Speaking and listening are two aspects for effective communication. But many listeners understand or can recall only a small fraction of what they hear due to distraction, being engaged in another task or absent mindedness.
Listening penetrates in every aspect of our life, whether it is a job, family or education, we are yet to develop listening habit/ skills in our life. Even on television shows and social media space too, people just argue and absurdly speak but don’t listen.
The educational system is still way behind in cultivating listening as a formal skill. It is a pressing need to educate both children and adults to be better listeners for a progressive society. Unfortunately, we like to accumulate knowledge about listening but never inculcate it in the truest sense.
A child too learns a language during childhood by listening and observing people and starts speaking. In the primitive years of a child, better listeners make better orators and readers. If we observe, children who get more extensive language exposure have better comprehension and articulate skills, whereas children with less exposure to language face difficulty in listening and reading comprehension. Even during hiring, employers seek candidates who are better listeners as they believe they make good employees.
The growing demand and popularity of podcasts, audio books and e-books should propel people to value listening.
People may relate listening with hearing but it is more than just hearing; it involves evaluation, response and interpretation and can be enhanced with practice.
One can develop listening skills right from home with simple tips for children. Grandparents and parents can continue with the bedtime stories for the kids to cultivate listening skills but with a twist.
They can pause periodically to know what they heard, sense their understanding and eventually make them practice listening. In the same way, adults and other family members too can practice active listening skills, when children reading aloud or having a meal together. Listening should be placed as a policy and given priority in society. The confluence of school practitioners on this issue will help charter the listening skills to be embedded in our formal education system and give it the long overdue attention by taking it seriously.