Innovation in Language Learning

Edition 17

Accepted Abstracts

Interactive Listening – A Can-Do Paradigm

Anthony Green, Bari University Veterinary School (Italy)

Mimmo Bracciodieta, Liceo Scientifico Leonardo da Vinci - Cassano delle Murge (Italy)


Two decades after being called “the Cinderella skill” by Nunan (1999), listening frustratingly still very much deserves the dubious honour of such a metaphor. Results from the recent national Invalsi tests for school leavers in Italy, as well as anecdotal evidence from several other countries, underline the lack of progress made in listening at secondary schools – what is sorely needed is a solution, a new paradigm. But where is that going to come from? Much of the difficulty of listening in English comes from deciphering sounds in a stress-based language as opposed to a syllable-based one, and when we also factor in such variables as language-specific vowel and consonant sounds, speed, local/national accent, clarity of enunciation, choice of lexis, and background noise, the huge variety of combinations of sound possible are a constant source of frustration to language learners’ self-efficacy (except for those select few who reach autonomy).  Add to that of course an idiosyncratic spelling “system” (for want of a better word) in English, and learners struggle to connect sound and meaning, sometimes of even the commonest words. Current listening approaches based almost wholly on “comprehension” questions are thinly disguised tests, and thus often counterproductive, seeking to find out what the listener cannot understand. New smartphone technology, which almost every student now has, can provide that new paradigm, encouraging the comprehension of even a single word or phrase, and enabling each user to work at their own comprehensible input i+1 level as Krashen (1982, 1985) put it so long ago – come and try it out for yourselves!

Keywords: Listening, comprehensible input, smartphone technology, interactive, dictation, self-efficacy.

[1] Nunan, D. 1999. Second Language Teaching and Learning, Boston, Heinle and Heinle Publishers
[2] Krashen, S. 1982. Principles and practice in Second Language Acquisition. Oxford, Pergamon Press
[3] Field, J. 2008. Listening in The Language Classroom. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press

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