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Language Acquisition Through Listening Comprehension - English Lessons in Primary School

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Contrary to the inadequate assumption that listening is a passive operation,
since it is among reading a receptive skill, listening or rather listening
Comprehension is proven to be a very active and complex process. And
more than that; it is the key skill that is fundamental for first and foreign
language acquisition. That is why it should especially for English beginners
be the central skill to be taught in the ESL (English as a Second Language)
Therefore this paper starts with a theoretical part including first of all, a
description of how listening comprehension works to show that it is a very
active process. Before the actual listening process, there is always a purpose
for listening to the text and an expectation towards the text is developed.
This purpose could be taking part in communication or listening for
information, fun etc. The listening process itself consists of two parallel
processes that contain an interaction between text and listener, the bottom-up
process and the top-down process. During the bottom-up process the listener
absorbs the text and tries to understand what is said by using their already
acquainted phonological, lexical, syntactical and semantic knowledge. The
top-down process can be seen as an interpretation of the text, where the
listener uses not only their linguistic and cognitive knowledge, but also their
pragmatic, social-cultural knowledge and their assessment of the situational
context and the speakers. During these processes a number of listening
strategies that compensate possibly appearing problems are applied. thesis
problems can be caused by certain features of language that can make
understanding difficult and they might be even more serious for the foreign
Furthermore, the importance of listening comprehension in first, second
and foreign language acquisition is portrayed. Many parallels between first
and foreign language acquisition that can and should be accounted for for ELT
(English Language Teaching) are shown in this context.
How these cognitions are applied, is pointed out by the presentation of
the main aspects of the curriculum for ESL at primary school in Germany.
There it is portrayed that and how listening comprehension should play on
essential role in these ESL classes. The curriculum is based on language

acquisition theories and also considers developmental psychological factors.
Methods and contents appropriate for children and children's language
acquisition are required to encourage motivating authentic language
learning. This language learning or rather language acquisition mainly
depends on the input the listeners are provided with by the teacher. This
input can be e.g. everyday talk, classroom talk or texts presented by the
teacher as well as by other media such as audio CD's, videos etc. To
guarantee an optimal comprehensible input, according to Krashen's
hypotheses, the characteristics of optimal input, in terms of teacher talk or
media-presented texts and how to present and work with them are explained.
The consequences of these didactic and pedagogical principles,
guidelines and theories are further clarified by an overview over the most
popular teaching methods for listening comprehension training. Represented
are the results of the theoretical reflection by the analysis of a lesson
example to illustrate their practicability. This is to demonstrate how easily
workable, diversified and effective listening comprehension training can be
in ELT and what factors need particular consideration, especially in primary
Looking at the four listening skills to be taught in school,
Reading, speaking and writing in public discourse is repeated again and again
noted that listening is the most important skill. These
Knowledge is based on the one hand on the fact that hearing is the most
the skill used in communication and the tendency to do so
is that hearing will dominate even more in the future and thus the
Ability of listening comprehension needs to be better developed. Because,
The point has frequently been made (Rivers and Temperley 1978;
Oxford 1993; Celce-Murcia 1995) that of the time is an individual
engaged in communication; approximately 9 per cent is devoted to
writing, 16 per cent to reading, 30 per cent to speaking, and 45 per
cent to listening. It is also undoubtedly the case that contemporary
society exhibits a shift away from printed media and towards sound,
and its members therefore need to develop a high level of proficiency
in listening. (Hedge 2003: 228)

