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THE ART OF LISTENING

Mrs. G.L Meena * Mrs.S.Saritha ** “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak;

courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
Churchill

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Abstract:
The ability and need to communicate touches every area of our lives. Everything we do in life requires communication with others. Just try to not communicate at work for a day or in your business transactions and see what happens? Much of communication theory focuses on how to speak to others and how to convey your message. communication is really a two-way process, in which listener's role is as central to the communication process as the speaker's role. Real communication and connection occur when the speaker and listener participates in the process. Since our brains have the capacity to process 275 more words per minute than are actually spoken, we tend to fill up the void with extraneous thoughts. Listening is as important as speaking in the communication process. Listening to others with rapt attention may be the greatest gift we give to each other. When two people listen deeply to one another, we sense that we are present not only to each other, but also to something beyond our individual selves, something spiritual, holy, or sacred. Once we think about listening-as a gift that we may either give or receive, we find a new light shines on the value of listening, with which we instill the selfworth and confidence in the speech of the speaker. Hence learning how to listen well is very much important. Although failure to listen can be harmful, no one ever listens themselves out of a job, sale, or friendship. By listening to others we learn what to do and what to avoid. At the same time we forge relationships that strengthen our position. Listening is also an opportunity to console, reassure, and comfort others.

The benefit to us is equally important after all, how can we learn unless we listen? That is why Zeno of Citium said, more than 2000 years ago, the reason why we have two ears and only one mouth is that we may listen the more and talk the less. The reward for listening, then, is wisdom. Listening has been a neglected skill in terms of research and inspite of it being a most needed ability in everyday life it lefted to a secondary position after speaking and writing. Skills of listening need to be taught like all other language skills. This paper describes research into learner’s self-assessment of listening difficulties and challenges performing listening tests for the budding managers (B-School students). The findings give insights into the practice of developing listening skills. Useful tips for good practice of teaching and effective listening skills have been offered based on the research data and observation of the students performance in listening.

Listen with empathy. When we listen to others. The listener's role is as central to the communication process as the speaker's role. to give an example or to explain further. Therefore.INTRODUCTION: The ability and need to communicate touches every area of our lives. If you need clarification ask the speaker to say more. . we instill in them self-worth and confidence. In fact communication is really a two-way process. As listeners we can receive about 500 words per minute while the normal speaking rate is about 125 to 150 words per minute. Everything we do in life requires communication with others. Add the occasional "uh-huh". Give feedback or paraphrase what you've heard: "Are you saying such and such? What I heard you say is this. listen to the entire message and then respond. That creates a lot of room for communication to break down or for your mind to wander! Try to hear everything that is being said. Even though much of communication theory focuses on how to speak to others and how to convey the message. yet we have the capacity to listen to approximately 400 words per minute. Listen without formulating a response to the speaker. Is this what you meant?" Try nodding your head to show interest. Empathy is emptying the mind and listening with the whole being. Research shows that we speak at a rate of about 125 words per minute. Try making eye contact with the speaker. Or ask a question of interest to demonstrate that you are really listening to what is being said. this may not be enough for the speaker to feel that he is truly being understood. Just try to not communicate at work for a day or in your business transactions and see what happens. The gentle art of listening is a magnificent gift that we can give to others and ourselves. Even though you are sitting and listening quietly. we show that what they are speaking is worthwhile. Try asking more questions. Empathy is an imaginative process.

