Listening Miller, 2005: ix).According to various studies, numerous

Listening comprehension is basically a
process of understanding what the speaker said. This means understanding
pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar, and grasping the meaning of the
speaker’s utterance. Acquiring good listening and speaking skills in English is
the main concern of many second and foreign language learners, and today’s
English teacher needs to be well informed about current approaches to the
teaching of the aural and oral skills. Second language listening, which  has 
been relatively ignored for many years within applied linguistics,
has  been 
emerged  on its  own  .
Although still somewhat neglected in second language acquisition research,
listening now plays a more central role in language teaching. University
entrance exams, school leaving tests, and other examinations have begun to
include a listening comprehension components, an acknowledgment that listening
ability is an important aspect of second language proficiency (Richards, In:
Flowerdew & Miller, 2005: ix).According to various studies,   numerous 
reserachers  pointed out that many
of us spend 70 to 80 percent of our waking hours in some form of communication.
By that time, we spend about 9 percent writing, 16 percent reading, 30 percent
speaking, and 45 percent listening. Hatesohl and Lee  (1993), 
argued  that  studies also confirm that most of us are poor
and inefficient listeners. He  alsp  mwentioned  
that the results of numerous tests highlight two facts about listening.
Firstly, it shows that listening skills are as important as speaking skills; we
cannot communicate face-to-face unless the two types of skill are developed.
The second point about listening is that, under many circumstances, it is a
reciprocal skill.  According  to Anne Anderson and  Lynch (1988 , p. 3) ”  We cannot practice listening in the same way
as we can rehearse speaking, or at least the part of speaking that has do with
pronunciation, because we cannot usually predict what we will have to listen
to”.  Language learners often face many
problems when they first attempt to listen to a new language. Although the
problems are many and various, they are not all experienced by all students,
nor are they experienced to the same degree by students from different
backgrounds. (Underwood, 1989 , p.16)  .
Anderson and Lynch (1988 , p. 5) states that “there are several different ways
in which the listener can process, or fail to process, incoming speech, which
could serve as a basis for evaluating the degree of success of a particular
listening performance. ”

McGar 
(2009) argued  that  a novel approach to improving listening
skills has emerged due to audio publishing online. It is known as “podcasting”
and has become very popular because it offers language learners extra listening
practice both inside and outside the classroom. Podcasting alludes to the
sharing sound or video records in computerized format (McGarr,2009). Appearance
of podcast is identified as a beneficial facilitation to foreign language
learning, and through its usage might enrich the language learning efficiency,
shape and foster alternative learning experience (Vidal,2010). While acquiring
English as a foreign language, a consideration on providing a genuine English
learning environment to learners can arouse a more active and direct immersion
of the language learning. Podcast is viewed as a new innovation for building up
students’ listening and talking abilities (Sze,2006).As the curriculum of
schools and colleges mainly focus on reading and writing skills, most students
rely on reading comprehension and writing composition in Iran (Matin,2012).
Besides, teachers avoid listening and speaking activities due to large class
(Chowdhury,2012) or for insufficient or minimal presence of suitable materials.
Moreover, many studies show that listening comprehension is the skill with
which L2 learners feel most uncomfortable (Artyushina, Sheypak, Khovrin &
Spektor 2011; Graham, 2006). Therefore, listening and speaking skills  , both have become marginal skills from
Iranian EFL context.  The present study
addresses this problem and tries to find out whether podcasts can be used in
particularly enhancing students’ listening skills. It also addresses the
difference between intermediate and advanced language learners in terms of the
degree to which they are affected by using podcasts. Therefore, how podcast can
be used and how the students react to the podcast will be shown in this study

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1.2. Significance of the Study

This
study will shed light on the use of technology in teaching listening in
intermediate and advanced level. It will find out whether podcasting can affect
these two groups of learners differently. The findings of this research will
provide information to further research studies, which include CALL in Iran.
This study will also look forward to taking hold of attention of the English
language teachers of Iran. It will show them a different path where they can
revise their traditional techniques and include CALL in teaching listening
skills.

The
results of the study can make teachers aware of the conventions of their
discipline and help teachers to be careful in using different technology to
develop listening comprehension and also to improve reading and writing in a
more natural way. The findings of this research also contribute to the
improvement of the ability to understand the language of aural academic
discourse . The application of podcast in teaching listening resulted in
successful learning among language learners. It is worth mentioning that
applying this approach is fruitful for both teachers and learners. It will help
both groups to be successful in their jobs.. Also, even less proficient
students and novice teachers can find something interesting in it. However,
syllabus designers and material writers can use the advantages podcast in writing
and developing English materials.

