Five listening skills for effective learning

  • The world is in the era of the Internet, with so much information available to overwhelm even the most disciplined among us. Factors such as the social media, fast speed internet, mp3 and mp4 enabled mobile devices, and the advent of the electronic economy has helped to reduce the attention span of many individuals. While having conversations, many people only hear, they don't listen. When this takes place in a learning environment like a college, it results in poor academic grades for the students and embittered and frustrated academics. To learn effectively, students need to develop listening skills that will provide them with needed information at the point of dissemination and aid easy assimilation. Here are five tips to help students become better listeners.

    Be prepared

    It is common for professors to give students lecture notes and assignments in advance of classes. Before going for lectures, ensure you have covered any reading notes about the class because you might find it hard to follow the class and pay undivided attention to the lecture if you can’t relate to the subject matter. If you have been given some background notes to study before any class, go through it, make notes of difficult points you encountered, and ask questions when you get to the lecture. Doing this will increase your participation in the lecture, and improve your listening as well.

    Listen for meaning

    When listening, you need to make conscious effort to focus on the central message of the lecture by paying attention to the overall meaning and sometimes specific keywords. Attentive listeners devote a lot of attention to the explanations, examples and other details that help to give more understanding about the topic of discussion. As much as you try to understand the lecture, ensure that you can relate to the main idea or facts about the subject of the lecture. After the lecture, try to recollect the most important points of the lecture. Are you able to deduce sensible notes from the focal point of the lecture? If you can do this, then maybe you are an effective listener.


    If you are having trouble concentrating during lectures, effective listening will be difficult to achieve. To be an effective listener, you must make deliberate efforts towards paying unbridled attention in lectures. It is true that the world is now full of tempting distractions, but effective learning cannot take place simultaneously with web surfing or rap blaring headphones. Try always to face the lecturer, and ensure you catch everything he or she is disseminating.

    When going to class, ensure you remove any distractive factors; it might be social media, music, relationship matters, and financial issues and so on. The ability to concentrate on one thing at a time will make you an active listener and an excellent student.

    Note only the relevant details

    Effective listeners can determine which points to note down, and which to leave. If taking notes is all you will be doing while the lecture is ongoing, how will you concentrate and listen to what the lecturer is saying? Tailor your note taking style to the method of teaching adopted by the teacher. Concentrate on the main themes or ideas of the lecture, and also take notes on details that give more clarity or support the focal points of the lecture. Do not waste your time taking down everything the teacher says, be smart and jot down only the essential points from which you can develop a comprehensive understanding of the main concepts of the lecture.

    Take an interest in the topic

    If you are not interested in a subject, listening to a lecture on that subject can be difficult. You are already switched off before the lecture, and the class will be dull and lackluster. To be an effective listener, you need to develop an interest in the subject at hand consciously, so you can fully concentrate on the classroom and process the information for better understanding and assimilation.

    Apart from academics, effective listening is a skill needed in all areas of life, as it is an essential ingredient in effective communication. I hope this article will be helpful in making students effective at listening, and eventually effective at learning.


    Schilling, D. (2012, November 9.) 10 Steps to effective listening. Retrieved September 01, 2017, from the Web

    Pappas, C. (2015, June 29.) 9 Tips to enhance active listening skills In eLearning. Retrieved September 01, 2017, from the Web

    Ahmed, R. (2012, October 1.) Five essential listening skills for English learners. Retrieved September 01, 2017, from the Web

    Artze-Vega, I. (2015, June 29.)  Active Listening: Seven ways to help students listen, not just hear. Retrieved September 01, 2017, from the Web

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