When teaching listening, it is helpful to understand the basic “real time”  nature of perception and processing.  It is a continuous process that involves instantaneous recognition of what is heard and instant calculation of potential meaning. 

The two essential processes are:   

  •  hearing:  ear to brain transmission of sound
  •  initial registration: parallel calculations of emotional tone, word recognition, and meaning potential (syntax)

While it is certainly not necessary to grasp the details of these processes, understanding the speed at which listening takes place will instill a sense of empathy in the teacher and may lay the groundwork for supportive teaching  practices. 

Source: Rita Carter, The Human Brain, DK 1999 

About The Author

, Real-time listening processes, Lateral Communications
Michael Rost, principal author of Pearson English Interactive, has been active in the areas of language teaching, learning technology and language acquisition research for over 25 years. His interest in bilingualism and language education began in the Peace Corps in West Africa and was fuelled during his 10 years as an educator in Japan and extensive touring as a lecturer in East Asia and Latin America. Formerly on the faculty of the TESOL programs at Temple University and the University of California, Berkeley, Michael now works as an independent researcher, author, and speaker based in San Francisco.

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