URC

Is Listening Comprehension Influenced by the Cultural Knowledge of the Learners?
A Case Study of Iranian EFL pre-intermediate learners

Morteza Bakhtiarvand
Payame Noor University of Andimeshk (PNU), Iran

Somaye Adinevand
Education Department of Andimeshk, Iran


Retraction: URC retracts this manuscript due to the fact it was published earlier in another publication.

Abstract

The present study investigated the effect of cultural familiarity in improving Iranian EFL (English as a foreign language) learners’ listening comprehension. To achieve this purpose, a listening comprehension test was administered to three hundred language learners; ultimately one hundred and twenty pre-intermediate language learners were selected and randomly assigned to four groups. The same pre-test was administered to the four groups before any treatment lesson. During the experiment, Group A had exposure to target culture texts in-and out-side the classroom. The participants in Group B had exposure to international target culture texts in-and out-side the classroom. The participants in Group C had exposure to source culture texts in-and out-side the classroom. The participants in Group D had only exposure to culture free texts in-and-out side the classroom. At the end of the experiment, four groups took a post-test which was the same as pre-test to see whether or not there were changes regarding their listening proficiency. The results of the posttest showed that the four groups performed differently on the posttest, which was indicative of the fact that greater familiarity to specific culturally-oriented language listening material promoted the Iranian EFL learners’ listening proficiency.

Keywords: Listening comprehension, cultural background knowledge, L2 listeners, EFL learners.

Introduction

Foreign language listening comprehension is a complex process and crucial in the development of second language competence; yet, the importance of listening in language learning has only been recognized recently (Celce-Murcia, 2001). Because the role of listening comprehension in language learning was either overlooked or undervalued, it merited little research and pedagogical attention in the past. But at present, some researchers have devoted some time to listening and believe it to be an important skill in teaching and learning. For instance, Nunan (1998) noted that

… listening is the basic skill in language learning. Without listening skill, learners will never learn to communicate effectively. In fact over 50% of the time that students spend functioning in a foreign language will be devoted to listening…. (p. 1)

As listening is assuming greater importance in foreign language classrooms and in language acquisition (see, e.g., Dunkel, 1991), researchers have conducted detailed study of this skill. One idea that has been a focus is the role of the listener as an active processor of the type of knowledge that he/she brings to the context of listening. In other words, there have been investigations of whether the background of the listener has any effect on the process of listening.

Background: Theoretical Perspective

One aspect of language processing widely held as supporting and enhancing comprehension is that of mental schemata. Research in reading supported the notion that activating prior knowledge or knowledge of the world and applying this knowledge to new input greatly facilitates processing and understanding (Graves & Cook, 1980; Hayes & Tierney, 1982; Stevens, 1982). Listening, like reading, is an active process that entails construction of meaning beyond simple decoding. Activation of what is known about the world clearly assists in processing the aural code.

Some researchers consider the role of schematic knowledge as one of the factors affecting comprehension. Brown and Yule (1983), for example, described schemata as “organized background knowledge [that] leads us to expect or predict aspects in our interpretation of discourse” (p. 248). The listener’s stereotypical knowledge based on prior experiences predisposes him or her to construct expectations in terms of seven areas: speaker, listener, place, time, genre, topic, and co-text. Brown and Yule (1983) contended that the listener uses two basic principles to relate the new information to his or her previous experience: the principle of analogy (i.e., things will be as they were before) and the principle of minimal change (i.e., things are as like as possible to how they were before).

In a discussion of ways in which listeners form inferences and use them to interpret spoken language, Rost (1990) as cited in Schmidt-Rinehart, (1994) suggested inferential processes at three levels (lexical or propositional, base or schematic, and interpersonal relevance) and proposed editing principles and procedures by which listeners construct meaning. He defined base meaning for a text as the cultural and experiential frame of reference that makes a text interpretable by a listener. Rost (2002), as cited in Vandergrift (2002), defined listening as a process of receiving what the speaker actually says, constructing and representing meaning, negotiating meaning with the speaker and responding, and creating meaning through involvement, imagination and empathy. He believed that listening is a complex, active processes of interpretation in which listeners match what they hear with what they already know. These theories underscore background knowledge as a critical component of the listening process.

