They say listening is a skill, an art. Knowing how to listen to others is an intricate process because what we get out of it - Comprehension - is a blend of our previous knowledge of the topic and the message the speaker wants to convey.
This blend hints at the difficulty we face every day. How many times we try to make ourself clear, meaning one thing and our listener understanding something else? Language is truly dialogical and unpredictable: we can use the same words and get completely different results.
There is no guarantee we mean what we say and say what we mean.
The biggest problem? When our previous knowledge prevails over what we actually hear. How many times we present a list of our ills to the doctor, who simply classifies our problem as a "virus" and prescribes anti-biotics that we are allergic to? I'm sure you can think of other examples involving other professionals (Yours here ...)
What can we conclude from all this? Listening is
- Lending an ear
- Leaving aside pre-conceived notions
- Letting the information surprise you
- Looking the speaker in the eye
- Liking what is NOT said in the process
- Linking with the speaker and his/her message.
How does this play out for language learning? Listening is not as simple as Chris Tucker wants us to believe above. Especially as the language is not our own. What do we do? We pay more attention to everything else than the words.
How do you listen?