ListeningListening is one of the most important skills to help students improve in the classroom, but it is also a skill that has long-lasting implications and benefits for the rest of your life.  It is a skill which does not come instinctively; however, it is a skill which can be developed with energy and effort.  Below are some tips and strategies that can help you improve your listening skills.

  • Good listening means you are paying attention
  • Concentrate on what is going on in class - do not daydream or work on something other than what is being covered in class
  • Focus on what is being said
  • You cannot listen if you are talking
  • Think "around" the topic and "between the lines"
  • Relate what is being said to what you already know
  • What is the main point being covered?
  • Why is this information important to you?  (Sometimes it might simply be because you will be responsible for knowing the content on a test, but often this will be valuable to you for other reasons too.)
  • What is likely to be on the test?
  • What is the teacher going to say next?
  • Consider the pattern of organization that the speaker utilizes.  If you recognize what the speaker is driving at and how the speaker is getting there, you have a better chance of understanding the information being covered.
  • Listen carefully to assignments and write it down in detail
  • Take notes on the main points - this can help you to remain focused on the material being covered and it will also help you when reviewing later
  • If you have a choice, sit near the front of the class - you usually listen better if you are in the front.
  • Listen for "essential phrases" from the teacher:
    • This is important...
    • It is essential that you know this...
    • You will need to know this for the test...
    • The key is...
  • Sometimes students hinder their success in listening by focusing on the negatives such as deciding that they do not enjoy a particular subject or that they dislike the way the speaker looks, acts or talks.  Rather than spending your energy on these negative components, turn your attention to the content being covered so that you can truly hear it.  Remember, you are ultimately responsible for choosing to listen and understanding what is being taught.  
  • Listen for the main ideas and not just facts so that you can make connections and understand the big picture
  • Realize when you have strayed from listening and are no longer focusing and pull your attention back so that you can listen and learn
  • If you are unable to hear because of other noises or distractions, make changes.  Adjusting your seat so that you can see the speaker easily and where minimal distractions are present can make it easier to focus on listening.
  • You listen and understand more words per minute than a speaker can say per minute.  This gives you the opportunity to think about what is being said and concentrate on how it impacts you.  You can do this by anticipating the next point the speaker will make, identifying the evidence that your teacher is providing to support the statements, and making a mental summary of the points which have been covered regularly throughout the lesson.

Remember, listening and hearing are not the same things.  You must be thinking to listen - it is an active endeavor.  Studies have indicated that within 20 minutes people forget about 50% of what they hear so be sure to take notes to help make sure you can remember the main points.  Learning is up to the learner and listening is vital to learning.