Strategies for Developing Listening Skills
Language learning depends on listening. Listening provides the aural input that serves as the basis for language acquisition and enables learners to interact in spoken communication.
Effective language instructors show students how they can adjust their listening behavior to deal with a variety of situations, types of input, and listening purposes. They help students develop a set of listening strategies and match appropriate strategies to each listening situation.
Listening strategies are techniques or activities that contribute directly to the comprehension and recall of listening input. Listening strategies can be classified by how the listener processes the input.
Top-down strategies are listener based; the listener taps into background knowledge of the topic, the situation or context, the type of text, and the language. This background knowledge activates a set of expectations that help the listener to interpret what is heard and anticipate what will come next. Top-down strategies include
• listening for the main idea
• drawing inferences
Bottom-up strategies are text based; the listener relies on the language in the message, that is, the combination of sounds, words, and grammar that creates meaning. Bottom-up strategies include
• listening for specific details
• recognizing cognates
• recognizing word-order patterns
Strategic listeners also use metacognitive strategies to plan, monitor, and evaluate their listening.
• They plan by deciding which listening strategies will serve best in a particular situation.
• They monitor their comprehension and the effectiveness of the selected strategies.
• They evaluate by determining whether they have achieved their listening comprehension goals and whether the combination of listening strategies selected was an effective one.
Listening for Meaning
To extract meaning from a listening text, students need to follow four basic steps:
• Figure out the purpose for listening. Activate background knowledge of the topic in order to predict or anticipate content and identify appropriate listening strategies.
• Attend to the parts of the listening input that are relevant to the identified purpose and ignore the rest. This selectivity enables students to focus on specific items in the input and reduces the amount of information they have to hold in short-term memory in order to recognize it.
• Select top-down and bottom-up strategies that are appropriate to the listening task and use them flexibly and interactively. Students' comprehension improves and their confidence increases when they use top-down and bottom-up strategies simultaneously to construct meaning.
• Check comprehension while listening and when the listening task is over. Monitoring comprehension helps students detect inconsistencies and comprehension failures, directing them to use alternate strategies.
Developing Listening Activities
As you design listening tasks, keep in mind that complete recall of all the information in an aural text is an unrealistic expectation to which even native speakers are not usually held. Listening exercises that are meant to train should be success-oriented and build up students' confidence in their listening ability.
Construct the listening activity around a contextualized task.
Contextualized listening activities approximate real-life tasks and give the listener an idea of the type of information to expect and what to do with it in advance of the actual listening. A beginning level task would be locating places on a map (one way) or exchanging name and address information (two way). At an intermediate level students could follow directions for assembling something (one way) or work in pairs to create a story to tell to the rest of the class (two way).
Define the activity's instructional goal and type of response.
Each activity should have as its goal the improvement of one or more specific listening skills. A listening activity may have more than one goal or outcome, but be careful not to overburden the attention of beginning or intermediate listeners.
Recognizing the goal(s) of listening comprehension in each listening situation will help students select appropriate listening strategies.
• Identification: Recognizing or discriminating specific aspects of the message, such as sounds, categories of words, morphological distinctions
• Orientation: Determining the major facts about a message, such as topic, text type, setting
• Main idea comprehension: Identifying the higher-order ideas
• Detail comprehension: Identifying supporting details
• Replication: Reproducing the message orally or in writing
Check the level of difficulty of the listening text.
The factors listed below can help you judge the relative ease or difficulty of a listening text for a particular purpose and a particular group of students.
How is the information organized? Does the story line, narrative, or instruction conform to familiar expectations? Texts in which the events are presented in natural chronological order, which have an informative title, and which present the information following an obvious organization (main ideas first, details and examples second) are easier to follow.
How familiar are the students with the topic? Remember that misapplication of background knowledge due to cultural differences can create major comprehension difficulties.
Does the text contain redundancy? At the lower levels of proficiency, listeners may find short, simple messages easier to process, but students with higher proficiency benefit from the natural redundancy of the language.
Does the text involve multiple individuals and objects? Are they clearly differentiated? It is easier to understand a text with a doctor and a patient than one with two doctors, and it is even easier if they are of the opposite sex. In other words, the more marked the differences, the easier the comprehension.