 

 

 

 

1.3. Research Questions 

This study 
seeks  to  answer 
the  following  questions:

RQ1: Does using podcast have any effect on Iranian
intermediate EFL learners’ listening skills?

RQ2: Does using podcast have any effect on Iranian
advanced EFL learners’ listening skills?

RQ3: Is there any difference between the EFL
intermediate and advanced level learners in terms of the effect of podcast on
their listening comprehension?

 

 

 

1.4. Research Hypotheses

 

This study tries to 
investigate  the following
hypotheses:

H0. Using podcast has no effect on Iranian
intermediate EFL learners’ listening skills.

H1. Using podcast has  effect on Iranian  EFL 
intermedit learners’  listening
skills.

 

H0. Using podcast has no effect on Iranian  advanced EFL learners’ listening skills.

H1. Using podcast has effect on Iranian advanced EFL
learners’ listening skills.

 

H0. There is not any 
significant difference between the EFL intermediate and advanced level
learners in terms of the effect of podcast on their listening comprehension.

 

H1. There is  
significant difference between the EFL intermediate and advanced level
learners in terms of the effect of podcast on their listening comprehension..

 

 

 

 

1.5.Definition of Key Terms

Podcast:
The term podcast is a combination of the terms pod (i.e., from the Apple iPod)
and broadcast (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 2007). Podcasts are series
of digital audio and video recordings uploaded on the web with the aid of Rapid
Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds (Lafferty & Walch, 2006). RSS feeds allow
listeners to download their favourite podcasts using podcatcher software like
iTunes.

CALL:
Computer-Assisted Language Learning or CALL can be defined as the ?search for
and study of applications of the computer in language teaching and learning?
(Levy, 1997)

 

 

1.6 Delimitation of the study

This 
study  investigates  the effect of podcasts on listening
comprehension among Iranian EFL learners at advanced and intermediate levels.
This  study  doesn’t 
include   the effect  of 
podcast on reading or  writing
skills  and  the 
results of study  cannot cover
elementary   level  learners.

 

2.      Review of the literature

Podcasting’s origins
are firmly rooted in web radio. A combination of factors and technologies
contributed to its eventual birth in 2003. Among the pioneers of podcasting are
Adam Curry and Dave Winer . In 2000 Curry and Winer collaborated in using RSS
technology and their media content to provide the first prototype of podcast.
Now that there was some audio content appearing Curry started to work on
software, later known as podcatcher, which would automatically download audio
files to his computer and further synchronize them to his iPod. First
podcatcher software iPodder alias news feed aggregator or collector for
podcasts, checked for new updates to see where to go and download the audio
file in a form of MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 (MP3). The MP3 was then automatically
transferred to an iPod (Van Orden, 2005) . By the late 2004, detailed articles
on podcasts became available online and in less than 12 months, the podcasting
phenomenon exploded with more than two million hits generated for a
“podcasting” Google search. Less than a year later, the popularity of podcasts
had has become so popular that Apple Computers, Inc. integrated podcasts in its
iTunes software . One can say that podcasting in not a novelty. The possibility
to stream and download audio are as old as the World Wide Web, and the RSS
specification that enabled to spread podcasting has been around for several
years. Now it is possible for language teachers to incorporate listening
materials into the lesson. Even though teachers used to create their materials
before, distribution of those has been easier recently due to podcasts
(Chartrand & Pellow, 2007). Language learning process is no longer confined
to books and pages; rather computers have been added to the field of education.
In Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) teachers can ?challenge the
traditional teaching and learning methods? (Hasan & Hoon, 2013, p. 130) by
incorporating computer technology into language teaching process. One of the
tools of CALL, which was not originally designed; but can be used for language
learning, is podcast (McBride, 2009). Podcasting has ?huge potential? in
improving learners’ listening and speaking skills (SZE, 2006, p. 126). In order
to develop listening skills and listening competence, podcast might play a
significant role. Podcast is considered a ?new technology? for developing
students’ listening and speaking skills (SZE, 2006, p. 127).  Moreover, podcast has allowed both teachers
and students to add their voices to the worldwide collection of resources,
which indicates the lowering down of technical barrier (Chartrand & Pellow,
2007). Therefore, it shows that podcast can be beneficial for both teachers and
learners. Podcasts can be classified in two types: radio podcasts and
independent podcasts (Sze, 2006).In English language teaching (ELT),
independent podcasts are mostly used since they can be tailor-made to suit the
needs of different learners (Sze, 2006).Podcasts can be beneficial in
educational settings since most students have some knowledge of technology,
internet and downloading process (Erben, Ban, Summers & Eisenhower, 2008).
Many studies show that listening comprehension is the skill with which L2
learners feel most uncomfortable (Artyushina, Sheypak, Khovrin & Spektor
2011).The use of authentic listening materials may help language learners to
manage listening related problems (Chinnery 2006; Gilmore, 2011). There are
some basic necessities in order to start using or incorporating internet for
English teaching (Warschauer, Shetzer, & Meloni, 2000). These four prerequisites
are: (a) access to a computer, (b) a means of connecting to the Internet, (c)
an Internet account, and (d) an e-mail address (Warschauer, Shetzer, &
Meloni, 2000).

