The Impact of Cultural Background Knowledge on Students' Listening Comprehension Case Study: Second Year EFL students at University of Khenchela

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University of ‘Abbes Laghrour’ Khenchela
This thesis aims at investigating the impact of cultural background knowledge on students’ comprehension of spoken English. This current study specifically aims at finding out whether the students’ cultural background knowledge would enhance their listening comprehension proficiency. The study also attempts to explore students’ attitudes towards implementing cultural knowledge within their oral comprehension and expression sessions to develop their listening comprehension skills. For this aim, a mixed research design was carried out, descriptive and quasi-experimental pre-posttest design. An experiment performed with a sample of two groups EFL second-year students during the academic year 2020/2021. In the treatment group (21 students) the students were exposed to cultural knowledge of the target culture embedded into their oral comprehension and expression lessons. The control group did not receive any explicit cultural knowledge. Listening comprehension pre-test is used to measure students’ listening proficiency before the experiment, after the treatment sessions a posttest is applied for both groups. Findings show that there is a significant positive effect of cultural background knowledge on students’ ability to comprehend English oral texts. In attempt to clarify the situation more, we administered a questionnaire to EFL teachers aiming to explore their attitudes and perceptions towards the importance of cultural background knowledge in their classes. The results reveal that teaching culture in English as foreign language is relevant and crucial; however it is still ignored and disregarded in the curricula. As well, we administered a questionnaire to the EFL students aiming at investigating their attitudes towards the importance of having cultural background knowledge in their learning process. The findings impart that the students have positive attitudes towards integrating culture in their learning process. They are also aware of the importance of cultural knowledge. Moreover, the analysis of the attitude scale shows that students have positive attitudes towards incorporating cultural knowledge to improve their listening comprehension skills. Therefore, this study recommends the necessity of integrating cultural knowledge within oral comprehension and expression classes to minimize students’ difficulties and promote their listening comprehension abilities. EFL teachers should reinforce students with cultural schema (target culture) to avoid misinterpretation, and reduce miscommunication as they are exposed or engaged in intercultural situations