Listening for Gist and Detail

Listening for Gist - Listening for Detail - UnsplashGist

Gist is defined as the most important pieces of information about something, or general information without details.

In the context of language learning and teaching, Gist is defined as the general meaning or purpose of a text, either written or spoken.

Listening for Gist

Listening for Gist is when the learner tries to understand what is happening even if he or she can’t understand every phrase or sentence. The learner is trying to pick up key words, intonation, and other clues so as to make a guess at the meaning.

For example words such as captowel, wavesboard and sunny have their own meanings but when you hear the words in a listening passage, they help you understand that the context in which they are used is the context of a beach trip.

Sometimes finding the gist can be easy because this is found at the beginning of the passage but sometimes it is not too easy and it is necessary to listen to the whole conversation to understand its general meaning.

Examples of Gist Questions

  1. What’s the subject of the passage?
  2. What’s the topic of the passage?
  3. What’s the main idea of the passage?
  4. what’s the purpose of the passage?
  5. What’s the main point of the passage?

Listening for Detail

Listening for detail  refers to the type of listening we do in which we can’t afford to ignore anything because we don’t know exactly what information of the listening passage will be necessary to complete the task.

This term is sometimes confused with listening for specific information which is applied to occassions in which we don’t have to understand everything that’s being said, but only a very specific part

Listening for Gist and Detail Video

Learn More

If you want to learn more about the framework to teach a Listening Task, make sure you visit these three publications: