit to students because they are the main benefactors. This is because if the government, curriculum planners and teachers change their attitude towards listening positively, students’ listening comprehension will also improve. It will develop in them the zeal to learn to listen and not just hear. It will also enable them to know that they need listening not just in the classroom but even in their individual relationship with others outside school.
This study will also be of great help to every person in the society. This is because as far as one is living with others, there must be communication and for effective communication to take place, the individuals involved must learn to listen effectively. As already cited on page 21 of this work, Bulletin (1952) has it that, “Listening is the fundamental language skill and it is the medium through which people gain a large portion of their knowledge.”
Scope of the study
The study is restricted to Nsukka Education Zone of Enugu State. It is limited to identifying some strategies that can be used to improve listening comprehension in English language among students. It will also attempt to find out if the qualifications of the teachers determine the improvement of listening comprehension in students. Moreover, an attempt will be made to find out whether teachers’ sex has any influence on students’ listening comprehension.
- What are the comprehension skills that can enhance listening comprehension in J.S.S. 111 students in Nsukka Education zone?
- What are the listening skills that can promote listening comprehension among J.S.S. 111 students in Nsukka Education Zone?
- How could the use of teaching strategies enhance effective teaching and learning of listening comprehension among JSS 111 students in Nsukka Education Zone?
The following hypotheses will be tested at alpha level of 0.05.
HO1 There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of male and female English language teachers in the teaching strategies they use for improving listening comprehension in J.S.S. 111.
HO2. There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of N.C.E. holders and degree holders in the teaching strategies they use for improving listening comprehension in J.S.S. 111 students.