Selective listening in L2 learners of French
To link to this article DOI: 10.1080/09658416.2011.652634
This paper considers the issue raised by Brown (2008) regarding whether nouns are ‘privileged’ in memory over verbs during listening tasks, and whether attention to nouns, at least in the early stages of L2 learning, is a desirable strategy to be taught to learners, as Brown suggests it might be. The question of verb/noun recognition was explored in the present study using data from 30 lower-intermediate learners of French in England. Learners completed a listening task on two occasions, six months apart, producing recall protocols for short oral passages in French. We also explored learners’ attentional strategy use by asking them to report on this in writing immediately after the recall task. An analysis of verbs and nouns recognised indicated that verb recognition was lower than that of nouns, and that progress in verb recognition over six months was negligible. A qualitative analysis of learners’ strategy use indicated that learners with a more balanced verb/noun recognition profile took a broader focus, tending to focus their attention consciously at phrase/sentence level rather than at word level. These findings are discussed in terms of the development of listening skills over time, and the implications of this for L2 listening pedagogy.