A Teacher: The fine art of listening

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(847 Words)

I would like to reflect on the attitude of teachers as listeners with regard to the classroom. It has made me think more about the person (teacher) I am. When I think about how I am in the class, it makes me reflect on the attitude I should have towards students who are trying to speak in class, thus the essence of this essay is, am I a good listener and reciprocator?

I think when people speak ideas begin to grow. These ideas growing within us is thinking of the students in the class with something to say and the teacher letting them speak but encouraging those students to expand on their answers. Thus, the teacher is the listener to the students expanding their ideas and their second language. The proposition is, how do we listen to others? I think people listen, the fact is sometimes this may not be attentive. Referring to a classroom setting, I think there could be a moment where the teacher does not listen to the students as attentively as one should. This does not mean the teacher is being rude; he or she might have their mind on completing the lesson or the fact that the student has answered the question, so the teacher can move on. I think here is where the teacher should take a step back to think about their attitude.  I think when the teacher has these moments in the class where the students have a chance to speak, they can expand on those junctures because they are courteous listeners who provokes the students to speak more.

It could be said there are lecturers (teachers) out there that love the sound of their voice and do stifle people’s thinking that stop them talking. They may be brilliant performers but by not giving the students a chance to talk, they do not let all involved express their thoughts and expand. I think that as a teacher one could get confused that they are doing a great job teaching, but why are the students not talking? As such the teacher never realizes that it could be them (the teachers) that are the problem. I think that this creative spark from the students has got to be given time, and some teachers may not give time to let this creativity start working. Students can be given too much work that they are not sure where to start. I think with clear and modeled instruction which specific objectives the students know what to do, they then have focus, thus they know what to speak about to which the teacher can listen with captivated attention.

The formulation of ideas has to be a task that most students find difficult to complete especially with their limited knowledge of second language vocabulary. Those that do have a wider knowledge, for them fluently remembering all this vocabulary is still a problem. For myself, I have had times when I know the word in a foreign language, but I just forget it only to find out later that, of course, I knew it. This goes along with sentences as well. I make this point because a student talking, although their language may be limited at first when they begin to think, speak and use their English language, can show their true self. For example, I had a situation in my class where a woman student was translating everything that I said. It was, I thought, stopping the students in the class from actually understanding me. Anyway, one break-time another female student wanted to tell me she was leaving after break time for some reason. As the student, who wanted to leave, was trying to tell me her problem this “translator” woman came over, translated, and tried to tell me the student’s problem. As diplomatic as I could, I explained to her that this was not her problem, and I wanted this student to tell me herself. Being a forceful woman as she was, she did not really listen, so as she was hearing the student having problems she again tried to help. Again, I said I wanted to hear the student. Well, the student took about a few minutes to tell me her problem and after trying really hard and me being an active listener, she got her point over. I think by me listening and understanding that she was not proficient in English and that I would have to take my time to let this student build up the confidence to tell me made for a more relaxed situation. Thus, she was able to speak English, and her vocabulary was enough for me to understand. I felt good because some students are not listened to because at that first moment they do not have the vocabulary or are a little nervous, but they can actually formulate what they want to say given time.

Finally, it just makes me think about what relationship the teacher has with each student. Hopefully, by writing this, it does make me think that we should be more attentive that leads to expansive language from the students.

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