Vol. 8. No. 4
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Barriers to Acquiring Listening Strategies for EFL Learners and Their Pedagogical Implications Yiching Chen
Department of Applied Foreign Languages
Takming College in Taiwan
As theorized in Anderson's (1983, 1995) associative stage of skill acquisition, errors or obstacles become an important index of the learning process. However, learning obstacles have not been widely researched in the field of language learning strategies. This study explores the difficulties or barriers confronted by the EFL (English as a Foreign Language) learners while acquiring listening comprehension strategies during a training program. The findings indicate that the obstacles confronted by the learners are multifaceted. Each facet carries a probable risk of comprehension failure. Learning barriers are associated with the internal factors of learners such as their affective statuses, listening habits, information processing capacities, English proficiencies, and their belief about listening activities. Other barriers concerned the nature of listening strategies and the listening material used. Based on the findings, a series of pedagogical implications are provided. Introduction
This study looks into the barriers that inhibit EFL learners from acquiring listening comprehension strategies during strategy training. As most of the listening strategy studies concern learners' strategy use or the effects of strategy training, inadequate attention has been given to the obstacles that EFL listeners experience in strategy acquisition. Thus, qualitative methodologies, instead of quantitative ones, are adopted in order to investigate the questions of how listening strategies are learned and why certain strategies are not learned, rather than the questions of what kinds of listening strategies are employed and what improvement learners have achieved. Pedagogical implications grounded in the data of the study are provided for creating more effective and learner-centered strategy training. Theoretically, the study is based on the framework of the information-processing model rooted in cognitive psychology. The literature review starts with the rationale of applying the cognitive approaches into the research of language learning strategies, following the research in L2/FL listening comprehension problems, strategy applications, and training models. [-1-] Literature Review
The Cognitive Framework
The view that the acquisition of skill, language, and learning strategies share conceptual commonalities is supported by many cognitive psychologists as well as linguists (e.g., Bialystok, 1978; Ellis, 1994; Fillmore & Swain, 1984; McLaughlin, 1987; O'Malley, Chamot, Stewner-Manzanares, Russo, & Kupper, 1985; Wenden & Rubin, 1987). For instance, Ellis (1994) recognizes the commonalities: "They [learning strategies] are also used to refer to how they [learners] develop specific skills. It is possible, therefore, to talk of both 'language learning strategies' and 'skill-learning strategies'" (p. 712). This view echoes Fillmore and Swain's (1984) model of language development, which hypothesizes that the conscious strategies applied in L2 learning may be no different from those used with non-language tasks. To verify this hypothesis, O'Malley et al. (1985) found that most of the language learning strategies identified by the subjects in their study were not different from the general learning strategies discussed in cognitive psychology literature, such as thinking skills, problem-solving, and so forth. As they indicate, "There is neither a theoretical nor an empirical reason why most of the learning strategies identified in this study should be considered unique to second language learning" (p. 576). Using this rationale, L2/FL learning and strategy learning are considered to be the learning of complex cognitive skills. Also, language comprehension...
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