The Effect of Task Types on EFL Learners’ Listening Ability

Masoud Bahrami, Islamic Azad University, Iran

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Abstract This study aimed at examining the influence of task-based activities (four specific types of tasks: matching, form-filling, labeling, and selecting) on listening ability in students of English as a foreign language and to identify if there was any correspondence between task type and students’ language proficiency level. Ninety senior EFL learners of Sadra English Institute in Dorood participated in this study. The sources of data for this quasi-experimental study included two task-based tests of listening comprehension and a test of language proficiency. Analysis of the findings indicated that there was a significant relationship between the three tasks of “matching, labeling, and form-filling” on the one hand and listening comprehension on the other. However, no such relationship was observed between the task of “selecting” and listening comprehension. Moreover, the results of the participants’ performance on each task at each level of language proficiency showed that among the four tasks of the study only the “selecting” task did not correspond with the three levels of language proficiency. The participants, according to the results of the post-test, showed no improvement over the task of “selecting”.

Introduction Listening comprehension traditionally has drawn the least attention of the four skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) in terms of both the amount of research conducted on the topic and its place in language teaching methodology (Morley, 1990; Rivers, 1981). This neglect may have stemmed from the fact that listening is considered a passive skill, and from the belief that merely exposing the student to the spoken language is sufficient for listening comprehension. During the time when audiolingualism was the prevailing approach in foreign language teaching, it was assumed that students’ listening skill would be enhanced automatically as a result of their repetition of dialogues and pattern drills. Accordingly, developing the listening skill per se was allocated very little attention in foreign language classrooms, and most structured listening practice took place in the language laboratory (Herron & Seay, 1991). This approach more or less has also been prevalent in Iran. In fact, little effort has been expended on the part of English teachers to enhance students’ listening comprehension ability per se. 

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