kids with teacher

How to Encourage Active Listening!

Students have an average attention span of 2-5 minutes multiplied by their age. For example, the average ten-year-old has a 20-50 minute attention span. When a student is not interested, this time gets even shorter. As educators, what are things we can do to increase students’ attention and encourage active listening? Here are three tips to be a more captivating speaker!

Tip One: Tell a Story

It’s no surprise that many students don’t spend their time reading textbooks. They spend their time watching movies, playing video games, or making their own stories. Try to find an exciting story that mirrors what you’re teaching them. Stories unfold as you tell them. One series of actions leads to the next. Sometimes learning can feel like an information download, but reframing each part to lead to the next helps keep attention.

With subjects like history and language arts, this may seem easy. Those subjects have many stories that many listeners can relate to. What about subjects like math and science? Well, try telling a story that relates the subject to the student. People care more when they can relate lessons to personal experiences.

Tip Two: Ask Questions

Asking questions helps to prevent students from zoning out by setting an expectation. Making the question more opinion based also helps encourage active listening. It changes the thought process from thinking to feeling, which helps stimulate critical thinking skills. Remember that you only want to ask questions that your lesson should already have mentioned.

For instance, if you’re teaching students about Christopher Columbus, you could ask, “Which ship do you think sounds the coolest?” Questions like these encourage students to share opinions using context clues gained by listening.

Tip Three: Enthusiasm!

When you’re bored, they’re bored! When you’re excited, they will be too. This works well with students but also even works with other adults. When people start to zone out while listening, they usually look at your face to see how you react so that they can react similarly. So when you show enthusiasm, that is picked up and spread to your students.

Being listened to is a two-way street in many cases. To truly encourage active listening, you have to be an entertaining speaker. By turning facts into exciting stories, asking opinion-based questions to your listeners, and speaking with enthusiasm and passion, you will be a far more captivating educator!

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