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Strategies for listening skills

The act of listening requires more than just hearing words being spoken. In a college classroom, listening is an "active learning strategy."

To strengthen listening skills the following strategies are suggested.

Sit at the front of the room where you will be able to focus on the professor and the board

In this position you will be less likely to be distracted. Your attention will be focused on the instructor and the presentation of information.

Train yourself to stay focused on the material being presented

To keep your interest in the topic, make the information relevant to you, thereby making it more memorable. Make connections between the material and something in your life experience. Stay involved with the lecture. Take detailed notes that focus on main ideas and supporting details.

Listen for verbal clues

Many professors will give clues signifying important, relevant information. Alert listeners have a distinct advantage in this situation. Train yourself to listen for pauses, repetition of information, louder speech to emphasize a point, or softer speech to capture your attention. In many cases the instructor may even say, "This information is very important."

There are specific words and phrases to listen for. Some of these are, "Most important," " As a result, " "To summarize," "Very significant" and "In conclusion." These expressions signify information the instructor finds valuable, and if your attention has wandered, you will miss vital information.

Asking questions about the material in the lecture will help you focus on the topic

Be sure to read the assignment before the lecture. This will ensure that the lecture will be a clarification and review of the material instead of new information. While reading, flag pages or paragraphs that you would like clarified during class. Ask pertinent questions about the information and reading assignment to help solidify the material in your mind.

Listen closely to questions asked by other students

Often classmates may have the same doubts about information as you. If another student asks a question listen carefully, write down the question and the correct answer. It may be additional information to what has been presented previously and will be useful to add to your notes.

Be interested in the topic

Developing an interest in new information will show your professor that you care about the class and that you are eager to acquire new information.

Practice staying focused when your attention slips

When you find your attention wandering, bring yourself back to the present. Sit up straighter. Put both feet flat on the floor. Write down as much information as you can. Monitor techniques that keep your attention on the lecture and continue to do those things.

Repetition, repetition, repetition

Practice your listening skills. When you are studying, study aloud and repeat the material several times. Overlearning is one way of making sure information travels from your short-term memory to your long-term memory.

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