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Module 4: Listening Skills

 

WHAT IS LISTENING?

Which activity involves the most amount of listening? Students spend 20 percent of all school related hours just listening. If television watching and one-half of conversations are included, students spend approximately 50 percent of their waking hours just listening. For those hours spent in the classroom, the amount of listening time can be almost 100 percent. Look at your own activities, especially those related to college. Are most of your activities focused around listening, especially in the classroom?

If you ask a group of students to give a one word description of listening, some would say hearing; however, hearing is physical. Listening is following and understanding the sound; it is hearing with a purpose. Good listening is built on three basic skills: attitude, attention, and adjustment. These skills are known collectively as triple-A listening .

Listening is the absorption of the meanings of words and sentences by the brain. Listening leads to the understanding of facts and ideas. But listening takes attention, or sticking to the task at hand in spite of distractions. It requires concentration, which is the focusing of your thoughts upon one particular problem. A person who incorporates listening with concentration is actively listening. Active listening  is a method of responding to another that encourages communication.

Listening is a very important skill, especially for tutors. Many tutors tend to talk too much during a tutorial session. This defeats the purpose of tutoring, which is to allow students to learn by discussion. Rather than turning the session into a mini-lecture, tutors must actively listen and encourage their student to become active learners. Giving a student your full attention is sometimes difficult because you start to run out of time, or you find yourself thinking about your next question. However, the time you spend actively listening to your student will result in a quality tutoring session.

Poor Listening Habits and Good Listening Habits

Poor Habits

Poor Listeners...

Good Listeners...

Criticizing a speaker

Criticize the speaker's voice, clothes, or looks. Therefore, they decide that the speaker won`t say anything   important.

Realize that a lecture is not a popularity contest. Good listeners look for the ideas being presented, not for things to criticize.

Finding fault with the speaker

Become so involved in disagreeing   with something the speaker states that they stop listening to the remainder of the lecture.

Listen with the mind, not the emotions. Good listeners jot down something they disagree with to ask the speaker later, then go on listening.

Allowing yourself to be distracted

Use little distractions -- someone   coughing, a pencil dropping, the door opening and closing -- as an excuse to stop listening.

Filter out distractions and concentrate on what the speaker is saying.

Faking attention

Look at the speaker but don't listen. They expect to get the material from the textbook later.

Understand that speakers talk about what they think is most important. Good listeners know that a good lecture may not contain the same information as the textbook.

Forcing every lecture into one   format

Outline the lecture in detail. The   listener is so concerned with organization that he misses the content.

Adjust their style of note-taking to the speaker's topic and method of organization.

Listening only for facts

Only want the facts. They consider   everything else to be only the speaker's opinion.

Want to see how the facts and examples support the speaker's ideas and arguments. Good listeners know that facts are important, because they support ideas.

Calling a subject boring

Decide a lecture is going to be   dull and "tune out" the speaker.

Listen closely for information that can be important and useful, even when a lecture is dull.

Overreacting to "push   button" emotional words

Get upset at words which trigger   certain emotions -- words such as communist, income tax, Hitler or abortion.  Emotion begins and listening ends.

Hear these same words. When they do, they listen very carefully. A good listener tries to understand the speaker's point of view.

Wasting thought speed

Move along lazily with the speaker   even though thinking is faster than speaking. A poor listener daydreams and falls behind.

Use any extra time or pauses in the lecture to reflect on the speaker's message. They think about what the speaker is saying, summarize the main points, and think about the next   points.

Remember, it is important for you to encourage your students to practice good listening skills.  Active listening is a very demanding skill that requires practice and perseverance; however, active listening is also very rewarding.

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