Learning Tips #2

Preparation for Listening

In order to take good lecture notes, you must give your full attention to listening. Anything that distracts you from listening will prevent you from taking the best notes you can take. The first requirement for listening is to eliminate anything that might make it difficult for you to concentrate on what your lecturers say.

Therefore, select seats in your classes to make it possible for you to see and hear the lecturer comfortably. The most distracting seats are usually near windows that give a view of activities going on outside of classrooms. The least distracting seats are ordinarily the ones in the centre and front of a room, because they usually provide the best view of lecturers. If you find yourself sitting near a student who annoys you for any reason, do not sit near that person.

Also, if you are physically uncomfortable, it will be difficult for you to concentrate on listening. Common sources of physical discomfort are being too warm or too cold, being hungry or needing to go to the toilet. You can eliminate these sources of distraction by planning ahead:

  1. Dress comfortably (according to the weather condition) but still observe the proper dress code
  2. Find a comfortable/suitable ‘spot’ in the classroom ( location of fan, air-cond blower, etc)
  3. Carry snacks to eat between classes, if there is no time to eat a proper meal
  4. Go to the toilet before class, or sit near the door in a classroom if you believe you may need to leave the class to go to the toilet

Ask permission before you leave classrooms for any reason, or at least give a gesture to the lecturer. If you know you must leave a class while it is in session, sit near the door so that you will not distract others unnecessarily when you leave.

Finally, it is not possible to concentrate on listening to a lecture if you are worrying or thinking about something that happened before class began or something that will happen after the class is finished. If you find your mind drifting off to thoughts such as these, refocus your attention on what is being said in the classroom. Some suggestions to help you focus your attention on lectures are :

  1. Listen for major points and details – clues given by lecturers are they may:
    • pause before or after stating a major point
    • repeat things that are important to include in notes
    • change the loudness of their voices for emphasis
    • look for details to include for a major point
    • use the board to help students directly state the number understand what should be included in notes
  2. Listen for definition and examples
  3. Listen for test questions

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