TYPES OF LISTENING
What types of listening texts are there? One way of classifying texts that we hear is to consider two basic categories:
monologs, where one person does all or most of the talking and
dialogs where two or more people are talking together.
These monologs or dialogs might be planned or unplanned. For example, when the student gives an oral presentation, this is an example of a planned monolog. If someone meets an old friend in the street by accident, then their conversation is an example of an unplanned dialog.
Another basic distinction to consider is whether we can see the person who is listening to us or not. For example, a conversation with someone on the telephone is either planned or unplanned dialog with someone unseen. Deprived of any clues from body language, we need to listen carefully to intonation and word choice to be able to judge the other person’s emotions. (Notice how listening and speaking are intertwined since most of the time people listen and then respond to what someone has said.)
Another subcategory is interactional and transactional listening. Interactional is the kind of social communication that we frequently carry out when we talk to our friends. Transactional refers to trying to obtain or exchange information. So if you listen to someone giving instructions about how to use a new computer program, this is a mainly transactional listening.
Sometimes, we listen to familiar topics. In this case, we don’t have to listen so carefully to every word. If we are listening to someone talking about an unfamiliar topic then we will have to pay much more attention.
- It is important to be able to distinguish between these different categories of listening because students may face different kinds of difficulties with different sorts of listening texts. When we have a clear understanding of the difficulties that students face we are able to choose a suitable range of techniques to help them. We will be looking at a number of techniques and activities to help students listen in subsequent lessons in the module.