Dissertation > Language, writing > FOREIGN > English > Language teaching

Influnce of Background Knowledge and Unknown Word Rate on EFL Students’ Listening Comprehension

Author LiuYanQin
Tutor WangXiangYun
School Shandong University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords background knowledge unknown words rate influence EFL listening comprehension
CLC H319
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
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In the past decade, a few of studies have investigated the processes of EFL listening comprehension from the perspective of background knowledge (that is closely related to schema theory) and unknown words. Quite a few outcomes have been achieved by these studies. The studies show that background knowledge is a very significant factor influencing listening comprehension. Concensus about unknown word rate has been arrived at by some researchers that it is an important factor influencing listening comprehension. However EFL listening comprehension studies conducted under the theoretical framework of schema theory can scantly be found in the literature. Because of the dearth of the listening comprehension research in the framework of schema theory, the present study attempts to investigate the influence of background knowledge, and unknown word rate on EFL listening comprehension.Four research questions are put forward:1) Does the background knowledge influence EFL listening comprehension? If so, in what kind of way? 2) Does the unknown word rate affect EFL students’listening performance? 3) Is there any interaction between background knowledge and unknown word rate? 4) When listening to passages with familiar topics, is it likely for learners to employ "top-down" processing method, or "bottom-up" processing method?In order to explore answers to those questions, an investigation is conducted to gather data on the learners’ performance in listening to familiar and unfamiliar passages and passages with different number of unknown words. Two kinds of tests are designed and conducted to examine students’comprehension:Multiple Choice and Open Questions.The results of the investigation indicate that the main effect of the background knowledge is significant and it has great an effect on EFL learners’ listening comprehension by activating the preexisting schema. In addition, the effect of unknown word rate on the listening comprehension is not as significant as the background knowledge, but still is significant. However, the interaction between background knowledge and the unknown word rate is not significant. Based on the results of the research, the participants in the study turn to background knowledge to assist the comprehension of the listening material. When listening to passages with familiar topics to the learners, they choose to employ "top-down" processing method; otherwise, they like to employ "bottom-up" processing method.The quantitative results provide evidence to answer the four research questions of the present research that background knowledge and unknown words rate are two significant factors influencing listening comprehension, and the background knowledge plays a more influencial part compared with the unknown word rate in the listening comprehension. The interaction between these two factors is not significant.Suggestions are put forward that the listening lesson be divided into three periods, that is, pre-listening, while-listening and post-listening, and in the compiling of listening textbooks, the compilers should take the rate of the unknown words into consideration in the listening texts along with some other significant variables, such as background knowledge and grammar. In the passages with familiar background knowledge, it is suggested that the number of unknown words be increased. Some other suggestions are given in the last part of the thesis.The whole thesis consists of five chapters:The first chapter is the introduction giving a general account of the current state of EFL listening comprehension concerning the studies of background knowledge and unknown word rate and puts forward four basic research questions. Chapter Two introduces the development of the researches on listening comprehension, background knowledge, and the relationship between listening comprehension and unknown word rate. Chapter Three is the methodology of the influence of background knowledge and unknown word rate on EFL listening comprehension. In Chapter Four the findings from the investigation are presented and Chapter Five includes the summary of major findings, suggestions and limitations of the research

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