 

3.      Methodology

This study follows an
experimental research design in which a priori research hypotheses are to be
tested. It is concerned with examination of independent variable, podcasts, on
dependent variable, EFL learners’ listening skill. The EFL learners’
proficiency level is another independent variable. Its effect on the learners’
performance will be measured and compared. The dependent variable is
manipulated through treatment, 10 sessions using podcasts. The participants are
equally and randomly assigned to control and experimental groups. The
experimental groups of the advanced and intermediate levels are treated with
teaching through podcasts while the control groups of both levels do not
receive the same treatment. After 10 sessions of treatment the effect of
treatment on the two groups was measured through  the same teacher-made listening test as
post-tet which is a modified version of the pre-test was used for the post-test
and it was given to the participants to assess their listening comprehension
after the treatment periodand to measure the impacts of using podcast on their
listening comprehension skill. Face validity of the post-test wasconfirmed by
two English experts who validated the pre-test. It was piloted among
pre-intermediate EFL learners and its reliability index will be calculated
through Crobach Alpha formula Then, the results obtained from intermediate and
advanced learners (the results of treatments) are compared. The results
obtained will reject or confirm the research hypotheses and answer research
questions.

To collect data An
Oxford Quick Placement Test (OQPT), listening pre-test and post tests, and 10
sessions of treatment on experimental group were applied.

3.1. Participants

The participants of this study are 60 advanced and
60 intermediate language learners who are selected among 180 intermediate and
advanced students from Iran language institute in Ardabel, Iran. In each group,
there are 30 female and 30 male students whose age range from 12 to 25.In order
to determine their English proficiency level, they take an Oxford Quick
Placement Test (OQPT). Upon the administration of this test, 120 participants
are selected as participants of the study. Then they are randomly divided into
two equal groups of control (n=30) and experimental (n=30) by random sampling
technique. 

 

3.2 Material

podcasting was the important  treatment of the study, 13 files among 23
podcast files as supplementary material to be used to each session of the class
which is chosen by the researcher. The podcast files were about personal
development and they had been developed by Pavlina (2005). New Interchange 1
and New Interchange 3 by Jack C. Richards the control group will be taught
.personal cmputers and at least smart phones are utilized to listen to the
podcasts during the sessions in experimental group.

3.3. Design of the Study

The design of the study
is quasi-experimental . Quasi-experimental 
studies examine outcomes; however, they do not involve randomly
assigning participants to treatment and control groups. A quasi-experimental
study might compare outcomes for individuals receiving program activities with
outcomes for a similar group of individuals not receiving program activities.
This type of study also might compare outcomes for one group of individuals
before and after the group’s involvement in a program (known as “pre-test/post-test
design”). Quasi -experimental studies can inform discussions of cause and
effect, but, unlike true experiments, they cannot definitively establish this
link (Rossi et al , 2004) . Quasi-experimental studies are similar to
experiments in that they compare treatment to nontreatment conditions; however,
participants are not randomly assigned to conditions. Instead, evaluators use a
nonequivalent control group for comparison (Cook, 2003). Common
quasi-experimental control group designs include the use of intact treatment
groups (e.g., classrooms, schools) matched to control groups on demographic and
other key variables. The lack of random assignment increases threats to the
internal validity of study results—the ability to attribute study results to the
treatment and not some other source or sources. In particular, although
students, classrooms, and/or schools may be matched on certain known and
observable variables, they may differ on other unknown and/or unobservable
variables in ways that differentially impact results. In addition, as with
experiments, questions of the feasibility and appropriateness of
quasi-experimental studies in schools present challenges to their use.

