THE EFFECTS OF TEACHING LISTENING AND SPEAKING SKILLS USING AUDIOVISUAL MATERIALS ON STUDENTS’ ORAL ENGLISH PERFORMANCE IN SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS
The study focused on the effects of teaching listening and speaking skills using audio visual materials on students’ oral English performance in senior secondary schools in Kano State. Three research questions were developed and answered in line with what the study sought to find out. Also three null hypotheses were formulated and tested at the probability of 0.05 levels of significance. The study made use of Students’ Listening Comprehension Test (SLICOT) instrument to determine students’ entry level in listening comprehension and their level of attainment in listening comprehension. Thereafter, they were subjected to treatment for 6 weeks using recorded lessons on tape recorder and flashcards. The instrument (SLICOT) was developed from the review of related literature and was used for the treatment of the respondents. The instrument (SLICOT) was face validated by three experts in English language and to ensure reliability of the items, they were pilot tested in two (2) senior secondary schools outside the selected schools within the study area. The entire population for the study was 131,589 students obtained from six (6) senior secondary schools selected from the study area with gender biasness (3 male schools and 3 female schools). Five hundred and six (506) respondents were sampled out of the total population using simple random sampling technique. The data collected for the study were analyzed using analysis of variance (ANOVA) to answer the research questions as well as testing the null hypotheses. The findings of the study revealed that there was significant difference in the performance of respondents (males and females) subjected to treatment using audio visual materials (radio and tape recorder) in teaching listening comprehension. It was also discovered that there was no significant difference between the urban and rural respondents when subjected to treatment using audio visual materials in teaching listening comprehension. It was recommended that audio-visual resources should be used in conjunction with oral communication to enhance effective teaching and learning of listening and speaking skills at senior secondary school level. The government should enforce the use of audio-visual resources such as audio cassettes, tape recorder and flash cards in our various secondary schools across the nation. This could be enhanced by building language laboratories in our secondary schools.
The neglect of speaking skills in the mainstream of English language does not exclude listening because language comprehension is the basis for communication. Communication is seen as the exchange of thought-tokens, in other words, the student has to learn not only the forms of the foreign language, the sound segments, the word forms, and the sentence structures but also to interact with context of words to act the possible meaning. Some teachers consider listening as the easiest skill to be taught. Most students think it is difficult. This contradiction points to the fact that there are some aspects of teaching listening that need to be explored. Students’ burden in listening comprehension activities does arise from difficulties in decoding the signals. In normal experience in mother tongue, language grows in context, whereas for foreign language, context must be created, because the more knowledge about the situation the more readily the language used.
This made listening one of the most challenging skills for students to develop and yet one of the most important. Developing the ability to listen well affords students the opportunity to become more independent learners, hearing accurately, likely able to reproduce accurately, refine their understanding of grammar and develop their vocabulary skills.
Listening is to hearing what looking is to seeing. Both listening and looking require a zoom, whether auditory or visual, which enables a person takes in relevant information while turning out irrelevant information. Listening is too often regarded in
schools as simply the passive state of a child that enables the teacher to instruct and be obeyed. This narrow perspective of listening presents the child as a passive receiver of information and fails to acknowledge listening as active and requires both attention span and interaction. Listening is the ability to identify, understand what others are saying and grasping meaning from it.
According to Joseph (1985), listening is one of the fundamental language skills. It is a medium through which children and adults gain a large portion of education – information, understanding the world and human affairs, ideas, sense of values, and appreciation.
Listening to and understanding speech involves a number of basic processes, which depends upon linguistic competence, previous knowledge not necessarily of a purely linguistic nature, and psychological variables that affect the mobilization of language in the particular task situation. The listener must have a continuous set to listen, to understand, and hear the utterance in order to process and remember the information transmitted. Linguistic competence enables the learner presumably, to recognize the formatives of the heard utterance, that is, to dissect out the wave form of the morphemes, words, and other meaning-bearing elements of the utterance.
Long before man developed a system of writing to communicate ideas; man depended upon listening and speaking to communicate ideas. If communication is the goal of teaching any language, the place of listening and speaking cannot be over emphasized. Apart from the fact that listening is the first language skill, it also provides the foundation for all aspects of language and cognitive development, and it plays a lifelong role in the process of communication.
According to Howatt & Dakin (1974), listening which is the ability to identify and understand what others are saying, involves understanding speakers accents or pronunciation, grammars and vocabulary, and comprehension of meaning. It involves more than simply hearing. Listening is an active process that constitutes the construction, retention and reaction of meaning that is assigned to information.
