Listening sub-skill

Listening for specific information

Which one is a good strategy?

Listening for information

I was away for 4 days and haven’t had time to snoop around the blogs in the Internet. 😛 But one thing i discovered days ago, turns out that i had problems to identify which information is important and which is not when i attended an Online Learning course organize by IPGM. What i did was, browsed the world wide web and i came across one lesson that can help improving the listening skill, in particularly for identifying specific info. (frequent practice is required).

Here goes..

Listening may be one of the most difficult language skills to master. Some students often have the mistaken belief that their limited language skills prevent them from applying listening and note-taking strategies that they learn. Unlike reading or writing, when we listen we don’t have the same opportunity to stop and look up difficult words and we do not control the speed of the information. One of the best ways to improve our listening comprehension is to develop and practice listening strategies i.e listening for main ideas. There are several activities that can be practiced.

Warm up

In this task, let’s predict what specific information we will hear and we will have to listen for information. Before we begin, let’s think about the way we listen for specific information in our day to day lives.

When we ask for directions to a place, do we listen to understand every single word or just the main directions? It depends on our purpose. If we are trying to remember the main directions, we probably listen for street names, landmarks, and left or right.

Listen to what the girl said to the policeman, “Just go down this street and make to second left, you will have to walk down that street about  a kilometer and the police station is across the Robinsons.

The policeman repeated, “Down here and then turn left on the second block, and then go down the road about a kilometer, and it’s opposite the Robinsons”

What information would we take from this clip?

Probably something like “Go down the street. Turn to second leftPolice station is across the Robinson’s” We listened for the specific information we needed.

Relate this; when we are in a classroom, we also listen for specific information, depending on our purpose. What do we listen for in a lecture or in the class? Information from our reading? Information based on what is written on the whiteboard? Information based on handouts? Information in tutorial classes? Its most helpful to come into the classroom prepared to listen for a purpose and for specific information.


There are situations in real life where we listen only for some specific details and ignore the rest of the entire message. e.g. weather forecast, announcements in commuter stations, airports or in the college etc. Once we have learned to pick out the main idea, our next step is to note the specific details. In school or college, these details are needed later to answer questions on all types of exams: multiple choice, short answer, and essay. To listen for and note specific details, it is helpful to notice how the lecture is organized.

For this task again we will listen to a famous speech of our choice. Based on the information we read about the speech, we must come up with what specific information we will listen for. Once we write out the question or questions we will listen for,  play the speech and listening for the specific information.

Choose your preferred clip for a speech.

First Test Tube Baby Born

I LOVE YOU computer virus

Voyager Spacecraft 30 Years Later

Death of John Lennon

Let do this..

Step 1. Before clicking on a speech, select and read the short summary by clicking the link under the clip. Look up for any challenging vocabulary or concepts.

Step 2. Then, write down one or two questions that you will listen for. Based on what you have already read about the speech and from your own background information, what do you think you should pay attention to?

For example, if you were listening for information to Joe DiMaggio’s speech, you would read the summary and write down a question like, “Does Joe DiMaggio give any hints in his speech about why baseball is no longer any fun?”.

Step 3. Play the speech, listen for the information to answer the specific question that you wrote.

Step 4. Did listening with a specific purpose help your comprehension? Play the speech again, check to see if your answers were correct. Can you add any new details?

Step 6. Repeat the practice using some other links or you may choose your own preferred speech here.

In a nutshell, like i mentioned earlier this skill requires lots of practice. And there are many listening sub-skills that can be found in the Internet as well like Predicting skill, Inferencing skill, etc. Lastly, there are a lot of information around us, one of the things that we need to do is listen. *wink*


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