to pay attention. identifying relevant points. take notes. the other person will tell you everything you need to know. You listen 70% of the time and you talk 30% of the time.. etc. Given the opportunity. Rivers (1992). M. • Learn active listening: It's not enough that you're listening to someone – you want to be sure that they know you're listening. • Ask for clarification if needed: This will clear up any misunderstanding you have. Third is to provide listening practice for short periods of time (5 to10 minutes). The fourth aspect of this approach is to teach students important listening strategies like. a rule of thumb in giving listening practice is not too much but often. . Another aspect is to satisfy the students wish to listen to class room conversation to the possible extent. not to stop listening or get distracted or bored if not understanding. I suggest 70/30 rule. . According to V. • Always let the other person do most of the talking: This is a simple matter of mathematics. guessing unknown words or phrases. Here are some suggestions for developing the listening skills: Listening Tips: • Develop the desire to listen: You must accept the fact that listening to others is your strongest weapon. • Don't interrupt: There is always the temptation to interrupt so you can tell the other person something you think is vitally important. Active listening is the art of communicating to the other person that you are hearing their every word.A scientific approach is essential in order to help students to improve listening skills. retaining relevant points. One aspect of this approach is to convince learners that not understanding is all right. When you are about to speak. ask yourself if it is really necessary. A list of useful listening sub-skills incorporates predicting. recognizing discourse markers and so on.

Methods and respondents: The methods of research include the application of student assessment questionnaires while and post-listening activities and analysis of learner’s performance in listening comprehension tests.• Get used to 'listening' for nonverbal messages – body language: The other person may be communicating with you via body language. Now it is generally accepted that listening skills have to be taught like any other skills. creative and demanding process of selecting and interpreting information from auditory and visual clues. listening is an active. What is . Need for the study: Researchers and teachers often maintained that listening skills could be picked up by the learners. Currently more attention is being paid to develop and conducting research in the field of Skill of Listening. You need to decode the message. Objectives of Study: The objectives of this research are to evaluate students listening skills. The present study enlightens the listening skills of the management students and identifies the bottle necks for further improvement in their skill of listening. The respondents were 200 full-time students who are studying post graduation in Business Administration. Listening tests in order to develop a sound to listening activities of students in the class room. while and post listening activities. The convenience sampling method was adopted for the study. Review of literature Although once labeled a passive skill.

speech is still comprehensible if the pauses are slightly lengthened. attempting to organize information. In listening activities there are several major steps that may occur sequentially or simultaneously. Three stages in the aural reception of a message are distinguished: 1) listeners must recognize in phonic substance sound patterns in bounded segments related to phrase structure. 3) listeners recycle the material they organized through immediate memory. the human mind is less efficient in L2 whatever it is doing. 1992). Pauses in natural speech allow students to gain processing time. This phenomenon is called a false recognition memory (Rivers. in other words. creating messages is a characteristic feature of listening. 1992) suggests: listening involves active cognitive processing the construction of a message from phonic material. transferring information from shortterm memory to long-term memory. identifying the groupings detected according to the content of our central information system. 2) listeners must immediately begin processing. predicting information. Interestingly. Learners inability to understand the L2 speech is caused just as much by difficulties of the language as by memory limits (Cook. Thus. Since listening is a creative activity. and learners store the message they have created. much of comprehension involves drawing inferences. assigning a meaning to the message. 1996:69). or backward and forward. which is very fleeting. 1996). All comprehension depends on the storing and processing of information by the mind. thus building up an auditory memory which helps to retain the segments listeners are processing. The major points include determining a reason for listening. Another important point is highlighted: much of processing of incoming information takes place during the pauses in speech (Rivers. L2 learners have cognitive deficits with listening that are not caused by lack of language ability but by difficulties with processing information in the L2 (Cook. At this stage students are dependent on echoic memory. . The research into listening (Rivers. in rapid succession.known about the listening process basically emerges from research on developments in listening skills. 1992).

