L2 listeners' use of transcripts: from reasons to practice

L2 listeners' use of transcripts: from reasons to practice Abstract Transcripts, or the written representations of spoken texts, tend to be neglected in the language classroom. This exploratory qualitative study sought to investigate what prompted learners of English to use the transcripts provided in a computer-based L2 listening platform with the aim of shedding light on activities that could be used with listeners at low and intermediate proficiencies. Twenty-six first-year students enrolled on an initial English teacher education programme in Chile interacted individually with six different talks and associated exercises, and were then interviewed using a semi-structured interview protocol. Data were transcribed, coded, and themes were identified. We present the results with data integrated into three themes—relevance, recovery, and challenge—and the contributory factors for each of these themes. Pedagogical implications along with suggested activities addressing the themes and factors are provided. Introduction Despite the integration of various technologies into language teaching and learning settings, audio-only materials remain the main type of input used for listening comprehension in many foreign-language classrooms. This situation is no different in Chile, particularly in rural areas and public schools. As part of the English Opens Doors Program, the Ministry of Education has provided both public and subsidized high schools throughout the country with published in-house textbooks for more than a decade (King 2007). A systematic review of the textbooks1 used as of 2016 shows that 100 per cent of the 166 listening exercises included are of the audio-only type. It also shows that despite the transcripts being available in the textbook for 12th graders, neither students nor teachers have guidelines on when and how to use them. This comes as no surprise because transcripts are mostly neglected in language classrooms (Astete 2013; Danan 2016). As with the situation that Siegel (2014) describes for L2 listening pedagogy, most of what we know about how transcripts are used in the L2 classroom comes from anecdotal evidence. In our own Chilean context, for instance, some teachers, at the start of the school year, ask students to tear the transcripts out of their books to minimize the students’ chances of cheating when doing L2 listening activities. This rather radical behaviour seems to stem from the belief that the purpose of listening comprehension is defeated by the use of transcripts, which are thought to trigger a change of focus towards reading. Our intention is not to question or critique teachers’ perspectives. However, we do argue for the effective use of transcripts with a view to assisting L2 listening comprehension. We contend that transcripts can potentially enable L2 learners whose focal language learning experience has often been based on reading and grammar to comprehend aural texts. Decoding skills used while listening to texts and reading along with transcripts can be employed in the development of foundational word segmentation skills, one of the major challenges L2 listeners face when approaching oral texts (Field 2003; Vandergrift and Goh 2012). Accordingly, we investigated the spontaneous use of transcripts by first-year students enrolled in an initial English teacher education programme with the purpose of shedding light on practical activities that could be helpful to low and intermediate proficiency listeners. We investigated these language learners because their reflections were expected to be grounded both in their experience as language learners and their on-going training as language teachers. Situating the study For this study2, we understand L2 listening as an active process in which listeners ‘select and interpret information which comes from auditory and visual cues in order to define what is going on and what the speakers are trying to express’ (Rubin 1995: 7). Our focal point of interest is on one-way or non-interactive listening as the participants interacted with talks as listeners and not as immediate interlocutors (Vandergrift and Goh op.cit.). Textual support in L2 listening comprehension A number of computer-based L2 listening studies have compared listeners’ preferences for different types of textual support, including transcripts and captions (Mohsen 2015; Danan op.cit.) and transcripts and translations (Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba 2012). Across studies, subtitles and captions are preferred as forms of support over transcripts as L2 listeners tend to find captions less cumbersome to use (Grgurović and Hegelheimer 2007) and because L2 listeners easily transfer their use of captions in their daily routines (i.e. watching movies) to classroom situations (Grgurović and Hegelheimer ibid.; Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba ibid.). The above studies offer valuable information on listeners’ textual support preferences. However, they do not address the needs of listeners who are disadvantaged by the lack of technological devices in their school contexts, and for whom subtitles and captions when listening are relatively inaccessible. Current research notes that when using transcripts effectively, L2 listeners expand their vocabulary repertoire (Mohsen ibid.; Danan op.cit.); become aware of syntactical patterns (Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba ibid.); assist pronunciation in the target language (Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba ibid.); recognize word boundaries in connected speech (Vandergrift and Goh ibid.; Mohsen ibid.); segment speech (Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba ibid.; Danan op.cit.); and improve both overall comprehension (Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba ibid.) and comprehension of details (Danan op.cit.). Research design The exploratory qualitative study we report here was part of a larger study that investigated the input text characteristics that interfered with learners’ comprehension of L2 listening materials. In the larger study, we wanted listeners to rely on help options (i.e. listening tips, culture, technology and biology notes, transcripts, translations, glossary, and dictionary) provided by the Improve Your Listening Skills (IYLS) platform (http://www.esl-iyls.com). While conducting the larger study, we had noted that the completion of a vocabulary form, in which listeners had to jot down words they did not understand from the text, triggered the extensive use of transcripts which were just an online click away. This motivated a close analysis, in this further exploratory study, of why and how transcripts were used by the participants. Participants The participants were 26 young adult learners of English enrolled in an initial English teacher education programme in Chile. They ranged from 18 to 24 years of age (Table 1). Thirteen participants were high-beginner students and 13 were high-intermediate students. Language proficiency was determined by two measures: scores from the listening component of the Cambridge Placement Test (CPT) and an in-house interview. TABLE 1 Participants Proficiency  Participants*  Age range  CPT score average (points)  High-beginner  Ian1, David1, Angie1, Marco1, Flavia1, Vera1, Neil1, Cecile1, Sandra1, Nancy1, Megan1, Dilan1, Kathie1  18–24  59  High-intermediate  Sammy2, Leo2, Laura2, Frances2, Betsy2, Carol2, Rita2, Fionna2, Jessie2, Cora2, Sergio2, Max2, Nick2  18–22  81  Proficiency  Participants*  Age range  CPT score average (points)  High-beginner  Ian1, David1, Angie1, Marco1, Flavia1, Vera1, Neil1, Cecile1, Sandra1, Nancy1, Megan1, Dilan1, Kathie1  18–24  59  High-intermediate  Sammy2, Leo2, Laura2, Frances2, Betsy2, Carol2, Rita2, Fionna2, Jessie2, Cora2, Sergio2, Max2, Nick2  18–22  81  Notes: *Participants’ names have been changed to protect their identity; a number 1 or 2 has been assigned for easy identification of participants’ proficiency. View Large TABLE 1 Participants Proficiency  Participants*  Age range  CPT score average (points)  High-beginner  Ian1, David1, Angie1, Marco1, Flavia1, Vera1, Neil1, Cecile1, Sandra1, Nancy1, Megan1, Dilan1, Kathie1  18–24  59  High-intermediate  Sammy2, Leo2, Laura2, Frances2, Betsy2, Carol2, Rita2, Fionna2, Jessie2, Cora2, Sergio2, Max2, Nick2  18–22  81  Proficiency  Participants*  Age range  CPT score average (points)  High-beginner  Ian1, David1, Angie1, Marco1, Flavia1, Vera1, Neil1, Cecile1, Sandra1, Nancy1, Megan1, Dilan1, Kathie1  18–24  59  High-intermediate  Sammy2, Leo2, Laura2, Frances2, Betsy2, Carol2, Rita2, Fionna2, Jessie2, Cora2, Sergio2, Max2, Nick2  18–22  81  Notes: *Participants’ names have been changed to protect their identity; a number 1 or 2 has been assigned for easy identification of participants’ proficiency. View Large Materials Two types of materials were used in this study: listening materials and data collection materials. Listening materials The listening materials were developed around 12 video segments about technology, six of which were from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT talks series) and addressed high-beginner students. The other six videos were from the Technology, Education, and Design (TED) talks series and addressed high-intermediate listeners. The talks were uploaded to the Improve your Listening Skills platform, a L2 listening environment (http://www.esl-iyls.com) that followed the design considerations of help options in computer-based listening materials (Cárdenas-Claros 2015), which is structured into pre-, while-, and post-listening sections. The ‘pre-listening’ section includes schemata and vocabulary activation and predicting exercises in a drag-and-drop matching format. In the ‘while-listening’ section, listeners complete a set of multiple-choice questions and a cloze-dictation. For the ‘post-listening’ section, listeners complete further vocabulary and extension activities. Transcripts for each talk were presented on a toolbar together with other help options (for example listening tips, culture, technology and biology notes, transcripts, translations, glossary, and dictionary) and could be accessed anytime regardless of the type of exercise. The transcript also contained glossed words with definitions in the L2 (Figure 1). The transcript displayed in a movable pop-up window that was deactivated as students interacted with other help options or attempted to do the exercises. Thus, the participants could simultaneously listen to the talk and read from the transcript, but they could not simultaneously complete activation, comprehension, or confirmation exercises using the transcript. FIGURE 1 View largeDownload slide Transcripts in the IYLS platform FIGURE 1 View largeDownload slide Transcripts in the IYLS platform Data collection materials We used two types of data collection materials: an entry-survey and a semi-structured