1. LISTENING TO LEARN OR LEARNING TO LISTEN?
Listening is probably the least explicit of the four language skills, making it the most difficult skill to learn. This chapter begins with a brief overview of cognitive processes involved in listening and their implications for L2 listening instruction. Recent research (1998–2003) on a variety of instructional techniques to help L2 listeners process linguistic input is then reviewed, noting insights that can inform listening instruction, particularly techniques that can teach students how to listen. Two approaches to listening instruction are presented: an approach to raise metacognitive awareness about listening (favoring top-down processes) and an approach to develop lexical segmentation and word recognition skills (favoring bottom-up processes). An integrated model for L2 listening instruction is proposed. Finally, recent research on different types of listening (e.g., academic listening, bidirectional listening) and the sociolinguistic dimension of listening are reviewed. The chapter concludes with recommendations for future research. The basic premise underlying this chapter is that, given the critical role of listening in language learning, students need to “learn to listen” so that they can better “listen to learn.”