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Academic Texts

scar Valdivia Ramrez

Section: 505
Passive Listening VS Active Listening Effectiveness in Learning a Second Language
Listening is surely one of the most important interpersonal skills a learner of a second language
needs to develop. Most people think that listening is something that just happens but they realize
the importance of developing that communicative skill just when they start learning a new
language, and then some questions comes trying to identify how to reach a good language level,
and the strategies needed in order to learn correctly. It is common to believe that being in contact
with the language a large amount of hours will help a student to make progress and it is truth but
the question is, Active or Passive contact with the language.
When listening, a person has to get across two components. Nevertheless, active listening
basically requires getting in side of the speakers mind and see things from its perspective to
convince him or her that you understand. As mentioned earlier, listening for total meaning a
message usually has more than one component as important as the first. In most of the cases the
content of the message and the feeling or attitude underlying this content As we Know not all
communication is verbal because words alone dont give us a full meaning. There are several
ways in which someone conveys a message.
Any message a person tries to get across usually has two components: the content of
the message and the feeling or attitude underlying this content. Both are important;
both give the message meaning. It is this total meaning of the message that we try to
understand. (Carl R. & Richard E., 1987, p. 3).

For example, the way we pause before saying or doing something while giving a speech, or the
voice tone and the stress in certain parts, also non-verbal attitudes such as body posture, breathing
and facial expressions. The principal reason is that the listener must try to remain sensitive to the
total meaning because while chatting we need to focus and think what is the other one trying to
tell in an specific situation and what does this mean not to you but to the speaker and how does
he sees that situation. If those components are well used our perspective and active listening
skills will improve amazingly and both parts will have a better communication which is the main
communicative problem.
The information we receive is not necessarily spoken. However, to understand the role of the
interlocutors in verbal interaction it is necessary to give a general description or plan of the nature
of content in language. We need to look at how people understand a language, see what each
person understand according the events happening and see who is responsible for understanding.
Some people already have answers for these questions about the process of understanding.
Usually, we think about the concept of communication with the image of someone receiving a
message of another person sending it, that procedure is impossible because messages and
thoughts cannot travel because they are not tangible.
We often speak of communication as the sending and receiving of information, with
our image of one person 'catching' this information that another somehow sends.
Or we often refer to communication as a traveling-thoughts process, with one party
picking up signals we transmit. (Michael Rost., 2013, p. 2).
We think of these kinds of metaphors in this way because the first time in which those appeared
was in the rationalist tradition in philosophy and during this time words were seen as having

meaning. But years later it changed to add the listener feedback and noise distortion and now
listening is seen as an encoding and decoding meaning process. It is necessary to make this clear
because we cannot continue thinking in listening with this kind of metaphors and also it is needed
to see the role of the interlocutors from other point of view. Now, we now that there are more
than just verbal interactions during the communicative process and to get total meaning it is
necessary to analyze the listener feedback and atmosphere.
Using passive listening, the learner starts to learn through a more natural process, but in a
globalized world surrounded by information and sound, can be difficult to comprehend the full
stimuli. The International Listening Association defines listening as The process of receiving,
constructing meaning from, and responding to spoken and/or nonverbal messages. (Sarahn.,
2014). There are various types of listening including active and passive listening which are
important factors of effective communication, because passive listening make the listener observe
the speaker in silence while active attracts the listeners attention.
For example, toddlers learn to identify sounds using some discriminative listening skills, those
new listeners are perfectly capable to process sound, tones and recognize their parent's voice and
know perfectly who each one is. No matter how hard can be for some students to get used to
become good listeners, at the end it will be worthy because they will better understand their
subjects, they will suddenly begin to apply their passive listening skills to their past experiences
such as music and internet because it is natural.
Using verbal and non-verbal messages communication can become more easily, openly and
honestly. For that reason, all senses are involved in Active Listening and that is why the speaker
requires full attention and she needs to notice this, otherwise the listener will think that what she

