Skip to main content

What Is Listening Comprehension and What Does It Take to Improve Listening Comprehension?

Part of the Literacy Studies book series (LITS,volume 13)

Abstract

One’s ability to listen and comprehend spoken language of multiple utterances and oral texts (i.e., listening comprehension) is one of the necessary component skills in reading and writing development. In this chapter, we review theoretical frameworks and empirical evidence of listening comprehension development and improvement. A review of correlational and intervention studies indicates that many language and cognitive skills contribute to listening comprehension, including working memory, attention, vocabulary, grammatical knowledge, inferencing, theory of mind, and comprehension monitoring. Although limited in number, studies indicate that these skills are malleable. We conclude that listening comprehension instruction should be an integral part of reading and writing instruction, incorporating these multiple language and cognitive skills. Instruction on these components can be incorporated into existing instruction such as bookreading or reading comprehension instruction.

Keywords

  • Listening comprehension
  • Vocabulary
  • Language
  • Cognitive
  • Intervention
  • Reading comprehension
  • Writing

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-31235-4_10
  • Chapter length: 15 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   84.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-319-31235-4
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD   149.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    We acknowledge that comprehension of sign language is listening comprehension, but use spoken language following conventional use of the term.

  2. 2.

    Note that Perfetti and colleagues also had a similar hierarchical representation of comprehension processes in their reading comprehension models (e.g., Perfetti & Stafura, 2014).

  3. 3.

    Note that we use the term, skill, to refer to both processes/capacity and knowledge.

References

  • Adams, M. J. (1990). Beginning to read: Thinking and learning about print. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Berninger, V. W., & Abbott, R. D. (2010). Discourse-level oral language, oral expression, reading comprehension, and written expression: Related yet unique language systems in grades 1, 3, 5, and 7. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102, 635–651.

    Google Scholar 

  • Berninger, V. W., Abbott, R. D., Abbott, S. P., Graham, S., & Richards, T. (2002). Writing and reading: Connections between language by hand and language by eye. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 35, 39–56.

    Google Scholar 

  • Berninger, V., & Amtmann, D. (2003). Preventing written expression disabilities through early and continuing assessment and intervention for handwriting and/or spelling problems: Research into practice. In H. Swanson, K. Harris, & S. Graham (Eds.), Handbook of learning disabilities (pp. 323–344). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bianco, M., Bressoux, P., Doyen, A.-L., Lambert, E., Lima, L., Pellenq, C., et al. (2010). Early training in oral comprehension and phonological skills: Results of a three-year longitudinal study. Scientific Studies of Reading, 14, 211–246.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Bowey, J. A. (2005). Predicting individual differences in learning to read. In M. J. Snowling & C. Hulme (Eds.), The science of reading: A handbook (pp. 155–172). Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Cain, K., Oakhill, J., & Bryant, P. (2004). Children’s reading comprehension ability: Concurrent prediction by working memory, verbal ability, and component skills. Journal of Educational Psychology, 96, 31–42.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Carlo, M. S., August, D., McLaughlin, B., Snow, C. E., Dressler, C., Lippman, D. N., et al. (2004). Closing the gap: Addressing the vocabulary needs of English-language learners in bilingual and mainstream classrooms. Reading Research Quarterly, 39, 188–205.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Carrow-Woolfolk, E. (1999). Comprehensive assessment of spoken language. Bloomington, MN: Pearson Assessment.

    Google Scholar 

  • Catts, H., Adlof, S., & Ellis Weismer, S. (2006). Language deficits in poor comprehenders: A case for the simple view of reading. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 49, 278–293.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Cromley, J. G., & Azevedo, R. (2007). Testing and refining the direct and inferential mediation model of reading comprehension. Journal of Educational Psychology, 99, 311–325.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Daneman, M., & Merikle, P. M. (1996). Working memory and language comprehension: A meta-analysis. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 3, 422–433.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Dickinson, D. K. (2001). Putting pieces together: Impact of preschool on children’s language and literacy development in kindergarten. In D. K. Dickinson & P. O. Tabors (Eds.), Beginning literacy with language: Young children learning at home and school (pp. 257–288). Baltimore, MD: Brookes.

