Most of the learners, learning English in a non-native context, feel some sort of difficulty in understanding what they hear in a real-life situation which ultimately leads to a gap in communication or breaks the whole communication process.
The reasons for teaching listening in the classroom are that the students should learn to function successfully in real-life listening situations. For a range of purposes, one wants to listen to English being used in a real-life situation, to comprehend satisfactorily in a variety of situations. Regarding this Galvin (1985) provides five main reasons for listening. They are:
- To exchange information
- To engage in social rituals
- To exert control
- To share feeling
- To enjoy yourself
For successful communication, the ability to listen in a target language is equally important as it goes side by side and provides assistance in speaking. Teaching listening should also focus on picking up stress, and vocabulary rather than listening just for getting information.
Many language teachers regard listening as the most important skill of all. Through active listening, it is thought; students acquire vocabulary and syntax, as well as better pronunciation. The primacy of listening competence in interaction is evident; to engage in any form of communication, we have to understand and react to what has been said.
If the learners do not learn to listen right from the beginning of their schooling, they become unable to participate in oral communication and various other conversations. As a result, learners need to practice listening as well as engaging in interactional activities. The more the students hear naturally spoken English, the better.
If we go back through the history of English Language Teaching in Nepalese context, many students of government schools get failed mainly in English. The reason behind it is that the learners lack competence in handling these skills.
The most striking point in teaching listening is, what aspects of listening to a foreign language are particularly difficult for learners to cope with, and what can we as a teacher do about them?
Most of the learners often feel difficulty listening when they confront a new language at first. In the Nepalese context, listening, for example, is a difficult task mainly because of the lack of exposure to the authentic listening materials and not having the opportunity to take part in real-life conversations. Some of the problems of listening comprehension are due to the following reasons:
- Lack of control over the speed at which speakers speak.
- Not being able to get things being repeated
- The learner’s limited vocabulary
- Problems of interpretation
- Inability to concentrate
- Established learning habits
- The inherent difficulty of the listening text.
Besides these problems, learners may have trouble catching the actual sounds of the foreign language. Learners get worried and stressed and feel missing something as they have to understand every word.
In addition to this learners find it difficult to keep up with all the information they are getting and cannot think ahead or predict. If the listening goes on a long time they get tired and find it more and more difficult to concentrate.