Listening Processes and Factors in Considering Listening Activities

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Listening is a very complex process. Until recently, the impact of listening was thought to be limited to understanding and repetition of what was being listened to. Only then can the material be truly incorporated into the minds of the students. But a recent study shows that listening is a complicated process that can greatly increase comprehension if considered an active exercise. In other words, listening is no longer a passive skill. The listener has to be actively listening as well as comprehending the speaker’s message at the same time. Moreover, the listener should be interactive so as to clear the confusion. Linguists have come up with two cognitive processes that take place during listening. They are bottom-up and top-down.In bottom-up, you start comprehending the meaning while understanding its individual components and then seeing the whole picture. It is associated with incoming data, where you use the linguistic knowledge that you are gaining. Furthermore, the listener has to use the knowledge of the second language syntax and the real-world knowledge that he already possesses. But another viewpoint on this is that a young child who learns two languages in his early childhood has no knowledge of syntaxes of grammar. But still, he manages to learn two languages. There are different viewpoints on this but the basis is that the listener comprehends in chunks. Therefore, incoming individual components should be combined together in a form in the mind of the listener. This leads to a disadvantage that if a person is not good at segmenting and joining things into one big piece, they would have difficulty comprehending. In top-down processing, you see the whole picture first i.e. the sum of its parts and then give attention to the single parts that make it up. Top-down processing involves the use of our long term memory and its concern is with meaning. The three subsequent levels of intentional and discourse processing are the identification, interpretation, and activation.