5 Key Actions to Listen Better


The jackrabbit pushes its ears forwards and listens, because sounds change. Their key action is presence. We can follow the cues of this animal when we listen.

How good are you at listening?

Give yourself a score on a scale of 1-10.

How effectively are you attuned to your clients, your team, your classmates, or your business colleagues? Are you asking the appropriate questions? How well do you comprehend lectures?

Effective listening will help you in business interactions, on exams, in classes, in supporting your team, in group discussions, and in interviews.

5 Key Actions

  1. Be present.

Take a breath. Focus on the speaker. Face the person. Hear the person speak. Maintain eye contact and lean forward if in person.

If you are listening to a video such as on the TOEFL exam or IELTS, this it he first step of intake. If you are in person, this is the start of a two-way relationship where you can take what you hear and proceed in the interaction.

  1. See the words.

Associate the lecturer’s words with a visual in your mind to trigger your memory. Visualization is a memory tool. If you picture what it being said, you’ll remember more information since the subconscious mind recalls visuals.

  1. Feel the emotion.

If you feel the lecturer’s emotions, you can notice how deep of concern the lecturer has for the issue. For instance, on integrated writing task in TOEFL, listening for emotion in the speaker’s voice may be a tactic to discern key points.

  1. Listen for pauses.

In a test-taking listening opportunity such as on the integrated speaking or writing tasks on TOEFL, pauses in a lecture may signal an important point to come, so take note of what follows.

In an interactive situation, on the other hand, don’t interrupt. Pay attention to whether the speaker is finished before speaking.

  1. Respond on target.

In an interview, after paying careful attention to the speaker’s question, you’ll be invited to respond on the topic.

On the contrary, in a pair, group, team, or audience situation where you’ve listened to a speaker, be clear before responding by first asking, “Can I give input/feedback?” “Could I make a suggestion?” so as to not offend.

Practice Actions

Begin by practicing action step one, being present to attune your ears.

Then, each day add another action step. You’ll be able to make progress in listening.

With experience in this method on the TOEFL exam, in classroom discussions, and in conducting business, you’ll gauge your enhanced listening skills.

Nine Mental Strategies to Reduce Test Anxiety

To overcome your irrational fears and lower your test anxiety before and during an exam, employ nine mental strategies. Develop regular study habits that are effective. You will need to prepare properly in advance, so you can be confident with only limited amounts of fear to wrack your nerves come the exam.

Nine Mental Strategies:

  1. Buy the best book(s) online for study strategy. Check the reviews on Amazon or consult peers who have self-studied for the TOEFL and ask them what text they recommend beforehand.
  2. Prepare many months in advance of taking the TOEFL exam so that you have a lot of time to progress and integrate your techniques for taking a test.
  3. Organize a plan of attack to study efficiently making the best use of your available time. Set a realistic goal. Daily study sessions even if short are known to be more effective over time than longer study hours only once per week.
  4. Get a TOEFL instructor to help you stay inspired, otherwise, you may go off track and not reach your necessary goals in your time frame.
  5. Practice your TOEFL study in an orderly area with well-organized study preparation materials. Select an area which is comfortable and suitable to concentrate with minimal distractions.
  6. Identify what your weak points are and dedicate extra time to strengthen your weaknesses while keeping your strong points solid.
  7. Do English reading, listening online, speaking practice recording your voice over your phone, and writing as much as possible daily to improve your fluency and interaction with the language.
  8. Start a vocabulary notebook by writing down words you hear listening online and reading in articles that you are not familiar with. If you are taking practice exams or doing simulation activities, write down new words you come across on index cards with an English definition on one side and a sentence with the word in context on the other side. Review these daily.
  9. Get an online study group or a native-speaking professional for feedback to meet weekly with to plan your strategies and practice your skills so you will develop at a constant rate.