Pre- and Post- Testing
in quasi experimental design is the  A
measurement of the learning received during the class as a result of comparing
what the student knew before and after the class experience. To quantify the
knowledge attained in the class with a group of students with diverse learning
styles and educational backgrounds. More specifically, the tests indicate how
the students are learning in the course. The data will target students
requiring extra help and will identify teaching and learning methods that need
to be changed or developed.

Reasons for using a
pre-test:

• To measure a starting
point or the amount of pre-existing knowledge on the course topic

• To compare with the
starting point of a post-test

• To allow students to
test out  of course with a 100% correct
score

• To inform the
instructor about topics that are/are not needed to cover in the course based on
  student’s previous knowledge

• To indicate to the
student the learning level of the course topic

 

 Reasons for using a post-test:

• To measure the
learning as a result of the course experience

• To analyze the
appropriateness of the learning objectives

• To recognize students
who need additional help

• To target any
instructional needs to improve the course

Most assessment
instruments measure the student’s ability to retain and recall known facts and
does not necessary indicate an improvement in performance. So the pre-post test
design is ot used in theis sutiation 
Pre-test must be administered when a student has some relevant knowledge
on the course topic and not without any knowledge. Post-test should be administered
directly at the completion of the course and also at a later date to measure
application and impact of the learning.

 

 

3.4. Data Collection and Procedures

The participants
assigned as the control groups are taught using traditional methods of teaching
listening with no multimedia laboratory. But the experimental groups of both
levels attend multimedia language laboratory and have a personal computer, so
that they can use podcasts of listening materials. It means that the
experimental groups are exposed to listening using a new method through
podcasting, while the control groups are taught through listening to CDs and
class question and answer and discussion.

In order to elicit
relevant data from the respondents, the researcher administers the Oxford
Placement Test to realize the participants’ homogeneity level among the
participants of each level. Then the listening comprehension pre-tests are
administered to assess the participants’ listening comprehension at the
beginning of the course. After the pre-test, the researcher practices the
treatment on the experimental groups. The participants assigned as the control
groups are taught using traditional methods of teaching listening with no
multimedia laboratory. But the experimental groups attend multimedia language
laboratory and have a personal computer, so that they can use podcasts of
listening materials. It means that the experimental groups are exposed to
listening using a new method through podcasting, while the control groups are
taught listening comprehension  through
listening to CDs and class question and answer and discussion. As podcasting is
the treatment of the study, the researcher will chosen 13 files among 23
podcast files as supplementary material to be used asynchronously prior to each
session of the class. The podcast files are about personal development and they
have been developed by Pavlina (2005). The treatment takes 10 listening
sessions. All groups have the same materials and time of instruction. Five
lessons of New Interchange 1 and New Interchange 3 are taught to intermediate
and advanced learners respectively. In each session, the half of the lesson is
taught by the researcher. Before teaching each lesson, the researcher provides
some background knowledge for the learners then he plays the CDs for them. He
wants the students to listen to the lesson carefully. The technique of
interactive feedback strategy is used for the learners of the experimental
groups. For this purpose, the researcher in this groups restate or reformulate the
learners’ incorrect answers in performing the listening comprehension tasks or
exercises without mentioning their errors and letting them find out their
errors. The researcher provides comments on the erroneous utterances of the
students through reduction recasts in the experimental groups. However, the
control groups are provided with traditional listening comprehension including
question and answer, explanation and class discussion and their errors are
directly corrected by the teacher. The learners perform the related listening
comprehension tasks and exercises of the text books regularly in the control
group. The researcher corrects their mistakes directly without providing
feedback for them. In addition, a post-test of listening comprehension is employed
after ten-session treatment to gather data. To answer the research questions,
within each group, the results obtained from pre-test and post-test are
compared. Then, the results obtained from EFL intermediate and advanced level
learners’ post tests are compared to answer the second research question.

 

4. Data Analysis

SPSS Version 22.0.0.0 for Windows is used to analyze
descriptive statistics. In order to find out whether the podcasts significantly
affected the students’ listening skill, t-test is used to investigate the data.
The data is collected in the light of students’ performance in the pretests and
posttests. The result of a t-test will be used to compare the differences
between the two groups (experimental and control groups in intermediate and
advanced level learners). Then, it will be used to compare the results of
posttests taken by experimental groups of intermediate and advanced learners.
Here, T-test will test the differences between the samples provided that the
distribution of scores is not normal. T-test is an analysis of two populations’
means through the use of statistical examination. In addition, Mann Whitney
test, a non-parametric t-test, will be used in case of where distribution of
scores is not normal. The Mann-Whitney U test is used to compare differences
between two independent groups when the dependent variable is either ordinal or
continuous, but normally distributed.