English Notes : Second Language listening, Teaching and Role….

English Notes

1 Approaches to Language
Teaching and the Role
of Listening

1.1 Introduction

In this first chapter, we look at the main approaches that have been used
to teach listening. These approaches have, to a large extent, followed the
approaches to general syllabus design and teaching methodology. As these
general approaches have changed over the past 50 years, so new meth-
ods for teaching listening have been advocated. Different approaches to
listening can be seen by examining exercises and tasks in published mate-
rial. Richards (1993:3) states that one view of how to improve teaching
is through the use of instructional materials, so that “quality of teach-
ing will come about through the use of instructional materials that are
based on findings of current theory and research.” Richards (ibid.) main-
tains that instructional materials can have a profound effect on teaching
and that teachers rely on such materials to define the language courses
they teach. He quotes one teacher who talked about some new materi-
als she tried out: “This book has totally turned around the listening pro-
gram in our school. We really didn’t know what to do with listening
before” (p. 6).
The approaches we discuss here are the grammar-translation approach,
the direct-method approach, the grammar approach, the audio-lingual ap-
proach, the discrete-item approach, the communicative approach, the task-
based approach, the learner-strategy approach, and the integrated approach.
After introducing each approach, we identify the main learning goal with
respect to listening. These learning goals are based on Morley (1995). Al-
though some of these may not be considered bona fide approaches them-
selves, we consider them all to be “approaches” because they have influenced
the ways in which language has been taught. Beginning in Section 1.4, we
exemplify each approach to listening with an activity and then comment on
the activity.

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