Listening: Note-Taking

Listening Comprehension and Note-Taking

Listening and note-taking


Listening is purposeful. The way you listen to something will depend on your purpose. You listen to different texts in different ways. In everyday life, you usually know why you are listening. You have a question and you read to find the answer. You usually know how the news programmes on the radio or organised – usually a quick headline followed by details. You know the sports results follow the main news items, so if you want to know the sports results, you wait until it is time. You do not listen to every word of the news items. When you read a story or a play, it is different. You start at the beginning and listen to the end. In academic listening, you need to be flexible when you listen – you may need to listen carefully at the beginning to find out what is going to come, then listen less carefully until you hear what you want to know. General efficient listening strategies such as scanning to find the correct part of the lecture, skimming to get the gist and careful listening of important passages are necessary as well as learning about how texts are structured in your subject.


Listening is an interactive process – it is a two-way process. As a listener you are not passive but active. This means you have to work at constructing the meaning from the sounds heard by your ears, which you use as necessary. You construct the meaning using your knowledge of the language, your subject and the world, continually predicting and assessing. You need to be active all the time when you are listening. It is useful, therefore, before you start listening to try to actively remember what you know, and do not know, about the subject and as you are listening to, to formulate questions based on the information you have. Title, sub-titles and section heading can help you formulate question to keep you interacting.

Useful skills are:

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