is saying is not important or relevant to the listener. The act of looking directly into one another's
eyes, a kind facial expression and agreeing will give confidence the speaker to continue and
communication will become better. 'Active listening' means, as its name suggests, actively
listening. That is fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just passively hearing the
message of the speaker. (SkillsYouNeed. ,2015).
For example, some non-verbal signs of Attentive Listening are small smiles which shows sign
that the message is being understood, also eye contact is a useful strategy but we need to be
careful because it can be intimidating for shy speakers, another strategy is the posture while
talking and automatic reflection of the facial expressions of the speaker. However, not all those
signs may not be suitable or proper in all circumstances and cultures. But at the end if you
develop those skills with daily practice the act of communication will become easier.
The listener needs to avoid and break common responses and habits. To communicate, their body
and their word play together. He has to focus in how the speaker acts while is talking to
understand the complete message of the conversation that they are having. Somehow to what
active listening skills concern, if the listener really get all the expressions of the other person, he
will succeed because details are hard to identify, usually people tend to listen and not to see or the
other way round (to see and not to listen).
Real active listening requires the listener to avoid common responses when
listening, even internally, and these are very difficult habits to break. In other
circumstances many of these responses may be entirely appropriate, but in active
listening these are commonly called road blocks. (Robertson, K., 2005, p. 1053).

The principal examples are judging, suggesting solutions and avoiding the others concerns. As
Carl Rogers said, the first one mentioned may include responses such as name calling
labelling diagnosing and praising evaluatively. Then suggesting solutions include:
ordering threatening moralizing excessive/inappropriate questioning and advising.
Finally, the last roadblock mentioned is avoiding the others concerns by: diverting logical
argument reassuring. In other words, if somebody as a listener avoid all those habits, the
conversation will be completely understandable besides the spoken message.
Hearing is an involuntary capacity of our brain, and listening becomes more active. The
importance of listening is questioned by most of students, besides that as students, they may have
heard about listening skills or at least they have the concept. But there are some mistaken
believes that need to be clarified. For example, passive listening might deceive students to
believe that they are becoming good at English or their second language when they are losing
their time developing this skill. Students as listener might lose the motivation in the topic and
consider it all as background noise. On the other hand, active listening can really help you to
develop your second language skills such as obtain directions, pay attention to details, solve
problems, get to know people, share interests, feelings, emotions, etc.
Listening and hearing are two different things. Hearing involves perceiving the
sound. Hearing is involuntary and may simply reflect the auditory capabilities of our
brain. Listening, on the other hand, is much more active than just hearing. In fact,
listening usually requires more energy than speaking as it involves receiving and
interpreting the information. (Elena Mutonono., 2011).

The reason of that is that most students practice their skills downloading audios such as podcast
or daily conversations but they forget to make sure that they are listening actively and not
passively because they lose concentration easily. As a result of the learned they bring to a
conclusion that everybody without a disability has the capacity of hear but just a few can listen.
Human relationships can be improved by passive listening. A part of being a good listener,
convey interest tells that they are engaged with the subject, this interest response is also called
lean in and is an important tool of the listener to express itself openly and relaxed. This is a
huge process which encourages listening without actively respond and requires being focused. A
new appreciation will be gotten by improving these skills.
Passive listening can help improve your relationships with people and can provide
both the speaker and the listener with a new appreciation for listening and
communication in general. Passive listening requires the listener to sit back and
focus, without crafting an immediate response, and forces the listener to concentrate
his or her attention completely on the words and body language of the speaker.
(Sarahn., 2014).
For example, a person as a listener will improve their personal relationships. Also the listener
needs to wait a determinate period of time and do not give responses immediately because he
needs to use that time to pay attention and concentrate in body language. The reason of that lack
of attention lies in modern society because people constantly focus in a big number of different
subjects or things to do, such as technology, that make them forget what is like to concentrate in a
single topic without seeing the phone alerts or calls. Listening correctly will give us a complete

new appreciation of life and human relationships, and things will be getting better periodically
while improving.
Passive listening is a good technique to demonstrate progress learning languages. Passive
listening is not only ineffective; it is also the reason of a big number of abandonments during
learning a second language because is a big source of frustration, at the begging everybody thinks
that they are making progress but the big reality is that the student does not go out of their
comfort zone and when presents a test, they usually fail.
Apart from being ineffective, passive listening practice can be a source of
frustration that, in an absolute worst-case scenario, could cause you to give up your
language studies altogether. At best, passive listening is great for demonstrating that
you have made progress using other, more effective, listening techniques. (Andrew
Barr., 2015).
That happens because students need to use other techniques to continue progressing in their
studies. If they really want to make a progress on their skills, students need to put themselves in
risky active listening situations and see if they can handle the stress. Other useful tool is to
download movies and podcast and write down by hand on a paper phrases and conversations that
cause trouble. Also other good exercises are the non-listening activities such as reading to
improve vocabulary. For amateur learners is very common to think that they are good in a
language because they are able to understand the main message of an audio or some important
words such as commands, but when they face a real situation, they are not capable of understand
because of the speediness or the accent of the native speaker. In conclusion passive listening is
only useful to notice individual progress but not to demonstrate it.

