Most people think of listening as something as natural as walking or eating. They don’t think of it as anything you have to work at to do well. But we are not born good listeners. We learn to be good listeners.
Listening is a study skill. It’s one of the most important study skills because listening is a part of almost everything else that you do. It seems simple, but it’s not. Being a good listener doesn’t come naturally. It requires learning and practice.
Why Is It Hard to Listen Even When Interested?Generally people talk at a rate of about 125 words per minute. However, we think at a speed that is more than three times as fast, about 400 words per minute. That means our thoughts move much faster than the words we hear. So it’s not surprising that we often let our attention wander away from what another person is saying to us.
Steps in Active Listening - FACT.F - Focus
A - Ask
C - Connect
T - Try to picture
FocusThe first step in active listening is to focus. This means to give your attention to something. Television often “catches” your attention. It doesn’t require you to do the active work of focusing. However, when your father calls you from the next room as you are watching television, you have to pull your mind from the television to really focus on what he is saying.
AskWhile you listen, ask yourself questions about what the speaker is saying. Then try to answer your questions, or see if the speaker answers them. Asking and answering questions in this way can help you make sense of the speaker’s message.
When you are listening in school, you might ask yourself: What is it that the teacher wants me to know? Do I understand this? What don’t I understand about what I am hearing? Does this make sense to me?
Keep asking yourself why the speaker is saying what she or he is saying. Try to connect the main ideas with each other. For instance, the speaker may talk about rearing in a certain place. You already know that these things are needed for people to grow food: climate, soil conditions, and technology. As the speaker is talking, you will listen for and connect the main ideas of climate, soil conditions, and technology in order to understand how the food is grown.