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A computer assisted method to track listening strategies in second language learning

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 May 2011

Stéphanie Roussel*
Université Bordeaux IV, Avenue Léon Duguit, 33608 Pessac cedex, France (email:


Many studies about listening strategies are based on what learners report while listening to an oral message in the second language (Vandergrift, 2003; Graham, 2006). By recording a video of the computer screen while L2 learners (L1 French) were listening to an MP3-track in German, this study uses a novel approach and recent developments in computer technology to examine objectively what learners do while listening. The videos of the participants’ screens show the movements of the mouse and its time-course, and therefore the pauses and the backward or forward movements learners do in order to master their listening task. In this study, “self-regulation” indicates the capacity of the listener to exercise physical control over the listening input by using the mouse. Our point is that the recorded physical movements of the mouse during the listening task are a good indicator of metacognitive activity. This is independent of what the learner reports. The data and the time-courses of the mouse were then analyzed, from both a psycholinguistic and a linguistic point of view. This enabled us, on the one hand, to define a typology of listening strategies depending on the initial level of the participants and to show that, on the whole, the opportunity to have personal control over information input/intake does improve all the learners’ information processing. On the other hand, tracking the movements of the mouse while a learner individually listens to an oral text on a computer also has a methodological interest and equally allowed us to verify some precise research hypotheses about the links between linguistic features, for example, place of German compounds and final position of the verb in a subordinate clause, self-regulation strategies and comprehension.

Research Article
Copyright © European Association for Computer Assisted Language Learning 2011

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