Empirical Studies

Few empirical studies have explored the potential relationship between prior knowledge and listening comprehension. Mueller (1980) investigated the effects on listening comprehension of locus of contextual visuals for different levels of aptitude of beginning college German students. The aptitude variable consisted of two levels (high and low) that were determined by the subjects’ grades in the preceding German course. He found that the students who had the contextual visual before hearing the passage scored significantly higher on the recall measure than those in the visual-after and the no-visual groups.

In order to determine the influence of religion-specific background knowledge on the listening comprehension of ESL students of varying religion, Markham and Latham (1987) used passages describing prayer rituals of Islam and Christianity. The data indicated that religious background influences listening comprehension. The subjects in this study recalled more information and provided more elaborations and fewer distortions for the passage that related to their own religion.

Long (1990) conducted an exploratory study of background knowledge and second language learners (L2) listening comprehension. Her third-quarter students of Spanish listened to two passages—one was deemed familiar, the other unfamiliar. Comprehension was assessed by a recall protocol in English and a recognition measure, a checklist comprised of statements that referred to the content of the passage and purposefully false statements that were plausible according to the context. On the checklist, students identified items that were mentioned in the passage. Although the English summaries revealed a higher proportion of correct idea units for the familiar topic, no significant differences were found between the familiar and unfamiliar passages for the recognition measure.

Bacon’s (1992) research shed light on the effect of background knowledge during listening process. She investigated strategies used in three phases identified by Anderson (1985): perceptual, parsing, and utilization. Her sample comprised students of Spanish enrolled in the first course beyond the degree foreign language requirement. After listening to two expository passages selected from a Voice of America broadcast, subjects reported their strategy use and comprehension in an interview situation. Regarding background knowledge, she found little use of advance organizers during the perceptual phase, but effective use of previous knowledge during the utilization phase. She reported that successful listeners tended to use their personal, world, and discourse knowledge while less successful listeners either built erroneous meaning from their prior knowledge or ignored it altogether.

Chiang and Dunkel (1992) investigated the effect of speech modification, prior knowledge, and listening proficiency on EFL listening comprehension. After listening to a lecture, the Chinese EFL students’ comprehension was measured by a multiple-choice test that contained both passage-dependent and passage-independent items. Regarding topic familiarity, the subjects scored higher on the familiar-topic lecture than on the unfamiliar-topic lecture.

Schmidt-Rinehart (1994) carried out a study with the main purpose of discovering the effects of topic familiarity on L2 listening comprehension. University students of Spanish at three different course levels listened to two familiar passages, one about a familiar topic and another about a novel topic. The passages represented authentic language in that the recordings were from spontaneous speech of a native speaker. Listening comprehension was assessed through a native language recall protocol procedure. Subjects scored considerably higher on the familiar topic than on the new one. She concluded that background knowledge in the form of topic familiarity emerges as a powerful factor in facilitating listening comprehension.

With a glance into the existing literature, it is felt that there is a shortage of studies with respect to background knowledge and listening comprehension in EFL contexts. It seems that the EFL field is in need of further studies investigating the issue of background knowledge and listening comprehension. Therefore, it is hoped that the results of this study cast some light on this issue and pave the way for better teaching of listening.

Research Hypotheses

The results of the present study were expected to shed light on the following null hypotheses:

  • H01 – Materials with the target language (English and American culture orientation do not have any significant influence on the listening comprehension of Iranian EFL learners.
  • H02 – Materials with international culture orientation do not have any significant influence on the listening comprehension of Iranian EFL learners.
  • H03 – Material with Persian culture orientation do not have any significant influence on the listening comprehension of Iranian EFL learners.
  • H04 – culture-free materials do not have any significant influence on the listening comprehension of Iranian EFL learners.

