Rabat - The listening skill is sometimes referred to as “the passive skill in the pedagogy of the foreign language classroom”. A belief that all pedagogues, worthy of the name, need to dismiss as groundless at all costs.
Rabat – The listening skill is sometimes referred to as “the passive skill in the pedagogy of the foreign language classroom”. A belief that all pedagogues, worthy of the name, need to dismiss as groundless at all costs.
Thus, EFL Moroccan teachers, as well as students, must realize the importance of fostering the listening skill throughout each and every school year. Listening is fundamentally, and rightly so, synonymous of understanding. In effect, understanding speech involves an all-out activation of the learner’s both cognitive and affective apparatuses.
Teachers undertake a crucial role. They need to help the students to harness their listening abilities as effectively as possible. To succeed in this role, teachers must be fully aware of the difficulty to dissociate listening from the other skills. Furthermore, they also need to teach explicit listening strategies to help Moroccan students digest authentic material with the necessary “cultural moderation.”
Teaching listening cannot be dissociated from teaching speaking, reading and writing in Moroccan EFL classes. To listen and to understand requires that the listener first recognize each and every sound in the teacher’s speech. Therefore, meaningful listening is likely to affect the learner’s speaking proficiency in terms of phonological awareness and pronunciation. Enunciation, on the part of the EFL Moroccan teacher, becomes then a crucial factor in the teaching process. As a result, Moroccan teachers are advised to beware the quality of their speech. For, while speaking, students will always try to emulate them, particularly at the beginning stages of learning.
For instance, if a teacher uttered the words ‘thought’ and ‘taught’ identically, ‘intelligibility’ of speech may be hindered. Even worse, a huge opportunity to emphasize a significant nuance between two particular speech sounds pertaining to English, viz. /t/ and /?/, would go unnoticed. Teaching aural skills and teaching reading are also intricately related. Macro skills research has indeed reported strong evidence that corroborates this close relationship. Listening to stories read out loud by a teacher contributes to enhance learners’ reading comprehension (Bergman, 1999). Better still, when pupils are taught to write down good notes and important details, spelling and composition competences are likely to improve. A good EFL listener will see then his or her speaking, reading and writing pick up with the help of a good EFL teacher.
In addition to integrating teaching listening with the other skills, Moroccan EFL teachers are also responsible for presenting their students with explicit and appropriate aural strategies. These would enable them to assimilate a ‘foreign culture’ the English medium conveys. Yet, assimilation should not be equated with ‘disintegration’. Teachers are urged to remain constantly alert while displaying listening authentic material to their pupils. For good reasons: the most anodyne video, or even a picture, displaying a genuine ‘Western’ social or cultural scene may be imbued with themes and messages that run on a ‘colliding path’ with our own culture and beliefs. Jeremy Harmer’s “How to Teach English” provides a sound listening situation where potential cultural backlash is likely to emerge in a Moroccan EFL classroom; the scene in the “who are they?” section portrays a woman overtly talking to her father about her “lover.”
Content, in terms of culture, that is likely to shock a young Moroccan audience when listening to the father-daughter conversation. A good teacher, however, should teach their students adequate listening strategies to deal with subtle situations such as these. The former should integrate aural strategies ranging from ‘Top-Down and Bottom-Up Processing’ to ‘Negotiation Skills’. In the ‘Top-Down’ processing of information, the teacher helps the students use their native-culture background to contrast with that which the scene displays. Emphasis should be on highlighting, rather than judging, cross-cultural similarities and differences.
The ‘Bottom-Up’ processing, on the other hand, requires deriving ‘meaning’ from within the information the listening activity provides. ‘Meaning’ in this particular social situation implies that the students are conscious and willing to accept a ‘foreign’ culture. However, the aforementioned strategies are productive and effective only when used simultaneously. More importantly, the teacher should elicit the students’ ‘negotiation skills’ whereby they are encouraged to ask for clarifications, reasons and culture-driven motivations behind the scene events. In sum, cross-cultural differences are part of the knowledge EFL teachers should impart to their pupils. Nevertheless, adequate listening skills help Moroccan learners ‘consume these differences moderately’ while taking pride in their own culture.
Moroccan EFL teachers can and should succeed in their mission to teach the listening skill. Success means an effective use of different listening teaching strategies that not only integrate all the other language skills, but also promote acceptance and appreciation of ‘foreign cultures’ among Moroccan students, without their losing their own. The hope is, that one day, these students will gain a ‘culture to sell and promote’ abroad using the English they had learnt in Moroccan classrooms.
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.