SUGGESTIONS FOR ACTIVE LISTENING
PRESENTED BY THE ELMHURST COLLEGE LEARNING CENTER
1. Set a purpose for listening.
What do you want to achieve????
--Main ideas or details of the topic?
--Improved notes from class?
--Better ability to participate in class discussion?
--Staying awake during class lecture?
2. Concentrate on the message by eliminating internal and
Examples of external distraction:
--classmates arriving late
--noise from outside classroom
Examples of internal distraction:
--concern over argument with friend from the night before
--worry about stack of papers on instructor desk due to be
returned at end of class
3. Think of questions. You may need to jot down questions
to ask during class discussion or individually.
Informational Type: "I don't understand...."
Clarifying Type: "Is is true that...?"
4. Capitalize on your faster thought speed. Use this time wisely.
--Predict what will be discussed next.
--Evaluate evidence presented.
--Find links among topics or details.
--Think of additional questions or comments you might make.
5. Listen for transitions. These are often specific clues to
various parts of a lecture.
Introduction or Summary:
--Today's lecture covers....
--Today I'd like to discuss....
--Let's look at the topic of....
--As a review....
Enumeration or Sequence:
--First, second, third
--First, next, then, finally
--Most important, least important
--In addition, last
Compare and Contrast:
--similarily, both, likewise, in like manner
--however, on the other hand, instead of, nevertheless
Cause and Effect:
--the cause of, for this reason, because
--as a result, results in, thus, therefore
6. Hear the speaker out.
--Don't jump to conclusions.
--Don't stop listening because of an emotional response
to a word or topic.
--Don't give up because the subject is difficult.
7. Be alert for other verbal and nonverbal cues.
--Tone of voice changes.
--Item is written on chalkboard or overhead transparency.
--Specific phrases may be used such as "Last semester...."
or "Some students have had difficulty with this." These
phrases may be cues that details will be on the test.
8. Be prepared and be flexible.
--If a chapter was assigned prior to lecture, read it.
--If group work was to be completed, be sure you have
done your part before the next class session.
--Teaching styles differ among professors and disciplines.
Some professors lecture and then ask questions of
students on a daily basis; others prefer class
discussion and wander from group to group.
--Sometimes class sessions may wander to extended examples.
--Sometimes class sessions wander off on a tangent.
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