Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 12. Number3   September 2021                                         Pp.366-374

Full Paper PDF 

Listening Skills: Important but Difficult to Learn 

Jwahir Alzamil
English Language Centre
Taif University, Saudi Arabia


Received:   5/8/2021               Accepted:  8/9/2021               Published:9/24/2021


This study of 87 Saudi female university students aimed to discover whether they experience difficulties learning to listen to spoken English. Acknowledging that listening is an important part not just of learning a new language but also of day-to-day communication, data was collected using an online questionnaire. Participants were asked to respond to a series of statements designed to test four constructs relating to their attitudes to learning English language skills in general (a); learning listening skills specifically (b); their attitudes towards listening activities (c); and (d) their attitudes towards improving their listening skills. The results showed that most of participants felt that speaking and listening were the most important skills to learn, but listening was also the most challenging. Reading was felt to be the most effortless skill to learn, as well as the most commonly used, suggesting that frequency of use contributes to students’ perceptions of the ease of learning a skill. Participants’ difficulties with learning to listen to English were associated with speech rate, pronunciation, nervousness, limited vocabulary, and lack of background information. However, students also expressed positive attitudes towards improving their listening skills. Understanding students’ attitudes to listening skills and their problems with listening may help teachers improve the way they teach these skills. This may in turn improve students’ listening comprehension not only in universities but also in schools.
Keywords: English teaching, learning difficulties, listening skills, Saudi students

Cite as: Alzamil, J.  (2021).  Listening Skills: Important but Difficult to Learn.  Arab World English Journal, 12 (3) 366-374.


Abdalhamid, F. (2012). Listening comprehension strategies of Arabic-speaking ESL learners, (Unpublished Master’s dissertation). Department of English, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Alhmadi, N. S. (2014). English speaking learning barriers in Saudi Arabia: A case study of Tibah University. Arab World English Journal, 5(2) 38-53.

Anderson, A. C., Anderson, A., & Lynch, T. (1988). Listening. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Assaf, A. H. (2015). The difficulties encountered by EFL learners in listening comprehension as perceived by ELC students at the Arab American University-Jenin, (Published Master’s Thesis). An-Najah National   University: Nablus, Palestine.

Bertram, D. (2006). Topic Report: Likert Scales, Computer Science and Engineering. Texas A & M University.

Darti, D., & Asmawati, A. (2017). Analyzing students’ difficulties toward listening comprehension. English, Teaching, Learning, and Research Journal, 3(2) 211-228.

Gilakjani, A. P., & Ahmadi, M. R. (2011). A study of factors affecting EFL learners’ English listening comprehension and the strategies for improvement. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 2(5), 977-988.

Hamouda, A. (2013). An investigation of listening comprehension problems encountered by Saudi students in the EL listening classroom. International Journal of Academic Research in Progressive Education and Development, 2(2), 113-155.

Kajiura, M., Jeong, H., Kawata, N. Y., Yu, S., Kinoshita, T., Kawashima, R., & Sugiura, M. (2021). Brain Activity Predicts Future Learning Success in Intensive Second Language Listening Training. Brain and Language, 212.

Mahmoud, T. O. M., & Ahmed, M. A. (2020). Investigating teacher’s views and perceptions about listening comprehension difficulties encountered by Sudanese university students. Journal of Linguistic and Literary Studies, 21(2), 91-100.

Nishanthi, R. (2018). Important of learning English in today world. International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development, 3(1), 871-874. doi:10.31142/ijtsrd19061

Nushi, M., & Orouji, F. (2020). Investigating EFL Teachers’ Views on Listening Difficulties Among Their Learners: The Case of Iranian Context. SAGE Open, 10(2), 1-16.

Rakhman, F. A., Tarjana, S. S., & Marmanto, S. (2020). Indonesian English Department Students Listening Difficulties and Listening Strategies. IJER (Indonesian Journal of Educational Research), 4(2), 60-67.

Rost, M. (2013). Teaching and Researching: Listening. London: Routledge.

Sa’diyah, S. S. (2016). EFL learners faced problems in listening comprehension. Indonesian EFL Journal, 2(1), 53-59.

Sahlen, B., Brannstrom, K. J., Lyberg Ahlander, V., & Rudner, M. (2020). Children Listen: Psychological and Linguistic Aspects of Listening Difficulties During Development. Frontiers in Psychology11.

Underwood, M. (1989). Teaching Listening. New York: Longman.


Received: 5/8/2021
Accepted:  8/9/2021  
Published: 9/24/2021 

Dr. Jwahir Alzamil is an assistant professor of applied linguistics in the English Language Centre at Taif University, Saudi Arabia. Her research interests centre around applied linguistics.