Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

EFL University Students' Cognitive Processing of Spoken Academic Discourse as Evidenced by Lecture Notes

Karina Vidal


This paper presents an empirical investigation of the role of EFL university students’ bottom-up and top-down processing in academic listening. EFL student notes from a Tourism lecture were analysed according to their test answerability, that is the test questions they helped answer. The true-false questions administered to check comprehension were classed as a) “supporting” or b) “main” according to whether a) they asked for specific facts, examples or ideas supporting the main concepts in the lecture and therefore required accurate bottom-up processing or whether b) they referred to more general, essential and recurrent concepts in the lectures, which the students could mainly try to answer by resorting to top-down processing. The student notes were also classed as “main” or “supporting”, depending on the type of question they helped answer. Two paired t-tests conducted on the T/F scores and the answerability scores, respectively, revealed that both highproficiency and low-proficiency students were weaker in bottom-up than in top-down processing. This paper also provides evidence of some common EFL auditory processing difficulties: word beginnings, endings, number of syllables and function words.

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