1. Introduction

    Listening
is considered as an important factor which contributes to the development of
learners both in daily communication and studying process. Regarding the total
time spent on communicating, listening accounted for 40%-50% (Mendelsohn, 1994,
cited by Gilakjani & Ahmadi). Moreover, listening comprehension has turned
out as an crucial and specific foreign language skill (Byrnes 1984; Dunkel
1991; Joiner 1991; Krashen 1981; cited by Thompson&Rubin, 1996, p.29, No. 3)
leading teachers to find suitable ways to accelerate this skill of leaners. A
recent result of listening comprehension research (Rubin, 1994 cited by
Thompson& Rubin, 1996) indicated five main matters, which have great influences
on listening comprehension: text characteristics, interlocutor characteristics,
task characteristics, listener characteristics and process characteristics.
Listening involves an active process of interpreting and constructing meaning
from both verbal and non-verbal messages (Nunan, 1998, cited by  Gilakjani & Ahmadi).There are two
subsuming cognitive process: bottom-up (data-driven) and top-down
(conceptually-driven) , which can be used for training learners’ performance in
listening comprehension skill. The purpose of this approach is to facilitate
the students’ English overall linguistic capability and oral and aural
competence. The researcher attempts to discuss the importance of listening
comprehension, several difficulties that non-native learners have to overcome
in listening comprehension and strategies to resolve this condition. Findings
of this study will be beneficial to foreign language learners for enhancing
their listening comprehension ability.

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2.
Discussion of findings

2.1.
The importance of listening comprehension skills.

   Listening is the most frequently used
language skill (Morley, 1999; Scarcella & Oxford, 1992). Purdy (1997)
explained listening as “the active and dynamic process  of attending, perceiving, interpreting,
remembering, and responding to the expressed (verbal and non – verbal), needs,
concerns, and information offered by other human beings” (p.8) . Listening
comprehension is a logical and coherent process (Rost, 2002). It is also considered
theoretically as an effective process in which individuals focus on selected
aspects of aural input, form meaning from passages, and associate what they
hear with their current knowledge. To listen well, listeners must have the
ability to comprehend the message, the ability to apply a wide variety of
strategies and interactive processes to make meaning, and the ability to reply
to what is said in a wide range of ways, depending on the purpose of the
communication. Practicing listening frequently can bring many benefits to the
learners in their works at school or future careers. Wolvin and Coakley (1988)
supposed that, both in and out of the classroom, listening consumes more of
daily communication time than other forms of verbal communication.

2.2.
Several difficulties in accelerating listening comprehension skills.

   Listening comprehension has an essential
role in learning foreign languages, the important of this skill in classroom
instruction has been more emphasized than others skills, according to Bird’s
study (1953), female college students spent 42% of their total verbal
communication time in listening while they spent 25% in speaking, 15% in
reading and 18% in writing. However, learners still have a great deal of
difficulties in listening comprehension and they really cannot find the
problems to resolve; the teachers somehow pay no attention to this skill in
class so the learners also do not have a chance to practice. In addition,
Dunkel’s (1991b) study reported that international students’ academic success
in the United State and Canada relied more on reading than listening
comprehension, especially for those students in engineering, psychology, chemistry,
and computer science. One of the reasons why listening is not given proper attention
by the teachers is for the lack of awareness of the significant effect of this
skill on the improvement of students in learning foreign languages. Therefore,
listening becomes one of the most enormous obstacle in learning foreign
language of students, they can have trouble with understanding the meaning of
what speakers say, they can also have difficulties in finding the answers for
speakers’ questions, and they find it very hard to become skilled in this
skill. As a consequence, Mendelsohn (1995, p.133) argues that the task of both
language teachers and students is to find the most suitable strategies to
facilitate learners’ listening comprehension.

2.3.
Strategies for learners to accelerate their listening comprehension.

   One of the most effective methods learners
can become actively involved in controlling their own learning is by using
suitable strategies. Vandergift (1999) believed “Strategy development is
important for listening training because strategies are conscious means by
which learners can guide and evaluate their own comprehension and responses”. Both
instructors (Ferris, 1996) and students (Ferris, 1998) acknowledge the
importance of listening comprehension for success in academic settings.
Therefore, it is very crucial for learners to find their own strategies to
improve their ability in this skill.

   The first method should be used by learners
is choosing exact sources of listening. Some video updated by foreigners or
professional teachers such as: BC, VOA, students’ news, etc. Because native
speakers and highly proficient second language learners complete the complicated
process of speech comprehension smoothly, learners at lower levels can make
some benefits from repeating through the videos. Especially these videos can
help learners make acquaintance with listening comprehension and in listening
process, they can also improve their vocabulary, their imperfect control of the
syntactic and semantic structure of the language, or other limitations with
regard to the elements necessary for communication. Stanchina (1987) engaged in
a similar study and pointed out that effective learners were good at
co-operating their background knowledge with information in listening lesson. Moreover,
students tend to be attracted by these types of learning instead of traditional
ways.

    The second way is co-operating listening
with taking note. This strategy is related to comprehending and storing input
in working memory or long-term memory for later retrieval. When learners can
use this strategy fluently, they can improve their listening comprehension
extremely. Because this strategy requires learners a wide range of vocabulary
and grammars as well as the good ability of using short-term memory.

     In
addition, the wide range of strategies taught included the following:
metacognitive strategies and cognitive strategies. Metacognitive strategies
which contains planning, defining goals, monitoring, and evaluating, can bring
great benefits to the learners because this method help learners in managing
their time for studying, creating a suitable timetable that they can follow.
Besides, cognitive strategies consists of predicting content based on
background knowledge, visual clues, genre of the segments…; listening to the
known; listening for redundancies; listening to tone of voice and intonation;
and resourcing, can have great impacts on learners. Because it raises the
confidence of students, with improved self-efficacy, students’ ability in
listening to a foreign music or movie can be enhanced. Improving listening
comprehension is very necessary for learning process of students because
listening is considered as the most difficult skill when learning foreign
languages as well as it is the foundation for learners to develop others
skills.

3.
Conclusions

This
research attempted to give some of the factors that influence students’
listening comprehension skill and strategies for improving their listening
comprehension. Non-native learners do not have an innate understanding of what
effective listeners do; therefore, it is very necessary for the teachers to
share that knowledge with them, especially, through many strategies. To improve
learners’ listening ability, teachers should not only base their teaching on
theoretical principles but also use modern technology which can bring benefits
to students. English listening competence is a complicated and difficult skill that
needs conscious development. It can be best developed with practice when
students reflect on the process of listening without the threat of evaluation.
Listening comprehension may have effects the capacity of improvement in other
language skills such as speaking, reading, writing, and translating. Because of
its important role, it is essential for teachers to provide students numerous
opportunities to practice listening skills and to become actively engaged in
listening process.