Does the text offer visual support to aid in the interpretation of what the listeners hear? Visual aids such as maps, diagrams, pictures, or the images in a video help contextualize the listening input and provide clues to meaning.
Use pre-listening activities to prepare students for what they are going to hear or view.
The activities chosen during pre-listening may serve as preparation for listening in several ways. During pre-listening the teacher may
• assess students' background knowledge of the topic and linguistic content of the text
• provide students with the background knowledge necessary for their comprehension of the listening passage or activate the existing knowledge that the students possess
• clarify any cultural information which may be necessary to comprehend the passage
• make students aware of the type of text they will be listening to, the role they will play, and the purpose(s) for which they will be listening
• provide opportunities for group or collaborative work and for background reading or class discussion activities
Sample pre-listening activities:
• looking at pictures, maps, diagrams, or graphs
• reviewing vocabulary or grammatical structures
• reading something relevant
• constructing semantic webs (a graphic arrangement of concepts or words showing how they are related)
• predicting the content of the listening text
• going over the directions or instructions for the activity
• doing guided practice
Match while-listening activities to the instructional goal, the listening purpose, and students' proficiency level.
While-listening activities relate directly to the text, and students do them do during or immediately after the time they are listening. Keep these points in mind when planning while-listening activities:
If students are to complete a written task during or immediately after listening, allow them to read through it before listening. Students need to devote all their attention to the listening task. Be sure they understand the instructions for the written task before listening begins so that they are not distracted by the need to figure out what to do.
Keep writing to a minimum during listening. Remember that the primary goal is comprehension, not production. Having to write while listening may distract students from this primary goal. If a written response is to be given after listening, the task can be more demanding.
Organize activities so that they guide listeners through the text. Combine global activities such as getting the main idea, topic, and setting with selective listening activities that focus on details of content and form.
Use questions to focus students' attention on the elements of the text crucial to comprehension of the whole. Before the listening activity begins, have students review questions they will answer orally or in writing after listening. Listening for the answers will help students recognize the crucial parts of the message.
Use predicting to encourage students to monitor their comprehension as they listen. Do a predicting activity before listening, and remind students to review what they are hearing to see if it makes sense in the context of their prior knowledge and what they already know of the topic or events of the passage.
Give immediate feedback whenever possible. Encourage students to examine how or why their responses were incorrect.
Sample while-listening activities
• listening with visuals
• filling in graphs and charts
• following a route on a map
• checking off items in a list
• listening for the gist
• searching for specific clues to meaning
• completing cloze (fill-in) exercises
• distinguishing between formal and informal registers
Here are some important steps to developing good listening skills:
Time Required: Varies, Depending On The Situation
1. Listen, Listen, Listen. Ask your friend what’s wrong, and really listen to the answer. Let them vent their fears, frustrations and other important feelings, maintaining eye contact and showing that you’re interested in what they have to say. Resist the urge to give advice, and just let them get it out.
2. Reframe What You Hear. Summarize and repeat back your understanding of what they’re saying so they know you’re hearing them, and focus on the emotions they might be feeling. For example, if your friend is talking about family problems, you might find yourself saying, “It looks like things are getting pretty hostile. You sound like you’re feeling hurt.”
3. Ask About Feelings. Ask them to expand on what they’re feeling. Asking about their feelings provides a good emotional release and might be more helpful than just focusing on the facts of their situation.
4. Keep The Focus On Them. Rather than delving into a related story of your own, keep the focus on them until they feel better. You can reference something that happened to you if you bring the focus back to them quickly. They will appreciate the focused attention, and this will help them feel genuinely cared for and understood.
5. Help Brainstorm. Rather than giving advice in the beginning, which cuts off further exploration of feelings and other communication, wait until they’ve gotten their feelings out, and then help them brainstorm solutions. If you help them come up with ideas and look at the pros and cons of each, they’re likely to come up with a solution they feel good about. Or they might feel better after just being able to talk and feeling heard.
1. Stay Present. Sometimes people feign listening, but they’re really just waiting for their friend to stop talking so they can say whatever they’ve been mentally rehearsing while they’ve been pretending to listen. People can usually sense this, and it doesn’t feel good. Also, they tend to miss what’s being said because they’re not focused.