Students need to exhibit good listening behaviors and strategies. The author says that the process
of communication is complicated and a lot of factors are involved. In order to become a good
communicator, it is need to exhibit good listening behaviors and strategies. Thomas Gordon also
says that hearing actively the listener can get a big portion of the message but the complete
message is also a part of the non-verbal language and the situation. Being aware of the different
factors involved in listening will aid in the process of communication. Listening is an important
part of effective communication. We need to concentrate on encouraging not only students, but
ourselves, to exhibit good listening behaviors and strategies. (Sarita Kumari., 2005 , p. 136).
Listening is affected by environmental factors such as day dreaming and most important personal
bias which takes many forms such as prejudice and anger, and those factors cause distortion of
the message. Good communicators must put apart those problems and use some strategies such as
eye contact, non-verbal communication and show interest. As a conclusion after the practice
those behaviors and strategies need to be exhibit not only practiced.
To understand the full message, the listener needs to see the world from the speakers
perspective. Practice and changing basic attitudes are necessary to become good active speakers.
The listener needs to encourage the speaker to express himself freely by showing interest in what
he is saying. Is very difficult to become a good listener and free yourself, also it is need to
consider the other's background and put apart our personal experiences because sometimes we
just want to hear what we want. The author also stages that developing a good attitude of interest
is not as simple task. It will be developed only by the risk of practice and see the world from the
speaker's point of view. In other words, the listener needs understand the others mind to
understand everything.

Active listening carries a strong element of personal risk. If we manage to

accomplish what we are describing hereto sense deeply the feeling of another
person, to understand the meaning his experiences have for him, to see the world as
he sees itwe risk being changed ourselves To get the meaning which life has for
himwe risk coming to see the world as he sees it. (Carl R. Rogers and Richard E.
Farson., 1987, p. 5).
The process of communication is complicated and will be only developed by the risk of practice
because a lot of factors are involved. In order to become good communicators, it is need to
increase good listening habits and strategies such as changing attitudes. A great part of the
message is received by hearing but the full message will be only gotten by non-verbal part of the
language and the situations, that is why it is necessary to encourage the speaker to express freely
by showing some interest about what the speaker is saying. However, if you want to make feel
comfortable the other part while talking, you need to free yourself also to become a good listener.
Using some strategies both will be capable to become good communicators. Those factors,
personal such as bias and impersonal such as environment and daydreaming, takes many forms
such as prejudice and anger. This cause distraction of the message and we have to deal with it
cleverly by putting apart all those problems and take care of each other background because
sometimes we just want to hear what we want and that distortion the message. It is necessary to
see the world from the speaker's point of view also.
It is said that effective listening is active rather than passive, and it has been proven by studies
that 20 to 30% of the information given during a conversation is not fully well interpreted. In
passive listening, youre like a recorder, you absorb the information given. Active listening is

much different, active listening, in contrast, requires you to get inside the speakers head so
that you can understand the communication from their point of view. (Rod Worley., 2011).
People, not necessary language students in their personal life or business dealings while working
faced those situations and notice that the other interlocutor is not catching the information already
given. For example, on a store like Home Depot clerks deal with costumer daily and almost all
notice signs of confusion on the costumer face while they relay simple information about a repair.
All this loss of information happens thanks the lack of practice in active listening skills.
As a conclusion, effective listening is the key for success in learning a second language and in
general for daily life, but the student is the one who has the last word, and it is needed to be
remembered that everybody thinks and learns in different ways, actively or passively both have
the same end; Learn. The difference is that one is more effective than the other and each one has
distinctive attributes which makes them unique and applicable at different stages of learning.


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