The effect of cognitive factors of rhetorically different listening tasks on L2 listening quality of Iranian advanced EFL learners

Aliakbar Khomeijani Farahani, Masoumeh Ahmadi Shirazi, Seyyed Ahmad Mousavi*, Saleh Arizavi

*Corresponding author for this work

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This study examined the effect of two different authentic topic-familiar rhetorical L2 listening tasks (expository and argumentative) differing in reasoning demand on the listening comprehension scores of a number of Iranian EFL advanced learners. Sixty homogeneous advanced learners were recruited based on their performance on an English Language Proficiency test (Fowler & Coe, 1976). Then they took a researcher-made test of the two rhetorical listening tasks. The results showed statistically insignificant effect of topic-familiar rhetorical listening tasks on the participants’ listening scores. However, learners’ performance on familiar expository tasks was statistically, though not meaningfully, better than their counterparts’ performance on the argumentative tasks. It was also shown that general, vague topic familiarity cannot exclusively help affect listening quality, but it seems different rhetorical listening tasks would expose more cognitive and linguistic complexity demands on the participants’ performance. The main implication would be that Iranian advanced language learners need more precise instruction on different rhetorical tasks in conjunction with elaborated social and cultural background knowledge of topics. In addition, participants’ general proficiency level should be cautiously construed as their proficiency in listening skill, too.
Key Words: Cognitive Complexity; Authenticity; Rhetorical Tasks; Topic Familiarity; EFL Context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-165
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of English Language Teaching and Learning
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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