Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018

Listening skill

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June 6, 2018

Listening skill

Communication takes place from the day we are born. Scientists have proved that communication takes place between the mother and the child even before the child is born i.e. when the baby resides inside the mother’s womb. But generally speaking, we lack correct communication skills.

For communication four letters are very important – LSRW L – Listening, S – Speaking, R – Reading, W – Writing. We learn to speak when we are very young. As we grow older we learn to read and write. By the time we are in our teens we even learn about body language and silent non-verbal communication. But first of all, we learn to listen. Yet listening is the facet of communication for which we get no training and to which we give very little importance. This lack of listening skills gives rise to misunderstanding, tension, worry, stress and finally war.

Listening is not the same as hearing. Hearing denotes perceiving sounds. Listening means decoding and interpreting them correctly.

  • Listening is not a ‘passive’ skill but a ‘receptive’ skill. It requires as much attention and mental activity as speaking. Of the time an individual is engaged in communication, approximately 9 per cent is devoted to writing, 16 per cent to reading, 30 per cent to speaking, and 45 per cent to listening.
  • There are two types of listening processes
    • Bottom-up process
    • Top-down process


  • We use our knowledge of language and our ability to process acoustic signals to make sense of the sounds that speech presents to us.


  • We infer meaning from contextual clues and from making links between the spoken message and various types of prior knowledge which we hold.

What learners need to be able to do in order to listen effectively

  • Bottom-up processes
    • Retain input while it is being processed
    • Recognize word divisions
    • Recognize key words in utterances
    • Recognize key transitions in a discourse
  • Another interesting development was…
  • One of the problems was… / In contrast…
    • Recognize grammatical relations between key elements in sentences
    • Recognize the function of word stress in sentences
    • Recognize the function of intonation in sentences

What learners need to be able to do in order to listen effectively

  • Top-down processes
    • Use key words to construct the schema of discourse
    • Infer the role of the participants in a situation
    • Infer the topic of a discourse
    • Infer the outcome of an event
    • Infer the cause and effect of an event
    • Infer unstated details of a situation
    • Infer the sequence of a series of events
    • Infer comparisons
    • Distinguish between facts and opinions

Types of Listening

  • Participatory Listening
    • Interactional (for the purpose of engaging in social rituals)
    • Transactional (for the purpose exchanging information)
    • İdentification of specific details
  • Non-Participatory
    • Listening to live conversations without taking part
    • Listening to announcements to extract information
    • Listening to or watching films, plays, radio and songs where the purpose is enjoyment
    • Following instructions in order to carry out a talk efficiently
    • Attending a lecture or following a lesson
    • Listening to someone in a public address
  • Creating reasons for listening (motivate students)
    • Teachers need to ensure that learners experience a range of listening purposes, especially those that might be immediately relevant to their lives outside the classroom.
    • What purpose might there be for listening to this particular text?
    • Is that purpose similar to the purpose a listener might have in real life?
    • Does the task given to the learner encourage that listening purpose?

Which is more authentic?

  • Asking learners to listen to a short airport announcement to obtain information about a particular flight, as a passenger ?


  • Asking learners to listen for the details of four different flights?
    • Skills that are practised
    • Listening for key words
    • Picking out relevant information
    • Retaining significant details

Designing listening activities for the classroom
The standard procedure used for listening activities

  • Pre-listening stage
  • While-Listening stage
  • Post-listening stage

Purpose Of the Pre-Listening stage
The purpose of the pre-listening stage is to

  • Prepare the learners for what they are going to hear by
  • activating existing prior knowledge
  • introducing necessary schematic knowledge
  • Introducing the language which students will encounter
  • Objectives
  • Contextualize the text
  • Provide information to help learners appreciate the setting and the role relationships between participants

Activities for the pre-listening stage

  • Predicting content from the title of a talk
  • Talking about a picture which relates to the text
  • Discuss relevant experiences
  • Discussing the topic
  • Answering a set of questions about the topic
  • Agreeing or disagreeing with opinions about the topic
  • Associate vocabulary about the topic
  • Predict information about the topic
  • Write questions about the topic

Purpose of While-listening stage is

  • To HELP learners understand the text
  • While learners listen they need to be involved in an authentic purpose for listening and encouraged to attend to the text attentively

Purpose of Post-Listening Activities

  • The purpose of post-listening activities is to help learners to connect what they have heard with their own ideas and experience.
  • Helps learners to move easily from listening to another skill.


  • First seek to understand and then to be understood.
  • Spend your time evaluating what the speaker has spoken, and not just in planning rebuttals.
  • Concentrate upon the words of the person and not on the personality of the speaker.
  • Misunderstandings occur due to wishful listening – hearing only what you want
    to hear.

Rajkumar Sharma is the Principal of Satyug Darshan Vidyalaya (Residential-cum Day Boarding school), Faridabad, Haryana under the aegis of Satyug Darshan Trust (Regd.) whose vision and mission is based on the Ideology of Equanimity & Even Sightedness. Satyug Darshan Vidyalaya is known for value based education (VBE). R.K. Sharma believes that real education prepares the child for life.

R.K.Sharma has been awarded by various organisations for his hard work and passion for teaching – Rastriya Vidya Saraswati Puraskar (ISC, Delhi) Rastriya Siksha Jyoti Award (IIEM, Delhi), Life time Achievement & Gold Medal (ISC, Delhi), Best Principal, Haryana by SOF, Honoured by Faridabad Manufacturing Association and Siksha Rattan Award By Vishwa Mitra Parivar, Delhi.

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