interview. The entry-survey gathered demographic information and assessed the participants’ experience and familiarity with language learning and with computer-based listening. The semi-structured interview inquired about potential difficulties experienced by the listeners when interacting with the talks and associated exercises. Participants were also asked what help options had been used and, depending on their answer, they were further questioned as to why and how these had been used. The same questions were asked in Sessions 1 through to 5, but in Session 6 participants were asked to explicitly identify the help options they found the most helpful for listening comprehension. Procedure The data were collected in autumn 2015 in one group and six individual sessions. Each session took place with at least a five-day interval between them. In the group session, participants signed consent forms, completed the entry-survey, and were shown how to interact with the IYLS platform. In the individual sessions (1 through to 6), participants used computers to interact online with individual talks and associated listening exercises. Participants took on average 43.5 minutes per session. Following their interaction with each talk, the participants were individually interviewed by the researchers, mostly in Spanish. Out of 154 interviews conducted, 11 were done in English at the participants’ request. Data analysis Following Miles, Huberman, and Saldaña (2014), interviews were transcribed and coded using the coding protocol advanced by Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba (op.cit.) to identify reasons for the use of the various help options. Reasons were merged into themes and their contributory factors, and frequency counts were conducted after three rounds of analysis. Coding was done by three independent coders and inter-coder reliability was calculated at .96 (Table 2). Triangulation of sources (six interviews per participant) and coders (three coders) was also done to ensure the systematic interrogation of qualitative data. Table 2 shows the themes and contributory factors, number of entries, and number of participants per proficiency level associated with them. Results show that there are no major differences of frequency of use between high-beginner and high-intermediate listeners, but the reasons of use vary. TABLE 2 Summary of coding categories Themes  Factors  Number of coding entries  Number of participants  HB  HI  Total  HB  HI  Total  Relevance  Task completion A  21  16  37  9  5  14  Task completion B  7  21  28  4  7  11  Text comprehension  26  17  43  12  10  22  Language learning  0  7  7  0  4  4  Recovery  Language problems  13  26  39  8  12  20  Technical issues  4  2  6  3  2  5  Confirmation  18  5  23  8  5  13  Challenge  Self-initiative  6  5  11  4  4  8  Total number of times for transcript use  95  99          Themes  Factors  Number of coding entries  Number of participants  HB  HI  Total  HB  HI  Total  Relevance  Task completion A  21  16  37  9  5  14  Task completion B  7  21  28  4  7  11  Text comprehension  26  17  43  12  10  22  Language learning  0  7  7  0  4  4  Recovery  Language problems  13  26  39  8  12  20  Technical issues  4  2  6  3  2  5  Confirmation  18  5  23  8  5  13  Challenge  Self-initiative  6  5  11  4  4  8  Total number of times for transcript use  95  99          Notes: HB = high-beginner; HI = high-intermediate View Large TABLE 2 Summary of coding categories Themes  Factors  Number of coding entries  Number of participants  HB  HI  Total  HB  HI  Total  Relevance  Task completion A  21  16  37  9  5  14  Task completion B  7  21  28  4  7  11  Text comprehension  26  17  43  12  10  22  Language learning  0  7  7  0  4  4  Recovery  Language problems  13  26  39  8  12  20  Technical issues  4  2  6  3  2  5  Confirmation  18  5  23  8  5  13  Challenge  Self-initiative  6  5  11  4  4  8  Total number of times for transcript use  95  99          Themes  Factors  Number of coding entries  Number of participants  HB  HI  Total  HB  HI  Total  Relevance  Task completion A  21  16  37  9  5  14  Task completion B  7  21  28  4  7  11  Text comprehension  26  17  43  12  10  22  Language learning  0  7  7  0  4  4  Recovery  Language problems  13  26  39  8  12  20  Technical issues  4  2  6  3  2  5  Confirmation  18  5  23  8  5  13  Challenge  Self-initiative  6  5  11  4  4  8  Total number of times for transcript use  95  99          Notes: HB = high-beginner; HI = high-intermediate View Large Results and discussion Results show that the most recurrent themes that explain why transcripts were used are relevance, recovery, and challenge. In this section, we define each theme and its associated factors illustrating them from the data. Relevance: the perceived value of transcripts Relevance refers to the perceived value that a learner assigns to a transcript for assistance with aspects to do with language learning. This theme is made up of three contributory factors: text comprehension, task completion, and language learning (Table 3). TABLE 3 Relevance Factor  Definition  Sample data  Text comprehension  Whether and how the use of transcripts ease the comprehension of the input  L: … I first did the pre-listening, then I listened to the talk while completing the while-listening exercises and when I finished all that, I listened to the talk with the transcript. R: And you found that useful? L: Yes, in order to gain a better understanding of the content of the text. (Laura2, S3L64)  Task completion  The degree of perceived relevance of transcripts for completing comprehension tasks  R: Did you use the transcript as well? J: Yes, I used it although I didn’t need it before … I watched the video while reading the transcript to check if there were words I didn’t understand or that I’ve never heard of before … that was how I filled the vocabulary form. (Jessie2, S3L34)N: … I always check the transcript when I’m on the while listening task, when I answer the questions I immediately open the transcript when I realize that I have almost all wrong answers or some of them, then I realize which are the words I don’t understand. (Nancy1, S6L10)  Language learning  The notion that the use of transcripts is conducive to improving other language skills or sub-skills  R: … when you listen and read along from the transcript simultaneously--- S: Ok, that makes everything easier for me R: Why? S: Because the listening skill is my weakness and if I’m reinforcing it with the reading skill I’m reinforcing everything even my reading. (Sergio2, S3L45)  Factor  Definition  Sample data  Text comprehension  Whether and how the use of transcripts ease the comprehension of the input  L: … I first did the pre-listening, then I listened to the talk while completing the while-listening exercises and when I finished all that, I listened to the talk with the transcript. R: And you found that useful? L: Yes, in order to gain a better understanding of the content of the text. (Laura2, S3L64)  Task completion  The degree of perceived relevance of transcripts for completing comprehension tasks  R: Did you use the transcript as well? J: Yes, I used it although I didn’t need it before … I watched the video while reading the transcript to check if there were words I didn’t understand or that I’ve never heard of before … that was how I filled the vocabulary form. (Jessie2, S3L34)N: … I always check the transcript when I’m on the while listening task, when I answer the questions I immediately open the transcript when I realize that I have almost all wrong answers or some of them, then I realize which are the words I don’t understand. (Nancy1, S6L10)  Language learning  The notion that the use of transcripts is conducive to improving other language skills or sub-skills  R: … when you listen and read along from the transcript simultaneously--- S: Ok, that makes everything easier for me R: Why? S: Because the listening skill is my weakness and if I’m reinforcing it with the reading skill I’m reinforcing everything even my reading. (Sergio2, S3L45)  Notes: R = researcher; information in brackets is participant's pseudonym followed by session number View Large TABLE 3 Relevance Factor  Definition  Sample data  Text comprehension  Whether and how the use of transcripts ease the comprehension of the input  L: … I first did the pre-listening, then I listened to the talk while completing the while-listening exercises and when I finished all that, I listened to the talk with the transcript. R: And you found that useful? L: Yes, in order to gain a better understanding of the content of the text. (Laura2, S3L64)  Task completion  The degree of perceived relevance of transcripts for completing comprehension tasks  R: Did you use the transcript as well? J: Yes, I used it although I didn’t need it before … I watched the video while reading the transcript to check if there were words I didn’t understand or that I’ve never heard of before … that was how I filled the vocabulary form. (Jessie2, S3L34)N: … I always check the transcript when I’m on the while listening task, when I answer the questions I immediately open the transcript when I realize that I have almost all wrong answers or some of them, then I realize which are the words I don’t understand. (Nancy1, S6L10)  Language learning  The notion that the use of transcripts is conducive to improving other language skills or sub-skills  R: … when you listen and read along from the transcript simultaneously--- S: Ok, that makes everything easier for me R: Why? S: Because the listening skill is my weakness and if I’m reinforcing it with the reading skill I’m reinforcing everything even my reading. (Sergio2, S3L45)  Factor  Definition  Sample data  Text comprehension  Whether and how the use of transcripts ease the comprehension of the input  L: … I first did the pre-listening, then I listened to the talk while completing the while-listening exercises and when I finished all that, I listened to the talk with the transcript. R: And you found that useful? L: Yes, in order to gain a better understanding of the content of the text. (Laura2, S3L64)  Task completion  The degree of perceived relevance of transcripts for completing comprehension tasks  R: Did you use the transcript as well? J: Yes, I used it although I didn’t need it before … I watched the video while reading the transcript to check if there were words I didn’t understand or that I’ve never heard of before … that was how I filled the vocabulary form. (Jessie2, S3L34)N: … I always check the transcript when I’m on the while listening task, when I answer the questions I immediately open the transcript when I realize that I have almost all wrong answers or some of them, then I realize which are the words I don’t understand. (Nancy1, S6L10)  Language learning  The notion that the use of transcripts is conducive to improving other language skills or sub-skills  R: … when you listen and read along from the transcript