An Approach to Understanding Native English through Listening

Güzel, Hızır Ali (2012) An Approach to Understanding Native English through Listening. In: 2nd International Conference on Foreign Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics (FLTAL’12), 4-6 May 2012, Sarajevo.

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Our attention has been drawn increasingly to the problems our learners have in listening, and in particular to hearing the weak forms, especially the most commonly used sound in the English language, the schwa. We see that many non-native speakers of English find it difficult to understand the English spoken by native speakers or other fluent speakers of English.That is to say, they cannot recognise words they know when they hear . We consider that this difficulty generally arises because of their unfamiliarity with the schwa , which is weak, unstressed , occuring in auxiliary verbs , pronouns, articles , linkers and prepositions that are not usually stressed , and are reduced to keep the stress pattern regular.Recognising the fact that the weak forms are problematical for Turkish learners, and English language tuition tends to focus primarily on grammar, it is therefore not surprising that Turkish learners have considerable difficulty in hearing sounds uttered by native-English speakers. A further problem is spoken English should not be confused nor considered to be the same as academic English, nor written English, or perfectly structured grammatical English sentences; spoken English is inherently in short form regardless of being formal or informal spoken English. The most articulate standard English speaker will use short forms when speaking. This presentation shows the results of a small- scale research project undertaken with a mostly random selection of about 150 students attending Rize University, from different faculties in the range preparatory level to 2nd year level, and with varying levels of English tuition in terms of years of study but attending both private and government schools. Each student listened to 50 elementary-level sentences that are common to hear in everyday life , which were repeated three times by a recorded native English speaker, and they were asked to write down what they heard. No attention was given to spelling and some learners wrote phonetically. Interestingly the vocational students’ listening capacity was equal to some of the medical students and higher than the educational faculty students. Those with the most proficient listening skills came from the merchant navy faculty students who had had exposure to native- English speakers in their home towns situated on the touristic Aegean and Mediterranean coast. Our purpose in this presentation is to raise the awareness of non-native teachers, especially the new inexperienced teachers of English usage to value, understand the nature of listening and to practise a more constructive methodology of teaching listening skills to their learners. In doing so, we can help our learners not only understand native speakers better but enable them to sound a bit more natural when they speak English.In addition, we believe the other skills, that of reading, writing and speaking of English will not only be advanced but internalised into becoming a lifelong skill.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Depositing User: Mr. Ibrahim Kinal
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2012 08:28
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2012 08:28

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