On the other hand, and this point is special in the context of this work
to emphasize, the listening, or listening comprehension plays in
Language acquisition, and so also with foreign language acquisition
central role. Despite its importance in foreign language teaching, it is
the least explored skill, which is partly due to it
likes that the listening comprehension process is not directly observable. That's for sure
However, that listening comprehension is not already considered a trained skill
exists, but just like the other skills, learned, practiced
and should be automated as much as possible. (see Hermes 1998:
However, this understanding of listening comprehension has only existed since the 1970s
Years of the 20th century, when the communicative turnaround
Paradigm shift took place. The general goal of the
Foreign language teaching has now become a 'communicative competence' in
of the foreign language in order to focus on the
Europe growing together, to come to an understanding with the neighboring countries
can. Because of this, a new one developed in England was released
methodological approach to foreign language learning that
CLT) the audio-lingual method. (see.
Richards / Rodgers 2001: 154 ff.) The ability to act with language becomes
according to this approach through the most authentic communication possible in the
Foreign language learned himself, in which the message is in the foreground
). Speaking and listening were now more important than
formerly reading and writing and moved into the focus of
Linguistics, foreign language didactics and methodology.
scientific examination of listening comprehension and that resulting from it
resulting development of new methods and procedures with a
Focus on listening comprehension in English classes in schools
initiated. (cf. Richards / Rodgers 2001: 165 ff.) Earlier, very popular
Methods, such as the grammar translation method,
did not recognize the importance of listening comprehension. And also the
audio-lingual method, although listening is the most important
Here and in the further course of the work, the terms “foreign language” and
'English' is used in the same way, but is used between first language acquisition
(Mother tongue acquisition), second language acquisition (natural foreign language acquisition) and
Foreign language acquisition (foreign language learning at school) and the associated
Differentiated linguistic terms. (see chapter 2.2)
For this reason, a large part of the specialist literature used in this work comes from
for listening comprehension from the 70s and 80s.

Skill looked at, gave up listening comprehension training in class
does not play a major role. (cf. Quetz 1981: 111) On the contrary, Hedge
(2003: 227 f.) States, "Certainly some ELT methods have assumed that
listening ability will develop automatically through exposure to the
language and through practice of grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. "
This may be true to a very small extent, but it is sufficient
no way out. Since it cannot be taught by a teacher, it must
listening comprehension in different situations, trained, practiced and
eventually be automated. It is therefore the teacher's job to do that
to create suitable learning environments and learning situations. (see Schmid-
This is especially true in the beginning English lessons in elementary school
Listening comprehension plays a very important role as it is next to its basis for the
Language acquisition, part of the oral skills and the focus in
Primary school English teaching is based on orality. (see master plan
Primary school Hessen 1995: 245)
So that listening comprehension in English lessons in elementary school
Can be promoted profitably, it is necessary that from the
A large number of methods are particularly suitable to be used. Out
For this reason, in the context of this work, the in the methodology and
Didactics of teaching English in primary school most common
Recommended methods and procedures for listening comprehension training in
English classes in elementary school are presented and indicated for their suitability
being checked. On the one hand, these methods and procedures are based on one another
knowledge of the theory of language acquisition and hypotheses and on the other hand
on their successes in teaching practice. This should take into account
that different language acquisition models with different
There are hypotheses for language acquisition in school that do not exist
are sufficiently empirically substantiated. (cf. Böttger 2001: 41) This
means again, ,, In individual aspects clearly contradicting one another
Procedures can and may coexist because they are, correctly
applied, all produce their practical successes. "(Butzkamm 1989: 47) These
The variety of methods is particularly important in view of the individuality of the students
important, which hardly makes it possible to find a universally successfully applicable one
Method to develop. From the variety of teaching methods and
methods for listening comprehension also result in a variety of to

