Teaching L2 Learners How to Listen Does Make a Difference: An Empirical Study


  • This research was made possible in part by a grant (410-2003-0153) to the first author from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The authors wish to thank Phil Nagy, Catherine Mareschal, and the Language Learning reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this article. Our thanks also go to Parvin Movassat, Frédéric Nault, and the late Julien Coûture for their help. Different components of this research were first presented at the annual meetings of the Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics in London (ON) in May 2005 and the American Association of Applied Linguistics in Costa Mesa, CA in April 2007.

concerning this article should be addressed to Larry Vandergrift, Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute, University of Ottawa, 600 King Edward, Ottawa, ON Canada K1N 6N5. Internet: lvdgrift@uottawa.ca


This study investigated the effects of a metacognitive, process-based approach to teaching second language (L2) listening over a semester. Participants (N = 106) came from six intact sections of French as a second language (FSL) courses. The experimental group (n = 59) listened to texts using a methodology that led learners through the metacognitive processes (prediction/planning, monitoring, evaluating, and problem solving) underlying successful L2 listening. The control group (n = 47), taught by the same teacher, listened to the same texts the same number of times but without any guided attention to process. Development of metacognition about L2 listening, tracked using the Metacognitive Awareness Listening Questionnaire (MALQ), was measured at the beginning, middle, and end points of the study. As hypothesized, the experimental group significantly outperformed the control group on the final comprehension measure, after we controlled for initial differences. The hypothesis that the less skilled listeners in the experimental group would make greater gains than their more skilled peers was also verified. Transcript data from stimulated-recall sessions provide further evidence of a growing learner awareness of the metacognitive processes underlying successful L2 listening, as MALQ student responses changed over the duration of the study.