simultaneously--- S: Ok, that makes everything easier for me R: Why? S: Because the listening skill is my weakness and if I’m reinforcing it with the reading skill I’m reinforcing everything even my reading. (Sergio2, S3L45)  Notes: R = researcher; information in brackets is participant's pseudonym followed by session number View Large Text comprehension Text comprehension is defined as whether and how the use of transcripts eases comprehension of the aural input. Ten participants noted that they used transcripts to understand segments of the aural input which they could not manage when only listening to it. Laura2, for instance, noted that she used the transcript to gain a ‘better understanding’ of the input. Four other participants reported that transcripts helped them to solve comprehension problems arising from pronunciation and the fast speed of delivery. Interestingly, Flavia1 and Sandra1 found the transcript useful for previewing individual words that were key to overall text comprehension. The above reasons align with Danan’s (op.cit.: 14) finding that transcripts helped listeners identify ‘difficult or unknown words and keep up with fast speech’. Task completion The second factor, task completion, refers to the extent to which the transcript is seen as an indispensable element for completing the task the listener is faced with. The use of the term ‘task’ here is synonymous with activity. Arguably, text comprehension may enable task completion, but in our data, some excerpts show that text comprehension does not necessarily guarantee the completion of the task as the listener may be unable to understand related instructions and/or questions. Nancy1, along with ten other participants, pointed out that she used the transcript to complete a checking-understanding exercise as the alternative possible task answers were too similar and, although she had understood the listening, she had trouble discriminating between them yet wanted to complete the task. Strikingly, Neil1, as with 13 other participants, used the transcript to fill out the vocabulary form in which students jotted down words they did not know and/or understand. This behaviour was triggered whenever the participants doubted, or wanted to ensure, correct word spelling. Language learning Language learning, the last factor underpinning ‘relevance’, is described as the participants’ perception of how transcript use could contribute to the development of other language skills or sub-skills. This factor was only perceived by high-intermediate listeners. Sergio2 noted that the transcript allowed him to improve both his listening and reading comprehension skills. Cora2 and Nick2 saw the transcripts’ value for learning new lexical items. Carol2 and other participants listened to the talk as they read along with the transcripts to match the pronunciation of the text with its written form. Our finding aligns with the results of studies that include Grgurović and Hegelheimer (op.cit.) and Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba (op.cit.), who noted that learners with higher proficiencies tend to benefit more from interaction with transcripts than learners with lower proficiencies. Listeners with higher proficiencies see the potential for learning different aspects of the language such as vocabulary, pronunciation, and even grammar (Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba op.cit.). This finding opens up opportunities for the implementation of meta-cognitive instruction with low-proficiency listeners on how to use transcripts to scaffold language learning. Recovery: response to comprehension failure The second theme, recovery, is understood as the listeners’ responsive use of transcripts to a perceived comprehension failure caused by one of three contributory factors: language problems, technical issues, or a lack of confidence (Table 4). TABLE 4 Recovery Factor  Definition  Sample data  Language problems  Conscious perception on behalf of the learner that transcript use may compensate for self-perceived difficulties of aural input comprehension  J: I found it was the most helpful help option for ... I found the transcript really useful because sometimes there were entire phrases in a paragraph that I did not understand, so it helped me have a clearer picture. (Jessie2, S2L8)  Technical issues  A learner’s use of transcripts to compensate for technical difficulties  S: I thought I had answered correctly, but when I checked, all the answers were wrong. Then I checked the transcript, but they were actually correctly spelled, so that’s what I used the transcript [because there was a problem with the software]. (Sandra1, S2L42)  Confirmation  The use of transcripts to compensate for lack of confidence  I: When I had already finished answering the questions and I still had doubts with the words, I checked the transcript. (Ian1, S5L38)  Factor  Definition  Sample data  Language problems  Conscious perception on behalf of the learner that transcript use may compensate for self-perceived difficulties of aural input comprehension  J: I found it was the most helpful help option for ... I found the transcript really useful because sometimes there were entire phrases in a paragraph that I did not understand, so it helped me have a clearer picture. (Jessie2, S2L8)  Technical issues  A learner’s use of transcripts to compensate for technical difficulties  S: I thought I had answered correctly, but when I checked, all the answers were wrong. Then I checked the transcript, but they were actually correctly spelled, so that’s what I used the transcript [because there was a problem with the software]. (Sandra1, S2L42)  Confirmation  The use of transcripts to compensate for lack of confidence  I: When I had already finished answering the questions and I still had doubts with the words, I checked the transcript. (Ian1, S5L38)  View Large TABLE 4 Recovery Factor  Definition  Sample data  Language problems  Conscious perception on behalf of the learner that transcript use may compensate for self-perceived difficulties of aural input comprehension  J: I found it was the most helpful help option for ... I found the transcript really useful because sometimes there were entire phrases in a paragraph that I did not understand, so it helped me have a clearer picture. (Jessie2, S2L8)  Technical issues  A learner’s use of transcripts to compensate for technical difficulties  S: I thought I had answered correctly, but when I checked, all the answers were wrong. Then I checked the transcript, but they were actually correctly spelled, so that’s what I used the transcript [because there was a problem with the software]. (Sandra1, S2L42)  Confirmation  The use of transcripts to compensate for lack of confidence  I: When I had already finished answering the questions and I still had doubts with the words, I checked the transcript. (Ian1, S5L38)  Factor  Definition  Sample data  Language problems  Conscious perception on behalf of the learner that transcript use may compensate for self-perceived difficulties of aural input comprehension  J: I found it was the most helpful help option for ... I found the transcript really useful because sometimes there were entire phrases in a paragraph that I did not understand, so it helped me have a clearer picture. (Jessie2, S2L8)  Technical issues  A learner’s use of transcripts to compensate for technical difficulties  S: I thought I had answered correctly, but when I checked, all the answers were wrong. Then I checked the transcript, but they were actually correctly spelled, so that’s what I used the transcript [because there was a problem with the software]. (Sandra1, S2L42)  Confirmation  The use of transcripts to compensate for lack of confidence  I: When I had already finished answering the questions and I still had doubts with the words, I checked the transcript. (Ian1, S5L38)  View Large Language problems The category ‘language problems’ is defined as the participant’s perception that the use of transcripts could make up for their lack of knowledge of the language. As a way to exemplify this factor, Jessie2 and Carol2 hinted that they could compensate for phrases they failed to comprehend by reading the transcript. Similarly, participants such as Cecile1, Vera1, and Max2 noted having problems with vocabulary and used the transcript to identify several words they failed to recognize in the aural stream. Technical issues The next factor, technical issues, refers to the use of transcripts to recover from technical problems arising while on task. Sandra1 and Betsy2 used the transcript after feeling frustrated by the number of incorrect answers they got during the ‘while listening’ activities. When reading the transcript, they noted problems with the scoring system of the platform. Confirmation The last factor in recovery, confirmation, is defined as the use of transcripts to offset the learner’s lack of confidence. While Ian1 and nine other participants claimed using the transcript to clarify and confirm remaining doubts over their comprehension, Rita2 and Max2 used transcripts to confirm the spelling of a few lexical items. Danan (op.cit.), as well as Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba (op.cit.), noted how transcripts were used by listeners to confirm different aspects of the input text. Challenge: belief that language learning requires hard work Challenge is defined as ‘the participant’s belief that learning a language requires hard work and conscious effort’ (Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba op.cit.: 10), and, as transcripts ease comprehension, students tend to neglect their use. This theme is explained by the factor self-initiative. Our findings here echo those reported in Pujolá (2002) and Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba (op.cit.), who found that listeners would rely on textual support only after repeated interaction with the aural input (Table 5). TABLE 5 Challenge Factor  Definition  Sample data  Self-initiative  The use of transcripts to increase the perceived difficulty of an aural text  R: When did you feel it was necessary to use the transcript? K: The thing is before using it I have some doubts, but I like to test myself, that’s why I used it at the end of the talk. (Kathie1, S2L72)  Factor  Definition  Sample data  Self-initiative  The use of transcripts to increase the perceived difficulty of an aural text  R: When did you feel it was necessary to use the transcript? K: The thing is before using it I have some doubts, but I like to test myself, that’s why I used it at the end of the talk. (Kathie1, S2L72)  Note: R = researcher View Large TABLE 5 Challenge Factor  Definition  Sample data  Self-initiative  The use of transcripts to increase the perceived difficulty of an aural text  R: When did you feel it was necessary to use the transcript? K: The thing is before using it I have some doubts, but I like to test myself, that’s why I used it at the end of the talk. (Kathie1, S2L72)  