Social Listening is a Skill and a Technology

social listeningSocial Listening: The Technology Can Be Purchased, The Skill Must Be Learned

Group A is asked to learn something in a second language, in the conventional way, by listening to and practicing texts spoken aloud. Group B is given explicit instruction on how to listen. The second group vastly outperforms the first group…why? From Annie Murphy Paul’s The Brilliant Report:

“ •  Skilled learners go into a listening session with a sense of what they want to get out of it. They set a goal for their listening, and they generate predictions about what the speaker will say. Before the talking begins, they mentally review what they already know about the subject, and form an intention to “listen out for” what’s important or relevant.

•  Once they begin listening, these learners maintain their focus; if their attention wanders, they bring it back to the words being spoken. They don’t allow themselves to be thrown off by confusing or unfamiliar details. Instead, they take note of what they don’t understand and make inferences about what those things might mean, based on other clues available to them: their previous knowledge of the subject, the context of the talk, the identity of the speaker, and so on. They’re “listening for gist,” and not getting caught up in fine-grained analysis.

•  All the while, skilled learners are evaluating what they’re hearing and their own understanding of it. They’re checking their inferences to see if they’re correct, and identifying the questions they still have so they can pursue the answers later.”

This type of listening, or “listening with intention”, is all about metacognition: or thinking about thinking. Researchers studying subjects who engage the metacognitive process when listening see that the subjects are not only better at processing and storing information, but also in implementing what they have learned with greater ease and confidence.

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