Listening skills

A girl listening to a radio programme whilst eating breakfastA girl listening to a radio programme whilst eating breakfast

The skills you use for listening are similar to the skills you use for reading, although you are engaging with the text in a different way. It still requires that you are able to do the following:

  • understand
  • analyse
  • evaluate

As with reading, you need to be able to identify the following from what you hear:

  • the purpose
  • the intended audience
  • the main ideas
  • the supporting details

You will also need to be able to comment on the effect of language features used.

As with reading, you can improve your listening skills by practising. Try to listen to a range of spoken language examples. You could tune into a news based radio programme in the morning; watch out for discussions and debates on television; search for talks and presentations online.

Listening questions

Before you listen, you can think about:

  • Who is speaking?
  • If you know who is speaking, what do you already know about them?
  • Identify the topic – what sort of ideas would you expect to hear?
  • Do you know anything already about the topic?
  • What would you like to find out?
  • Do you have any questions you would like answered?

During listening, you can think about:

  • Are the participants saying what you expected?
  • Is there anything you don’t understand?

After listening, you can think about:

  • What were the main points?
  • Can you summarise the main points?
  • Did you stay interested as you were listening?
  • Why were you interested or not interested?
  • Can you tell someone else about what you heard and discuss it with them? What did they think?