We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Listening Myths

Applying Second Language Research to Classroom Teaching

Steven Brown

Publication Year: 2013

This volume was conceived as a "best practices" resource for teachers of ESL listening courses in the way that Vocabulary Myths by Keith S. Folse (and Writing Myths by Joy Reid) is one for reading and vocabulary teachers. It was written to help ensure that teachers of listening are not perpetuating the myths of teaching listening. Both the research and pedagogy in this book are based on the newest research in the field of second language acquisition. Steven Brown is the author of the Active Listening textbook series and is a teacher trainer. The myths debunked in this book are: § Listening is the same as reading. § Listening is passive. § Listening equals comprehension. § Because L1 language ability is effortlessly acquired, L2 listening ability is too. § Listening means listening to conversations. § Listening is an individual, inside-the-head process. § Students should only listen to authentic materials. § Listening can’t be taught

Published by: University of Michigan Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (61.0 KB)
p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF (47.7 KB)
pp. 2-5

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (85.7 KB)
pp. v-vi

The English department at Youngstown State University, Ohio, USA, is the antithesis of all those English departments depicted in academic novels; it is sane, supportive and focused on students. Thanks to chair Gary Salvner for his support of my scholarship over the years. ...


pdf iconDownload PDF (46.1 KB)
pp. vii-viii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (92.3 KB)
pp. ix-xii

Reading through the listening research, I was struck time and again by the complaints that listening was under-researched. Of course, researchers often say that sort of thing to boost the importance of their own contribution. However, the fact that listening is under-researched is partially true in the sense that listening research, and practice, ...

read more

Myth 1- Listening is the same as reading.

pdf iconDownload PDF (168.0 KB)
pp. 1-16

I took my first foreign language class, Spanish, in seventh grade. It was the 1960s in California and, though I certainly didn’t know it then, audiolingualism was the methodology of choice. I remember memorizing dialogues; for years, I could remember isolated snatches of them. I remember reading about culture and seeing Mexican textiles on the walls. ...

read more

Myth 2 - Listening is passive.

pdf iconDownload PDF (158.1 KB)
pp. 17-34

Fast forward ten years. I left Japan and took the Trans-Siberian railroad from Beijing to Moscow and went on to spend some time in Europe. While in Vienna, I went to the national art museum, where I decided to buy some post cards. As travelers do, I added up the purchase in my head to make sure I was giving the clerk a reasonable amount. ...

read more

Myth 3 - Listening equals comprehension.

pdf iconDownload PDF (191.1 KB)
pp. 35-51

One of the many joys of working for the University of Pittsburgh English Language Institute was working with new teachers. There was a strong classroom observation program in place, and we supervisors would visit classes several times a semester. I was the supervisor of speaking classes at the time and was sitting at the back of a basement classroom ...

read more

Myth 4 - Because L1 listening ability is effortlessly acquired, L2 listening ability is, too.

pdf iconDownload PDF (186.8 KB)
pp. 52-83

My Vienna story in Myth 2 showed that sometimes you don’t need to understand much of a transaction in order to participate effectively. In my case, I literally understood nothing and still got what I wanted. ...

read more

Myth 5 - Listening means listening to conversations.

pdf iconDownload PDF (167.6 KB)
pp. 84-106

The old language learner joke goes, “I knew my half of the dialogue, but the French guy didn’t.” Teachers and students seem to love dialogues. They certainly are easy to teach, and to “learn”: listen, repeat, work with a partner. Then there’s the real world. The French guy doesn’t know the other half. But dialogues, or pieces of them, can be useful. ...

read more

Myth 6 - Listening is an individual, inside-the-head process.

pdf iconDownload PDF (187.8 KB)
pp. 107-131

Much of listening research has been psycholinguistic in nature. It has focused on what goes on inside the heads of individual listeners. Of course, it is very difficult to get at what people are “really” doing, so we as teachers are ultimately making inferences based on observed behavior. ...

read more

Myth 7 - Students should listen only to authentic materials.

pdf iconDownload PDF (158.4 KB)
pp. 132-149

I was listening to the Grateful Dead’s American Beauty one day after working on this book (I do listen to new music, too, but sometimes a beautiful Great Lakes spring afternoon requires perspective). My brain hadn’t shut down the “listening research” network yet, so I, much against my will, experienced sporadic connections between the songs on the album and the topic of listening. ...

read more

Myth 8 - Listening can’t be taught.

pdf iconDownload PDF (153.3 KB)
pp. 150-166

This story is from my friend Dorolyn Smith (she of the health/home story in Myth 2): The new car I bought a year ago came with a free trial of satellite radio. Flipping through the stations, I discovered Radio Quoi de Neuf, a French Canadian news station. ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (68.9 KB)
pp. 167-168

I’ve given a lot of presentations to teachers, and I think I’m always careful to spell out the implications of the research I talk about. But not infrequently on feedback forms or in face-to-face conversations after, teachers want to know what it means for their classroom, and pointing out that I teach in my classroom, not their classroom, does not seem to satisfy them. ...


pdf iconDownload PDF (116.4 KB)
pp. 169-186

Subject Index

pdf iconDownload PDF (71.9 KB)
pp. 187-190

Author Index

pdf iconDownload PDF (52.3 KB)
pp. 191-195

E-ISBN-13: 9780472029853
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472034598

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2013

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Second language acquisition -- Research -- Methodology.
  • English language -- Study and teaching -- Foreign speakers -- Evaluation.
  • English teachers -- Training of -- Social aspects.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access