Is Listening Comprehension in a Foreign Language Affected by Age?

Keywords: adult language learner, age, EFL, English language, hearing, listening comprehension, NATO STANAG 6001

Abstract

Research background: The development of listening comprehension in a foreign language is a complex process, interrelated with the progress in other language skills, and could be affected by numerous variables, including age. This study responds to middle-aged adults’ complaints about their difficulties in listening comprehension in English as a Foreign Language (EFL) by examining the relationship between the success in listening comprehension in EFL and age.
Gap in knowledge and Purpose of the study: Although age is considered a crucial factor in language acquisition, there is a lack of studies providing evidence on the relationship between age and listening comprehension achievement in a foreign language in adult learners. This study aimed to find out whether age is one of the significant factors affecting listening comprehension in relation to other language skills.
Methods: Quantitative data analysis was used to determine the relationship between the success in listening comprehension in EFL and age in 1,323 Czech adults. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to compare the success in listening in three age groups, tested within five academic years. Then a generalized linear model was used to assess the relationship between the success in listening and age.
Findings and Value added: The analysis of variance has shown that the age group 21—30 achieved significantly better results in listening than the age group 41—60 at p < .05. The logistic regression curve has illustrated a gradual increase in the percentage of ‘unsuccessful listeners’ aged 25 to 52 in relation to age. Thus, the study offers empirical evidence that there is a negative correlation between the success in listening comprehension in a foreign language and age. Educators should assist adult learners in developing knowledge, skills and strategies to overcome listening comprehension difficulties with respect to increasing age.

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Author Biographies

Eva Stankova, University of Defence in Brno

RNDr. Eva Stankova is a senior academic worker at the Language Centre at the University of Defence in Brno. She is engaged in teaching and testing the English language, and academic research including the development of English language skills in adult learners. Her recent publications focus on searching factors affecting language skills development, tracking the progress of language learners, and curriculum development in ESP. With regard to this paper, she has been responsible mainly for literature research and the interpretation of results in the discussion and conclusion sections.

Miroslav Hruby, University of Defence in Brno

Ing. Miroslav Hruby, CSc., is a senior academic worker at the Faculty of Military Technology at the University of Defence in Brno. Nowadays he works at the Department of Informatics and Cyber Operations. His main professional focus is a computer programming. Over the last two decades, he has been closely collaborating with the Language Centre on proposing research designs in quantitative research studies. Concerning this paper, he is the author of the research design and the classification which determines the success in listening in relation to other language skills.

Kamila Hasilova, University of Defence in Brno

Assoc. Prof. Kamila Hasilova, Ph.D., is a senior academic worker at the Faculty of Military Leadership at the University of Defence in Brno. She works at the Department of Quantitative Methods; apart from teaching basic courses on mathematics and statistics, she focuses on the application of statistical methods. Her main research interests are non-parametric statistical methods and numerical methods used in statistics. Her contribution to this paper lies in conducting statistical analysis.

Published
2022-03-31
How to Cite
Stankova, E., Hruby, M., & Hasilova, K. (2022). Is Listening Comprehension in a Foreign Language Affected by Age?. Journal of Language and Education, 8(1), 167-180. https://doi.org/10.17323/jle.2022.11292