Factor  Definition  Sample data  Self-initiative  The use of transcripts to increase the perceived difficulty of an aural text  R: When did you feel it was necessary to use the transcript? K: The thing is before using it I have some doubts, but I like to test myself, that’s why I used it at the end of the talk. (Kathie1, S2L72)  Note: R = researcher View Large Self-initiative Self-initiative is the participants’ use/non-use of transcripts to assess how much of a text they can understand on their own. An opinion shared by five participants is summarized by Kathie1, who reported using the transcript only after listening to complete talk segments. This, in her view, allowed her to assess what she was capable of understanding on her own. Similarly, Cora2 asserted that she did not use the transcript as a pre-listening activity since, to her mind, she would not be able to improve her listening skills. Our findings here echo those reported in Pujolá (ibid.) and Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba (op.cit.), who found that listeners would rely on textual support only after repeated interaction with the aural input. The results above should be interpreted within the limitation of a small group of participants and the context in which the study was conducted. The participants come from a top EFL programme in Chile where only highly qualified applicants enrol. Moreover, the participants’ motivation to take part voluntarily in the study during six sessions might be an additional indicator of their impetus to improve their listening comprehension skills. Another limitation is that the study relied primarily on participants remembering when and why they used the transcripts and this may affect overall reliability. From reasons to practical suggestions Although the findings stem from the reflections of first-year students enrolled in an initial English teacher education programme, the pedagogical implications could be extended to the larger ELT community, in particular to secondary school contexts where language learners are often primarily instructed in reading and grammar. We contend that as activities involving transcript use rely considerably on student literacy, which has been developed through reading, teachers could use these experiences to scaffold word segmentation skills, vocabulary learning, and comprehension development. With this in mind, we propose a set of activities for transcript use. Each of the suggested activities directly relate to one of the contributory factors that explain the themes emerging from the data. The activities were tested in semi-private secondary settings in Chile and a selection was showcased in IATEFL-Chile 2016 and ACTFL-2016 conferences. The feedback received was used to further refine and improve them. Each activity addresses an identified factor. The first activity, ‘Vocabulary word search (VWS)’, is done as a pre-listening activity and addresses the factor ‘text comprehension’. This activity gives students the ‘freedom to preview the text and vocabulary ahead of the audio’ (Danan op.cit.: 17). The VWS activity requires teachers to divide the transcript into different segments, select vocabulary items, and make individual picture flashcards and a handout that bring together all the pictured items. Colour-coded transcripts are posted on the wall and listeners, working in groups of four, are asked to read from the transcript and match the flashcards to the words in the text. The second activity, ‘Have it drawn (HID)’, addresses the factor ‘confirmation’ and can be undertaken as a while-listening exercise. It requires students to listen to the text and draw the situations described. Listeners read the transcripts, compare their drawings, and decide which one best represents the situation. The ‘All-for-one (AFO)’ activity addresses the factor ‘task completion,’ as listeners depend on each other to answer a question formulated by the teacher. This activity is recommended for use with large classes. The question captures information from across the different segments into which the text has been previously divided. Different students focus on different parts of the text, getting together subsequently to get an overview of the whole text, compare it to the transcript, and assemble the information to complete the task. The fourth activity, ‘Test your vocabulary (TYV)’, also addresses the factor ‘task completion’ and is a classroom adaptation of the research-activity done by the participants. It is suggested as a post-listening exercise. The TYV activity requires listeners to work individually classifying the lexical items they are unable to recognize from the input text into three categories: 1 words they do not understand 2 words they do not know 3 words they are not sure about. Reflection is encouraged, as in each category students are also asked to assess what component of vocabulary recognition (pronunciation, meaning, and use in context) they were not able to understand and how important each identified lexical item was for comprehension. Listeners are also prompted to guess the meaning of the words they were unsure about. The transcript is used to help the listeners map the sounds they hear on to the actual written forms and confirm spelling. Once the activity is completed, students check their guesses and share their unknown words with a classmate. We are careful not to claim that the above activities will work across all contexts. They may require further adaptation and refinement to suit students’ needs and goals. They were designed for contexts with large classes, limited access to technology, and in settings that use audio-only, computer-based, or a combination of these technologies. Conclusion Moving away from previously available anecdotal evidence, in this article we have suggested a set of research-informed activities that address the reasons identified by 26 language learners regarding transcript use. Surprisingly, none of the uses reported by learners addresses the fears of educators regarding cheating and facilitating the work of lazy listeners/students. Instead, listeners found that transcripts aided text comprehension, task completion, and the learning of key aspects of the foreign language (pronunciation, vocabulary, and reading comprehension). This last factor was predominantly identified by high-intermediate listeners. These findings also reiterate the point that decoding skills can be developed as listeners read transcripts as they listen to the text. Additionally, the participants found transcripts useful for recovering from breakdowns in comprehension due to lack of confidence, lack of knowledge of the language, and technical issues experienced with the listening platform. Listeners also found transcripts relevant for assessing how much they had understood, dissipating their doubts on the text, and confirming spelling. The identified factors not only expand our knowledge of why listeners use transcripts, but are also an open invitation for teachers to keep exploring new ways of using transcripts in a way that is conducive to L2 listening development. Mónica S. Cárdenas-Claros is an Adjunt Professor in the Instituto de Literatura y Ciencias del Lenguaje at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso in Chile. Her research interests include listeners′ interactions with help options in CALL, computer-based L2 listening, and blended language program evaluation. Astrid Campos-Ibaceta graduated in 2016 from the ELT program at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaiso in Chile. She is currently a research assistant and an EFL teacher. She is currently working at the Universidad Tecnológica de Chile INACAP. Her areas of interest include L2 listening comprehension and speaking. Email:astrid.campos.i@gmail.com References Astete, M. 2013. ‘ Using transcripts to complement strategy training in listening comprehension’ . Unpublished undergraduate research work. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso at Chile. Cárdenas-Claros, M. 2015. ‘ Design considerations of help options in computer-based L2 listening materials informed by participatory design’. Computer Assisted Language Learning Journal  28/ 5: 429– 49. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Cárdenas-Claros, M. and Gruba P.. 2012. ‘ Listeners’ interactions with help options in CALL’. Computer Assisted Language Learning Journal  27/ 3: 228– 45. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Danan, M. 2016. ‘ Enhancing listening with captions and transcripts: exploring learner differences’. Applied Language Learning  26/ 2: 1– 24. Field, J. 2003. ‘ Promoting perception: lexical segmentation in L2 listening’. ELT Journal  57/ 4: 325– 34. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Grgurović, M. and Hegelheimer V.. 2007. ‘ Help options and multimedia listening: students’ use of subtitles and the transcript’. Language Learning and Technology  11/ 1: 45– 66. King, P. 2007. ‘ Estudio multidimensional de la oralidad a partir de los textos escolares para la enseñanza del inglés como lengua extranjera’. Revista Signos  40/ 63: 101– 26. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Miles, M., Huberman A., and Saldaña J.. 2014. Qualitative Data Analysis: A Methods Sourcebook  ( third edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Mohsen, M. A. 2015. ‘ The use of help options in multimedia listening environments to aid language learning: a review’. British Journal of Educational Technology  47/ 6: 1232– 42. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Pujolá, J. 2002. ‘ CALLing for help: researching language learning strategies using help facilities in a web-based multimedia program’. ReCALL  14/ 2: 235– 62. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Rubin, J. 1995. ‘ The contribution of video to the development of competence in listening’ in D. J. Mendelsohn and J. Rubin (eds.). A Guide for the Teaching of Second Language Listening . San Diego, CA: Dominie Press. Siegel, J. 2014. ‘ Exploring L2 listening instruction: examinations of practice’. ELT Journal  68/ 1: 22– 30. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Vandergrift, L. and Goh C.. 2012. Teaching and Learning Second Language Listening: Metacognition in Action . New York, NY: Routledge. Footnotes 1 Teens Club 1 & 2 (Alvarado 2014), Global English (Polk 2013), and Tune Up (Fidalgo, Fontanillo, Downie, Gray, Jiménez, Campbell, Holley, and Metcalf 2013). 2 This study was funded by CONICYT-Chile [Fondecyt de Iniciación # 11130456]. © The Author(s) 2017. Published by Oxford University Press; all rights reserved. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png ELT Journal Oxford University Press

L2 listeners' use of transcripts: from reasons to practice

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Oxford University Press
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© The Author(s) 2017. Published by Oxford University Press; all rights reserved.
