Understanding Academic Lectures
Good morning, everybody.
Now at the university you, as students, are often called on to perform many types of listening tasks: listening in a group discussion, listening to a teacher on a one-to-one basis, and listening to academic lectures.
So what I'm going to talk about today is what a listener needs to be able to do in order to comprehend an academic lecture efficiently.
OK. What do you need to do in order to understand the lecture?
Now there are four things that I'm going to talk about.
The first thing is that you need to be aware of all of the parts of the language that carry meaning.
You all know that words carry meaning.
So you've got to be aware of the vocabulary of the language, but there are some other features.
For one thing, you need to be aware of stress.
Let me give you an example.
"I went to the bar."
"I went to the bar."
It makes a difference.
In the second example, I'm stressing the fact that it was me and not someone else so that this means stress has some meaning.
Now the next thing you might want to listen for is intonation.
For example, if I say "He came." "He came?"
There are two different meanings.
One is a statement, the other one is a question.
And another thing you need to listen for is rhythm.
For instance, "Can you see, Mary?" VS "Can you see Mary?" Dadadadada. Dadadadada.
Those two mean something different.
In the first one, they are talking directly to Mary, while the second one means
"Can you see Mary over there?"
Now the next thing you must do when you listen is that you need to add information that the lecturer expects you to add.
All lecturers assume that they share some information with their audience and that their audience does not need them to explain every word.
And listeners have an ability to add this information due to two sources of information.
That is: 1) their knowledge of a particular subject; and 2) their knowledge or experience of the world.
So remember, listening is not a matter of just absorbing the speaker's words - the listener has to do more than that.
The listener is not a tape recorder, absorbing the speaker's words and putting them into his or her brain.
Rather, listening involves hearing the speaker's words and reinterpreting them, adding information if necessary.
So the meaning is not in the word alone, rather it is in the person who uses it or responds to it so that the second thing that a listener must do - add information that the lecturer assumes that they share.