Oh, teachers… You know, the people who either have the great power to raise your interest on certain things and make you wonder about the world around us or have the magical skills to put you to sleep while they’re talking. Yes, we’ve all been in the situation where we try our hardest to listen to a teacher or instructor in class but it’s just not working. Of course, we all blame it on them, because they’re being “too boring”. But what if those magical skills I’ve said earlier are not totally their inabilities to make the class interesting but it’s actually just your lack of listening skills? Yes, we are all guilty of not trying hard enough to listen, and there seems to be no way for us to listen more attentively. But there is! There are many tips you can follow to improve your listening skills in class and here are 10 of them:
1. Focus your eyes
This is probably the first thing that you should do to listen and become a more attentive student. Focus your eyes on where the teacher is and make eye contact. Do not be afraid to do this as this method doesn’t only triggers your curiosity and open your ears to what is being discussed but it also alerts and gives sign to the teacher that someone wants to listen to her/him. But of course, don’t try to look creepy when doing this.
2. Focus your mind
When you have done focusing your eyes (and your ears) to the teacher, be sure to make your mind give all the attention to the teacher or the person who is discussing. Try to know every word that you are hearing (even if it’s sometimes really hard to) and know the main idea that is given. Then give a deeper and more thorough analysis to it. By doing this, you will learn new things; the interest in your mind will build up; and you might become more fascinated about the topic.
3. Don’t speak
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t speak at all, of course you can ask questions maybe later on the class, but as the discussion is going on, try your hardest to not say a single word and just give all your attention to the teacher. By saying something while the discussion is going on, you may distract others and disrupt the teacher while speaking. By avoiding talking, you will have better chance on learning the topic and avoiding any distractions that may come in your way.
4. Don’t judge
While there is something being said by the teacher, you may not help but notice some mistakes about what he/she is saying or explaining. These thoughts are normal since doubting is a common life survival method. But interrupting the teacher while speaking just to question his/her truthfulness may cause lost of concentration to what is being discussed. Remember that our teachers have the greater knowledge on the topics they discuss. Just let them explain the topic and along the way, you may find the answer to your doubts and realize that those mistakes weren’t mistakes after all. If you, however, still doubt, you can ask questions after the discussion.
Perhaps one of the greatest ways to understand the meaning of something is by imagining it. How? In many cases, thinking of a mental picture about the topic can improve both your memory and your comprehension. While discussing a novel, for example, you can try to imagine scenes in your mind that will help you remember a chapter. In math, applying equations into realistic stuffs such as converting 2x=4y+5z into “two dollars is equal to four quarters and five dimes” will help you know the central purpose of each topic. It’s weird but it works!
6. Ask questions
Listening is both hearing and knowing. If you did not understand or get the full meaning of something, do not be afraid to ask questions to your teacher. This is the best way for you to fully know the main subject and to understand the topic detail by detail. Just don’t try to ask doesn’t make sense or ask “rhetorical” questions as this may only make the class confused.
7. Take notes
While listening, it is also important to take notes of the topic so that you can rely on it when you have lost track of the discussion and for you to review on the subjects. Although some of us may not actually look back on the notes, writing it alone will improve our memory on what we have written. However, do not be distracted by this activity and try to learn the art of taking notes while the teacher is pausing.
8. Feel the teacher
Now, don’t try to be dirty-minded about this. “Feeling the teacher” simply means to put yourself in the teacher’s position. Try to examine the possible thoughts he/she may have in his/her head and know what you think is their purpose for wanting the class to know the topic.
9. Be curious
Being curious will be helpful in making yourself understand the topic. Try to squeeze out that hidden curiosity in you and soon you will know how badly you want to learn about the matter. Raise your interest and you will be sure to find yourself listening to the discussion
10. Be comfortable
It is very important that you are comfortable while you are listening. Do a position you find the most comfortable in while not looking rude. Also know what type of gesture you know you learn more. Do you find it better to listen to when you are leaning in or against your chair? Do you process more information when you nod or don’t nod? Everything you’re cozy with is for you to figure out.
By following these 10 tips, I think you definitely can be an effective listener and learn better.