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Higher Institution: Are Students Still Listening or Only Hearing?



By Olorunfunmi Quadri Adeniyi

Higher institution is a university or other institution dedicated to providing education at Level 4 and above, such as bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.

Within the period of acquiring education at these levels, listening as a receptive or oracy skill is said to be an obligatory concert of the process of acquiring good communication skills and quality education. With this being said, are students still listening, or are they only hearing?

This will lead the treatise to generate its point in order to achieve its aims.

Many students are only hearing but not listening; students don’t practically make use of the listening techniques, which I start its acronym as (ARCSS) meaning: attentive listening, reflective listening, clarification, summarizing, and sharing.

According to Dr Ganiu Bamgbose’s book titled “Aspect of Language and Communication,” he stated these techniques with elaborate clarification.

Attentive listening: In order to achieve effective listening, you must always pay rapt attention. Distraction must be avoided if one must get the gist of the speaker.

Reflective listening: To reflect is to think deeply and logically about something. Reflecting on a person’s speech helps develop a logical deduction from his/her talk.

Clarification: It’s advisable that a listener feel comfortable to seek clarification from a speaker.

Summarizing: To ascertain our comprehension level, we should try to restate the major aspects of a speech.

Sharing: Sharing our understanding of the speaker’s talk help validate our listening skill.

These techniques will help facilitate or ease listening in any given context. It’s advisable you get it, in order to achieve good listening skills.

Moving on, as an undergraduate in the University, listening less will reflect on you over the years.

Many students only read for examination but do not attend classes to learn from the experienced lecturer who will explain with elaborate examples; this is common among undergraduate students.

Meanwhile, it’s absolutely wrong because listening skill comes before reading skill in the chronological order of communication skills, which are as follows: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

According to Dr GAB, listening skills go beyond the mere ability to perceive sounds, which is known as hearing. Listen more and speak less when it comes to the context of acquiring knowledge.

Generally, to listen, we need to make a conscious effort not just to hear what people are saying but to take it in, digest it and understand it.

Not only does listening enhance your ability to understand better and make you a better communicator, but it also makes the experience of speaking to you more enjoyable to other people.

Listeners listen for different purposes such as: listening for information, listening for discrimination, listening to provide emotional support (sympathetic listening), listening for pleasure, and listening to evaluate information (critical listening).

All these purposes can’t be achieved without using the abovementioned listening techniques.

Furthermore, any student who ought to become a good and effective listener should know the barriers to effective listening.

A barrier to listening is anything hindering you from recognizing, understanding, and accurately interpreting the message you are receiving.

I’ll discuss four barriers to effective listening: information overload, prejudice or prejudging, rate of speech and thought, and internal and external distractions.

Information overload: It is when you have so much information coming at you, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. In a Public Speaking class, for example, you can experience this when listening to your classmates give speeches, especially if you’re hearing 20 speeches, one after the other. You become overwhelmed and you’ll probably find yourself tuning out at some point. Or what if a speaker condenses so many statistics into the presentation that you cannot keep track of all the numbers? That’s information overload. To cope with information overload, you might consider taking notes to increase focus and your ability to process the information being delivered.

Prejudice or prejudging: We, as humans, tend to be closed-minded at times. If you react emotionally to a person or disagree with their ideas, you might be allowing personal prejudices to distract you. There are various ways we prejudge others. We may unconsciously prejudge a speaker because of their age, race, sexual identity, appearance, occupation, or political affiliation. Keeping an open mind when speaking with others is optimal but often challenging because you may not even know this barrier is preventing you from fully showing up as a listener. Furthermore, you might have a hard time listening because you disagree with the speaker. No matter be the case, always put your emotional issues aside if you want to achieve effective listening.

Rate of Speech and Thought: A recent study suggests that most people speak at a rate of 100 to 150 words per minute (wpm) in everyday conversation or when presenting. We find ourselves tuning in and out while our minds are busy making predictions, perhaps prejudging and veering off into other related thoughts or even simply slipping into a daydream. To be an effective listener, one has to be mindful of this differential and use strategies to prevent the mind from veering off for too long. One strategy to prevent this mental lag is to summarize the speaker’s ideas occasionally to keep yourself engaged.

Internal and External Distractions: Let’s face it: you have a lot going on in your life. You attend school, you probably work, you might be raising a family, and you have issues to work through daily.

Sometimes, when we are absorbed in our own thoughts and concerns, we can’t focus on what someone else is saying. We have all experienced moments of being physically present but mentally absent. Such distracting thoughts and feelings are your internal distractions. Also, External distractions come from the physical environment and involve any visual, auditory, or other sensorial elements within the space that capture your attention. Perhaps the most prominent external listening barrier today involves technology devices (social media). Both internal and external distractions should be avoided if effective listening must be acquired.

In conclusion, the purpose of listening listed above can help students studying at any level of education to stand out in any organizational context. Talk less and listen more if you want to achieve effective listening in any context.

Olorunfunmi Quadri Adeniyi is a student of Lagos State University.


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