Dec 11, 2011

Tips To Effective Listening

Tips To Effective Listening
Your teacher is telling about historical events. Now and then he mentions the names of unfamiliar places, dates and people involved in a war you've never heard of and you're not interested in. So your attention, therefore, is not to what he is talking about. It is the sound of cool music next door that you prefer to listen to. Then he asks some students to retell the story to check their listening comprehension. You're kinda shocked when he asks you first to retell the story. You're not ready, of course, because you weren't listening when the story was related.

Have you ever had such terrible experience? If so, take a look at the following tips for effective listening.

1. Build Background Knowledge
Like other learning activities, listening holds a topic or subject that a speaker focuses on. Find as much information as you can about that subject. It can be about people, places, time, or particular situations. Having that information in your mind, you're ready to connect it to the information given by the speaker. This allows you to grab the whole picture of what the speaker is talking about. For example, if the speaker is talking about how to deal with flood, you should already know where and why it usually happens, what to do to prevent it, and so forth.

2. Demonstrate Interest
Being interested in what is being said by the speaker means being curious about it. You actively try to find out what will be said next. When hearing new, unfamiliar words, you don't tune them out; instead, you ask the speaker what they mean.

3. Minimize Distractions
Are you gonna take an EPT (English Proficiency Test) but find it hard to concentrate when listening? Try this! Sit close to the loudspeaker or cassette player producing the sound you hear. Avoid sitting by the window. Then, close your eyes when the passage is being read or the conversation is being presented on the cassette player. This will prevent you from any distractions you hear or see. Noise, light, temperature, anything in the room, or even what you ate for lunch can all prevent you from listening to what people are saying. However, with practice, you can still listen well in these circumstances.

4. Search for Meaning
Listening for understanding requires you to know the meaning of some key words. Ask the speaker about the meaning of unfamiliar words he or she uses. Not all the unfamiliar words are essential to build your understanding, though, because some of them are not key words.

5. Check Your Understanding
Understanding what the speaker is talking about is your main goal in listening. Try to connect places, times, names of people, and situations mentioned by the speaker. Then, infer what the speaker doesn't verbally say. Like “reading between the lines” when you read a passage, you can also determine the speaker's intent by “listening between the lines”: find out the meaning of what the speaker does not actually say. For example, by listening to the description of a person's behavior, you can eventually figure out this person's personality.

6. Make Notes
Listening means remembering, besides understanding. However, if there are too many things to remember, you'll find it hard to record them in your brain. Indeed, your memory is limited. Therefore, making notes outlining, mapping, and categorizing will save your efforts in remembering. This way you can sift and sort, often adding information of your own.

7. Be Patient
Sometimes, when we are familiar with the topic the speaker is talking about, we think we know it all. Before the speaker wraps up his or her message, you make your own conclusion. If you jump to a conclusion at the beginning or in the middle of the speech without having enough information, you tend to end up with a wrong judgment. Better wait until the speaker is finished with his or her speech.

So, let your ears listen, not just hear. This way you'll get not only the sound of others speaking but also the information it bears.
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