Larry Vandergrift’s article, Recent developments in second and foreign language listening comprehension research, focuses on the impact that the second language, commonly referred to as L2, has on the listening skill. In the introduction, the author defines the purpose of the article by the assertion that L2 learners face a considerable constraint in their listening capability infused by the lack of proper teaching techniques. The initial discussion section identifies the cognitive elements involved in listening patterns, where the intended target makes meaning of a given phrase by generating a mental image that imparts sense on the statement. The article notes that cognitive skills aid L2 learners in attaining comprehension on second language phrases. Additionally, psychological components are also identified as having a significant role within the listening process. For effectual L2 listening to be created, both factors have to be combined in pragmatic rations that offer maximum understanding to the learner, and the delivery can be achieved through various medias (Vandergrift, 2007).
Reflection on the Article
The author has employed comprehensive resources for the article compilation and this is one of the strongest points for the publication as a diverse yet in-depth analysis is achieved in the study. The resources employed fall within peer-reviewed articles in form of academic scholarly journals, books and case studies, consequently achieving an element of credibility in the article as they offer reliable data and information as opposed to online materials that are hard to certify (Vandergrift, 2007). Only a handful of web materials have been used and they have been sourced from credible websites. There is very high relevance of the resources to the article as they discuss information that is highly correlated to the subject of L2 learning and listening habits in terms of psychological or cognitive elements discussed in the publication. From a subjective point of view, the theme of the discussion was very informative and eye opening as it noted that L2 listening is inhibited by the segmentation process. Word segmenting is the process of intonation used to indicate the start and end of a word.
This is easily achieved in writing as spacing is accorded between two words. To overcome this constraint, as a teacher, it is important to offer verbal prompts marked by word stress or modulation, and pausing between words to ensure that the L2 listener has comprehended the required words (Baker, 2006). Additionally, verbalizing words has to be slowly and effectively mouthed otherwise the L2 listener will not grasp the intended word. As a listener, one notes that this process can only be overcome through inhibiting L1 segmentation as this makes it harder to understand the start and finishing points in the L2 language. Psychological impacts are noted in form of gap filling where the listener anticipates the next phrase or intended meaning by fitting the words in a cultural perspective. For instance, if the listener has been given a three-word phrase, but they can only make out the meaning of the first and last words, they tend to ‘guess/fill the gap’ on what the second word may mean.
In this way, they will store the word in their mind and accord the same meaning to the same word but in another instance to see if the latter phrase makes sense. If it does, then the meaning is acquired. As a listener, I would rather enquire the meaning of unknown words as this tends to be time saving and would encourage students to do so in the case of a classroom. However, for students that may adopt the gap-filling technique, it would also be good for their critical thinking process but at the end of the lecture, I as the teacher would ask the children to bring out phrases of words that were hard to understand and offer the necessary guidance (Baker, 2006). Then I would ask the students to verbalize the words and say them out loudly as this ensures that it is stored in the short-term memory and later transferred the long-term memory for recalling purposes in futuristic instances.
Baker, C. (2006). Foundations of bilingual education and bilingualism. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.
Vandergrift, L. (2007). Recent developments in second and foreign language listening comprehension research. Lang. Teach. 40, 191-210.