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  Weekly Feature: (February 2, 2003)


On Becoming a Better Listener
Paul's Weekly Feature

Related Page: What Do Good Listeners Do? (Notes from a 3B-C class at our centre)

Listening is one of the most important skills you can develop to do better in your studies. More than just simply hearing, listening requires paying close attention and interpreting what you hear. While effectivee reading is considered the most difficult study skill to master, good listening is the second most challenging skill to develop. Because active and effective listening form the foundation of communication, it is therefore essential to make good listening a habit.

A major step in becoming a better listener is having an awareness of some key factors which affect both listening, and communication. Such factors can be grouped into two categories—the factors external and the factors internal to the listener.

The external factors include the nature of the topic or subject of communication, the quality and effectiveness of the speaker, the forms of presentation and communication, and the environment in which the communication takes place.

The internal factors, on the other hand, are about the listener, the one at the centre of communication. Internal factors include the focus, the attitude, the emotional state, the motivation, and the opinion or bias of the listener.

In line with the goal of effective listening in the classroom, important tasks prior to attending the upcoming class include to review the main points covered in the previous class, to review the assignment from the previous class, and to develop an interest in what will likely be covered in the upcoming class.

Remember that good listening requires paying close attention to what you hear. Therefore, while in class, follow some basic rules to foster effective listening to gain the most from what you hear.

Try to sit where you will hear well.

Focus on what is being taught, and relate the main points to what you already know.

Be sure to interpret what you hear.

Furthermore, as the class continues, develop connections among the various ideas being presented and identify which concepts are the major ones to focus on.

Take notes on the main points being taught.

As you recapitulate every few minutes what the instructor has just communicated, anticipate what the instructor will say next.

Speculate on what is likely to be on the test.

Listen carefully to what is assigned, and write it down right away.

Effective listening, particularly in the classroom, clearly requires thought and awareness. The listener needs to actively participate in monitoring and improving his or her listening. Your studying performance will definitely improve as you focus on “listening with a purpose.”

For reference and for further detail, check these sites:

Active Listening

Improving Your Ability to Listen

How to Listen Better


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