using lesson content (here especially texts), which is also about
judge applies. As a guide and guidelines, the
Primary school framework prescribed by the state and an associated one
In summary, therefore, the aim of this work is to use
theoretical foundations from developmental psychology,
Language acquisition research, linguistics, knowledge from practice and
according to the state regulations, the consequences for the practice of the
Listening comprehension training in the beginning English lessons in primary school
in terms of method and thus also the content and role of the teacher and the
Student to set out. To do this, it first clarifies how listening is to be used
seems to work, which role it plays in language acquisition and which
state requirements apply in the context of English lessons in the
Primary school is subject. On this basis will be thereupon
various factors such as hearing material and presentation presented it
to be taken into account in listening comprehension training in elementary school.
Based on this, an overview of the most popular methods for
Listening comprehension training in the beginning English lessons. In conclusion, will
a teaching example is presented and based on that in the course of the work
The knowledge gained is analyzed.
“As a receptive language competence, listening comprehension unites the
Perception, understanding, interpreting and reflecting on
linguistic utterances. "(Nold / Rossa 2007, 178) A precise definition
of listening comprehension does not exist, however, since the processes of listening comprehension
cannot be observed directly. (cf. Elsner 2007: 101) Im
The following is to be explained in more detail, what about the construct 'hearing'
or 'listening comprehension' is known. Reference is made to the
general operations, as well as the various strategies involved in
Listening comprehension can be applied. Problems should also be explained
In this work, these guidelines are taken from the state's primary school framework plan
Hessen` from 1995 and the associated, orientation aid for performance assessment and
Assessment in English in Primary Schools' from 2004 (see bibliography).

that occur during listening, especially in the foreign language
can. Finally, the relationship between listening comprehension should be
Mother tongue acquisition or second language acquisition and
in school made to the importance
of listening comprehension (training) in the initial English lesson in the
Justify elementary school and to later determine the suitability of certain
To be able to judge methods.
2.1 Listening comprehension as an active process in the mother tongue,
Second language and foreign language
As mentioned earlier, listening comprehension is the basic skill for
language acquisition. There can be no production of language, though
the receptive listening skills have not been adequately trained.
Despite this knowledge, the two were and will be receptive
Skills, listening and reading, often mistakenly considered passive
Skills are referred to and thus, especially in practice, as less
considered important as the productive skills of speaking and writing.
In the following, although the findings also apply to reading,
due to the general theme, however, exclusively on listening
. First of all, the special properties
of the relevant medium for listening comprehension, language
to read the following description of the
Listening comprehension process with its understanding intentions and
To be able to better understand strategies of understanding. Fundamental
important for the criteria for
dealing with listening comprehension in English lessons is that
Consideration of the problems occurring in the listening comprehension process, in the
Particularly related to the foreign language listening comprehension.
The terms foreign language acquisition and foreign language learning are not used in this thesis
used contrastively, because ,, The language development follows in the first and in the
Second language the same pattern. It is not influenced by teaching. (Bleyhl
This implies that the terms "text" and "text understanding" are used here and in the following
Relate the course of the work exclusively to listening texts and listening comprehension, if not

Spoken language, can either be spontaneous, unprepared language
) or prepared language (
be directed unidirectionally to the listener, or in dialogue form
(bidirectional) take place. (cf. Hedge 2003: 245) Furthermore, it can
either through a speaker or through another medium (e.g. CD)
mediated. Spoken language, especially
not a linear process, which means that the processes of the
Speech processing in listening cannot be linear. (see Quetz
1981: 113) Spoken language is based on the same
morphological and syntactic principles such as the written one
Language, but is characterized by many peculiarities that make the
Make understanding more difficult, but can also make it partially easier if the
Appropriate listening comprehension strategy (see Chapter 2.1.4) for compensation
is applied. (cf. Müller-Hartmann / Schocker von Ditfurth 2004: 76 f .;
Hedge 238 ff .; Hermes 1998: 222)
Frequent interruptions in the flow of speech, such as
Speaking pauses, self-correcting or alternating between speaking
), can on the one hand irritate the listener,
on the other hand, they give the listener more time to process speech. (see.
Harmer 2005: 99; Hedge 2003: 238 f .; Hermes 1998: 222; Miller
Hartmann / Schocker von Ditfurth 2004: 76 f.)
The abundant one also has the same effect
Language redundancy. It is very likely that during a
linguistic utterance, words and content either in identical or in
repeat paraphrased form. If the listener recognizes this redundancy
does not, or does not process them in the appropriate manner, can
this can hinder the listening comprehension process or even become one
Misunderstanding of the text. If you react competently to redundancy,
can this as well as the above-mentioned interruptions of the
Speech flow, giving the listener more processing time. (see Quetz
1981: 114 f.) It also comes with understanding spoken language
more often than in written language that the listener has gaps in understanding
has to compensate. On the one hand, this is because spoken language is very much
is fleeting and the listener has to compensate for what he did not record