Methodology

The main concern of the study was the following question: Is Listening Comprehension Influenced by the Cultural Background Knowledge of the Learners?

Subjects
This study was carried out at two private language institutions. The subjects of this study were learners from the different private Language schools who were in the same semesters.
Subjects from four English classes participated in this study. In total, there were one hundred and twenty learners between 13 and 25. These learners came from Shush, Dezful, Bidrubeh, Azadi town, Bahram town, Chamgolak town, and Andimeshk. Most of the learners had been studying in Andimeshk language schools for at least a year. These classes were made up of sixty-nine female and eighty-one male learners.

The English proficiency level of most of these learners was pre-intermediate. At language school, the medium of instruction is English. Therefore, they got a lot of exposure to the English language.
To select the homogeneous subjects, the researcher administered a sample listening comprehension proficiency test to three hundred male and female English language learners in private language institutions, based upon their availability. One hundred and twenty participants were selected out of three hundred learners. Having administered the necessary statistical calculations, these one hundred students who had scored between 5.5 and 47.5 out of 100, two standard deviation above and below the mean, in the proficiency tests were selected as pre-intermediate language learners. For the purpose of this research, the selected subjects were both male and female and were randomly divided into four groups of 30.

Instrument
Initially, the subjects in four groups took the listening comprehension section of a sample proficiency test. The test contained 25 multiple-choice items. The reliability of the test was .732 based on Kuder-Richardson 21 (KR-21) method. The test was extracted from “How to prepare for the TOEFL Test: Test of English as a Foreign Language” (Sharpe, 2001). The materials were selected from Internet reliable sites (such as, Wikipedia.com, bbc.com, and cnn.com) and other authentic sources such as New interchange series (Richards, 2005). McKay identified three types of cultural materials: target culture materials, learners' own culture materials, and international target culture materials. For her, the best one is international target language materials, which cover a variety of knowledge from different cultures all over the world using the target language (McKay, 2000, pp. 9-10). That kind of language materials will most likely increase the learners' interest rather than imposing only one culture all the time, prevent learners from assimilation into a specific culture, and help them respect other people's cultures. The students' own culture should be discussed together with a target culture. In order to account for the influence of culture on listening comprehension, four types of materials were proposed: materials that reflect English and American culture, materials that reflect international target culture, materials that reflect Persian culture, and culture-free materials. These four groups were provided throughout the whole semester. The difficulty level of these materials, as determined by systematic functional grammar criteria (Shokrpour, 2004, pp.5-25), was calculated to make them appropriate for pre-intermediate EFL learners.

Procedures for Data Collection and Data Analysis
The first step, before the participants were selected, was to verify the reliabilities of the sample listening and proficiency test. The sample listening proficiency test was given to a group of learners, both males and females. Then, the reliability of the test was calculated separately by means of the KR-21 formula.

The reliability of listening test was calculated as .732. Once the reliability of the proficiency test was verified, the test was given to three hundred EFL learners, both males and females, from Andimeshk private language institutions (Mehre Taha, Khadir, and Daneshjoo institutions). After the scores of the proficiency tests were obtained, the average mean of the scores (out of 100) was calculated and 120 participants, which scored two standard deviation above and below the mean (between 36 and 64) were selected as pre-intermediate to participate in the study. They were divided into four groups, based on systematic random sampling, and they studied throughout the semester—10 weeks (20 hours).

They were divided randomly into four groups, Group A (English culture), Group B (International target culture), Group C (Persian culture), and Group D (culture-free). Over the course of 16 weeks, an experienced teacher in the private language school conducted two-hour classes two times a week for the groups. The subjects, in each group, practiced listening comprehension materials that reflected a particular culture.