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0951-0893
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1477-4526
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10.1093/elt/ccx047
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Abstract

Abstract Transcripts, or the written representations of spoken texts, tend to be neglected in the language classroom. This exploratory qualitative study sought to investigate what prompted learners of English to use the transcripts provided in a computer-based L2 listening platform with the aim of shedding light on activities that could be used with listeners at low and intermediate proficiencies. Twenty-six first-year students enrolled on an initial English teacher education programme in Chile interacted individually with six different talks and associated exercises, and were then interviewed using a semi-structured interview protocol. Data were transcribed, coded, and themes were identified. We present the results with data integrated into three themes—relevance, recovery, and challenge—and the contributory factors for each of these themes. Pedagogical implications along with suggested activities addressing the themes and factors are provided. Introduction Despite the integration of various technologies into language teaching and learning settings, audio-only materials remain the main type of input used for listening comprehension in many foreign-language classrooms. This situation is no different in Chile, particularly in rural areas and public schools. As part of the English Opens Doors Program, the Ministry of Education has provided both public and subsidized high schools throughout the country with published in-house textbooks for more than a decade (King 2007). A systematic review of the textbooks1 used as of 2016 shows that 100 per cent of the 166 listening exercises included are of the audio-only type. It also shows that despite the transcripts being available in the textbook for 12th graders, neither students nor teachers have guidelines on when and how to use them. This comes as no surprise because transcripts are mostly neglected in language classrooms (Astete 2013; Danan 2016). As with the situation that Siegel (2014) describes for L2 listening pedagogy, most of what we know about how transcripts are used in the L2 classroom comes from anecdotal evidence. In our own Chilean context, for instance, some teachers, at the start of the school year, ask students to tear the transcripts out of their books to minimize the students’ chances of cheating when doing L2 listening activities. This rather radical behaviour seems to stem from the belief that the purpose of listening comprehension is defeated by the use of transcripts, which are thought to trigger a change of focus towards reading. Our intention is not to question or critique teachers’ perspectives. However, we do argue for the effective use of transcripts with a view to assisting L2 listening comprehension. We contend that transcripts can potentially enable L2 learners whose focal language learning experience has often been based on reading and grammar to comprehend aural texts. Decoding skills used while listening to texts and reading along with transcripts can be employed in the development of foundational word segmentation skills, one of the major challenges L2 listeners face when approaching oral texts (Field 2003; Vandergrift and Goh 2012). Accordingly, we investigated the spontaneous use of transcripts by first-year students enrolled in an initial English teacher education programme with the purpose of shedding light on practical activities that could be helpful to low and intermediate proficiency listeners. We investigated these language learners because their reflections were expected to be grounded both in their experience as language learners and their on-going training as language teachers. Situating the study For this study2, we understand L2 listening as an active process in which listeners ‘select and interpret information which comes from auditory and visual cues in order to define what is going on and what the speakers are trying to express’ (Rubin 1995: 7). Our focal point of interest is on one-way or non-interactive listening as the participants interacted with talks as listeners and not as immediate interlocutors (Vandergrift and Goh op.cit.). Textual support in L2 listening comprehension A number of computer-based L2 listening studies have compared listeners’ preferences for different types of textual support, including transcripts and captions (Mohsen 2015; Danan op.cit.) and transcripts and translations (Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba 2012). Across studies, subtitles and captions are preferred as forms of support over transcripts as L2 listeners tend to find captions less cumbersome to use (Grgurović and Hegelheimer 2007) and because L2 listeners easily transfer their use of captions in their daily routines (i.e. watching movies) to classroom situations (Grgurović and Hegelheimer ibid.; Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba ibid.). The above studies offer valuable information on listeners’ textual support preferences. However, they do not address the needs of listeners who are disadvantaged by the lack of technological devices in their school contexts, and for whom subtitles and captions when listening are relatively inaccessible. Current research notes that when using transcripts effectively, L2 listeners expand their vocabulary repertoire (Mohsen ibid.; Danan op.cit.); become aware of syntactical patterns (Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba ibid.); assist pronunciation in the target language (Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba ibid.); recognize word boundaries in connected speech (Vandergrift and Goh ibid.; Mohsen ibid.); segment speech (Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba ibid.; Danan op.cit.); and improve both overall comprehension (Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba ibid.) and comprehension of details (Danan op.cit.). Research design The exploratory qualitative study we report here was part of a larger study that investigated the input text characteristics that interfered with learners’ comprehension of L2 listening materials. In the larger study, we wanted listeners to rely on help options (i.e. listening tips, culture, technology and biology notes, transcripts, translations, glossary, and dictionary) provided by the Improve Your Listening Skills (IYLS) platform (http://www.esl-iyls.com). While conducting the larger study, we had noted that the completion of a vocabulary form, in which listeners had to jot down words they did not understand from the text, triggered the extensive use of transcripts which were just an online click away. This motivated a close analysis, in this further exploratory study, of why and how transcripts were used by the participants. Participants The participants were 26 young adult learners of English enrolled in an initial English teacher education programme in Chile. They ranged from 18 to 24 years of age (Table 1). Thirteen participants were high-beginner students and 13 were high-intermediate students. Language proficiency was determined by two measures: scores from the listening component of the Cambridge Placement Test (CPT) and an in-house interview. TABLE 1 Participants Proficiency  Participants*  Age range  CPT score average (points)  High-beginner  Ian1, David1, Angie1, Marco1, Flavia1, Vera1, Neil1, Cecile1, Sandra1, Nancy1, Megan1, Dilan1, Kathie1  18–24  59  High-intermediate  Sammy2, Leo2, Laura2, Frances2, Betsy2, Carol2, Rita2, Fionna2, Jessie2, Cora2, Sergio2, Max2, Nick2  18–22  81  Proficiency  Participants*  Age range  CPT score average (points)  High-beginner  Ian1, David1, Angie1, Marco1, Flavia1, Vera1, Neil1, Cecile1, Sandra1, Nancy1, Megan1, Dilan1, Kathie1  18–24  59  High-intermediate  Sammy2, Leo2, Laura2, Frances2, Betsy2, Carol2, Rita2, Fionna2, Jessie2, Cora2, Sergio2, Max2, Nick2  18–22  81  Notes: *Participants’ names have been changed to protect their identity; a number 1 or 2 has been assigned for easy identification of participants’ proficiency. View Large TABLE 1 Participants Proficiency  Participants*  Age range  CPT score average (points)  High-beginner  Ian1, David1, Angie1, Marco1, Flavia1, Vera1, Neil1, Cecile1, Sandra1, Nancy1, Megan1, Dilan1, Kathie1  18–24  59  High-intermediate  Sammy2, Leo2, Laura2, Frances2, Betsy2, Carol2, Rita2, Fionna2, Jessie2, Cora2, Sergio2, Max2, Nick2  18–22  81  Proficiency  Participants*  Age range  CPT score average (points)  High-beginner  Ian1, David1, Angie1, Marco1, Flavia1, Vera1, Neil1, Cecile1, Sandra1, Nancy1, Megan1, Dilan1, Kathie1  18–24  59  High-intermediate  Sammy2, Leo2, Laura2, Frances2, Betsy2, Carol2, Rita2, Fionna2, Jessie2, Cora2, Sergio2, Max2, Nick2  18–22  81  Notes: *Participants’ names have been changed to protect their identity; a number 1 or 2 has been assigned for easy identification of participants’ proficiency. View Large Materials Two types of materials were used in this study: listening materials and data collection materials. Listening materials The listening materials were developed around 12 video segments about technology, six of which were from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT talks series) and addressed high-beginner students. The other six videos were from the Technology, Education, and Design (TED) talks series and addressed high-intermediate listeners. The talks were uploaded to the Improve your Listening Skills platform, a L2 listening environment (http://www.esl-iyls.com) that followed the design considerations of help options in computer-based listening materials (Cárdenas-Claros 2015), which is structured into pre-, while-, and post-listening sections. The ‘pre-listening’ section includes schemata and vocabulary activation and predicting exercises in a drag-and-drop matching format. In the ‘while-listening’ section, listeners complete a set of multiple-choice questions and a cloze-dictation. For the ‘post-listening’ section, listeners complete further vocabulary and extension activities. Transcripts for each talk were presented on a toolbar together with other help options (for example listening tips, culture, technology and biology notes, transcripts, translations, glossary, and dictionary) and could be accessed anytime regardless of the type of exercise. The transcript also contained glossed words with definitions in the L2 (Figure 1). The transcript displayed in a movable pop-up window that was deactivated as students interacted with other help options or attempted to do the exercises. Thus, the participants could simultaneously listen to the talk and read from the transcript, but they could not simultaneously complete activation, comprehension, or confirmation exercises using the transcript. FIGURE 1 View largeDownload slide Transcripts in the IYLS platform FIGURE 1 View largeDownload