Listening Skill Problems by Students of English

Term Paper

13 Pages




Ahmad Almahdi Shteiwi

Mona Anihome

Listening is a creative skill that demands active involvement. The listeners share their knowledge from both linguistic and non-linguistic sources. The process of listening comprehension tasks is always accompanied with anxiety. Listening anxiety not only affects the results of listening comprehension, but also listening ability. Some research shows that in low-anxiety classroom environment, listeners participate actively and effectively. In order to help learners to be successful in English listening class, it is necessary to create a favorable atmosphere in the classroom. This paper has been conducted in 2020, it tries to find out some factors that affect learners listening anxiety in EFL classrooms and to put forward some suggestions to improve the condition.

The results of this study showed that most of the participants didn’t get enough listening activities during secondary school classes, and many of them admitted that they get lack of listening understanding when they had practiced the listening tasks. Many students faced a difficulty in understanding the speech if the used dialect in the recorder was unfamiliar to them which could be considered as the main reason of anxiety.

Chapter One


1.1 Introduction

Listening is a receptive skill through ears. It involves identifying the sound patterns. When one listens, he uses his audio systems to receive individual sounds (letters, stress, rhythm and pauses), and he uses his brain to convert these sounds into meaningful messages which convey ideas and thoughts.

Young (1992) stated that problems of listening comprehension can be considered as results of many factors such as insufficient emphasis on listening in appropriate teaching methodologies, inactive listening strategies and the lack of student vocabulary, but the major obstacle which is important role for receiving the information can provoke anxiety. Macintyre & Gardner (1994:10) define language anxiety as “The feeling of tension and apprehension specifically associated with second language contexts,” including speaking, listening, and learning.

In English as a Foreign Language learning, listening may be the most difficult one among the four language skills. Some researches claimed that in order to be successful listener and perceiver, learners must be able to participate actively and strategically in the listening process within a low-anxiety in listening process (Xu, 2011).

This paper aims to identify the causes of listening anxiety and to provide several recommendations that may help the students to overcome or cop with these problems which sometimes encounter them. The researcher will check some listening support strategies such as the input to see whether they are effective to reduce students listening anxiety. " Anxious students are likely to experience mental block, negative self which affects their ability to process information in -talk and ruminate over a poor performance language learning contexts" (Macintyre and Gardner (1991: 87

1.2 Aim of the study:

This study aims to determine the causes of listening comprehension anxiety and to help the students avoid and reduce some of the reasons of this problem. It is an attempt to answer the following questions,

1.What are the main causes of anxiety and how can they be reduced?
2.Why are EFL learners poor in listening skill and how can they improve their listening skills?
3. What are the strategies that can be used to enhance students ability in listening activities?

1.3 Hypotheses of the study

It is hypothesized that:

1.Most EFL students have poor listening skills.
2- Anxiety causes students weakness in listening skill activities.
3.Some listening strategies are not effective enough to help students prove their listening skills.
4.Inactive involvement strategies are the main causes of anxiety in most EFL classrooms.

1.4 Significance of the study.

This study gains its significance from the fact of the importance of avoiding students anxiety during dealing with listening skill activities to develop their level in English Department at faculty of Education and to highlight the helpful techniques used by the staff members for carrying out the required activities in this skill.

Chapter Two

Literature Review

1. The definition of anxiety and classification:

Anxiety can appear in every person’s life. Early in the nineteenth century, Freud (1836, cited in Spiel Berger, 1983) the pioneer who firstly proposed that anxiety was a kind of unpleasant feeling associated with experience, physiology, and behaviors. Later in the twentieth century, psychologists described anxiety as “a state of apprehension, a vague fear that is only indirectly associated with an object” (Hilgard, Atkinson & Atkinson, 1971, cited in Scovel, 1978: 134). Anxiety has been classified into three types: “ state anxiety, trait anxiety and situation-specific anxiety” (Ellis, 2008: 691). Spiel Berger (1983) defined state anxiety as an experience of apprehension at particular time in a particular situation. Scovel (1978) stated that trait anxiety is a long-lasting tendency to feel anxious. Situation-specific anxiety only occurs in a certain situation (Ellis, 2008). Some psychologists added that “achievement anxiety and facilitative-debilitative anxiety” from other perspectives as well (Horwitz, 2010: 154).

Numerous empirical studies have shown that anxiety exists in almost every aspect of second /foreign language learning (cf. Hilleson, 1996, et al., 1986 Jackson,2002, Kitano, 2001, Phillips, 1992, Price, 1991, Young, 1991). Speaking publicly in the target languages has been found to be particularly anxiety provoking, even for learners who feel little stress in other aspects of language learning (Horwitz, 1995, Macintyre & Gardne: 1989). The speech of anxious students is often accompanied by blushing, trembling hands, a pounding heart, and headaches (Cohen & Norst, 1989). Anxious students are less likely to volunteer answers or participate in oral classroom activities (Ely, 1986). Some students with high levels of language anxiety may even have a mental block (Tobias, 1979). They also display avoidance behaviors such as skipping classes and postponing their homework (Argaman & Abu-Rabia, 2002).

