Listening Better in School
Is Listening Important for My Studies?
Listening is one of the key strategies for assimilating knowledge in to one’s brain for long term use. On average, college students spend around fourteen hours each week listening to lectures in classrooms across the nation. But are they really listening?
You have to realize that there is a major difference between merely hearing and actively listening. Hearing can be thought of as “passive listening.” You might hear the sounds of someone’s voice and are thus aware that a person is speaking, but you are not actively processing what is being said. Many people have this problem. But it is a problem that must be overcome if we are going to be successful as students – and in the school of life, as well.
The key to active listening has little to do with our ears. It has a lot to do with seeing, writing, and body language. To begin with, you should make sure that you maintain eye contact with your instructor whenever he or she is speaking. If you are not looking at them directly, then chances are high that you are not listening to what they are saying. Steady eye contact keeps you involved with the lecture. The only time it should be broken is when you have to write down notes in your notebook.
What else can I do to improve my Listening Skills?
When a professor is speaking, try to focus on what they are saying – not how they say it. Sometimes teachers have annoying tics, things they do when they are speaking that we notice. They might say “huh” a lot or clear their throats. Do you find yourself focusing on these trivial tics? Then you are not really paying attention to the content – the information they are attempting to convey. If this is the case, then you are not getting anything from the lesson.
There is also a form of listening that involves listening a little too well and thus not hearing what is being said. In a word, this is when a topic of personal emotional value is being discussed. Perhaps the professor is airing an argument that you do not personally agree with.
You may find yourself listening in an emotional manner, wanting to cry out and protest – in which case you are not listening well. Try to maintain an objective stance when you are listening. This will help your case much later if you are given an opportunity to respond to what the professor has said.
How do I combat distraction in the Classroom?
This is a question that a lot of students ask at one point or another in their scholarly careers. Distractions can be internal – such as letting one’s mind wander or falling in to a trance like day dream – or external. External distractions might include watching as your neighbor shuffles his or her papers, or staring at a fellow student you find attractive.
Other external distractions might be more difficult to control. Perhaps the classroom is too hot or too cold. Try to remedy this situation by dressing appropriately before you go to class.
Do not use your notebook as a tool for distraction. A lot of students, when they get bored, will doodle in their notebooks, drawing pictures or writing poetry, in order to give the impression that they are taking notes, when in actuality they are tuning the professor out. This can be detrimental to one’s academic success in the long run, and is a habit that one must break in order to achieve greatness as a student.
What are some mental skills that can help me improve?
Listening itself is a mental challenge – and one that you may need to focus a lot of your energy on. Listening to a lecture in a classroom setting should not be viewed as a passive act. Listening requires a lot of energy and intellectual rigor. Stay actively involved by constantly writing down interesting points that the speaker is saying, and if need be, asking the professor pertinent questions when you are given the chance.
A key point of listening is processing information. As the professor is speaking, try to ask yourself questions relating to the content of what has been said. This will keep your knowledge in check and ensure that you are listening constantly to the lecture. You can also ask yourself more abstract questions, such as “Why is the lecture organized in this way?” and “How does this fit in with lectures on the subject that have been given previously?”
Your thoughts occur at a much faster rate than the professor is able to speak. Use that process to your advantage. By constantly thinking about every sentence that is uttered, this ensures that you are listening close – and will be able to retain that information at a later date.