    Google Scholar 

  • Florit, E., Roch, M., Altoè, G., & Levorato, M. C. (2009). Listening comprehension in preschoolers: The role of memory. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 27, 935–951.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Florit, E., Roch, M., & Levorato, M. C. (2013). The relation between listening comprehension of text and sentences in preschoolers: Specific or mediated by lower and higher level components? Applied Psycholinguistics, 34, 395–415.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Florit, E., Roch, M., & Levorato, M. C. (2014). Listening text comprehension in preschoolers: A longitudinal study on the role of semantic components. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 27, 793–817.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Foorman, B. R., Koon, S., Petscher, Y., Mitchell, A., & Truckenmiller, A. (2015). Examining general and specific factors in the dimensionality of oral language and reading in 4th–10th graders. Journal of Educational Psychology, 107, 884–899.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gillam, R. B., & Pearson, N. A. (2004). Test of narrative language. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gillam, S. L., Gillam, R. B., & Reece, K. (2012). Language outcomes of contextualized and decontextualized language intervention: Results of an early efficacy study. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 43, 276–291.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Gough, P. B., & Tunmer, W. E. (1986). Decoding, reading, and reading disability. Remedial and Special Education, 7, 6–10.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Graesser, A. C., Singer, M., & Trabasso, T. (1994). Constructing inferences during narrative text comprehension. Psychological Review, 101(3), 371–395.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Grasser, A. C., Millis, K. K., & Zwaan, R. A. (1997). Discourse comprehension. Annual Review of Psychology, 48, 163–189.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Guajardo, N. R., & Watson, A. C. (2002). Narrative discourse and theory of mind development. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 163, 305–325.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Hart, B., & Risley, T. R. (1995). Meaningful differences in the everyday experience of young American children. Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hoover, W. A., & Gough, P. B. (1990). The simple view of reading. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 2, 127–160.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Johnson-Laird, P. N. (1983). Mental models: Towards a cognitive science of language, inference, and consciousness. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Johnston, T. C., & Kirby, J. R. (2006). The contribution of naming speed the simple view of reading. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 19, 339–361.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Joshi, R. M., & Aaron, P. G. (2000). The component model of reading: Simple view of reading made a little more complex. Reading Psychology, 21, 85–97.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Joshi, R. M., Tao, S., Aaron, P. G., & Quiroz, B. (2012). Cognitive component of componential model of reading applied to different orthographies. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 45, 480–486.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Juel, C., Griffith, P. L., & Gough, P. B. (1986). Acquisition of literacy: A longitudinal study of children in first and second grade. Journal of Educational Psychology, 78, 243–255.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Justice, L. M., & Ezell, H. K. (2002). Use of storybook reading to increase print awareness in at-risk children. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 11, 17–29.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Kendeou, P., Bohn-Gettler, C. M., White, M. J., & van den Broek, P. (2008). Children’s inference generation across different media. Journal of Research in Reading, 31, 259–272.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Kendeou, P., van den Broek, P., White, M. J., & Lynch, J. S. (2009). Predicting reading comprehension in early elementary school: The independent contributions of oral language and decoding skills. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101, 765–778.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Kim, Y.-S. (2015). Language and cognitive predictors of text comprehension: Evidence from multivariate analysis. Child Development, 86, 128–144.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kim, Y.-S. G. (2016). Direct and mediated effects of language and cognitive skills on comprehension or oral narrative texts (listening comprehension) for children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 141, 101–120.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kim, Y.-S. G., & Wagner, R. K. (2015). Text (Oral) reading fluency as a construct in reading development: An investigation of its mediating role for children from grades 1 to 4. Scientific Studies of Reading, 19, 224–242.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kim, Y.-S., Al Otaiba, S., Puranik, C., Sidler, J. F., Greulich, L., & Wagner, R. K. (2011). Componential skills of beginning writing: An exploratory study. Learning and Individual Differences, 21, 517–525.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kim, Y.-S., Al Otaiba, S., Sidler, J. F., Greulich, L., & Puranik, C. (2014). Evaluating the dimensionality of first grade written composition. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 57, 199–211.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kim, Y.-S., Al Otaiba, S., Wanzek, J., & Gatlin, B. (2015). Towards an understanding of dimension, predictors, and gender gaps in written composition. Journal of Educational Psychology, 107, 79–95.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kim, Y.-S., & Phillips, B. (2014). Cognitive correlates of listening comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly, 49, 269–281.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kim, Y.-S., & Phillips, B. (under review). Five minutes a day: Improving comprehension monitoring for prekindergartners, Topics in Language Disorders.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kim, Y.-S., Wagner, R., & Lopez, D. (2012). Developmental relations between reading fluency and reading comprehension: A longitudinal study from grade 1 to grade 2. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 113, 93–111.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Kintsch, W. (1988). The use of knowledge in discourse processing: A construction-integration model. Psychological Review, 95, 163–182.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Kintsch, W. (1994). Text comprehension, memory, and learning. American Psychologist, 49, 294–303.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Kintsch, W., & Rawson, K. A. (2005). Comprehension. In M. J. Snowling & C. Hulme (Eds.), The science of reading: A handbook (pp. 209–226). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lepola, J., Lynch, J., Laakkonen, E., Silvén, M., & Niemi, P. (2012). The role of inference making and other language skills in the development of narrative listening comprehension in 4- to 6-year old children. Reading Research Quarterly, 47, 259–282.