slide Transcripts in the IYLS platform Data collection materials We used two types of data collection materials: an entry-survey and a semi-structured interview. The entry-survey gathered demographic information and assessed the participants’ experience and familiarity with language learning and with computer-based listening. The semi-structured interview inquired about potential difficulties experienced by the listeners when interacting with the talks and associated exercises. Participants were also asked what help options had been used and, depending on their answer, they were further questioned as to why and how these had been used. The same questions were asked in Sessions 1 through to 5, but in Session 6 participants were asked to explicitly identify the help options they found the most helpful for listening comprehension. Procedure The data were collected in autumn 2015 in one group and six individual sessions. Each session took place with at least a five-day interval between them. In the group session, participants signed consent forms, completed the entry-survey, and were shown how to interact with the IYLS platform. In the individual sessions (1 through to 6), participants used computers to interact online with individual talks and associated listening exercises. Participants took on average 43.5 minutes per session. Following their interaction with each talk, the participants were individually interviewed by the researchers, mostly in Spanish. Out of 154 interviews conducted, 11 were done in English at the participants’ request. Data analysis Following Miles, Huberman, and Saldaña (2014), interviews were transcribed and coded using the coding protocol advanced by Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba (op.cit.) to identify reasons for the use of the various help options. Reasons were merged into themes and their contributory factors, and frequency counts were conducted after three rounds of analysis. Coding was done by three independent coders and inter-coder reliability was calculated at .96 (Table 2). Triangulation of sources (six interviews per participant) and coders (three coders) was also done to ensure the systematic interrogation of qualitative data. Table 2 shows the themes and contributory factors, number of entries, and number of participants per proficiency level associated with them. Results show that there are no major differences of frequency of use between high-beginner and high-intermediate listeners, but the reasons of use vary. TABLE 2 Summary of coding categories Themes  Factors  Number of coding entries  Number of participants  HB  HI  Total  HB  HI  Total  Relevance  Task completion A  21  16  37  9  5  14  Task completion B  7  21  28  4  7  11  Text comprehension  26  17  43  12  10  22  Language learning  0  7  7  0  4  4  Recovery  Language problems  13  26  39  8  12  20  Technical issues  4  2  6  3  2  5  Confirmation  18  5  23  8  5  13  Challenge  Self-initiative  6  5  11  4  4  8  Total number of times for transcript use  95  99          Themes  Factors  Number of coding entries  Number of participants  HB  HI  Total  HB  HI  Total  Relevance  Task completion A  21  16  37  9  5  14  Task completion B  7  21  28  4  7  11  Text comprehension  26  17  43  12  10  22  Language learning  0  7  7  0  4  4  Recovery  Language problems  13  26  39  8  12  20  Technical issues  4  2  6  3  2  5  Confirmation  18  5  23  8  5  13  Challenge  Self-initiative  6  5  11  4  4  8  Total number of times for transcript use  95  99          Notes: HB = high-beginner; HI = high-intermediate View Large TABLE 2 Summary of coding categories Themes  Factors  Number of coding entries  Number of participants  HB  HI  Total  HB  HI  Total  Relevance  Task completion A  21  16  37  9  5  14  Task completion B  7  21  28  4  7  11  Text comprehension  26  17  43  12  10  22  Language learning  0  7  7  0  4  4  Recovery  Language problems  13  26  39  8  12  20  Technical issues  4  2  6  3  2  5  Confirmation  18  5  23  8  5  13  Challenge  Self-initiative  6  5  11  4  4  8  Total number of times for transcript use  95  99          Themes  Factors  Number of coding entries  Number of participants  HB  HI  Total  HB  HI  Total  Relevance  Task completion A  21  16  37  9  5  14  Task completion B  7  21  28  4  7  11  Text comprehension  26  17  43  12  10  22  Language learning  0  7  7  0  4  4  Recovery  Language problems  13  26  39  8  12  20  Technical issues  4  2  6  3  2  5  Confirmation  18  5  23  8  5  13  Challenge  Self-initiative  6  5  11  4  4  8  Total number of times for transcript use  95  99          Notes: HB = high-beginner; HI = high-intermediate View Large Results and discussion Results show that the most recurrent themes that explain why transcripts were used are relevance, recovery, and challenge. In this section, we define each theme and its associated factors illustrating them from the data. Relevance: the perceived value of transcripts Relevance refers to the perceived value that a learner assigns to a transcript for assistance with aspects to do with language learning. This theme is made up of three contributory factors: text comprehension, task completion, and language learning (Table 3). TABLE 3 Relevance Factor  Definition  Sample data  Text comprehension  Whether and how the use of transcripts ease the comprehension of the input  L: … I first did the pre-listening, then I listened to the talk while completing the while-listening exercises and when I finished all that, I listened to the talk with the transcript. R: And you found that useful? L: Yes, in order to gain a better understanding of the content of the text. (Laura2, S3L64)  Task completion  The degree of perceived relevance of transcripts for completing comprehension tasks  R: Did you use the transcript as well? J: Yes, I used it although I didn’t need it before … I watched the video while reading the transcript to check if there were words I didn’t understand or that I’ve never heard of before … that was how I filled the vocabulary form. (Jessie2, S3L34)N: … I always check the transcript when I’m on the while listening task, when I answer the questions I immediately open the transcript when I realize that I have almost all wrong answers or some of them, then I realize which are the words I don’t understand. (Nancy1, S6L10)  Language learning  The notion that the use of transcripts is conducive to improving other language skills or sub-skills  R: … when you listen and read along from the transcript simultaneously--- S: Ok, that makes everything easier for me R: Why? S: Because the listening skill is my weakness and if I’m reinforcing it with the reading skill I’m reinforcing everything even my reading. (Sergio2, S3L45)  Factor  Definition  Sample data  Text comprehension  Whether and how the use of transcripts ease the comprehension of the input  L: … I first did the pre-listening, then I listened to the talk while completing the while-listening exercises and when I finished all that, I listened to the talk with the transcript. R: And you found that useful? L: Yes, in order to gain a better understanding of the content of the text. (Laura2, S3L64)  Task completion  The degree of perceived relevance of transcripts for completing comprehension tasks  R: Did you use the transcript as well? J: Yes, I used it although I didn’t need it before … I watched the video while reading the transcript to check if there were words I didn’t understand or that I’ve never heard of before … that was how I filled the vocabulary form. (Jessie2, S3L34)N: … I always check the transcript when I’m on the while listening task, when I answer the questions I immediately open the transcript when I realize that I have almost all wrong answers or some of them, then I realize which are the words I don’t understand. (Nancy1, S6L10)  Language learning  The notion that the use of transcripts is conducive to improving other language skills or sub-skills  R: … when you listen and read along from the transcript simultaneously--- S: Ok, that makes everything easier for me R: Why? S: Because the listening skill is my weakness and if I’m reinforcing it with the reading skill I’m reinforcing everything even my reading. (Sergio2, S3L45)  Notes: R = researcher; information in brackets is participant's pseudonym followed by session number View Large TABLE 3 Relevance Factor  Definition  Sample data  Text comprehension  Whether and how the use of transcripts ease the comprehension of the input  L: … I first did the pre-listening, then I listened to the talk while completing the while-listening exercises and when I finished all that, I listened to the talk with the transcript. R: And you found that useful? L: Yes, in order to gain a better understanding of the content of the text. (Laura2, S3L64)  Task completion  The degree of perceived relevance of transcripts for completing comprehension tasks  R: Did you use the transcript as well? J: Yes, I used it although I didn’t need it before … I watched the video while reading the transcript to check if there were words I didn’t understand or that I’ve never heard of before … that was how I filled the vocabulary form. (Jessie2, S3L34)N: … I always check the transcript when I’m on the while listening task, when I answer the questions I immediately open the transcript when I realize that I have almost all wrong answers or some of them, then I realize which are the words I don’t understand. (Nancy1, S6L10)  Language learning  The notion that the use of transcripts is conducive to improving other language skills or sub-skills  R: … when you listen and read along from the transcript simultaneously--- S: Ok, that makes everything easier for me R: Why? S: Because the listening skill is my weakness and if I’m reinforcing it with the reading skill I’m reinforcing everything even my reading. (Sergio2, S3L45)  Factor  Definition  Sample data  Text comprehension  Whether and how the use of transcripts ease the comprehension of the input  L: … I first did the pre-listening, then I listened to the talk while completing the while-listening exercises and when I finished all that, I listened to the talk with the transcript. R: And you found that useful? L: Yes, in order to gain a better understanding of the content of the text. (Laura2, S3L64)  Task completion  The degree of perceived relevance of transcripts for completing comprehension tasks  R: Did you use the transcript as well? J: Yes, I used it although I didn’t need it before … I watched the video while reading the transcript to check if there were words I didn’t understand or that I’ve never heard of before … that was how I filled the vocabulary form. (Jessie2, S3L34)N: … I always check the transcript when I’m on the while listening task, when I answer the questions I immediately open the transcript when I realize that I have almost all wrong answers or some of them, then I realize which are the words I don’t understand. (Nancy1, S6L10)  Language learning  The