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Lesson 4: The Importance of Listening

"The reason why we have two ears and only one mouth is that we may listen more and talk less."

Zeno of Citium

If you took note of how much time you spent listening in a 24-hour period, you would probably discover that as much as 50 percent of your waking hours are spent in listening. If you calculated the time you spend listening in class, that number might be almost 100 percent. You will help your client immensely if you teach and reinforce the importance of listening--and how to listen effectively in class lectures.

Listening requires hearing with a purpose. A good tutor will teach clients that good listening is built on three basic skills:

  • Your attitude--a positive attitude leads to open-mindedness. 
    • Don't make assumptions about the lecture ("This lecture will be boring, exciting, funny, worthless...."). 
    • Don't assume that statements with which you disagree are automatically wrong. 
    • When you disagree with the lecturer, don't let your negative reaction interfere with recording the speaker's key points.
  • Your attention level--focus your attention on the lecture and tune out distractions (coughing, the dumpster being emptied, the lawnmower outside, etc.) so the lecture enters your short-term memory where it will be quickly processed into ideas. If you don't process them immediately, they are gone forever. Listening attentively will ensure that the ideas are processed.
  • Your ability to adjust--professors' organization of lectures varies; some are very organized, and it is easy to take notes. Others have a more rambling technique that may be difficult to follow. If you are thoroughly lost and confused by the lecture, raise your hand and ask for clarification.

Adapted from Walter Park's How to Study in College, Fifth Ed.

Also read and share this listening skills web site with your students:

As a tutor, you must also be a good listener. Don't do all the talking. This defeats the purpose of tutoring, which should be based on discussion, not lecture. Discussion encourages your client to become an active learner, a participant in the process of learning, not just an empty vessel to be filled by you. So listen actively to your tutee, and you and your client will have a much more satisfying session. Share with your clients a simple mnemonic device on learning how to Listen.

Complete Assignment Four

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