Finally, the four groups took a listening comprehension test. The test included sample authentic listening comprehension materials. As mentioned before, they were selected from reliable sources:

  1. Target culture texts (TCT): reflect English culture and are provided for Group A. These materials help subjects in Group A organize and build cultural background knowledge in relation to English culturally-oriented texts.
  2. International target culture texts (ITCT): reflect culture of countries in which English is considered as international language such as Japan, India, and Malaysia are provided for Group B. These materials help subjects in Group B organize and build cultural background knowledge in relation to international culturally-oriented texts.
  3. Source culture texts (SCT): reflect Persian culture and are prepared for Group C. These materials help subjects in Group C organize and guild cultural background knowledge in relation o Persian culturally-oriented texts.
  4. Culture free texts (CFT): culturally sterile texts including no cultural knowledge, so subjects in Group D cannot obtain any cultural background knowledge and are not familiar with culture of any particular country.

The scores obtained by the four groups were compared with one another to see whether or not the possible differences occurred in listening comprehension of each group would be the result of their exposure to particular culturally-oriented texts.

Results

1. The analysis of variance of participants' post-test scores in four groups
Results of a one-way ANOVA test for the study supported hypotheses. Table 2 illustrates the mean scores gained by each group in post-test in the study. As can be seen in the table, the participants who listened to the culturally-oriented texts scored higher than the other two groups and outperformed them. The participants who listened to target culture texts scored higher than those who listened to culture free texts even higher than to that group who listened to international target culture and source culture texts, the TCT and ITCT groups outperformed the other three groups who listened to other listening materials. Figures 1 and 2 demonstrate the scores gained by each group in pre-test and post-test.

Table 1: Mean scores gained by treatment groups in the pre-tests


CONDITION

Mean

N

Std. Deviation

TCT

11.56

30

1.57

ITCT

10.6

30

1.76

SCT

10.1

30

1.72

CFT

10.13

30

1.72

TOTAL

42.39

120

6.77

As Table 1 indicates and Figure 2 demonstrates, there are some differences among the mean values of the groups gained in the study. Table 3 indicates statistically significant differences between groups where p <.05. The results of one-way ANOVA pointed out that the mean values of the treatment groups gained in the study were not the same.

Table 2: Mean scores gained by treatment groups in the post-tests


CONDITION

Mean

N

Std. Deviation

TCT

14.46

30

1.52

ITCT

13.73

30

1.82

SCT

13.1

30

1.72

CFT

10.16

30

1.71

TOTAL

51.45

120

6.77

The analysis of variance (ANOVA) found the scores on the four groups in post-tests to be significantly different. Because the F-ratio is larger than 1, we know that there is a meaningful difference among the means, but where is that difference? To pinpoint the precise location of any statistically significant differences between four groups the researcher calculated a dependent t-test. Additionally, post-hoc dependent t- tests indicated that all groups differed significantly from each other as well [Group A - p<0.001; Group B – p<0.001; Group C – p<0.001; Group D- p<0.001]. The difference between the mean scores of Groups A and B (d =.73) was expected to be lower than between Groups A and D (d =4.3). The difference between the mean scores of Groups A and B (d =.73) was expected to be lower than between Groups B and D (d = 3.57). The difference between the mean scores of Groups A and C (d = 1.36) was expected to be lower than between Groups 3 and 4 (d = 2.94). The difference between the mean scores of Groups B and C (d = .63) was expected to be lower than between Groups B and D (d = 3.57) or Groups C and D (d=2.94).  The results of the one-way ANOVA Test point out that the mean values of the treatment groups gained in the study are not the same.

Table 3: One-Way ANOVA Test Results


Dependent Variable

 

Sum of Squares

df.

Mean
Square

F

Sig.