In listening. of the utterance. which is the hardest to understand. People hear certain accented words as prominent because of intonation. i. Intonation is known as the ability to vary the pitch and tune of speech. The relative prominence of words depends very much on how the intonation is associated with the words. Some words sound more prominent they stand out to a greater extent than others. The number of long words (three syllables or longer) and the number of words in a sentence define comprehensibility of a text. the same string of words can be accented in different ways. Errors at this level may impede the listener in the correct understanding of the spoken utterance. Inexperienced learners do not actually hear the boundaries of words. and it may provide an indication of how easy it will be for learners to understand a spoken text. The issue is also not simply a level of difficulty. Harrington. online). John Read (2000) coined the term listen ability as an oral equivalent of readability. 2001). listening is bound to be too difficult (Harmer. Experienced learners are able to break down this chain into separate words in their heads because they are familiar with the sounds and can create meaningful words with them (Read. because ones mind is able to fill in the gaps and to determine . Lexical density is a variable showing the percentage of content words. 2000). When learners listen to unfamiliar speech they hear an almost continuous chain of sounds.e. it is not just the relative frequency of the content words that affects comprehension but also how concentrated they are in the text. Knowing the language well. but also one of authenticity and content validity. Authenticity implies real language. authenticity often means negative expectations. The role of intonation in listening activities seems underestimated (J.The role of vocabulary knowledge and its recognition in listening affects comprehension of information. Above all. because no concessions are made to foreign learners . The simple readability idea focuses on two variables: the frequency of the complex vocabulary and the length of the sentences. For non-native listeners.language is unlikely to be simplified or spoken slowly. or with the text. Stressing words and phrases correctly is vital if emphasis is to be given to the important parts of messages. there is no need to hear every single sound in every single word to know what is said. Different turns are signaled by the rise and fall in pitch.

The level of selection means separation of the message units for retention and comprehension without conscious attention to individual components. and phrases. and the newscast text was the most difficult. Learning listening skills is frustrating for students because there are no rules as in grammar teaching. The aspect of pronunciation is crucial to listening. and. therefore. fillers and redundancies. intonation. then the lecture text. The degree of listenability significantly affected test scores (Wagner. while the native speakers find it difficult to understand non-native speakers. While listening students suddenly . Moreover. The level of recognition implies separating elements and patterns such as phonemes. which allow more processing time for the listener to interpret the input. Teaching listening skills is one of the most difficult tasks for any English language teacher. Native speakers use word stress naturally. testing students understanding L2 messages was traditionally a hard task. because successful listening skills are acquired over time and with lots of practice (Rivers. One of the largest inhibitors for students is often mental block. they do not even know they use it. online): the dialogue text was the easiest. word stress is a magic key to understanding spoken English. in intonation tunes or identifying the different patterns of rising and falling tones (Harmer. because spoken language differs from written language it contains many pauses. The major problem that occurs in learning pronunciation is students great difficulty in hearing pronunciation features. the assessment of listening in a second language has attracted increasing amount of attention. Language teachers relied on tests that employed multiple-choice and True or False questions. There are two basic levels in learning to listen: the level of recognition and the level of selection (Field. In the last decade. the ability to answer relevant questions. In the 20th century. 1992). The development of selection level plays an important role because it is responsible for understanding specific information and gist. words. 2001). 2003). This result is quite understandable.where one word ends and the other begins. however. Non-native speakers of English find it difficult to understand native speakers. Intonation is interrelated with pronunciation. Listening skills are also difficult to quantify.

Participants and research method: The participants in this study were 200 fulltime students. many students just tune out some students convince themselves they are not able to understand spoken English well and create problems for themselves. Some results of learners performance in listening tests are compared with the relevant data of self-assessment. At this point. The questionnaire is reproduced in the Appendix and cover questions on listener rate of listening. There were two streams of students: 100 1st year students and 100 2nd year students of the same faculty. The method of gathering data employed a questionnaire on students self-assessment of listening difficulties and the comparison of self-assessment data with learners performance in listening tests. Such information allows teachers to become aware of either success or failure in their teaching. The students self-reported data have become an important source of information on listening capability. wants. and difficulties while listening and in post-listening tasks. The findings are presented in the results section. create a beneficial environment to learners and employ an individual approach to improve the skill of listening. . needs. make well-informed decisions on class techniques. likes and dislikes.decide they do not understand.

