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The long and the short of it

TitleThe long and the short of it
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsWayland, S, Saner, L, Ralph, A, O’Connell, S, Linck, J, Kramasz, D, Gynther, K
Date Published08/2013
InstitutionUniversity of Maryland Center for Advanced Study of Language
CityCollege Park, MD
Report NumberTTO 2001 Obj. 1.2 · CDRL A017 · DID DI-MISC 80508B · Contract No. H98230-07-D-0175

Purpose —To explore the effects of passage length, information density, and working memory on second language (L2) listening comprehension.

Conclusions —The extent to which test developers and instructors need to consider length and information density when selecting passages to test or teach listening comprehension depends on the task listeners undertake. Recall tasks are consistently affected by these factors, but multiple-choice tasks are not. The listeners’ working memory capacity predicts performance on both tasks, as do L2 proficiency levels. These results were consistent for both native and nonnative speakers.

Relevance —The Defense Language Proficiency Test’s emphasis on testing listening comprehension with authentic materials has led to a growing interest in the passage-based factors that make L2 listening difficult. CASL’s studies indicate that the amount and density of information presented do not have a large impact on listening comprehension as measured by multiple-choice comprehension items.