2.The sources of listening anxiety:

There are various sources and factors that cause students’ learning anxiety. Horwitz and Cope (1986:127) proposed three sources of language learning anxiety, “communication apprehension, test anxiety and fear of negative evaluation”. Communication apprehension refers to people who are too shy to communicate. People who suffer from test anxiety feel afraid of failure. Fear of negative evaluation means people try to avoid any situations of being evaluated by other people. Besides, based on the analysis of learners’ diaries, Bailey (1983) found that peer pressure could be considered as another very important factor to cause anxiety in learning, which happened after the comparison with high-proficiency students’ in classes. Teachers can also be a source of anxiety as their questions often put students in an embarrassing situation when they fail to answer exactly (Ellis & Rathbone, 1987).

3.language learning strategies:

Listening can be considered as a prerequisite issue for oral proficiency. Speaking does not constitute communication unless what is said is comprehended by others. In our daily life, listening is used far more than someone reads, and five times more than anyone writes (Rivers,1981). Understanding how learners apprehend the meaning of what is said in front of them will contribute to develop teaching methods as well as to enhance learners' listening skills. Proposed six groups of language learning strategies that can be applied to the four language skills. These groups of strategies are divided into broad categories: direct and indirect strategies. Direct strategies include cognitive strategies which are highly helpful for understanding and recalling the language material, memory-related strategies which enable learners to connect one language item or concept with another, and compensation strategies that help learners to overcome knowledge gaps and continue to communicate naturally. Indirect strategies consist of metacognitive strategies which help learners in regulating and managing the learning process overall, affective strategies which help learners to develop the self-confidence and perseverance necessary for learners to involve actively in language learning , and social strategies which help in increasing interaction and understanding the target culture (Oxford, 1990). The direct strategies function effectively when they are backed up by the indirect strategies(ibid). Alternative categories have been suggested by O’Malley and Chamot (1990), that the types of strategy learners use vary depending on the learner’s different factors, such as degree of awareness, stage of learning, age, gender, ethnicity, learning style, personality traits, motivation, purpose for learning a language. Of all the variables, learner’s language proficiency is received considerable attention by numerous studies and is considered one of the primary ones which most affect the relationship between learner’s strategy use and their success in mastering a second and foreign language (Rubin,1987). Most studies indicate that students at a higher proficiency level have a tendency to use various strategies more efficiently than those at a lower level (Green & Oxford, 1995, Lan & Oxford, 2003, Oxford,1993).

4. language learning anxiety

Until the years of 1980ˢ learner’s anxiety has been known as one of the most important affective variables which influence foreign language learning. Foreign language anxiety had been considered as a very complex construct that can be defined in a number of ways before. Horwitz, and Cope (1986) proposed a specified theory about second language learning anxiety. They claimed that foreign language anxiety is composed of not only other anxieties such as communication, apprehension, and social evaluative anxiety, but a complex of self –perceptions, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors related to classroom language learning process (ibid, 1986). More recently proposed a specific definition to language anxiety as the feeling of tension and apprehension specifically related to second language contexts, including listening and learning in language learning. A number of studies have had an attempt to investigate the effect of anxiety on foreign language learning. The cognitive psychologists have also tried to examine the anxiety effect based on an information processing model and found that foreign language learning is interfered by a high level of anxiety (cf. Gardner & Macɪntyre, 1991, Madsen, Brown & Jones, 1991).

Chapter Three

Data Analyses

The results revealed through the questionnaire analysis are as follows:

1- Did you get listening enough activities during secondary school study.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Table (1)

As shown in the given table, most of the participants about (66%) said that they didn’t get enough listening activities during secondary school time, which caused the main problem for them, On the other hand only(34%) of them said Yes for this point

2- My lecturers clarify the topic before dealing with listening activities.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Table (2)

This table indicates that many of the students about (50%) admitted that their lecturers clarified the topic from time to time before dealing with listening activities which is the highest percentage, whereas some of them about (34%) said always. However, there were few students about (16%) said rarely, whereas one of them (0%) said never.

3- When the speaker pronounces words differently I find it difficult to understand.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Table (3)

The presented items are connected with the quality of the language used by the speakers it is clear that many students always faced a difficulty in understanding if the dialect is unfamiliar for them about (67%) of them. Furthermore, as (17%) supported this point of view by saying sometimes and (10%) said rarely, while (6%) said never.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

4- EFL students in general have poor listening activities.

