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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Listening and Note-taking

A lot of students had problems summarizing "It's difficult for the falcons to focus on one specific bird (while hunting)" this week. People said things like:
  • The falcon is difficult to focus on one bird.
  • The falcon is hard to hunt.
And of course, the content of those summaries is wrong. I think the cause of the mistake is too many notes *. People write notes based on content words, like:
Falcon     difficult     focus
This is fine if you understand the relationship between those words, but obviously a lot of people didn't.

The point is this: your notes won't help you if you don't understand the lecture or conversation. Your priorities must be:
    1. Understand the content
    2. Take notes
If you get those priorities backwards, you'll make more mistakes.

* I recommend that you get a native Japanese speaking teacher for listening. Listening is too easy for native English speakers. I've spent thousands of hours listening to lectures in high school, university, and graduate school, so all of the implications are obvious to me. Plus, I hear exactly what they say, so I can't really sympathize with the way you hear English. Yoshi-sensei and WebTOEFL are strongly recommended for listening instruction by my students.