Listening is a skill that is quite influenced in the mastery of the English language, because listening is a receptive language skill that makes users understand the language in depth, making it easy and precise in producing language. Students must understand d that listening is not a passive skill but an active one because we need to be receptive to others, which include paying attention to explanations, questions, and opinions. Thus listening is considered to be a skill that is a very essential to be learned and mastered.
However, the status quo of the students’ experience in listening comprehension shows that listening is the most difficult skill to be mastered. The various difficulties that commonly occur in the listening comprehension such as; making prediction, guessing unknown words, recognizing the main point and many other such difficulties are still encountered by the students in the listening comprehension subject.
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However the school environment affects students listening comprehension in such ways as having an unconducive environment, noisy environment, over populated class size, unfavorable weather etc. all these can pose as a hindrance to listening comprehension.
School Environment means the extent to which school settings promote student safety and student health, which may include topics such as the physical plant, the academic environment, available physical and mental health supports and services, and the fairness and adequacy of disciplinary procedures, as supported by relevant research and an assessment of validity. School environment refers to set of relationships that occur among members of a school community that are determined b y structural, personal, and functional factors of the educational institution, which provide distinctiveness to school. A school environment is broadly characterized by its facilities, classrooms, school-based health supports, and disciplinary policies and practices. It sets the stage for the external factors that affect students.
Listening comprehension is explained as the process when the listeners understand the oral input from sound discrimination, prior knowledge of vocabulary, grammatical structures, stress, and intonation. It also involves linguistic knowledge and world knowledge which interact to create a mental representation and achieve comprehension.
Listening comprehension is the ability of one individual perceiving another via sense, (specifically oral) organs, assigning a meaning to the message and comprehending it.
Listening however, is the most important skill for language learning because it can be mostly used in normal daily life and develops faster than the other language skill which indicates that it makes easy the development of the other language skills.
SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT AND STUDENTS LISTENING COMPREHENSION
The School environment is a very crucial factor to consider when talking about students listening comprehension. For students to listen and comprehend what is been taught, the school environment and learning environment must be conducive to allow for a free flow of teaching and learning which of course involves attentive listening and comprehension.
In classroom environments, the ideal form of listening is active listening. Unlike passive listeners who seek solely to retain ideas in their minds, active listeners both produce thoughts and share those thoughts by expressing them in verbal and nonverbal ways. The observable external signs of active listening include physically displaying emotion, cooperating with members of the group of listeners, physically expressing approval or disapproval of what is said, exhibiting behaviors directed toward listening, asking questions about what is being said, and contributing appropriate explanations and comments.
As part of their learning experiences throughout the processes of education, each individual develops listening strategies that are cognitive, psychomotor-based, or affective in nature. While implementing cognitive listening strategies, individuals compare and classify information in their minds, make inferences, formulize what they have learned, generate associations, reason, take notes, and make generalizations all for the purpose of achieving more effective and permanent learning. At the same time, listening strategies that reflect listener emotions expressed via body language while listening, including facial expressions, gestures, and sitting position, significantly demonstrate how listeners feel in the environment and what stance they take on what is said. By turns, listeners sympathize, empathize, and may even feel excited, scared, or stressed. Since all of these states influence an individual’s listening reflexes and habits, their effective and strategic use of these actions can help to more fully realize communication, learning, thinking, hearing, and telling. Furthermore, stating that auxiliary strategies need to be used to facilitate understanding.
MAJOR PROBLEMS THAT LEARNERS FACE WITH LISTENING COMPREHENSION
There are a lot of difficulties that learners may encounter in the listening comprehension processes and the purpose is to be aware of these problems and try to solve them. Some of these problems are as follows:
Quality of Recorded Materials
In some classes, teachers use some recorded materials that do not have high quality. The quality of sound system can impact the comprehending of learners’ listening.
Learners should be familiar with the cultural knowledge of language that has a significant effect on the learners’ understanding. If the listening task involves completely different cultural materials then the learners may have critical problems in their comprehension. It is the responsibility of teachers to give background knowledge about the listening activities in advance.
Too many accented speech can lead to an important reduction in comprehension. A speaker’s accent is one of the most significant factors that affect listener comprehension. Unfamiliar accents both native and non-native can cause serious problems in listening comprehension and familiarity with an accent helps learners’ listening comprehension. When listeners hear an unfamiliar accent such as Indian English for the first time after studying only American English will encounter critical difficulties in listening. This will certainly interrupt the whole listening comprehension process and at the same time an unfamiliar accent makes comprehension impossible for the listeners.
When text contain known words it would be very easy for students to learn them. If students know the meaning of words this can arouse their interest and motivation and can have a positive impact on the students’ listening comprehension ability. A lot of words have more than one meaning and if they are not used appropriately in their appropriate contexts students will get confused.
Length and Speed of Listening
The level of students can have a significant role when they listen to long parts and keep all information in their mind. It is very difficult for lower level students to listen more than three minutes long and complete the listening tasks. Short listening passages make easy listening comprehension for learners and reduce their tiredness. Speed can make listening passage difficult. If the speakers speak too fast students may have serious problems to understand L2 words. In this situation, listeners are not able to control the speed of speakers and this can create critical problems with listening comprehension.
Listening comprehension is a complex process. The strategies of listening comprehension must be used simultaneously. We must understand the text as we listen to it, keep the information in memory, combine it with what follows and adjust our comprehending of what we hear through previous knowledge and next information. Teachers should teach the students suitable listening strategies. There is no an ideal method that fits all types of teaching and learning classes. Listening activities should be arranged from basic to more complex as the learners gain. There are factors that caused some serious problems for learners’ listening comprehension and also offered some useful suggestions for teachers and students to improve their listening comprehension ability. The school management must also ensure that the school environment is a conducive one to enhance listening comprehension.