or understood that he has to process the text directly (
) and not, unless he asks, can hear again. (see.
Buck 2001: 4) On the other hand, it often happens that spoken sentences
are incomplete as they are interrupted and incomplete again
recorded or simply canceled completely. Supported
Or rather, spoken language is often completed by
non-verbal expressions, such as gestures, facial expressions and body language, as well
through the situation and the speakers themselves. (cf. Quetz 1981, 114) It is
so necessary to perceive these signs and in the right way too
interpret in order to be able to understand what has not been said more easily. Understanding
can also be due to phonological peculiarities such as phonetic or
Word slurries and / or dialects and accents are made more difficult.
(cf. Müller-Hartmann / Schocker von Ditfurth 2004: 77) Only by frequent
Contact with language in these forms can be this problem factor
be reduced. In general, too, the more often the listening comprehension
is practiced, the more competent you can be with these problem factors
2.1.2 Understanding intentions in listening comprehension
At the beginning of every listening comprehension process there is always one
Understanding intention. This intention to understand is the result of one
Listening expectation, which results from the individual ideas of the listener, the
Type of text and other factors that depend on the situation in the conversation, such as
Example speakers and topic. You determine in what way
the process of understanding takes place, that is, whether and how the listener to the
Text approaches and which strategies are used and how. (see.
Solmecke, 2003: 5) Would you like every word or every statement in a text
understand, for example when hearing a recipe in which each
When detail is important, this is called total understanding of the text. (see Solmecke
1993: 26) In global understanding, the overall meaning of the text is to be grasped
), which is important in small talk, for example
to take part in a conversation or while listening to stories with relish.
(cf. Schmid-Schönbein 2001: 65) When understanding details should
only previously determined details of a text can be recorded, such as
which is the case, for example, when listening to a weather report, with me

probably the weather in my city and not that in everyone mentioned
City interested. (cf. Solmecke 1993: 26) All three intentions of understanding
have their place, but it is
Communication skills most important type of understanding and so should
therefore also play a central role in English lessons.
Of course, certain understandings can be achieved through creating
induced certain listening expectations or listening situations
become. This is especially necessary in school and also essential for
the listening comprehension training, since the listening situation is often not in one
natural context takes place. So the context is made by the teacher
created, that is, the audio text is placed in an artificial context
embedded to allow the student to have a certain listening expectation and such
can build adequate understanding. (See chapter 4)
2.1.3 Processes in the listening comprehension process
It becomes clear that the assumption of the listener's passivity is incorrect,
if one examines the role of the recipient in listening more closely and
determines that active processes are taking place in the listener's understanding of the text. The
The listener does not get the text "filled in" (Solmecke, 1993: 13), but rather
there is an interaction between text or speaker and listener.
This interaction goes in two directions. On the one hand, the
Text information carried by the speaker to the listener, what as
Process ("upward process"). On the other hand
the listener applies his already existing knowledge to the text, what
Process ("downward process").
(cf. Solmecke 1993: 13) The speaker expresses what is to be communicated
Thoughts in characters or sounds, encoded, so to speak
(he encodes it), which means that the recipient receives the message
must decipher (decode) again in order to understand them.
Looking at the characteristics of spoken language, will
It is clear that the processes involved in listening are not linear or
can run separately from each other. Even if this one, the better one
Understanding because of, to be presented separately, and in itself
have a specific sequence, it should be noted that all of these