notion that the use of transcripts is conducive to improving other language skills or sub-skills  R: … when you listen and read along from the transcript simultaneously--- S: Ok, that makes everything easier for me R: Why? S: Because the listening skill is my weakness and if I’m reinforcing it with the reading skill I’m reinforcing everything even my reading. (Sergio2, S3L45)  Notes: R = researcher; information in brackets is participant's pseudonym followed by session number View Large Text comprehension Text comprehension is defined as whether and how the use of transcripts eases comprehension of the aural input. Ten participants noted that they used transcripts to understand segments of the aural input which they could not manage when only listening to it. Laura2, for instance, noted that she used the transcript to gain a ‘better understanding’ of the input. Four other participants reported that transcripts helped them to solve comprehension problems arising from pronunciation and the fast speed of delivery. Interestingly, Flavia1 and Sandra1 found the transcript useful for previewing individual words that were key to overall text comprehension. The above reasons align with Danan’s (op.cit.: 14) finding that transcripts helped listeners identify ‘difficult or unknown words and keep up with fast speech’. Task completion The second factor, task completion, refers to the extent to which the transcript is seen as an indispensable element for completing the task the listener is faced with. The use of the term ‘task’ here is synonymous with activity. Arguably, text comprehension may enable task completion, but in our data, some excerpts show that text comprehension does not necessarily guarantee the completion of the task as the listener may be unable to understand related instructions and/or questions. Nancy1, along with ten other participants, pointed out that she used the transcript to complete a checking-understanding exercise as the alternative possible task answers were too similar and, although she had understood the listening, she had trouble discriminating between them yet wanted to complete the task. Strikingly, Neil1, as with 13 other participants, used the transcript to fill out the vocabulary form in which students jotted down words they did not know and/or understand. This behaviour was triggered whenever the participants doubted, or wanted to ensure, correct word spelling. Language learning Language learning, the last factor underpinning ‘relevance’, is described as the participants’ perception of how transcript use could contribute to the development of other language skills or sub-skills. This factor was only perceived by high-intermediate listeners. Sergio2 noted that the transcript allowed him to improve both his listening and reading comprehension skills. Cora2 and Nick2 saw the transcripts’ value for learning new lexical items. Carol2 and other participants listened to the talk as they read along with the transcripts to match the pronunciation of the text with its written form. Our finding aligns with the results of studies that include Grgurović and Hegelheimer (op.cit.) and Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba (op.cit.), who noted that learners with higher proficiencies tend to benefit more from interaction with transcripts than learners with lower proficiencies. Listeners with higher proficiencies see the potential for learning different aspects of the language such as vocabulary, pronunciation, and even grammar (Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba op.cit.). This finding opens up opportunities for the implementation of meta-cognitive instruction with low-proficiency listeners on how to use transcripts to scaffold language learning. Recovery: response to comprehension failure The second theme, recovery, is understood as the listeners’ responsive use of transcripts to a perceived comprehension failure caused by one of three contributory factors: language problems, technical issues, or a lack of confidence (Table 4). TABLE 4 Recovery Factor  Definition  Sample data  Language problems  Conscious perception on behalf of the learner that transcript use may compensate for self-perceived difficulties of aural input comprehension  J: I found it was the most helpful help option for ... I found the transcript really useful because sometimes there were entire phrases in a paragraph that I did not understand, so it helped me have a clearer picture. (Jessie2, S2L8)  Technical issues  A learner’s use of transcripts to compensate for technical difficulties  S: I thought I had answered correctly, but when I checked, all the answers were wrong. Then I checked the transcript, but they were actually correctly spelled, so that’s what I used the transcript [because there was a problem with the software]. (Sandra1, S2L42)  Confirmation  The use of transcripts to compensate for lack of confidence  I: When I had already finished answering the questions and I still had doubts with the words, I checked the transcript. (Ian1, S5L38)  Factor  Definition  Sample data  Language problems  Conscious perception on behalf of the learner that transcript use may compensate for self-perceived difficulties of aural input comprehension  J: I found it was the most helpful help option for ... I found the transcript really useful because sometimes there were entire phrases in a paragraph that I did not understand, so it helped me have a clearer picture. (Jessie2, S2L8)  Technical issues  A learner’s use of transcripts to compensate for technical difficulties  S: I thought I had answered correctly, but when I checked, all the answers were wrong. Then I checked the transcript, but they were actually correctly spelled, so that’s what I used the transcript [because there was a problem with the software]. (Sandra1, S2L42)  Confirmation  The use of transcripts to compensate for lack of confidence  I: When I had already finished answering the questions and I still had doubts with the words, I checked the transcript. (Ian1, S5L38)  View Large TABLE 4 Recovery Factor  Definition  Sample data  Language problems  Conscious perception on behalf of the learner that transcript use may compensate for self-perceived difficulties of aural input comprehension  J: I found it was the most helpful help option for ... I found the transcript really useful because sometimes there were entire phrases in a paragraph that I did not understand, so it helped me have a clearer picture. (Jessie2, S2L8)  Technical issues  A learner’s use of transcripts to compensate for technical difficulties  S: I thought I had answered correctly, but when I checked, all the answers were wrong. Then I checked the transcript, but they were actually correctly spelled, so that’s what I used the transcript [because there was a problem with the software]. (Sandra1, S2L42)  Confirmation  The use of transcripts to compensate for lack of confidence  I: When I had already finished answering the questions and I still had doubts with the words, I checked the transcript. (Ian1, S5L38)  Factor  Definition  Sample data  Language problems  Conscious perception on behalf of the learner that transcript use may compensate for self-perceived difficulties of aural input comprehension  J: I found it was the most helpful help option for ... I found the transcript really useful because sometimes there were entire phrases in a paragraph that I did not understand, so it helped me have a clearer picture. (Jessie2, S2L8)  Technical issues  A learner’s use of transcripts to compensate for technical difficulties  S: I thought I had answered correctly, but when I checked, all the answers were wrong. Then I checked the transcript, but they were actually correctly spelled, so that’s what I used the transcript [because there was a problem with the software]. (Sandra1, S2L42)  Confirmation  The use of transcripts to compensate for lack of confidence  I: When I had already finished answering the questions and I still had doubts with the words, I checked the transcript. (Ian1, S5L38)  View Large Language problems The category ‘language problems’ is defined as the participant’s perception that the use of transcripts could make up for their lack of knowledge of the language. As a way to exemplify this factor, Jessie2 and Carol2 hinted that they could compensate for phrases they failed to comprehend by reading the transcript. Similarly, participants such as Cecile1, Vera1, and Max2 noted having problems with vocabulary and used the transcript to identify several words they failed to recognize in the aural stream. Technical issues The next factor, technical issues, refers to the use of transcripts to recover from technical problems arising while on task. Sandra1 and Betsy2 used the transcript after feeling frustrated by the number of incorrect answers they got during the ‘while listening’ activities. When reading the transcript, they noted problems with the scoring system of the platform. Confirmation The last factor in recovery, confirmation, is defined as the use of transcripts to offset the learner’s lack of confidence. While Ian1 and nine other participants claimed using the transcript to clarify and confirm remaining doubts over their comprehension, Rita2 and Max2 used transcripts to confirm the spelling of a few lexical items. Danan (op.cit.), as well as Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba (op.cit.), noted how transcripts were used by listeners to confirm different aspects of the input text. Challenge: belief that language learning requires hard work Challenge is defined as ‘the participant’s belief that learning a language requires hard work and conscious effort’ (Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba op.cit.: 10), and, as transcripts ease comprehension, students tend to neglect their use. This theme is explained by the factor self-initiative. Our findings here echo those reported in Pujolá (2002) and Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba (op.cit.), who found that listeners would rely on textual support only after repeated interaction with the aural input (Table 5). TABLE 5 Challenge Factor  Definition  Sample data  Self-initiative  The use of transcripts to increase the perceived difficulty of an aural text  R: When did you feel it was necessary to use the transcript? K: The thing is before using it I have some doubts, but I like to test myself, that’s why I used it at the end of the talk. (Kathie1, S2L72)  Factor  Definition  Sample data  Self-initiative  The use of transcripts to increase the perceived difficulty of an aural text  R: When did you feel it was necessary to use the transcript? K: The thing is before using it I have some doubts, but I like to test myself, that’s why I used it at the end of the talk. (Kathie1, S2L72)  Note: R = researcher View Large TABLE 5 Challenge Factor  Definition  Sample data  Self-initiative  The use of transcripts to increase the perceived difficulty of an aural text  R: When did you feel it was