CONCEPT     The Experiential Listening Space

Practical Considerations:  THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE

It is helpful to view the experiential listening space from the perspective or “mindset” of the actual listener. The active listener will be considering a number of questions while listening:

• Am I interested in this (input)?

• Does this (topic) relate to what I already know and have a stake in?  (Is it “authentic” for me?)

• Do I want to engage with this (content)?

• Do I want to interact with (my fellow students)?

• Is there something for me to do?

• Is there a “shortcut” for me to achieve my goal? (Do I know a way to get to the outcome faster/easier)? 

• Is there an external reward?  (extrinsic:  Do I “win” something?) 

• Is there an internal  reward?  ( intrinsic: Does learning (the content) help me?)

• Will I receive helpful feedback about my efforts?

UPTAKE: All of this represents a mindset of considering the listener experience as central to the communication process.

Listening Experience:  

  • TPR 3X2 grid
  • interview 

This is a model I’ve been developing for a while, based on concepts of linguistics and pragmatics:  I see the listener as central in the communication process, whether live or remote,  “completing” the communication.  

In this sense, I see the listener as occupying an “experiential space”, engaging in three relative actions:  comprehending, interpreting, and interacting. (Of course, as soon as the listener enacts the “respond” mode, they are becoming “speakers” and their interlocutors are becoming listeners, so this is a fluid process.)

Comprehending consists of 5 overlapping cognitive processes:

• Decoding the sound and other sensory signals that are coming in

• Identifying words and syntactic structures to stabilize the input  

• Inferring the sense of any ambiguous or un-decoded structures (and there are a lot!)

• Organizing the incoming input with  prior knowledge to create larger structures

• Encoding the new “information package” to LTM so that it can be retrieved later

Similarly, Interpreting consists of 5 interrelated cognitive processes: 

• Building an internal “representation” that coheres the input

• Reflecting on the meaning of your representation

• Considering why any new information is relevant/why the speaker is telling you this

• Judging the validity of the input  

• Framing the event in a larger context  

And, Interacting consists of 5 related socio-cognitive processes

• Showing your speaker that you are connected to their intention to communicate

 Monitoring your emotions and feeling of responsiveness 

• Protecting the relationship with the speaker as you speak (politeness, deference…)

• Confirming-Clarifying any ambiguous or missing information/intentions 

• Responding to the speaker 

About The Author

, The Experiential Listening Space, 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.