Active Listening

In conversation, as the listener you are expected to play an active role.  By doing this, you show the speaker you are interested, whether you understand or not, and you can even control the direction of the conversation.  You can do this by:

Using active listening encourages conversation and lack of it may lead the person you are talking to think you are bored or not understanding.  You are undoubtedly already familiar with active listening behaviors in your own language. They may or may not be the same or have the same meaning in American English.  Uncovering and using appropriate active listening behaviors will be your objective for this unit.



Investigation Procedure

1.  Predict:  How do you think a listener should show that they are understanding or encourage the
    speaker to keep talking?  What types of nonverbal cues or other body language have you seen used in
    conversations?  What do you think they mean?

2.  Plan:  Break into teams to observe.  This type of speech behavior should be easy to find, where
    could you go?  Also, what questions could you ask native speakers about their feelings or use of active
    listening?

3.  Collect Data:  Take notes on real life examples you observe.  Also, write down your reactions.  For
    example, if you feel someone looked bored, what about their behavior made you think that?

4.  Analyze and Report:  What information did you uncover?  Did you notice any patterns?  Prepare to
    explain your observations to your classmates give demonstrations.

5.  Reformulate:  Can you apply what you learned from your own observations and your classmates?
    To gain a better understanding of your own behaviors in active listening, do the classroom activity
    below.



Classroom Activity
*This activity requires a video camera and a TV to watch the tape.

1.  Set up desks or tables in two rows facing each other.  Position behind one row so it is facing the
    other.
2.  You will sit down in these two rows and have a conversation.  This could be on any topic such
    describing "what you will do for the rest of the day", "plans for the future", or telling a story.
3.  The student facing away from the camera will be primarily talking with the student facing toward
    camera will be primarily listening.
4.  Begin the conversations and record.  After a minute or so, switch, and record again.
5.  Watch the tape and observe your own active listening behavior.
 

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