necessary to use the transcript? K: The thing is before using it I have some doubts, but I like to test myself, that’s why I used it at the end of the talk. (Kathie1, S2L72)  Factor  Definition  Sample data  Self-initiative  The use of transcripts to increase the perceived difficulty of an aural text  R: When did you feel it was necessary to use the transcript? K: The thing is before using it I have some doubts, but I like to test myself, that’s why I used it at the end of the talk. (Kathie1, S2L72)  Note: R = researcher View Large Self-initiative Self-initiative is the participants’ use/non-use of transcripts to assess how much of a text they can understand on their own. An opinion shared by five participants is summarized by Kathie1, who reported using the transcript only after listening to complete talk segments. This, in her view, allowed her to assess what she was capable of understanding on her own. Similarly, Cora2 asserted that she did not use the transcript as a pre-listening activity since, to her mind, she would not be able to improve her listening skills. Our findings here echo those reported in Pujolá (ibid.) and Cárdenas-Claros and Gruba (op.cit.), who found that listeners would rely on textual support only after repeated interaction with the aural input. The results above should be interpreted within the limitation of a small group of participants and the context in which the study was conducted. The participants come from a top EFL programme in Chile where only highly qualified applicants enrol. Moreover, the participants’ motivation to take part voluntarily in the study during six sessions might be an additional indicator of their impetus to improve their listening comprehension skills. Another limitation is that the study relied primarily on participants remembering when and why they used the transcripts and this may affect overall reliability. From reasons to practical suggestions Although the findings stem from the reflections of first-year students enrolled in an initial English teacher education programme, the pedagogical implications could be extended to the larger ELT community, in particular to secondary school contexts where language learners are often primarily instructed in reading and grammar. We contend that as activities involving transcript use rely considerably on student literacy, which has been developed through reading, teachers could use these experiences to scaffold word segmentation skills, vocabulary learning, and comprehension development. With this in mind, we propose a set of activities for transcript use. Each of the suggested activities directly relate to one of the contributory factors that explain the themes emerging from the data. The activities were tested in semi-private secondary settings in Chile and a selection was showcased in IATEFL-Chile 2016 and ACTFL-2016 conferences. The feedback received was used to further refine and improve them. Each activity addresses an identified factor. The first activity, ‘Vocabulary word search (VWS)’, is done as a pre-listening activity and addresses the factor ‘text comprehension’. This activity gives students the ‘freedom to preview the text and vocabulary ahead of the audio’ (Danan op.cit.: 17). The VWS activity requires teachers to divide the transcript into different segments, select vocabulary items, and make individual picture flashcards and a handout that bring together all the pictured items. Colour-coded transcripts are posted on the wall and listeners, working in groups of four, are asked to read from the transcript and match the flashcards to the words in the text. The second activity, ‘Have it drawn (HID)’, addresses the factor ‘confirmation’ and can be undertaken as a while-listening exercise. It requires students to listen to the text and draw the situations described. Listeners read the transcripts, compare their drawings, and decide which one best represents the situation. The ‘All-for-one (AFO)’ activity addresses the factor ‘task completion,’ as listeners depend on each other to answer a question formulated by the teacher. This activity is recommended for use with large classes. The question captures information from across the different segments into which the text has been previously divided. Different students focus on different parts of the text, getting together subsequently to get an overview of the whole text, compare it to the transcript, and assemble the information to complete the task. The fourth activity, ‘Test your vocabulary (TYV)’, also addresses the factor ‘task completion’ and is a classroom adaptation of the research-activity done by the participants. It is suggested as a post-listening exercise. The TYV activity requires listeners to work individually classifying the lexical items they are unable to recognize from the input text into three categories: 1 words they do not understand 2 words they do not know 3 words they are not sure about. Reflection is encouraged, as in each category students are also asked to assess what component of vocabulary recognition (pronunciation, meaning, and use in context) they were not able to understand and how important each identified lexical item was for comprehension. Listeners are also prompted to guess the meaning of the words they were unsure about. The transcript is used to help the listeners map the sounds they hear on to the actual written forms and confirm spelling. Once the activity is completed, students check their guesses and share their unknown words with a classmate. We are careful not to claim that the above activities will work across all contexts. They may require further adaptation and refinement to suit students’ needs and goals. They were designed for contexts with large classes, limited access to technology, and in settings that use audio-only, computer-based, or a combination of these technologies. Conclusion Moving away from previously available anecdotal evidence, in this article we have suggested a set of research-informed activities that address the reasons identified by 26 language learners regarding transcript use. Surprisingly, none of the uses reported by learners addresses the fears of educators regarding cheating and facilitating the work of lazy listeners/students. Instead, listeners found that transcripts aided text comprehension, task completion, and the learning of key aspects of the foreign language (pronunciation, vocabulary, and reading comprehension). This last factor was predominantly identified by high-intermediate listeners. These findings also reiterate the point that decoding skills can be developed as listeners read transcripts as they listen to the text. Additionally, the participants found transcripts useful for recovering from breakdowns in comprehension due to lack of confidence, lack of knowledge of the language, and technical issues experienced with the listening platform. Listeners also found transcripts relevant for assessing how much they had understood, dissipating their doubts on the text, and confirming spelling. The identified factors not only expand our knowledge of why listeners use transcripts, but are also an open invitation for teachers to keep exploring new ways of using transcripts in a way that is conducive to L2 listening development. Mónica S. Cárdenas-Claros is an Adjunt Professor in the Instituto de Literatura y Ciencias del Lenguaje at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso in Chile. Her research interests include listeners′ interactions with help options in CALL, computer-based L2 listening, and blended language program evaluation. Astrid Campos-Ibaceta graduated in 2016 from the ELT program at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaiso in Chile. She is currently a research assistant and an EFL teacher. She is currently working at the Universidad Tecnológica de Chile INACAP. Her areas of interest include L2 listening comprehension and speaking. Email:astrid.campos.i@gmail.com References Astete, M. 2013. ‘ Using transcripts to complement strategy training in listening comprehension’ . Unpublished undergraduate research work. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso at Chile. Cárdenas-Claros, M. 2015. ‘ Design considerations of help options in computer-based L2 listening materials informed by participatory design’. Computer Assisted Language Learning Journal  28/ 5: 429– 49. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Cárdenas-Claros, M. and Gruba P.. 2012. ‘ Listeners’ interactions with help options in CALL’. Computer Assisted Language Learning Journal  27/ 3: 228– 45. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Danan, M. 2016. ‘ Enhancing listening with captions and transcripts: exploring learner differences’. Applied Language Learning  26/ 2: 1– 24. Field, J. 2003. ‘ Promoting perception: lexical segmentation in L2 listening’. ELT Journal  57/ 4: 325– 34. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Grgurović, M. and Hegelheimer V.. 2007. ‘ Help options and multimedia listening: students’ use of subtitles and the transcript’. Language Learning and Technology  11/ 1: 45– 66. King, P. 2007. ‘ Estudio multidimensional de la oralidad a partir de los textos escolares para la enseñanza del inglés como lengua extranjera’. Revista Signos  40/ 63: 101– 26. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Miles, M., Huberman A., and Saldaña J.. 2014. Qualitative Data Analysis: A Methods Sourcebook  ( third edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Mohsen, M. A. 2015. ‘ The use of help options in multimedia listening environments to aid language learning: a review’. British Journal of Educational Technology  47/ 6: 1232– 42. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Pujolá, J. 2002. ‘ CALLing for help: researching language learning strategies using help facilities in a web-based multimedia program’. ReCALL  14/ 2: 235– 62. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Rubin, J. 1995. ‘ The contribution of video to the development of competence in listening’ in D. J. Mendelsohn and J. Rubin (eds.). A Guide for the Teaching of Second Language Listening . San Diego, CA: Dominie Press. Siegel, J. 2014. ‘ Exploring L2 listening instruction: examinations of practice’. ELT Journal  68/ 1: 22– 30. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Vandergrift, L. and Goh C.. 2012. Teaching and Learning Second Language Listening: Metacognition in Action . New York, NY: Routledge. Footnotes 1 Teens Club 1 & 2 (Alvarado 2014), Global English (Polk 2013), and Tune Up (Fidalgo, Fontanillo, Downie, Gray, Jiménez, Campbell, Holley, and Metcalf 2013). 2 This study was funded by CONICYT-Chile [Fondecyt de Iniciación # 11130456]. © The Author(s) 2017. Published by Oxford University Press; all rights reserved. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)

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ELT JournalOxford University Press

Published: Oct 10, 2017

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