Table (4)

This table indicates that most of the students about (40%) said that they sometimes had lack of listening skill activities which is the highest percentage, and (33%) said always. While only (27%) said rarely, and none (0%) of the participants said never

5- Speed can be considered as the main problem of understanding spoken language.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Table (5)

This table shows that about (33%) said sometimes faced this difficulty which is the main problem, and (30%) said always. In contrast the percentage of (24%) of respondents said rarely, and only (13%) said never.

6- Grammatical items weakness makes me confused during listening activities.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Table (6)

Most of the students about (57%) said that the grammatical items always caused problem for them in this skill. While (17%) of them agreed that sometimes they faced this problem. However, few of the students (26%) said rarely. and None of them said never.

7- It is difficult to summarize the main idea of the topic when I listen.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Table (7)

Most of the participant (57%) agreed that they found it difficult to summarize the main idea of the topic during listening. and some of the them about (27%) said sometimes. On the other hand (10%) of the participant said rarely and only (6%) said never they encountered this problem

8- I get nervous if the listening passage is read just once during listening exams.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Table (8)

This table shows that (50%) of the students always got lack when they had listened to the passage only one time during doing listening tests, and (40%) said sometimes, while only (10%) said rarely but none of them (0%) said never.


According to what had been presented above, it can be said that,

1. Most of the participants about 67% said that they didn’t get enough listening activities during secondary school time which caused the major problem for them because they were not familiar to this issue.
2.Many students 50% admitted that their lectures did not clarify the topic in front of them before starting with listening activities.
3. Many students faced a difficulty in understanding the speech because of the different dialect used by the speakers in front of them 66%.
4.The majority of the participants about 33% agreed that the speed can be considered as a main problem of understanding spoken language.
5.About 50% of the students thought that the grammatical items weakness always made them confused during dealing with listening activities which hinder their understanding the lesson.
6. These issues made most of the students about 57% agreed that they found it difficult to summarize the main idea of the topic during listening activities.
7.About 50% of the students said that they always felt nervous during dealing with the test of listening skill which in turn caused the anxiety.

Chapter Four

Conclusion and Recommendations

4-1 Conclusion

Language learners are often overwhelmed by too much anxiety in the process of learning foreign languages Since listening skill is one of the essential skills which should be mastered and used for communication used in real life situation. Anxiety is one of the important factor that hinder students’ listening capacity and performance in EFL classrooms, therefore, it should be paid much attention by both teachers and students. This study has discussed some factors which may cause listeners’ anxiety in listening, such as teachers and students' factors teaching procedure…etc. Of course there are many other factors under different conditions which cannot be completely discussed here.

According to the results of the study it can be concluded that the EFL English students major at Faculty of Education suffer from listening anxiety during dealing with listening skill activities which caused general weakness and lack in mastering the presented activities in front of them. It showed that the defect is due to teachers' techniques used for teaching listening skill and other factors.

4-2 Recommendations

Based on the findings of this study, the following recommendations are suggested:

1- since listening skill activities are very important in language teaching process, it is necessary to lay stress on the suitable techniques used for this issue.
2- The listening skill should be considered from early stages of education.
3- sStudents of English major should try to practice their language specially in this skill whenever get chance.
4- A great amount of vocabulary and special expressions should be taken into account by the students.
5- The students should be aware of many grammatical issues used in language communications.
6- The students need to listen to different language verities used by native speakers in order to be accustomed with the high speed use of the target language.


Ellis , 2008, 691). State anxiety trait anxiety and situation-specific anxiety

Ellis & Rathbone, 1987).

Frend (1836, Cited in Spielberger, (1983) Anxiety kind of unpleasant feeling

Green & Oxford, 1995, Lan & Oxford, 2003, 1993 .

Gardner & Macintyre,1991 Madsen, Brown & Jones, 1991.

Hilgard, Atkinson & Atkinson, 1971 Cited in Scovel, 1978: 134.

Horwitz, 2010:154), achievement anxiety and facilitative-debilitative anxiety

Horwitz , and Cope (1986: 127). Communication apprehension test anxiety and negative evaluation.

Hchen & Norst, 1989).

( Horwitz et al , 1986).

Macintyre and Gardner (1991:87). Mental block negative self-talk and ruminate affects their ability process

Macintyre and Gardner (1994). The feeling of tension and apprehension

O’Malley & Chamot (1990).

( Xu, 2011) anxiety and solutions

Young (1992) problems of listening comprehension


Excerpt out of 13 pages


Listening Skill Problems by Students of English
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
listening, skill, problems, students, english
Quote paper
Ahmad Almahdi Shteiwi (Author)Mona Ali Anihomy (Author), Listening Skill Problems by Students of English, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Look inside the ebook
Title: Listening Skill Problems by Students of English

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free