Post-Test
Score

Between
Groups

  319.41

    3

106.47

11.92

9.24

Within Groups

1035.98

116

8.9308

 

 

Total

1373.39

119

 

 

 

2. The results of Group A on the pretest and posttest
Regarding Group A performance, there was a significant difference between the participants mean scores in the pretest and the posttest. In order to make sure that the difference in the mean scores was statistically significant, the statistical t-test was administered. For Group A, the t-observed was calculated (4.02) for a degree of freedom of (58) which was higher than the t-critical of (1.671). The results, therefore, confirmed that Group A performed differently in the two tests. In other words, as the table indicates, the difference between the means of the scores of Group A is statistically significant (P< 0.01, t-value = 4.02). This shows that the subjects in TCT group performed better in the test and this better performance seems to be the result of the treatment (familiarizing them with the culturally-oriented materials and activating their target cultural background knowledge). So the participants in Group A improved their listening comprehension during the semester through having greater exposure to target culture texts as one kind of specific culturally-oriented language listening materials (as shown in Table 4).

Table 4. Descriptive statistics related to the results of the pretest and the posttest of Group A participants

Groups

N

Mean

SD

t-test

Group A Pretest

30

11.56

1.57

4.02

Group A Posttest

30

14.46

1.52

3. The results of Group B on the pretest and posttest 
Regarding Group B performance, there was a significant difference between the participants mean scores in the pretest and the posttest. The statistical t-test was administered in order to make sure that the difference in the mean scores was statistically significant. The t-observed was calculated (3.30) for a degree of freedom of (58) which was higher than the t-critical of (1.671). The results, therefore, confirmed that Group B performed differently in the two tests. In other words, as the table indicates, the difference between the means of the scores of the Group B is statistically significant (P< 0.01, t-value = 3.30).  See Table 5.

Table 5. Descriptive statistics related to the results of the pretest and the posttest of Group B participants


Groups

N

Mean

SD

t-test

Group B Pretest

30

10.60

1.76

  3.30

Group B Posttest

30

13.73

1.82

4. Results of Group C on the pretest and the posttest
Regarding Group C performance, there was a significant difference between the mean scores in the pretest and the posttest. In order to make sure that the difference in the mean scores was statistically significant, the statistical t-test was administered. The t-observed was calculated (3.42) for a degree of freedom of (58) which was higher than the t-critical of (1.671). The results, therefore, confirmed that Group C participants performed differently in the two tests. In other words, as the table indicates, the difference between the means of the scores of the Group C is statistically significant (P< 0.01, t-value = 3.42). This shows that the subjects in SCT group performed better in the test and this better performance seems to be the result of the treatment (familiarizing them with the culturally-oriented materials and activating their source cultural background knowledge). See Table 6.

Table 6. Descriptive statistics related to the results of the pretest and the posttest of Group C participants

Groups

N

Mean

SD

t-test

Group C Pretest

30

10.10

1.72

  3.42

Group C Posttest

30

13.10

1.72

5. The results of Group D on the pretest and posttest
There was not any significant difference between Group D mean scores in the pretest and the posttest. In order to make sure that the difference in the mean scores was statistically insignificant, the statistical t-test was administered. The t-observed was calculated (.55) for a degree of freedom of (58) which was less than the t-critical of (1.671). The results, therefore, confirmed that Group D participants performed nearly the same in the two tests. In other words, as the table indicates, the difference between the means of the scores of the Group D is not statistically significant (P< 0.01, t-value = .55). This shows that the subjects in CFT group did not perform better in the test. The participants in Group D failed to improve their listening comprehension during the semester through having exposure to culture free texts as one kind of specific language listening materials (as shown in Table 7)

Table 7. Descriptive statistics related to the results of the pretest and the posttest of Group D participants

