"I Hear What You Say....."

.....sounds positive, but it's usually followed by a large "BUT". This phrase, unfortunately used a lot in English, seems to mean "I'm being fairly polite, but I really don't agree with what you just said".

When we think about it, it probably sounds even worse, because hearing is rather physical and involuntary. We've heard it, whether we wanted to or not.

Listening is better. We may not always want to listen, but if we do, we're at least trying. We may still not agree, but it's fairer than just saying "we heard".

We like to think we're good listeners and it's important, because we need it in order to have a proper conversation. In fact, listening should be seen as a business skill, similar to presenting, writing etc., and we can also practise and improve. There are two ways to do it.

Firstly, to simply talk less and listen more. It's a question of quantity. Language teachers understand that "too much teacher talking time - TTT" is not a good approach. Much better to help students draw on their knowledge, rather simply supplying the answers. Questions are also important (See our post 22 October 2014: Questions and Answers - which are more important?)

Secondly, there's the quality of listening. That means noticing what seems important to the speaker - ideas, expressions and words they keep coming back to. It can actually be easier if we're listening to another language, because we're more conscious of vocabulary.

We started slightly negatively, but now we've ended on much more positive note. Isn't listening just so much better in every way?


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