ENG514 GDB Spring 2021 – GDB – Solution VU
ENG514 GDB Spring 2021 Solution idea:
Q. While learning English as a second language, did you get better at the listening skills first or the speaking skills? Give your opinion.
Listening is perhaps the most important skill in any language learning. An individual spends a lot of time listening, whether it is during a one-to-one communication with a friend, or when taking in information through a public medium like the news. The teaching of this language skill thus becomes important, even more so when teaching a second language.
English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers recognizes the importance of teaching this essential skill. It is known that any language is best learned when there is a lot of opportunities to listen. Exposure to the aural input enhances the scope of learning this language. Yet, with listening not exactly a passive activity for the listener, the onus of imparting this essential skill in the learner falls on the curriculum or in other words on the English language teacher. The English as a Second Language teacher has to help the learner to learn how to process the information received through aural means. Processing information (that the listener hears) is no mean job as it involves interpreting data with no aid of backtracking or foreseeing what was said. In addition to this, the listener has to depend upon the choice of the vocabulary of the speaker, his pronunciation, rate of speech, and other speech patterns. This activity becomes even more complex for a second language learner. With their limited hold on the second language principles, the job to process aural information becomes even more complex.
Given the importance of listening in a language, the English as a Second Language should use listening strategies to teach this skill to her learners. They should help the learners attune themselves to the sound patterns of English, and adjust their processing according to the situation. Top-down and bottom-up strategies are two such techniques that the teacher can teach the learners. The top-down strategy is listener-based. The teacher asks the listener to listen for the main idea of the aural input. They then are shown how they can tap into their own background knowledge of the topic or their understanding of the language to process the information. This step triggers a set of expectations of the information at hand and the listener can predict and also infer meaning more easily. This helps the learner comprehend the input faster and more effectively.
The bottom-up strategy on the other hand is text-based. The teacher guides the learners to use this strategy by exploiting their understanding of the language used by the speaker. Thus, the combination of sounds, vocabulary, or language structure is processed and interpreted to make sense of what was said. Over a period of time, the ESL learner will have learned how to use these strategies, varying their use according to the situation. This will enhance their ability to Comprehend language, in other words, their listening skill would have improved. This serves as a stepping stone to improve their spoken skill and the overall learning and acquisition of English as a language.
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