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The contribution of cognitive abilities and general language proficiency to explaining listening comprehension in English as a foreign language

January, 1970

Journal Name:

DOI: 10.1080/2331186X.2019.1567010 move

Issue: | Volume: 6 | Page No:


The present study aimed to investigate the relationship between a number of cognitive abilities (auditory/visual attention, processing speed, and fluid intelligence) and listening comprehension. A total of 97 undergraduate EFL students participated in the study. Tests of auditory and visual attention, processing speed, verbal and nonverbal fluid intelligence, overall English language proficiency, and listening comprehension were administered to the participants. The results indicated that the measure of English proficiency had the highest correlation with the listening test followed by measures of attention and processing speed. Hierarchical regression analysis indicated that 17% of the variance in listening comprehension was explained by the cognitive factors. The addition of second language proficiency to the regression model in the second step added another 25% to the total variance explained. That is, foreign language proficiency, after controlling for cognitive abilities, can explain 25% of the variance in listening comprehension. These findings suggest that understanding when listening in L2 involves cognitive information processing skills in addition to proficiency in that language.