However, speaking is a vital component of the English Language, which provides the base for growth in reading, writing and listening ability. It is both verbal and non- verbal and helps individuals take alternative role of speaker and listener, as it enables one to make connection between what one knows and what one is learning. It can be immediate and spontaneous, or planned and deliberate. Although language learning begins with listening, yet communication cannot take place unless it is extended to speech. This is why after listening children learn how to speak by imitating what they have heard. From psycholinguistic standpoint, a child that cannot listen cannot speak. A child gathers linguistic data, processes them within the brain before producing them. For the quality of input of linguistic data determines the quality of intake.
Highlighting the centrality of listening to effective communication, Norton (1998) noted that a writer cannot communicate effectively without effective listening ability, no matter how intelligent and artistic the writer is. In English language, the two primary skills of language must be well taught at all levels of education. This is why it is not out of place to emphasize the importance of English as the official language of education, mass media, law, commerce, as well as diplomatic relations.
In recent years, the focus of language teaching has been on promoting oral skills in order to respond to the students’ needs for effective communication in second
language or foreign language. Fivuish & Fromhoff (1988) stated that more attention is now devoted to the development of aural – oral skills before students are exposed into literary work. It is the concern of the study to approach the listening comprehension skill as a means of attracting the language teachers’ attention to give listening comprehension and oral English more time on the English time table.
Halliday, McIntosh & Strevans (1964) cited in Sani 2001:3 recognized the importance of aural – oral skills by stating that:
Students from more than one country in Africa, now go to the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia or France for the purpose of acquiring a better practical ability in English, because most of the channels to English offered in their countries are concerned above all with literary studies.
Some language specialists in different parts of the world have stressed the importance of oral language over the written one. They explain that people communicate through speaking and listening (Usman, 1997; Olaofe, 1991).
Listening and speaking are the commonest channels through which most people encounter language and learn to use and interpret feelings or messages. In this respect, oral involvement is essential as students expand, refine their communication skill and handle the written language (Johnstone and Milne 1995).
Banjo & Connell (1984) have observed that “… the skills for oral communication have been largely neglected” even though Chomsky (1965) has also stressed the importance of listening comprehension by saying that competence in language development is the ability to speak and understand a language, while performance is the actual application of this ability in language behaviour. Despite the prominence of English language in the curriculum, the communicative competence in Chomsky’s term especially in the secondary school has not improved. This incompetence is mostly
noticeable in spoken English. The place of listening and speaking skills cannot be over- emphasized, yet many English language teachers seem to make little effort in this direction due to the fact that:
1. Teachers who are new to the profession lack both training in ELT and confidence in the mastery of English.
2. Lack of emphasis on teaching listening comprehension in language textbooks in general.
3. Little is offered in terms of methodology or practical application for helping the ESL students develop aural skills. This is why students are exposed to aural-skills activities for the first time in education at the tertiary levels.
Shule (2003) found that despite apparent pass marks at school level, students have little or no comprehension ability in English. Their listening skills are poor. A close scrutiny of the WAEC, SSS Examination in English language shows that the teaching of aural – oral skills is not given attention, particularly with respect to what is expected of them at the final SSS oral language examination (WAEC Chief Examiner report 2004). It is observed that in spite of the introduction of recent advances in language teaching methodology, the traditional methods of testing listening comprehension and oral English still prevail in Nigeria.
Precisely, this study sets out to investigate the relationship between listening comprehension skills and oral performance and the effect of listening comprehension skills on oral language performance among Senior Secondary Schools Students of some selected Secondary Schools in Kano State. This is in a bid to improving the quality of
teaching and learning of these skills in order to enhance communicative competence of the learners.
Statement of Problem
In recent years, the focus of language teaching has been promoting oral skills in order to respond to the students’ needs for effective communication in second language or foreign language. From experience in teaching English Language the general observation is that there is a complete neglect of listening comprehension in the teaching of English in the Senior Secondary School (SSS). This is supported by the fact that listening comprehension is not included by the different English language text books and teaching materials used at this level. The neglect results in an imbalance in the teaching/learning process of the four skills.
Danner (2006), observed that the performance of Nigerian students in English Language Senior Secondary School Examination for the year 1992 – 1994 and concluded that over 50% of students that sat for the English Language Examination for three consecutive years failed the subject. In 2001, out of a total of 252,342 students who enrolled for May/June Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination, 34% failed woefully. This trend is particularly alarming because out of the countries participating in the West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE), Nigerian students have continuously scored lowest in English Language – Nigeria (8.47%), Ghana (54.86%), Liberia (42.84%) and Gambia (25.40%). This poor performance of Nigerian students may likely be attributed to nothing but teachers’ failure to teach listening comprehension aspect of the language.
