Life Skills Development/Module Three/Listening

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Listening is a process that involves selecting, attending to, constructing meaning from and remembering verbal or non-verbal words and sounds in order to respond.


Learners should:

  • Describe the elements of the listening process
  • Understand the importance of listening and responding
  • Develop the skills to listen and respond
  • Practice listening and responding skills


  1. Active Listening
  2. Passive Listening
  3. Critical Listening


  1. Identify listening skills
  2. Practice the skills during role-play situations


  1. What is Listening?
  2. Active Listening
  3. Passive Listening
  4. Critical Listening
  5. Elements of Listening
  6. Keys to effective listening

What is Listening

Listening starts with you. To become an effective listener, open your ears, shut your mouth and open your heart. Listen to what people are saying versus simply hearing them, you will learn a lot about yourself in the process.

Effective listening skills require that you;

  • Repeat what is said to you
  • Write it down
  • Maintain eye contact
  • provide non-verbal cues
  • Avoid outside distractions
  • Listen from the heart
  • Practice-practice
  • Mirror body language
  • Ask clarifying questions

Listening involves:

  • Selecting
  • Attending
  • Understanding
  • Remembering and
  • Responding


Active Listening requires complete focus on the message to confirm an accurate understanding of its content. Communication stimulates open and frank exploration of ideas and feelings and enables learners to establish trust and rapport with others. In active listening, the learner accepts what is being said without making any value judgement, clarifies feelings and reflect on the needs of the messenger.

Passive Listening

Passive listening is hiding any behaviour that would indicate that you are listening. Passive listeners sit with a blank stare or a frozen facial expression. Their thoughts and feelings could be anywhere except on what is happening at the moment.

Critical Listening

Critical listening is listening to evaluate and assess the quality, appropriateness, value, or importance of information. The goal of a critical listener is to use information to make a choice. This skill is crucial in a business environment. It involves:

  • Reviewing and Previewing as you listen. This involves anticipating where the speaker is going

next, how the argument will be developed and what issues have been and\or should be covered.

  • Mapping is determining the thesis or purpose, identifying the main points and assessing the adequacy of the points.

Elements of listening

Stop what ever activity you are engaged in and give the speaker your full attention (stop watching TV, Stop reading.)

Look at the person, do not turn away from the speaker.

Keep a good distance between you and the speaker .

Sit-up straight.

Nod your head and make statements such as "uh-uh," "I understand," and "I see what you mean" to show the speaker you truly understand what he/she is saying.

Indicate to the speaker if you do not understand. Do not fake listen!

Repeat back phrases to clarify what the speaker is saying.

Show interest and ask questions to show that you are interested in what the speaker is saying.

Do not interrupt the speaker.


1. Learners role-play conversations using the skills of effective listening.

2. Look at the pictures 1 to 4 below and identify what is good or bad listening skills. Write answers in boxes. Discuss in groups of fours the outcomes


3. Learners listen to a recorded conversation in a story twice and write the missing lines. Listen again to check the answers.

4. From the statements below make the conversation ineffective by suggesting some conversational stoppers for speaker 'b'.

  1. a) I have just been in an accident.
  2. b) I told you, you should drive more carefully.
  3. a) Well, I was on Queen Street and a driver pulled out of a parking place without looking in the rear-view mirror.
  4. b) Uh-huh. Sorry, I was thinking about something else. What was that?

5. In the table below there are faulty and correct assumptions listed, read each carefully and check the ones that you think are true about a passive listener.

Questions Tick
As human beings,we have a natural tendency to filter information we hear. All too often what we hear is not what was said.
Listening should be concerned with content first and feelings second
Listening is a passive action.
Our personality plays an important role in how well we listen.


These skills like those of self-expression, can be learned, practiced and mastered. Our society places much more attention on the spoken side of the communication equation, but if you think about who influences you, are they good talkers or good listeners? As we come to understand ourselves and our relationships with others better, we rediscover that communication is not just saying words;it is creating true understanding. Listening is an important skill in that process.


How will I assess my progress

You will be assessed through Self and Peer assessment

1. Discuss with another learner the listening skills you have learnt and practice since experiencing this lesson. Share the challenges you have experienced in your practicing these skills and the strategies you have used to overcome those challenges. Be free to discuss your concerns, your friend may be able to give you a tip or two on how you could deal with them.

Self assessment

Questions for Reflection

Can I identify the skills for listening?

what were the challenges I encountered in practicing these skills?

How did I deal with them? Could I have done anything else?

2. Effective Listening Self Assessment Activity Answer the following questions by putting a (T) True or (F) False in the space provided.

During communication: I focus on the message .......

I make a conscious effort to acknowledge the sender .......

I take time to listen to myself .......

I separate the messenger from the message .......

I do not allow my biases to affect my understanding of the message .......

I ask questions for clarification. .......

I restate what is said to ensure clarity. .......

I pay attention to verbal and non-verbal cues .......

I exhibit self control .......

I give honest feedback .......

If you have answered (T) True to less than six of these you need to improve your communication skills.

Peer assessment

Presentations, discussions and dramatizations

Role play a scenario depicting listening.

Discuss with other learners effective use of the listening skills.

Present to your group your experience and observations regarding the use of listening skills.

Support Materials

  1. Handouts
  2. Skits
  3. Power point presentation
  4. Comics
  5. Animations