Essay: Factors that hinder learners’ acquisition of listening and speaking skills

There are a number of factors that often hinder learners’ acquisition of proper listening and speaking skills. According to Bass and Davis (n.d), environmental, emotional, physical and personal factors often hinder successful listening.

Environmental factors such as extensive noise from the surroundings can often affect a learner’s acquisition of proper listening skills. Sounds from people e.g. a noisy laughter from other classrooms or cheerful screams can often disrupt the process of teaching and learning. If the school is situated in a noisy area then this adds to the problem as the noise from the nearby neighborhood can be a detriment to students.
Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory (1978) and Bronfenbrenners ecological theory (1986) further emphasize how learning is influenced by the interactions between people and their environments. If there is a poor interaction between students and their parents or community at large then this student might acquire poor listening and speaking skills. Constant conflict and the usage of vulgar languages in communities can result in a child using vulgar languages and speaking abruptly to teachers.

Emotional barriers differ amongst learners and often are seen as a detriment to successful listening. Anger, sadness and worry are some emotional obstructions that can affect a learners listening ability (Schilling, 1992-2002). If a learner is constantly sad in class due to emotional trauma such as a divorce amongst parents then this would in turn affect their listening skills as their attention would be constantly focused on this.
Socio-economic problems such poverty can also play a role in hindering a learner’s acquisition of proper listening and speaking skills. If a learner is experiencing poverty at home then this can affect their concentration span as hunger and thirst may affect ones listening proficiency (Schilling, 1992-2002).

Communication disorders, such as hearing impairment play a major role in hindering learners’ acquisition of proper listening and speaking skills. No other communication disorder presents a greater problem to students and educators than the occurrence of a significant hearing impairment (Haynes, Moran & Pindzola, 2005). According to Haynes, Moran & Pindzola (2005), the term hearing impaired refers to a wide range of learners, from those with a minimal reduction of hearing in one ear to those with no hearing in both ears. Due to the fact that students cannot hear properly, they are unable to listen to important information which is deciphered by the educator. This in turn affects their academic progress.

According to an article from Parenting and Child Health on Communication Difficulties (2013), acquired brain injury may affect a child’s listening and speaking skills as it may damage a certain part of the brain that is concerned with communication. Students that have acquired a brain injury may completely lose the ability to speak or grasp language.

Learning disabilities such as Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) can affect listening and speaking skills. Many difinitions are complex but basically APD is a problem understanding the meaning of incoming sounds (Flexer, 1994). Students may be able to hear the sound they lack the ability to decipher what the sound actually means. This in turn could affect their progress at school as communication and interpreting is of vital importance in the process of teaching and learning.

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