Listening

Have you ever tried really listening to your partner?

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(319 words)

Has there been a time when your partner says you are shouting but this is only because they are not listening to a word you are saying? Listening skills are what is needed for a couple to make their relationship last. There may be times in the middle of heated discussions where the partner is taken over by emotional hijacking. An emotional hijack refers to a situation in which the amygdala part of the brain takes over. This is the emotional part of the brain and regulates the flight or fight response. This hijack prevents us from making sound, rational decisions.

The art of listening is for the partner to ignore their impulsive feelings or their want to rebut any comments made to them. The partner needs to recognise that they do not need to react like it is a full-on attack on them. If they feel it is a direct attack, in the middle of this tension, the partner then finds it difficult to acknowledge what is really being said. Thus, by missing the main point of a dispute they only hear the perceived insults and negatives. This leads to further times when the partner will interrupt and pay less attention. Therefore, non-defensive listening highlights empathy while also actually taking time to listen to the message and the feelings in what they are being told. This means being calm where the partner is able to mirror the feelings of their other half. 

Of course, the feeling of empathy will deteriorate the more the strong feelings are allowed to rise. The partner needs to allow the other to fully express their complaint without allowing it to move to an attack on them. The partner needs to see the situation from another perspective. Above all, there is room to apologise where the partner can say they are wrong because they have recognised the clear message and emotions from their disgruntled partner.

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.

Teaching Young Learners – Listening

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TASK: design two listening activities for beginner young learners or teenagers

1. Airport announcements

Age: Teenagers

Aim: Practice listening to schedules

Practice listening for times, cites, airlines (airport information)

Preparation: Collect some pictures of the cities mentioned in the announcement

  1. The teacher put up pictures on the white board (kangaroos, beach, hotel, Big Ben, Mickey Mouse, Suitcase, airplane).
  2. The students make educated guesses for what the pictures are. And what the subject is.
  3. The teachers explains the subject is ‘holidays’
  4. The teacher gives an example ‘I go on holiday to Madrid in Spain’ then gets the students to ask each other ‘where do you go on holiday?’
  5. The teacher gets feedback from the students trying to elicit cites
  6. The teacher puts up pictures of cities on the board.
  7. Students look at them in groups and try to work out which cities they are.
  8. The students or teacher writes up the names of the cities on board.
  9. Each student has to choose one city she would like to visit. Why? Give three reasons. This can be done in pairs.

10. The teacher puts a picture of an airport departure board on the whiteboard and tells the students that they are going on holiday. The teachers can elicit some times from the pictures as an example.

11. Then the teacher gives each learner a form and gets them to write the name of the city on the form (below)

12. The teacher pre-teaches airline names

13. Students listen and complete the information they hear in the departure lounge announcement on the form.

City 
Airline 
Flight number 
Gate number 

14. Feedback. The teacher can get the students to find out who has the earliest flight and the latest.

2. Sports and Numbers

Age: Teenagers

Aim: Practice listening for numbers

Practice: Years, facts, times

Preparation: Pictures of sports and famous sports stars

  1. The teacher shows pictures of sports. This introduction gives some idea of the context that they are going to listen to.
  2. The teacher asks ‘what sports do you like?’ Personalisation of the activities is very important here. A pair-work discussion about the sports they play or watch, and why, will bring them into the topic, and make them more willing to listen.
  3. The teacher then explains that each sports has its stars and produces a picture of David Beckham as an example of someone who is associated with football..
  4. The teacher then produces some more photos of famous people eliciting their name and putting them on the board.
  5. The teacher now spends a little time establishing some ideas of the famous people to transfer or activate their knowledge.
  6. The teacher writes on the board. 1) How old are they? 2) When did they start playing? 3) When were they born? 4) How many years have they played? 5) How many competitions have they won? 6) How much do they earn a year?
  7. The teacher then allows the learners to predict possible content. The teacher gives the learner a choice of things that they may or may not expect to hear. This is done by the use of card with the answers plus additional wrong answers to make it a little more difficult.
  8. The teacher asks them to choose those they think will be mentioned. (All the potential answers are laid on the groups table.
  9. The teacher plays the tape them get them to grab the right answer
  10. The teacher plays the tape again.
  11. The teacher gives them a sheet to fill in  the correct answers
Who?Q1Q2Q3Q4Q5Q6
         
         
         

12. The teacher reviews the answers.

13. The teacher has a feedback session and sees if anybody knows about other sport stars.

Tell me more – On the fine art of listening By Brenda Ueland

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Reflection on an article

(1007 words)

For this essay, I would like to reflect on the attitudes of listeners in regard to the classroom environment. Brenda Ueland’s article does not actually refer to teaching but completing the SIT TESOL course has made me think more about the person (teacher) you are. The article opens up some contemplation while getting the reader to reflect on the attitude the listener should have towards people. This is notable in my case because of the students who are trying to speak in class. Thus, the crux of the article and my essay is:  Are you a good listener?

To begin with, I have to agree with the writer on the fact that when people listen, ‘ideas actually begin to grow within us’. My immediate reaction was to think of a student in the class with something to say and the teacher letting them speak, but encouraging those students to expand on their answers. The listener to the students helps them develop their ideas using their English language to a deeper degree. This is in stark contrast to Brenda’s opening line with proposes that ‘how we don’t listen to our children or those we love’.  I think this is a bit far from the mark as I think people listen, the fact is sometimes not attentively. Not actually listening is just plain rude and to do it to the ones we love or your students would be very strange. Referring to a classroom setting, I think there could be a moment where the teacher does not listen to the students as attentive as they should. This doesn’t mean the teacher is being rude; they 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 listener should take a step back to think about their attitude.  I think that when a teacher has these moments in the class where the students have a chance to speak that the teacher can and should expand at those junctures because they have to be courteous listeners who provoke the students to speak more and grow stronger in their language. 

It could be said that there are some lecturers (teachers) out there that love the sound of their voice and do stifle people and students’ attitudes that stop them talking and feeling like talking. Brenda’s article alludes to this, when she says’ these brilliant performers, by not giving us a chance to talk, do not let us express our 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 that they are the problem. I think that this ‘creative fountain’ in us all as Brenda puts it, 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 with specific objectives the students know what to do and then they have focus thus they know what to speak about. This leads to what the main focus is about the listening issue to which the teacher can listen as Brenda Ueland says in ‘quiet fascinated attention’.

The formulation of ideas has to be a task that most students find difficult to do, especially with their limited knowledge of vocabulary as well as those that do have a wider knowledge. For them, remembering all this vocabulary is still a problem. For myself, I have had times when I know the word in Thai, 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 Brenda Ueland’s article mentions a person’s talking being a ‘little dry and meager and full-on grinding talk just now but presently begin to think’ thus ‘he will show his true self. It makes me think because I had a situation in my class where a woman was translating everything that I said. It was I thought stopping the students in the class from actually understanding me. Anyway one-break time a student wanted to tell me she was leaving at break-time for some reason. As the student who wanted to leave was trying to tell me her problem this 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 didn’t 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 five minutes to tell me her problem and after trying real hard and me being an active listener she got her point over. I think by me listening and understanding that she wasn’t 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 don’t have the vocabulary or are a little nervous.

To conclude this essay I would like to say some of the points Brenda said in her piece are important and I realize those points.  It just makes me think about what relationship the teacher has with people be it friends or teacher-student relationships. I am not sure If Brenda had real problems with conversations that brought on her feelings to write this but it does make me think teachers should be more attentive which is a good thing.