Listening Skills for University

How to become a better listener.

Ernest Hemmingway once said “I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” Listening is a key skill for any student who is undertaking a course at university and a skill that students should always be looking to improve. Students spend at least ten hours in class listening but listening does not always happen. If you walk around any school or university it would not take you long to find a student who is not paying attention.

But how does a student actually listen? There are a number of steps a student can take to improve and make the most of their existing listening skills.

A student can sometimes predict what a topic discussed in class will be about. By using past experience and past knowledge we can sometimes accurately predict what will happen or what will be discussed. Students can also look at topic titles and if available pictures to help predict information. Predicting what will be important can also be done by reading ahead. By predicting and reading ahead we can determine the information that is important to us and why it is important.

By predicting we can then identify key words. Key words are words that and often stressed and emphasised by the speaker. After we isolate key words we can listen for these words as they have been identified as important.  So identifying key words is critical because we can then determine what is important and what is not. Listening for key words leads to listening too and hopefully understanding main ideas.

Other tips include, if you can’t hear the speaker move closer, pay attention, avoid distractions and take notes.

Listening is an important skill that all speakers should keep practising and developing. But improving other skills such as identifying key words, predicting and reading ahead only compliments our listening skills.

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