6% of the respondents some times have the eye contact with speaker and only 2% will rarely have the eye contact and 0% students will never have the eye contact with the speaker. When listening to a speaker. do you make eye contact? S. .no 1 2 3 4 5 Options Most of the times Often Sometimes Rarely Almost never Total Percentage No of respondents 144 40 12 4 0 200 Percentage 72 20 6 2 0 100 80 60 40 20 0 Sometimes Most of the times Rarely Almost never Often Most of the times Often Sometimes Rarely Almost never Interpretation: 72% of the respondents have eye contact with the speaker while listening. 20% of the respondents often have eye contact with the speaker.DATA ANALYSIS: 1.

does your mind wanders? S.no 1 2 3 4 5 Options Most of the times Often Sometimes Rarely Almost never Total No of respondents 32 44 52 40 32 200 Percentage Percentage 16 22 26 20 16 100 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 es es f te el tim im O ar tn ev er n y Percentage et he R So m ft Interpretation: 26% of the respondents some times make their minds wander while speaker doesn’t engage respondent’s interest.nt engage your interest. M os Al m to os .2. If a speaker does.

Do you give your full attention if someone is talking to you? S.no 1 2 3 4 5 Options Most of the times Often Sometimes Rarely Almost never Total No of respondents 128 48 12 8 4 200 Percentage 64 24 6 4 2 100 Percentage 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 es fte el y es tim im O ar tn ev er n Percentage he et R So m ft M os Al m to os .3.

When background noise interferes to your ability to listen. Only 2% of the students never show full attention while the speaker is speaking.Interpretation: 64% of the respondents. most of the times show full attention if some one is talking to them. 4. can you block it out? S.no 1 2 3 4 5 Options Most of the times Often Sometimes Rarely Almost never Total No of respondents 80 40 40 28 12 200 Percentage 40 20 20 14 6 100 Percentage 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 et im es Al m os tn Ra re ly tim es O fte ev er n Percentage he M os t of t So m .

5.Interpretation: 40% of the respondents block the background noise interferers to their listening ability.no 1 2 3 4 5 Options Most of the times Often Sometimes Rarely Almost never Total No of respondents 36 40 64 40 20 200 Percentage 18 20 32 20 10 100 . 20% of the respondent are some times or oftenly block the disturbance interferes in to their listening ability. You make disapproving faces when you don’t approve of what others are speaking? S. And 6% of the respondents are never able the block the background noise interferes to their listening.

no 1 2 3 4 5 M Options Most of the times Often Sometimes Rarely Almost never Total os No of respondents 40 44 56 40 20 200 Al m to Percentage 20 22 28 20 10 100 os .Percentage 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 es es f te el tim im O ar tn ev er n y Percentage et he R So m ft Interpretation: 32% of the respondents some times keep their faces disapproving when they don’t approve what others say. you immediately correct him/her? S. Only 10% of the respondents never make disapproving faces when they don’t approve what others are saying. 6. While a speaker is mispronounces a word.

Percentage 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 es es f te el tim im O ar tn ev er n y Percentage et he R So m ft Interpretation: 20% of the respondents correct the mispronounced word immediately when speaker commits any mistakes. Do you ask questions to encourage a speaker to elaborate on his or her point? S. 7. 10% of the respondent never correct the mispronounced words by the speaker.no 1 2 3 4 5 Options Most of the times Often Sometimes Rarely Almost never Total No of respondents 60 48 44 32 16 200 Percentage 30 24 22 16 8 100 M os Al m to os .

64% of the respondents. 6% of the respondents some times have the eye contact with speaker and only 2% will rarely have the eye contact and 0% students will never have the eye contact with the speaker 2. 20% of the respondents often have eye contact with the speaker. 4. 3. And 2% of the students never show full attention while the speaker is speaking. most of the times show full attention if some one is talking to them. 72% of the respondents have eye contact with the speaker while listening. 40% of the respondents are able to block the background noise interferes to their listening ability. and 8% of the respondents never ask question to the speaker. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: 1. 26% of the respondents some times make their minds wander while speaker doesn’t engage respondent’s interest. And 20% of the respondent are some times and often block the M os Al m to os .Percentage 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 es es f te el tim im O ar tn ev er n y Percentage et he R So m ft Interpretation: Most of the respondents ask questions to encourage the speaker to elaborate the topic .

