.1984). Listener may listen to the appropriate tape recording based on their level or they may be helped by the teacher to understand better. Although they may comprehend what has been said on tape recording, they have problem in real life communication when they miss some important details (Brown, G., 1977; Brown, J.D, 2006; Brown &Yule, 1983). Students are exposed to reduced language in the classroom and this causes they have problem in real speech (Rosa, 2002).
ELT methods believe that exposure to the language and practice of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation will develop listening comprehension. Although pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar are three key factors to mastering a foreign language, In the field of English Language Teaching more consideration is on teaching grammar and vocabulary and pronunciation does not take more weight while it involves many different dimensions. In the traditional L2 language classroom, pronunciation and listening are often the most difficult and underdeveloped skills. As students embark on learning a new language the most common errors they make are at phonetic levels. It is due to transferring the features of consonants and vowels from their L1 to L2 and causes they learn words with their own phonetics and when listening to a tape or talking with native speakers faced problems so they cannot recognize what has been said and find difficulty in these areas.
In Iran, learners often do not have opportunities to expose to authentic oral input. So, when they listen to native speakers or when they hear authentic language they cannot comprehend well. Brown (1995) suggested that the students’ problem when they visit foreign countries is that, although they can speak, they cannot understand it. There are many things that get in the ways of listening.
(1) Trying to listen to more than on conversation at a time (2) Finding communicator attractive/unattractive (3) Not interested on topic (4) Not focusing (5) Feeling unwell or tired (6) Identifying rather than empathizing (7) Sympathizing rather than empathizing (8) Prejudicing or biased (9) Preconceived idea or bias (10) Judgments (11) Previous experiences (12) Preoccupation (13) Having a close mind
Or other things like lack of eye contact, an inappropriate posture, being distracted, sudden change in topic, selective listening and etc. Besides all things mentioned, the one that can also influence listening comprehension is pronunciation. Pronunciation or the way a word or name is pronounced often affects the EFLs listening comprehension. In second or foreign language learning, listener often substitutes difficult sound of L2 by similar sounds from L1 or from other languages they have already spoken. For example: pronouncing initial and ﬁnal consonants are some ways in which phonemes can create challenges for EFL students. In order to apprehend what is meant thoroughly, one has to be aware of the nature of spoken language which is directly related to the phonological features of the language (Sevil Ak, 2012). As also suggested by Gilakjani and Ahmadi (2011), “It [pronounciation] is granted the least attention in many classrooms” (p. 74) and unlike the voice of the literature, is usually neglected. Therefore, pronunciation awareness of a foreign language deserves consideration. With respect to this assumption, this study attempts to find if contrastive based teaching pronunciation has any effect on developing listening comprehension.
1.3. Significance of the study
The importance of listening in language learning has changed over the past years. Listening used to be overlooked and educators supposed that listening abilities would be acquired during the grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation practice (Hedge). This was quite surprising as abilities to listen, play an equal role as abilities to speak in successful communication. There are a lot of reasons why educators focus on the ability to understand and contribute to communication. Firstly, pupils at basic schools are encouraged to develop good listening abilities in their mother tongue so that they can be successful in everyday communication. Secondly, students have to develop effective listening strategies that will enable them to learn another language. Underwood pointed that listening is an activity of paying attention to the speaker and subsequent attempt to understand what we hear (1989: 1). We cannot develop speaking skills unless we also develop listening skills; to have a successful conversation, students must understand what is said to them. Listening to spoken English is an important way of acquiring the language – of ‘ picking up’ structures and vocabulary.
Despite the obvious importance of listening to language learning, the listening skill was for a long time relegated to a marginal place in foreign language curricula. With the advent of communicative language teaching and the focus on proficiency, the learning and teaching of listening started to receive more attention. However, listening is not yet fully integrated into the curriculum and needs to be given more “prime time” in class and homework. Different techniques and instructions have been presented for helping EFLs listening comprehension. However, not that much research has been applied to develop this skill. Because of the limited amount of research in the subject of this study, and the focus of this study on teaching pronunciation before listening as a strategy for developing this skill, the result of this study may suggest a new way to develop listening comprehension.
Since pronunciation is a complex and important part of learning and teaching process teachers need to set goals and aims they want to achieve with their students. As perfect accents are difficult if not impossible to achieve in foreign language (Ur 1984: 52) the goal of teachers need to be, to make their students be easily understandable when communicating with other. Teaching pronunciation, as a regular part of teaching like other skills, may enhance listening comprehension. Although many different instructions have been applied to help Iranian EFLs listening comprehension, problems in listening comprehension is still remained. So the result of this study may shed light on the extent debate over how to develop listening comprehension of Iranian EFL students and may provide curricula for teachers and administrators.
1.4. Purpose of the study
In real situations, we rarely listen to somebody without any expectations what we are going to hear. This means that we usually have preconceived idea of the content (Ur, 1984) and these ideas are based on our knowledge about heard information. These expectations usually are connected with the purpose of listening e.g. we want to know what the time is we have to ask somebody. In everyday situations, there are great numbers of reasons for listening. Brown and Yule divided the purposes into two main categories: interactional and transactional. Conveying the social reasons for communication such as chatting at a party is the interactional purpose and later is used to express change of information such as to follow instruction (Hegde). In order to understand how listeners comprehend spoken language, it is essential to understand listening process and factors hindering it.
A language learner often faces problems in listening when she/he attempts to listen to a new language. The greatest of which with listening comprehension is the special characteristic of the spoken language such as pronunciation. There may be features absent in learners’ own language. The importance of listening comprehension in L2 learning is now recognized. Researchers and textbook designers are more and more aware of its growing importance; they not only recommend that listening should be taught in L2 learning programs, but insist that adequate materials and strategies should be used to teach it efficiently. Applying strategies into the listening learning and teaching process is increasing for both teachers and learners. Although many different instructions have been applied to help Iranian EFLs listening comprehension, problems in listening comprehension is still remained. So the result of this study may provide a way to develop listening comprehension of Iranian EFL students by the use of contrastive based pronunciation teaching and may provide curricula for teachers and administrators. Therefore the present study aims to investigate the effect of contrastive based pronunciation training on listening comprehension skill.
1.5. Research Question of the study
The research question of the present study is:
……. Does contrastive analysis based pronunciation teaching have any effect on Iranian EFL learners’ listening comprehension?
1.6. Research Hypothesis of the study
The research hypothesis of the present study is:
……. Contrastive analysis based pronunciation teaching does not have any effect on Iranian EFL learners’ listening comprehension
1.7. Definition of key terms
Listening: There is a lack of consensus regarding the definition of listening among communication scholars; however, there are consistent elements found in most definitions of listening. A content analysis of 50 definitions of listening found that the five most used elements in the definitions were perception, attention, interpretation, remembering, and response (Glenn, 1989). However, it is important to note that no definition has been validated or universally accepted. For instance, Morley (1972) defines listening as involving basic auditory discrimination and aural grammar as well as reauditorizing, choosing necessary information, recalling it, and relating it to everything that involves processing or conciliating between