Groups

N

Mean

SD

t-test

Group D Pretest

30

10.13

1.72

.55

Group D Posttest

30

10.16

1.71

The critical value of Group A was 1.671, which meant that the difference between the t-observed  (4.04) and the t-critical was significant. Therefore, H1 was rejected. There was a significant influence on the listening comprehension of Iranian EFL learners who listened to texts with English and American culture orientation. The critical value of T in Group B was 1.671, which is lower than observed T (3.30) of this group. There was a significant difference. Therefore, H2 was rejected; International culture texts had a significant influence on listening comprehension. The critical value of T in Group C was 1.671 that is lower than t-observed (3.42) of this group, it meant the difference between the t-observed and the t-critical was significant. Therefore, H3 was rejected. Texts with Persian culture orientation had a significant influence on the listening comprehension of Iranian EFL learners. But as it is clear from the above tables the t-critical value  (1.671) of Group D is higher than t-observed (.55) in this group so there is not any significant difference between t-observed and t-critical. H4 was not rejected—culture-free texts have no significant influence on the listening comprehension of Iranian EFL learners.

In other words, the t-values revealed that the four groups performed differently on the posttest, which was indicative of the fact that greater cultural familiarity with language listening materials promotes the Iranian EFL learners’ listening comprehension.

The results of the study support those of Markham and Latham (1987), Chiang and Dunkel (1992), and Schmidt-Rinehart (1994), because they all claimed that background knowledge and topic familiarity would improve students’ performance in listening comprehension.

The results of the study, on the other hand, contradict that of Long (1990) in that she observed no significant difference between the familiar and unfamiliar passages for the recognition measure, though the English summaries revealed a higher proportion of correct units for the familiar topic. At the same time, the results of the study contradict the perceptual phase of Bacon’s (1992) study in which she found little use of advance organizers during this phase.

Discussion

Here, some justifications for possible reasons behind the results will be presented. Most of the results were in line with the previous studies, but some were different. This section discusses the results of the research by direct reference to the following questions raised in the study.

Question: To what extent does cultural familiarity affect Iranian EFL learners listening comprehension?
Cultural familiarization of the text has a significant effect on reading comprehension. Readers are expected to achieve the writer’s intended meaning by combining existing information with what they read (Nunan, 1998; Chastain, 1988; Anderson, 1985). Readers are thought to engage in three metaphorical models of reading (Anderson, 1985). The familiarization of the names of people and places in the short story contributed to schema activation of the readers (Alptekin, 2002; 2003). The readers who read the nativized version also did not have to deal with unfamiliar names in it and this resulted in better comprehension since they could process new input in their short-term memory. So original text readers in this study used controlled processes that required greater effort. On the other hand, nativized text readers used automatic processes since they were familiar with the new information and that would make it possible for them to free up space in their short-term memory (Nunan, 1998).

In accord with previous research on the relationship of cultural familiarity and comprehension, this study found that participants performed significantly better on test questions that had culturally familiar content.

The result of the study supports those of Markham and Latham (1987), Chiang and Dunkel (1992), and Schmidt-Rinehart (1994), since they all claimed that background knowledge and topic familiarity would improve students’ performance in listening comprehension.

The results of the study, on the other hand, contradict that of Long (1990) in that she observed no significant difference between the familiar and unfamiliar passages for the recognition measure, though the English summaries revealed a higher proportion of correct units for the familiar topic. At the same time, the results of the study contradict the perceptual phase of Bacon's (1992) study in which she found little use of advance organizers during this phase.

The results indicate that the higher mean score in the post-test is significantly different at p< 0.01. This significant improvement in the post-test is attributed to topic knowledge that the subjects gained from the treatment lessons.

In the pre-test, subjects were unable to determine answers to the comprehension questions as they faced a lot of barriers in the form of new vocabulary and advertising concepts. As they tried to overcome this, the process of interpreting the text was interrupted. Therefore, they could not identify the main ideas and information in the lecture that they needed to answer the comprehension questions.

According to Anderson & Lynch’s (2000) view of ‘Listener as Active Model- Builder,’ successful comprehension in listening takes place when the listener has schematic knowledge, knowledge of the context and systemic knowledge.

The treatment lessons had successfully provided the subjects with these three categories of knowledge. In the treatment lessons, the subjects had the opportunity to deal with key vocabulary items that were presented in the same context as they would hear in the lecture. Other activities that allowed them to relate content to their own experiences like identifying effective advertisements and the elements that make them appealing also gave them an insight into the field of advertising. Creating an advertisement for their own product gave the subjects a chance to put into practice their newly acquired knowledge on this topic. This familiarity of topic enabled the subjects to successfully identify the facts and details of the advertising techniques, as well as details that support these main ideas. This ability facilitated their understanding of the text which explains why they performed significantly better in the post-test.

This is consistent with previous studies (Van Duzer, 1997 & Schmidt – Rinehart, 1994) indicating that familiarity with the topic facilitates listening comprehension.

In light of the findings from previous research carried out in relation to both reading (Roller & Matambo, 1992) and listening skills (Chiang & Dunkel, 1992; Markham & Latham, 1987), it was assumed that these participants’ comprehension of excerpts 1 and 3 would be impeded considerably, as they would lack the schematic information necessary for effective comprehension (Alderson & Lynch, 1988; Buck, 2001) even though they were proficient enough in English to process the language element.

Conclusions

In sum, the findings of the study show that the experimental group had a better performance as compared with the control group in their listening comprehension, and this better performance in the listening test seems to be the result of the background of the subjects in the EG.

Although one study cannot dictate instructional practice, it can provide direction. Findings regarding the supportive role of background knowledge are consistent with the findings of the majority of L2 listening studies. It seems, therefore, that educators who advocate the use of advance organizers and other types of pre-listening exercises that activate appropriate background knowledge are making suggestions that are congruent with the research results. It is important for teachers to recognize that students’ existing knowledge contributes significantly to their comprehension and that listening is not a passive activity. Taking time to assess the conceptual base the listeners bring to the text will enable teachers to go beyond dealing with the linguistic information in order to help students understand and make their learning more meaningful. The result of this study and others indicate that helping students make connections to their previous knowledge in order to build a mental framework with which to link the new information might facilitate comprehension.

Based on the results obtained, it seems that the Iranian EFL course books do not adequately prepare students for an intercultural communication due to the fact that they focus excessively on language forms, lack diverse social issues, and do not promote students' awareness of the target language culture. As it was stated in the previous chapters, if culture and language are inseparable, then we need to try to teach culture in some kind of systematic way as we try to do with other aspects of language such as grammar and vocabulary.

The results indicate that the Iranian EFL course books do not prepare students to cope with the international society. Additionally, the aim of FLT does not seem to develop the basic competence for mutual communication, using and understanding modern every day English, due to the fact that TM is not directed, as it should be, toward the target language culture.

Mere fluency in the production of utterances in a new language, without any awareness of their cultural implications or of their appropriate situational use or the reading of texts without a realization of the values and assumptions underlying them-these so-called skills, is of little use even on a practical level and certainly leave open to question the claims of language study for a legitimate place in a program of liberating education.

In brief, the researcher arrived at the following conclusions:

  1. Having background knowledge is a key feature of any kind of listening materials, so language learners wanting to improve their listening comprehension should have greater exposure to two kinds of listening materials: target culture texts and international target culture texts. Through having greater exposure to specific culturally-oriented texts (e.g., English culture texts) language learners can improve their listening comprehension.
  2. Background knowledge, cultural familiarity, and linguistic complexity are essential linguistic and meta-linguistic features for the enhancement of listening comprehension. Accordingly, having exposure to language materials in which these three features are highly observed can boost listening comprehension development.
  3. Vocabulary recycling is another feature regarding developing any listening materials, which is generally supposed to help language learners build up their lexicon over time. Moreover, according to Abu Rabia (2000), language learners can acquire the knowledge, structures, strategies, and vocabularies they can use in everyday situations through having exposure to culturally-oriented texts. The vocabularies used in culturally oriented texts are basic to the type of conversations that language learners are likely to encounter in a social situation.

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