Listening skills are often neglected or taken for granted. Listening is an essential skill in participating in everyday life; the more trained your listening skills are, the more you will be able to engage in conversations and activities with your peers. Listening skills also help greatly when trying to learn new material. This is especially true in modern society where more and more information is begin taught using videos, audio, and presentations. A wise educator will work to help their student sharpen their listening skills. There are many ways that can help sharpen listening skills, but below we'll consider just three of them.
One method is to teach a student to visualize while they listen. This might sound like the opposite of what we've all been taught. We're told that anything that looks like daydreaming means that you aren't listening. However, that just isn't true! If you look at a picture or watch a video on your phone while listening to someone talk about it, then you are actually learning by doing. You are not only paying attention to the speaker's words, but you are also thinking about how they relate to the image/video. What is the difference between this and creating your own picture in your head? Not only will visualizing help the listener understand what they are hearing, but it will help them to take ownership of what they hear.
Do you know who are really good listeners? Reporters. Their goal is to talk to people and accurately incorporate what they hear into an article. Take a note from them on this next method: assign the student tasks that require that they listen to a real person answer a question in which answer might be unpredictable, tell a personal story, or give an opinion. Let the student know beforehand that they will be required to share with the speaker answers to questions related to their story, or restate their opinion or story. By letting them know ahead of time that they will be required to do something immediately with the information that they hear. Perhaps even let them know their work will be shared with the speaker; the fact might inspire them to pay careful attention. You can build in support for them in the beginning by providing them with the exact task or questions they will be required to do once they are done listening. Once this becomes easy, bump down the support to provide a general idea of what the task will be. Last, provide no clues beforehand.
Another thing that you can do is teach your student physical techniques that can use to help improve listening skills. For example, if possible, make eye contact or look at the speaker. If not, then just nod when appropriate. This way, even though it's not as good as looking directly into someone's eyes, it still helps them understand more about the person speaking. It also gives the student something else to focus on while trying to figure out who said what. When taking in audio from things like audiobooks or listening to a prerecorded lesson or presentation, some listeners do better when standing and some while sitting. Help your student figure out the best listening method for them in such circumstances.
In conclusion, listening skills are important and can be improved by using physical techniques to focus, completing assignments that require the application of listening skills, and visualizing what you hear. Educators can help by finding ways they can proactively help the minds in their care work on this important skill.