    Google Scholar 

  • Markman, E. M. (1977). Realizing that you don’t understand: A preliminary investigation. Child Development, 48, 986–992.

    Google Scholar 

  • McNamara, D. S., & Kintsch, W. (1996). Learning from texts: Effects of prior knowledge and text coherence. Discourse Processes, 22, 247–288.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • National Early Literacy Panel. (2008). Developing early literacy: Report of the national early literacy panel. Washington, DC: National Institute for Literacy.

    Google Scholar 

  • Olinghouse, N. G. (2008). Student- and instruction-level predictors of narrative writing in third-grade students. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 21, 3–26.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Paris, S. G. (2005). Reinterpreting the development of reading skills. Reading Research Quarterly, 40, 184–202.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Perfetti, C. (2007). Reading ability: Lexical quality to comprehension. Scientific Studies of Reading, 11, 357–383.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Perfetti, C., & Stafura, J. (2014). Word knowledge in a theory of reading comprehension. Scientific Studies of Reading, 18, 22–37.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Protopapas, A., Mousaki, A., Sideridis, G. D., Kotsolakou, A., & Simos, P. G. (2013). The role of vocabulary in the context of the simple view of reading. Reading & Writing Quarterly: Overcoming Learning Difficulties, 29, 168–202.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Snow, C. E., & Kim, Y.–. S. (2006). Large problem spaces: The challenge of vocabulary for English language learners. In R. K. Wagner, A. Muse, & K. Tannenbaum (Eds.), Vocabulary acquisition and its implications for reading comprehension (pp. 123–139). New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tompkins, V., Guo, Y., & Justice, L. M. (2013). Inference generation, story comprehension, and language in the preschool years. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 26, 403–429.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Townsend, D. J., Carrithers, C., & Bever, T. G. (1987). Listening and reading processes in college- and middle school-age readers. In R. Horowitz & S. J. Samuels (Eds.), Comprehending oral and written language (pp. 217–242). San Diego, CA: Academic.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tunmer, W. E. (1989). The role of language-related factors in reading disability. In D. Shankweiler & I. Y. Liberman (Eds.), Phonology and reading disability: Solving the reading puzzle (pp. 91–132). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • van den Broek, P., Lorch, R. E. J., Linderholm, T., & Gustafson, M. (2001). The effects of readers’ goals on inference generation and memory for texts. Memory and Cognition, 29, 1081–1087.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • van den Broek, P., Rapp, D. N., & Kendeou, P. (2005). Integrating memory-based and constructionist processes in accounts of reading comprehension. Discourse Processes, 39, 299–316.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • van den Broek, P., Virtue, S., Everson, M., Tzeng, Y., & Sung, Y. C. (2002). Comprehension and memory of science texts: Inferential processes and the construction of a mental representation. In J. Otero, J. A. Leon, & A. C. Graesser (Eds.), The psychology of science text comprehension (pp. 131–154). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

    Google Scholar 

  • Van Dijk, T. A., & Kintsch, W. (1983). Strategies of discourse comprehension. New York: Academic.

    Google Scholar 

  • Vasilyeva, M., Huttenlocher, J., & Waterfall, H. (2006). Effects of language intervention on syntactic skill levels in preschoolers. Developmental Psychology, 42, 164–174.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Was, C. A., & Woltz, D. J. (2007). Reexamining the relationship between working memory and comprehension: The role of available long-term memory. Journal of Memory and Language, 56, 86–102.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Whitehurst, G. J., Epstein, J. N., Angell, A. L., Payne, A. C., Crone, D. A., & Fischel, J. E. (1994). Outcomes of an emergent literacy intervention in head start. Journal of Educational Psychology, 86, 542–555.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Zwaan, R. A., & Radvansky. (1998). Situation models in language comprehension and memory. Psychological Bulletin, 123, 162–185.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

Work on this chapter was supported by NRF-2010-330-B00299 from the National Research Foundation of Korea, and R305A130131 and R305F100027 from Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education to the first author. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies. We would like to thank the funding agencies, and study participants.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Young-Suk Grace Kim .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2016 Springer International Publishing Switzerland

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Kim, YS.G., Pilcher, H. (2016). What Is Listening Comprehension and What Does It Take to Improve Listening Comprehension?. In: Schiff, R., Joshi, R. (eds) Interventions in Learning Disabilities. Literacy Studies, vol 13. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-31235-4_10

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-31235-4_10

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-319-31234-7

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-319-31235-4

  • eBook Packages: EducationEducation (R0)