Similarly Olabopo (1998) in an analysis of Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) English Language results for nine years concluded that the percentage of failure range between 55.36% and 72.71%. Less than 15% of the candidates that passed the SSCE examination were qualified for admission into tertiary institutions as others did not have basic requirement in English Language between1983 – 1996.
The response of students is described in Olabopo (1998) as “rather disappointing in spite of the fact that the questions were clear and straight forward”. His report seems to validate views expressed in various quarters about the falling or fallen standard in English. Oluikpe & Nwaegbe (1979) observe that, “to the average highly placed Nigerian, the standard of English has fallen because of current greater incidence of deviations from the Queen’s English of corrections”. The general poor performance in English Language spreads through all the levels of Nigerian educational ladder – primary, secondary and the tertiary institutions.
Also, Dabalen (2000) in World Bank report scored Nigerian graduates low in English Language. They contended that the 22% unemployment rate in the metropolitan areas in Nigeria is as a result of poor quality of the graduates’ communication skills. The decline in quality of the graduates is “increasing rather than levelling off”. The graduates exhibit “poor abilities in the oral and written expression of English Language”. They are inadequately prepared in English Language, as some of them employed in the Bank and other industries cannot draft “simple memos or get five correctly drafted sentences in one paragraph”. Nigeria is lagging behind. Could it be that there are no qualified English teachers, enough teaching materials and facilities or that the teachers do not possess the
skill needed to teach the subject successfully? Could the blame lie with the students’ interest/attitude or home background?
This study therefore sought to investigate the effectiveness of the use of audio visual materials in the teaching and learning of listening and speaking skills with a view of improving oral English performance of students within the study area. It also sought to improve the teachers’ skills in handling the audio visual materials in teaching listening and speaking skills.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is to:
1. Determine the effect of teaching listening and speaking skills using audio visual materials on students’ oral English performance.
2. Determine the effect of teaching listening and speaking skills using audio visual materials on male/female students’ oral English performance.
3. Determine the effect of teaching listening and speaking skills using audio visual materials on students’ oral English performance based on urban/rural location.
The study poses the following research questions.
1. What is the effect of teaching listening and speaking skills using audio visual materials on students’ oral English performance?
2. What is the effect of teaching listening and speaking skills using audio visual materials on male/female students’ oral English performance?
3. What is the effect of teaching listening and speaking skills using audio visual materials on students’ oral English performance based on rural/urban location?
The null hypotheses tested are:
a) There is no significant difference in the post-test gain scores in the performance of students taught listening and speaking skills with audio visual materials (radio and tape recorder) and those taught without the materials.
b) There is no significant difference in the post-test gain scores in the performance of male and female students taught listening and speaking skills with audio visual materials and those taught without the materials.
c) There is no significant difference in the post-test gain scores in the performance of urban and rural students taught listening and speaking skills with audio visual materials and those taught without the materials.
Significance of the Study
The outcome of the study is expected to provide empirical evidence that would be useful to teachers of English Language in the classroom, curriculum developers as well as textbooks writers. As any research effort in listening/speaking skills could contribute tremendously by providing the necessary information about the effect of teaching listening comprehension using instructional materials on oral English language performance of SSS students. The study could help second language teachers to realize that mastery of a language rests on the ability to listen well, understand the speeches of other people, and the ability to communicate effectively. This realization would make teachers discover that the two primary language skills (listening and speaking) could best be developed through effective teaching of the skills. The study therefore made some useful suggestions which could encourage second language teachers to use different
materials in developing the English listening and speaking skills of their students at the Senior Secondary Level.
Finally, the study would be useful to curriculum planners, educational administrators, textbooks writers and other stakeholders. Curriculum planners would need to take into consideration students’ experiential background in their selection of topics for listening comprehension. The findings from the study could also help curriculum planners to include oral development topics as part of the listening comprehension with appropriate audio – visual materials in the senior secondary school classes. The study could also provide guide for using instructional facilities such as radio, tape recorder, e.t.c for teaching listening comprehension. In fact, curriculum planners and all those concerned might come to appreciate the areas of difficulties of teachers of English and make necessary adjustments in the English Language curriculum.
The textbook writers would also gather from the study that the spoken forms have meaning for students only if students are familiar with those words through listening. Therefore, the beginning of each unit in English textbook should contain listening aspects.
Scope and Delimitation
The scope of this research study is defined in terms of two basic variables. The basic language skill to be studied and the time frame of the research in term of the period of investigation to be covered. The study would only cover two out of the four basic language skills which are listening and speaking skills, because of the general dearth of relevant materials and literature, as very few researches have been conducted in the area. The study was restricted to cover two schools in each of the three selected Local
Governments Areas in Kano State. This is to achieve an in-depth treatment that the research deserves since the study is strictly interested in finding out the effect of teaching listening comprehension using instructional facilities on oral English language performance..