9. 8. 11. 60% of the respondents never interrupt others while someone is teaching in the class. 32% of the respondents some times keep their faces disapproving when they don’t approve what others are saying. And 6% of the respondents are never able to block the background noise interferes to their listening. 12. Most of the respondents ask questions to encourage the speaker to elaborate the topic . Only 10% of the respondents never make disapproving faces when they don’t approve what others are saying. 14% of the respondents watch others while someone is teaching in the class room. 36% of the respondents almost never think about something unrelated to the conversation made by the speaker . The implications of creative approach to developing listening skills are to diversify listening practice make it individual. where as only 8% of the respondents never ask question to the speaker. Application of . 60% of the respondents pay close attention to the speakers body language while listening. Several facts have emerged. 6% of the respondent mostly and often think about other irrelevant things while speaker is speaking. 5. 6.disturbance interferes into their listening ability.and post-listening activities were researched by employing learners self-assessment questionnaire. 10% of the respondent never correct the mispronounced words by the speaker. 20% of the respondents correct the mispronounced word immediately when speaker commits any mistakes. 7. which is possible by employing online listening facilities. CONCLUSION: Learners difficulties in while. 8% of the respondents most of the times write their assignment while someone is teaching the class. 10.

Questionnaires in Second Language Research. Lithuania Dornyei. Galina Kavaliauskienė. Z. (2003). ESL Magazine . (2003). New Jersey. Vilnius.. Mykolas Romeris University. USA. Inc. The Internet TESL Miller L. Some of the listening tips are suggested. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Developing Listening Skills with Authentic Materials. (2003). REFERENCES: TEACHING LISTENING SKILLS AT TERTIARY LEVEL. Lingzhu T. Listening Activities for Effective Top-Down Processing. Publishers.creative approach to learn the skill of listening might be helpful.

14. If you are not sure whether you've grasped a speaker's point correctly. 7 8 9.No Questions 1. 15. pen.Appendix. 18. Do you fidget (play with hair. or check my watch. Do you wait for a speaker to finish his or her point before you make a mental judgment call on what was said? Do you have trouble focusing on the message when a speaker has poor grammar. can you block it out? You drum your fingers on a surface when you listen to others speech? If you felt bored or uninterested in what a speaker has to say. etc. does your mind wander? Do you give your full attention if someone is talking to you? When background noise interferes to your ability to listen. When listening to a speaker do you pay close attention to his/her body language 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 options 2 3 4 2 3 4 2 3 4 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 . etc. to confirm that you've got it right? 4. Questionnaire on Listening Skills: Questionnaire on listening S. Do you nod your head when in agreement with what a speaker is saying? 3. Do you audibly groan or make another kind of disapproving sound when someone states something .). 6. 19. you find yourself thinking about what you are going to say next? If a speaker mispronounces a word. look around. 16.) while listening to someone else express his/her thoughts or ideas? 5. do you make eye contact? 2. 17. 12. 10. 11. you look to the ground or at your feet? You make disapproving faces when you don't approve of what others are telling you? You bite your nails or pen while you listen to someone speaking to you? While a speaker is talking. If a speaker doesn’t engage your interest. 13. watch. Do you summarize your understanding of what he/she has said. you immediately correct him/her Do you ask questions to encourage a speaker to elaborate on his or her point? Whether you act impatient when someone "beats around the bush" rather than getting straight to the point (you tap your feet. When listening to a speaker.

Some times 4.20.Rarely 5.Often 3.Most of the times 2. How often do you engage in the following while someone is teaching to you in the class room? a b c d e Watching others Interrupting others Playing with cell Writing assignments Think about something unrelated to the conversation 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 1.Almost never .