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How to Improve Your Learning Ability with Active Listening Skills


            It can be tough to sit in a classroom and straining yourself to retain as much information as possible from the lecture. Your mind can start drifting to a more exciting place in your head or just to the end of class. You can also lose yourself in your notes and scribble down every word leaving the lips of your teacher/professor or every item on the board. Either situation is not ideal for learning, as you can lose important context, information, or not critically digest the information. You can improve your ability to learn by practicing and mastering your active listening skill.

What is Active Listening?
            Active listening is a way of listening attentively that keeps you engaged by having you take an active non-speaking role. When you actively listening, you are fully immersed and fully concentrated on the information being presented. Instead of waiting for the information to come to you in passive listening, you are grasping the information yourself in active listening.

How do You Actively Listen?
There are three main components you should focus on when engaging in active listening: 
  • Neutral mindset ·         
  • Summarizing ·         
  • Clarifying 
By practicing these components and improve your active listening skill, you will not just increase your ability to learn, but you can also increase your conversation skills.

Neutral mindset
            A neutral mindset is one without any judgment. People often entered a classroom having a preconceived expectation of the lesson. Whether they expected excitement or boredom, it changes the way they absorbed the information from the lesson and can lead to them missing crucial information. By withholding your expectation and judgment of the lesson, you will be able to listen to the lecture with a clear and neutral mind, ready to take in all information from the lesson.

Summarizing
            As you listening to the lesson with a neutral mindset, the amount of information can be overwhelming and become difficult to consolidate in your mind. Rather than trying to retain all the information, you can summarize the information to just the main ideas and themes. By summarizing the information, you are actively engaging with information, which will help consolidate the information to your long-term memory.

Clarify
            While you are summarizing the information, you assumed that what you understood is exactly what the teacher intended. Unfortunately, our mind does not work perfectly as we believed. Meanings can be misinterpreted and mistakes can be made. As such, anytime you are unsure of what you just learned, you should not hesitate to ask questions to clarify any confusion you may have. Even better, if your question included a summary of the information relevant to the question, then you will also let your teacher know that you were listening, and that will create a positive impression with your teacher.

Practice Practice Practice
            Active listening is a skill, as such, it required practice to improve and maintain. Luckily, you will have plenty of opportunities to practice your active listening skill. Whether during a class lecture or lending your friends and family an ear, you can always find a chance to practice your active listening skill. It will take conscious effort at first to maintain a neutral mindset, summarizing information as you go, and muster the courage to ask questions, but as long as you keep up with practicing, active listening will become second nature, much like riding a bike.
Nhat L
Psychology and Science Tutor
Other
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