Processes build on one another, but sometimes also simultaneously
Process, the listener uses his already existing
native and foreign language linguistic knowledge in
Phonology, lexicons, syntax and semantics to understand what is heard.
The listener must first recognize the relevant speech sounds, the
means to separate from irrelevant background noises by having the
Background noise neglected and only focused on the understandable
Concentrated sound flow. (cf. Poelmans 2003: 12) is a prerequisite
of course, that the listener has the ability to sense sounds respectively
Differentiated perception of sounds. The louder and more annoying the
Background noise or the quieter and more indistinct the one to be recorded
Fluency, the more difficult this process is to master.
In the next step, this sound stream is segmented, i.e. into his
phonetic components. (see Müller-Hartmann / Schocker from
Ditfurth 2004: 73) That means the listener has to be different in the language
Perceive occurring sounds and distinguish them from one another. He must
also incompletely heard or uttered sounds as such
perceive and infer their original form. Especially
in English this is not an easy task because the sounds and
Words are very "blurred" into one another (cf. McDonough / Shaw
2003: 133) This procedure is based on recognition already
known sound structures and implies, of course, that the listener is familiar with the
Phonology of the spoken or heard language familiar
is. He can only really perceive what he already knows. (see Solmecke
The different sounds and sound sequences now become meaningful
grammatical units, such as morphemes, syllables, words, or phrases
Categorized sentences. Here it is important that the listener speaks and
Recognizes sentence boundaries. (cf. McDonough / Shaw 2003: 133) A familiarity
using lexicons, syntax, intonation and emphasis is essential here as well
here the recognition principle functions.
Since the sentence structure, the syntax that has now been worked out only for
Seconds stored in short-term memory must be done in the next step
recognized the meaning of the grammatical units and
can be assigned, as this can be retrieved from memory longer. (see.

McDonough / Shaw 2003: 134) This is where the meaning of a word is derived
long-term memory and the meaning of individual words
within a sentence or the meaning of the sentence
recorded with the help of lexical and syntactic knowledge. It can
so here only the words and sentence structures are correctly recognized and
that are already known.
If single words or whole sentences are identified, that is
Decoding process completed. At this point the
Process. Now the listener no longer takes the information from outside
and decrypts it, but he carries his already existing knowledge
approaches the text and interprets it in its context. (see Hedge
2003: 232) This process is no longer limited to
linguistic knowledge and the cognitive abilities of the listener
also on his knowledge of external factors such as pragmatics,
sociolinguistic and socio-cultural contexts, overview of the
Conversation situation, the speakers, the linguistic context and the type of
Text is required. Internal factors such as the characteristics of the
Speaker, his emotional and motivational state and his
Existing world knowledge now play a central role. (see Solmecke
1993: 19; Poelmans: 2003 14 f.) Does the listener know all of the above
external factors, communicates a common background or world knowledge
the speaker and has advantageous internal conditions, this helps
Listeners to build expectations of the text. An adequate one
Expectation towards the text is the prerequisite for the
Applying appropriate listening comprehension intent as well as being helpful for
the application of listening comprehension strategies.
2.1.4 Understanding strategies in listening comprehension
Listening comprehension strategies facilitate listening comprehension and compensate
possible problems within the listening comprehension process. (see Chapter
2.1.4 and 2.1.5) You will be continuously updated during the
Process applied. The strategies of understanding include
or anticipating thereby making predictions (
be hit and inferring. The principles always apply
"Things will be as they were before" (Hermes 1998 after Brown / Yule 1983:

222) and "Things are as like as possible as to how they were before."
(Hermes 1998 after Brown / Yule 1983: 222) according to the analogy and
minimal change. Also the right way to deal with redundancy is
indispensable for competent listening comprehension. (cf. Solmecke 1993: 14 f.)
Knowledge of the
Listener about language, type of text, topic of the listening text, general
Knowledge of the world and dealing with texts in general, and to what extent he is in the
Is able to apply this knowledge. The more experienced a listener is, the more
he is better at using these strategies.
In the listening comprehension strategy of anticipation, you can still do so in advance
what is not uttered is foretold, which is the process of understanding
facilitated. (cf. Solmecke 1993 18 ff.) On the one hand, certain
occurring sounds, syllables, words or phrases are closed, e.g.
"in the further course of the text too
". But conclusions about genre and content can also be made in advance
to be pulled. If the speaker starts his text e.g. with the phrase,
"on, the listener anticipates that a fairy tale must now follow
and not a discussion to which he would certainly react very differently.
With the listening comprehension strategy of inferencing, comprehension gaps,
as they appear in any text. (see Solmecke
1993: 18 ff.) So it is possible to draw conclusions based on logic
Connections between different language units, such as syllables
and words to "guess" something not understood or unknown and so on
to fully understand even incompletely perceived sentences. (see.
Hedge 2003: 230 f.) For example, we hear,
"must be called and thus close
by inferring the gap in understanding. Of course, the
Content inferred. Inferring is especially important when interpreting a
Text is an indispensable strategy, since no text has a hundred content
Percent is complete and this incompleteness only through inferring
can be closed by the recipient.
In reception aesthetics, one speaks of the reader having the
"Blank spaces" in a text and thus also as a "co-producer" of the
Text can be designated. (cf. Iser 1994: 262 f.) That can be done in this
Case can also be referred to the listener without restriction. Especially
Nonverbals are helpful in inferring, but also in anticipating

visual and auditory elements such as body language, facial expressions or gestures
The speaker's intonation and other cues from the context of the
Audio text that support the audio text (e.g. images, realia,
Situation). (cf. Ur 1984: 28 ff.)
But not only the competent development of what has not been expressed or
what is understood does not have to be established, but the listener has to
also decide whether a piece of information, depending on the intention to understand,
is relevant or not, so as not to overload the memory. To
also dealing with redundancies. (cf. Solmecke 1993: 14 f.) Da
Language is redundant, that is, information often in the same or
If any other wording is repeated, the listener must repeat it
Recognize and sort out information so as not to have to duplicate it
to process. The practiced person uses the processing time gained in this way
Listener to process other relevant information. (see.
McDonough / Shaw 2003: 134 f.)
The listener must therefore respond to the context of the listening text in which he
Draws inferences and predicts a connection between the
What is said and what is unspoken creates around individual statements in
to understand the entirety of what has been heard. It finds an active one
The listener's engagement with the listening text or an interaction
between text and listener instead of based on the shared knowledge of
Speaker and listener, but also on the individual requirements and
Skills of the listener based. This interaction should ideally be one
Understanding of the listening text will result, which will be individually different
can. The larger the common "knowledge pool" of the text producer
and the recipient is, the higher the probability that the listener will receive the
Text interpreted as it was intended by the speaker.
Once a text has been understood and interpreted, the process of understanding is
but not finished yet. The final level of text understanding is the
Evaluation of the text, followed by a personal reaction to the text,
by putting the possibly new knowledge gained into the
existing knowledge can be integrated. There are already
existing schemes changed, supplemented or based on new knowledge
discarded. The text has an effect insofar as it leads to a change in the
Knowledge of the listener leads, sustained on this and can as

Serve the basis for your own text or language production.
(cf. Solmecke 1993: 21 f.)
2.1.5 Problems with listening comprehension in the second and foreign language
The procedure described above for understanding a text is
of course the ideal case and in reality depending on the text, situation and the
individual skills of the listener more or less successful
feasible. Because on the right kind of text and the right one
Mediation process in the further course of the work in detail
is dealt with, this chapter mainly addresses the problems of the
emanate from the listener, are represented. It should be noted that
different listeners also have different requirements and
only average tendencies can be dealt with here.
Basically, it should first be noted that the more often a recipient is
of a text occupied with text understanding, that is, all the more experienced
he is familiar with texts (regardless of whether they are in their mother tongue, second language or
Foreign language), the easier it is for him to understand the text. (see Solmecke
1993: 13; 16) In this respect, it makes sense to improve listening comprehension both in
Mother tongue, as well as in particular in the second and foreign language, see above
exercise as often as possible. The actual decoding process or the
Content extraction of the text, as well as the listening comprehension strategies are with
routine listener automated and for him with less effort and
Effort to cope with as well as with greater accuracy, whereby
Analysis and evaluation of the text take place at a higher level