2. Don’t Give Advice. It’s common to want to immediately give advice and ‘fix’ your friend’s problem. Unless it's specifically requested, don’t. While you’re trying to help, what would work for you might not work for your friend; also, advice can feel condescending. Unless they ask directly for advice, your friend probably just wants to feel heard and understood, and then can find his or her own solutions.
3. Trust The Process. It might feel a little scary to listen to feelings before diving into solutions, and hearing your friend talk about upset feelings might even make you feel helpless. But usually offering a supportive ear and sitting with your friend in an uncomfortable place is the most helpful thing you can do, and once the feelings are cleared out, the solutions can start coming.
4. Let Things Even Out Over Time. With all this focus on your friend’s problems, it might be difficult not to focus equal time on your own. Relax in the knowledge that, when you need a friend, your friend will likely be a better listener for you. If you’re consistently doing all the giving, you can re-evaluate the dynamics of the relationship. But being a good listener can make you a stronger, more caring person and bring a more supportive angle to your relationships.
skill (sk l)
1. Proficiency, facility, or dexterity that is acquired or developed through training or experience. See Synonyms at ability.
a. An art, trade, or technique, particularly one requiring use of the hands or body.
b. A developed talent or ability: writing skills.
3. Obsolete A reason; a cause.
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Ability and capacity acquired through deliberate, systematic, and sustained effort to smoothly and adaptively carryout complex activities or job functions involving ideas (cognitive skills), things (technical skills), and/or people (interpersonal skills). See also competence. http://www.businessdictionary.com/defKnow the Different Types of Skills
If there's one word in a resume that every prospective employee looks for and every applicant mentions, it is 'Skills'. That's proof enough to show how important it is for one to know his /her skill set and to expand it to include the ones that are required but missing.
There are different types of skills which can be broadly classified into the following categories:
• Foundation Skills:
These skills are a must for any employee. They are classified as Basic, People, Thinking and Personal Qualities. They all fall into the following two categories.
• Marketable Skills:
These are skills which are useful to your employer. They include
Other than these two sets, any extra skills that you have, which are of absolutely no use to the boss are unmarketable skills. For example, singing a song backwards no matter how good you are at it!
Transferable Skills: • These are the skills that are useful in more than one kind of job. The more you develop these, the more are your chances in the job market. An employer might be attracted to your profile even if he has no immediate use for your extra skills, if he foresees any use for them in the future. The most common skill in this category is computer literacy. Armed with this, one can be a typist, a helper in a store, a document writer and a variety of other things.
• • Motivated Skills:
There is a saying that goes like this 'Find a job you love and you will never have to work a single day'. This is what motivated skills are all about. Things that you want to do .not things you have to do.
In an ever more complex, technology-driven society it is imperative that one has the necessary skills to succeed in life. By skills we are not merely referring to the technical skills of one's profession, such as the ability at this moment to properly operate your browser software on the Internet. We are actually referring to a whole range of skills, from the very specific technical skills required of life and one's work to the subtle, yet critical interpersonal and psychological skills demanded by life.
Technical Skills -- The most fundamental type of skills one must have to achieve in life are technical skills; including the technical skills required of life in general (e.g. cleaning, cooking, grooming, organizing, planning, etc., as well as the very specific technical skills required of your specific job. As most of us have discovered technical skill building is an on-going, never-ending process. We suggest that you continually upgrade your skills, stay on top of changes and developments, and make continuous education a cornerstone of your life.
By the author of this article, Roy Posner
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Interpersonal Skills -- In addition, you will need to know how to convey information, verbally or non-verbally to people you are in contact with. These are your interpersonal skills. To succeed at a high level in life you will need to have writing, speaking, presentation, communication, and management/leadership skills amongst others.
Psychological Skills -- Perhaps the most important type of skills to succeed in life are psychological skills. The ability to show real concern for others and knowing how to show that concern in interactions with others is a psychological skill. Other psychological skills include the ability to help others develop and grow, the ability to create harmony in difficult situations, the ability to know how to motivate others, the ability to understand another's true motives when interacting with them, and many others. By developing psychological skills, you increase the motivation and energy of those around you, and you increases your chance for success, joy, and happiness in life.
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