There are three parts to any conversation. Whether it is on the phone, over coffee with your friend, or at a business meeting with your boss and your colleagues; Listening, Responding, and Asking.
Anywhere you go, and by this I mean anywhere you go to try and learn a language, they will tell you to listen. There are many reasons for this. For one, listening is such an important aspect in any language, that you would be at a disadvantage in life if you didn’t listen. It is what makes a language. A language needs listeners. That’s where you come in.
Listening is a skill. It is something that needs to be practiced a lot. If you are fluent in a language, for example your native language, then the skills you need to work on are different from the skills of someone listening in their second language. I will be speaking briefly on listening in a second language.
If you are just starting out or having a difficult time learning your second language, there is something that you can do to drastically enhance your knowledge of it. It’s not studying from a book. And it’s not learning how to write it. It’s LISTENING to it!
Just listening to a new language can train our brain to the sounds, speech patterns and pronunciations of your new desired language. Take a minute and think about when you first learned how to speak. A baby isn’t born KNOWING their language. So how does it learn the language that it eventually speaks?
You’re right! It listens. And at first, that’s all babies do is listen. But what eventually happens with the baby? That’s right! It finally says a word. Odds are that it will say something that has been repeated to it a lot. It does take a long time for a baby to finally grasp a language.
Usually around 3-5 years the child has an understanding of the simple ways that sentences are put together. And passing through the years, eventually has a good grasp of the language around 10-12 years. Minus, of course, the vocabulary.
I am not saying it will take you that long to learn a new language. Clearly you are more sophisticated than a child. I am merely saying that if you listen, you will learn.
Responding is a very simple skill. But there is one important aspect that you must consider before applying the lessons taught here. And that is LISTEN. You must listen to know how to respond. If you were not listening to what your conversation partner had to say, how will you know what follow up questions to ask.
Responding can show your conversation partner that you are interested in what they are talking about. Not just by the way you were using your non-verbal listening skills. Responding shows that you are actively engaged in this conversation. Remember, just because you are not doing the talking, does not mean you are not a part of the conversation.
This part of the conversation may seem minor, but it is very important in keeping the two-way activity going. Because if you are only nodding and smiling, the other person might just think you are a robot. So you must use this little but important aspect in your conversations.
Responding to what someone has said can be very easy. Especially if you would rather have them keep talking or if you are sincerely interested in what they are saying. You can simply ask what they meant when they were talking about a certain point in their story.
Asking is part of the responding process. But it is also a key role. Perhaps THE key to active listening. This part of a conversation is a key role because it provides you with the knowledge and understanding of the conversation.
When you are actively engaged in a conversation, you should be getting something out of it. You’re goals should be: learning from the person you are speaking with, and creating a friend or partner for the future.
Asking questions will also take the conversation where you want it to go. If your conversation partner is talking about something that offends you (and this can happen) be polite, wait until they finish their thought, and ask a question that directs the conversation away from the previous subject.
Remember now that you have them talking about something of interest to them, they will know if you are listening to what they are saying.
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