Teaching Listening in Mozambique                                 

Felizardo Armando Muianga

For a long time in the history of foreign- and second-language teaching, listening comprehension skills were disregarded. In the 1950s and 1960s, however, listening skills aroused the interest of a significant number of scholars and were identified as fundamental to foreign- and second-language learning. Although in global terms there have been major changes in foreign- and second-language teaching with the recognition of listening comprehension skills as essential for second- and foreign-language learning, the teaching of English as a foreign language in Mozambican schools still lacks such changes; listening skills are still badly neglected at all levels, from grade six—where the English language is introduced—to tertiary education.

My diploma thesis is mainly about understanding the reasons behind the disregard of listening comprehension skills in Mozambican schools, while putting forward possible solutions in order to minimize the problem. Non-conventional ways of teaching listening skills such as the use of mobile phones, podcasts, songs, YouTube videos and live listening activities are suggested as some of the alternatives.

The diploma thesis is divided into two distinct parts – the theoretical and the practical. The theoretical part is concerned with historical considerations and analyzing the position of listening skills from the era of the grammar translation approach to that of contemporary language teaching. In addition, this part also discusses certain reasons that may contribute to the disregard of listening comprehension skills in second- and foreign-language teaching. Furthermore, the thesis presents different sources of listening materials that the teacher may use in the classroom to teach listening comprehensions skills, and the selection criteria. Further in this part of the thesis, I describe the use of songs, podcasts, YouTube and live listening activities in teaching listening comprehension skills in places where teaching resources are scarce, such as Mozambican schools. In the last chapter of the theoretical part, I present descriptions of listening comprehension strategies that teachers can apply while teaching listening skills so that they manage to achieve their goals.

In the practical part of the thesis, I illustrate how teachers can design listening comprehension lesson plans. Moreover, I present and discuss the results of research conducted through a questionnaire in Mozambican schools. In an attempt to gather reliable data and put forward an effective solution, I decided to divide the questionnaire into two parts. The first part of the questionnaire was the first to be sent to the respondents, the second part the last. The second part of the questionnaire was accompanied by four lesson plans based on podcasts downloaded from the internet, and I requested that the Mozambican English teachers try them in the schools they taught at.

According to the research, the main reasons for the neglect of listening comprehension skills in Mozambican schools are connected to the following factors:

  • The English course books used in Mozambican schools do not incorporate any listening skills.
  • The English examinations designed by the Ministry of Education for schools in Mozambique do not include any listening activities.
  • Teachers are not knowledgeable about listening comprehension skills, as many of them did not have listening lessons during their training, nor were they trained to teach listening skills. It is not possible for teachers to teach something of which they have no clear understanding.
  • The university entrance examinations for would-be teachers do not include any listening comprehension activities, which suggests that the institutions responsible for teacher-training do not recognize the paramount role of listening comprehension skills in second- and foreign- language learning. It is important to underline that the aforementioned institutions have an influence on teachers.
  • English teachers lack the will to teach listening. Some of them have used their creativity to teach listening skills, but the majority has not even attempted them.

According to my research, the use of podcasts to teach listening is one of the most viable solutions for Mozambican schools. In this process, the teacher and the students use their gadgets to listen to podcasts or songs, or to watch video clips or movie trailers for listening comprehension purposes.  Respondents reported that they managed to achieve the aims in the lessons in spite of the difficulties that they faced. Some of the problems that teachers faced during the listening comprehension lessons may have originated from a lack of experience in teaching listening comprehension skills, given by the fact that for many teachers it was the first time that they had taught or attempted to teach listening comprehension. For example, some respondents argued that the students could not understand the speakers’ accents. This problem could have been minimized through the use of effective listening strategies.

This thesis aims at identifying possible solutions to problems faced by the Mozambican system of education, especially in English-language teaching. Through this thesis, I want to raise teachers’ awareness of the importance of listening comprehension skills in second- and foreign-language learning, and to show them that although there is a lack of resources for the teaching of listening comprehension skills in a conventional way, they can use new technologies to bring listening activities to the English-language classroom. In addition, I suggest that Mozambican English teachers use various live listening activities to teach listening comprehension skills in Mozambican schools.