Exploring the Effect of Argumentative and Descriptive Texts on Listening Comprehension
Message:
Abstract:

Acquiring a foreign language is a process which in the first place requires development of the learners’ receptive skills. This process involves the four main skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing, in which listening as a receptive skill is used for obtaining enough input and making use of it in genuine interactions. The goal of this research was to study the effect of two different listening text types, i.e. argumentative and descriptive, on foreign students’ level of listening comprehension. To this end, a quantitative method was adopted to compare the effect of the independent variable (text types) on the dependent variable (the listening scores) to determine the degree of differences between two text types and proficiency level of listening comprehension. Some fifty students who were studying at different fields at two state universities in Tabriz participated in this research. They answered four descriptive and four argumentative listening text types followed by two types of display and inferential multiple-choice questions. The results obtained from the independent samples t-test revealed that there was a significant difference in the level of students’ listening comprehension between the two text types. The students in the argumentative listening type significantly outperformed those in the descriptive one in answering multiple-choice questions. It is hoped that the results will be used by teachers, materials writers, and syllabus designers to develop efficient methods and materials for teaching listening skill. The findings can also help the students to gain a broader view and use it to develop their listening skill.Acquiring a foreign language is a process which in the first place requires development of the learners’ receptive skills. This process involves the four main skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing, in which listening as a receptive skill is used for obtaining enough input and making use of it in genuine interactions. The fact is that the listening process is a complicated cognitive activity. Although in the mother tongue it can easily be acquired, it requires a great deal of effort in an L2 and specifically in a foreign language acquisition process. Moreover, constant exposure to various input including television, radio, and so on, has augmented the necessity to be ready to receive and process messages obtained via the aural means more than before. However, learners have serious difficulties in listening process because some schools and universities take heed of writing, reading, grammar, and vocabulary. Therefore, the listening skill is hardly an important part of many textbooks and many teachers barely take note of this crucial activity in their classes. A number of research studies have been conducted which investigated the effects of text type and test format on students’ listening performances (e.g., Emilia & Christie, 2013). Furthermore, due to the importance of questions, there has been a plethora of research on the teachers' questions, their distribution, types, and their effect on students' participation, interaction, length and complexity of the students' responses. Therefore, with this in mind that one of the factors which may cause differences between students' performances in listening comprehension is the type of input, this study focused on the nature of the input and of expected responses by designing different types of tests, namely, display and inferential multiple-choice items. The central goal of this research was to study the effect of two text types, descriptive and argumentative, on listening comprehension processes and then identify the students’ listening comprehension issues during listening to oral texts. To this end, a quantitative method was adopted to determine the degree of differences between two text types and proficiency level of listening comprehension. Some fifty female and male students participated in the study. Their age ranged from 20 to 45 years. The participants were selected from two state universities in Tabriz: Tabriz University and Tabriz University of Medical Sciences. They were engaged in different fields of study such as: engineering, sciences, humanities, different fields of medical sciences, etc. The instruments used were the consent form for participation in the research, which included a brief statement explaining the purpose of the research, and four argumentative and four descriptive texts. Each text was followed by five display and four inferential multiple-choice items. Each participant was given one argumentative and one descriptive text. To assess the participants' listening comprehension, a listening practice paper was used which consisted of two sections with nine display and inferential questions in total. Each participant was asked to complete it in fifteen minutes and each correct answer was scored one point and the incorrect ones were scored zero. The results of the research questions were analyzed through the independent samples t-test in order to present the different levels of the participants’ listening comprehension between two texts. Based on the results obtained, it was concluded that the participants who took part in the argumentative listening comprehension tests in the inferential and display format outperformed those who took the descriptive listening comprehension tests. Meanwhile, in contrast to the general belief that at lower levels of proficiency, due to the students’ lack of knowledge, display questions lead to desired level of participation, it was revealed that there is no significant difference between answering the two types of questions in one text type. Although the level of listening comprehension depends on question types, at the higher levels, it depends more on knowing the structure of texts. Therefore, it can be inferred that through increasing the use of different listening text types at all levels, especially intermediate one, students can gradually get accustomed to listening and using their comprehension abilities, which can lead to more self-confidence, and turn them into independent listeners. An important point to bear in mind is that this study did not mean to generalize that the employment of the descriptive or argumentative text types along with display and inferential questions are useful and the others are useless and should be avoided. On the contrary, the present study emphasized their role in increasing the students' knowledge of language and the improvement of their listening skill, either through text types or question types, and what is important is the requirements of the context they are used in. The point is that whatever context we are dealing with, if the central tendency is to improve the students’ listening comprehension skill, it seems that different listening text types with mixture of both questions is needed, thereby a balance should be maintained. Since one of the important goals of language teaching is to improve the learners' listening comprehension, there should be some attempts to increase the learners' level of listening comprehension. The findings of the present research have some important pedagogical implications for classroom practice, teachers and learners by helping them redefine their proper responsibilities. The findings can also contribute to the improvement of the ability to understand different text types by representing that knowing the organization of texts by listeners will improve their comprehension of these texts.

Article Type:
Research/Original Article
Language:
Persian
Published:
Journal of Teaching Persian to Speakers of Other Languages, Volume:8 Issue: 18, 2019
Pages:
215 - 232
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