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Listening is a creative process and is more than merely hearing words.Listening requires not just hearing but thinking, as well as a good deal of interest and information which both speaker and listener must have in common.Speaking and listening entail three components: the speaker, the listener, and the meaning to be shared; speaker, listener, and meaning form a unique triangle (King, 1984, p. 177).Listening is an active process by which students receive, construct meaning from,and respond to spoken and or nonverbal messages (Emmert, 1994).
Listening is used to refer to the ability to understand how a particular sentence relates to what else has been said and its function in the communication.It is at this stage the listener selects what is relevant to his purpose and rejects what is irrelevant.The term “Hearing” is used to refer to the listener’s ability to recognize languag elements in the stream of sound and through the knowledge of the phonological and grammatical systems of the language to relate these elements to each other in clauses and sentences and to understand the meaning of these sentences (Venkateswaran,2003).
Listening involves the formation of proper auditory images of phonemic components such as the use of vowel and consonant sounds,stress,accent,pitch,pause,juncture,intonation and rhythm of language in isolation. Hearing is a physiological process while listening is a mental function.Listening can be for perception or for comprehension.The listening process has three stages.They are hearing,processing and evaluating.In hearing a person can repeat what the speaker has said.On hearing if the hearer thinks about how the information can be interpreted against his background then it is understood that the processing has taken place.In the evaluating stage the listener will assess the validity of the information.
Wolvin and Coakley (1992) identified four different kinds of listening.They are :
A language teacher should provide opportunities for students to practise listening skills and motivation should be given to become actively engaged in the listening process.
The three phases of the listening process are: pre-listening, during listening, and after listening.
Pre-listening activities are required to establish what is already known about the topic to build necessary background and to set purpose for listening. Nichols (1948) found that people listen and think at four times the normal conversation rate. Students have to be encouraged to use the “rate gap” to actively process the message.They can run a mental commentary on it, they can doubt it, talk back to it, or extend it.They can rehearse it in order to remember it, that is, they repeat interesting points back to themselves.They can formulate questions to ask the speaker jot down key words or key phrases (Temple and Gillet, 1989, p. 55).
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