Active Listening

How to Listen Actively

In the IELTS listening test, you need to listen actively, it’s not a passive activity.  This article explains what ‘active listening’ involves.  Read the article and answer the questions below. 

Article: The New York TImes: The Science and Art of Listening

Worksheet:  by Pauline Cullen

Paragraph 2

1.   Match the words from the text with the correct paraphrase on the right.

· prompted    · noticed
· sensory       · concentration
· perceived    · connected to hearing
· auditory       · caused
· attention      · affecting the senses

2.     In the second paragraph, the writer’s aim is to
A    trick the reader into believing something.
B    point out the difference between two verbs.
C    give a detailed description of his surroundings.
D    demonstrate how difficult it is to ignore background noises.

Paragraph 3

3.   Match the words from the text with the correct paraphrase on the right.
· underrated       · connecting with
· interacting        · proportion (½; ⅓; ¼ etc.)
· significant         · measurably
· fraction             · not appreciated
· quantitatively    · considerable

4.     In the third paragraph, the writer makes the point that
A     we are able to hear things more quickly than we can see them.
B     we use our eyesight more than any of our other senses.
C     we tend to take our eyesight for granted.
D     we actually use our whole body to listen.

Paragraph 4

5.   Match the words from the text with the correct paraphrase on the right.
· evolved         · level of sound
· operates       · hear
· volume          · works
· cognitive       · concerning the mind
· detect           · developed over time

6.     According to the writer, an important function of our auditory system is to
A     help us wake up in the morning.
B     alert us to unusual sounds.
C     block out very loud noises.
D     help us to navigate.

Paragraph 5

7.   Match the words from the text with the correct paraphrase on the right.
· activates       · protective
· startle           · starts; sets off
· defensive      · lifting up or raising
· response      · surprise
· elevating      · reaction; answer

8.    The writer suggest that the ‘startle’ response is
A     only shown in intelligent creatures.
B     a very complex process.
C     important for survival.
D     damaging to the heart.

Paragraph 6

9.   Match the words from the text with the correct paraphrase on the right.
· complex        · not altered, uncooked
· stimulus        · involved or complicated
· inferior          · method
· process         · lower; less important; less valuable
· raw               · something that sets off a reaction

10.     According to the sixth paragraph, when you hear your name called, your brain
A     initially thinks it is mistaken.
B     may react oddly in different locations.
C     immediately begins to work out who is calling and why.
D     reacts in a similar way to when you hear an unexpected sound.

Paragraph 7

11.   Match the words from the text with the correct paraphrase on the right.
· pay attention to     · ignore
· come into play      · communicated
· conveyed             · begin to work
· tune out               · calculation
· computation        · concentrate on

12.     A ‘top down’ response is one that
A     you need to use in the IELTS listening test.
B     originates in your brain.
C     separates pleasant and unpleasant sounds.
D     allows us to hear a broad range of sounds.

Final paragraphs

13.  Match the words from the text with the correct paraphrase on the right.
· distraction                      · something that stops you concentrating
· information overload      · too much information
· intellectual                      · academic
· richness                         · fullness and beauty
· discern                           · observe

14.     What point does the writer make in the final paragraphs?
A     Our modern world is too noisy.
B     Our use of headphones is damaging our hearing.
C     It is possible to teach yourself to listen well.
D     We can learn a lot from animals when it comes to our hearing.

 

ANSWERS

(NB The paraphrases are based on the context of this particular reading passage)

1   prompted = caused // sensory = affecting the senses // perceived = noticed // auditory = connected to hearing // attention = concentration

2   B – He tries to show the difference between ‘listen’ and ‘hear’ by asking the reader to listen carefully to the background noises around them.

3   underrated = not appreciated // interacting = connecting with // significant = considerable // fraction = proportion (½; ⅓; ¼ etc) // quantitatively = measurably

4   A – He says that we process sounds 10 times faster than things we see and it is our hearing we take for granted.

5   evolved = developed over time // operates = works // volume = level of sound // cognitive = concerning the mind // detect = hear

6   B – We are told that the auditory system helps us shut out most background noises (not only loud ones) unless they are a sign of something either good or bad.

7   activates = starts or sets off // startle = surprise // defensive = protective // response = reaction or answer // elevating = lifting up or raising

8   C – The writer says that the startle response occurs in all creatures and is a basic, automatic response when we sense something that might be dangerous

9   complex = involved or complicated // stimulus = something that sets off a reaction // inferior = lower; less important; less valuable // process = method // raw = not altered, uncooked

10   D – We’re told that your brain reacts in the same way as if you hear a noise that seems out of place (e.g. a birdcall in a subway)

11 pay attention to = concentrate on // come into play = begin to work // conveyed = communicated // tune out = ignore // computation = calculation

12 A – a ‘top down’ response is one where you deliberately focus on sounds and listen carefully. It helps you shut out background noises.

13 distraction = something that stops you concentrating // information overload = too much information // intellectual = academic // richness = fullness and beauty // discern = observe

14 C – The writer gives several examples of how you can practise concentrating on different sounds, including listening carefully to noises your pet makes.