We often ask children to listen or to
watch but what they actually do is see and hear. Thinking and reflection
must be involved if children are to learn. Use the term
"Active". Listening is not passive but something you need to be
actively involved with. Discuss body language, expectations of what should
be seen and heard in the classroom if children are listening. This will
establish a baseline for all other activities within the overall strategy.
Listening is an active process that has three basic
- Hearing. Hearing just means listening enough to catch
what the speaker is saying. For example, say you were listening to a
report on zebras, and the speaker mentioned that no two are alike. If
you can repeat the fact, then you have heard what has been said.
- Understanding. The next part of listening happens
when you take what you have heard and understand it in your own way.
Let's go back to that report on zebras. When you hear that no two are
alike, think about what that might mean. You might think, "Maybe
this means that the pattern of stripes is different for each
- Judging. After you are sure you understand what the
speaker has said, think about whether it makes sense. Do you believe
what you have heard? You might think, "How could the stripes to
be different for every zebra? But then again, the fingerprints are
different for every person. I think this seems believable."
Tips for being a good listener
your full attention on the person who is speaking. Don't look out the
window or at what else is going on in the room.
sure your mind is focused, too. It can be easy to let your mind wander
if you think you know what the person is going to say next, but you
might be wrong! If you feel your mind wandering, change the position
of your body and try to concentrate on the speaker's words.
the speaker finish before you begin to talk. Speakers appreciate
having the chance to say everything they would like to say without
being interrupted. When you interrupt, it looks like you aren't
listening, even if you really are.
yourself finish listening before you begin to speak! You can't really
listen if you are busy thinking about what you want say next
for main ideas. The main ideas are the most important points the
speaker wants to get across. They may be mentioned at the start or end
of a talk, and repeated a number of times. Pay special attention to
statements that begin with phrases such as "My point is..."
or "The thing to remember is..."
questions. If you are not sure you understand what the speaker has
said, just ask. It is a good idea to repeat in your own words what the
speaker said so that you can be sure your understanding is correct.
For example, you might say, "When you said that no two zebras are
alike, did you mean that the stripes are different on each one?"
feedback. Sit up straight and look directly at the speaker. Now and
then, nod to show that you understand. At appropriate points you may
also smile, frown, laugh, or be silent. These are all ways to let the
speaker know that you are really listening. Remember, you listen with
your face as well as your ears!
Remember: time is on your side! Thoughts move about
four times as fast as speech. With practice, while you are listening you
will also be able to think about what you are hearing, really understand
it, and give feedback to the speaker.
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