Effective Listening

Learning requires listening. Learning effectively requires effectively
listening. Even though listening is one of the most important skills for
effective learning most students are not good listeners. Since most of what you
are required to learn in school is going to be communicated to you by a teacher
or professor, it is imperative that you learn to listen. Don’t make the mistake
of thinking that hearing and listening are the same thing – they are very
different. When you listen to what someone saying you are not only hearing what
they are saying you are also processing what they are saying.

The following are tips for improving your ability to listen:
Listen for meaning

Pay attention not only to the words being spoken by your teacher but to the
thoughts and messages they convey. Identify the main idea, concept or subject
being addressed and the relating issues. Listen for explanations, descriptions
and clarifications. Again, don’t just hear the words. Listen to the meanings
being communicated.

Adjust your note taking style to the lecture

Poor listeners try to write down everything, believing a detailed outline and
effective notes are the same thing. They get frustrated when they cannot see
the meaning behind what they are writing down or they go to review their notes
and don’t understand the concepts that were taught in class. Effective
listeners adjust their note-taking to the lecture style. They listen to what is
important, they try to understand concepts and they take notes that clarify,
organize and reiterated important details of the lecture.

Tackle difficult to understand material

Frequently, when a teacher starts to lecture on a topic or concept that is
difficult to understand students stop listening. They are hearing what the
teacher is saying but they are not processing the information they are hearing.
Effective listeners tackle difficult material and expend the brain power
required to process what they are hearing even when it is difficult.

Concentrate and pay attention

Poor listeners frequently are poor concentrators. Effective listening requires
that you concentrate and pay attention. Remove all thoughts of home, friends,
fun and ancillary activities from you head while the teacher is speaking.
Learning to focus and concentrate will help you become an effective listeners
and much more effective student.

Be prepared

It is difficult to listen and mentally process what you’re hearing when you
come to your class unprepared. If your teacher gives you a reading assignment
or homework designed to prepare you to understand a topic it’s important that
you are familiar with the topic before it is discussed in class. Being ready to
listen means being prepared for each class ahead of time.

Focus on what’s important

Poor listeners focus on fact. They may retain a few of those facts, but the
information is usually garbled. Effective listeners focus on main ideas,
fundamental concepts and vital issues.

Choose to be interested

One of the most telltale signs of a poor listeners is that they just can’t find
what the teacher is talking about to be interesting. As a consequence they
don’t listen with real intent and often miss important topics and details being
addressed. Good listeners are able to decide to be interested in the subject
matter being addressed by the teacher. As a result they listen more intently
and effectively.