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Listening and Non-Taking Skills

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The purpose of listening is not only to hear the words, but also to be able remember what you have heard and to make notes on the most important points. While listening to the entire passage, you must learn to select key words and write them down before the next important point is made. In order to do this you must first learn to notice the overall organization of the material. Good speakers and writers present their ideas in a logical manner. Finding the pattern of organization is the first step in learning how to take notes.

The first paragraph of this lesson is a definition. It explains what business is and gives several examples. It concludes with a summary or restatement of the definition.

There are some words and phrases which might indicate the organi­zation of a passage. For example, when the author says that there are four basic factors in business, you might expect that he will mention the four items and explain something about each one. The passage will most likely be organized in four sections. Certain other phrases like in summary or in conclusion might show that the statement that follows is the end of a particular part of the discussion.

Here are some important words and phrases which can help you determine the organization of a passage.


Words which indicate the beginning of separate sections or points:

ordinal numbers — first, second, etc.

another, one other


further, furthermore

in -addition

Words which show the end of separate sections:

in conclusion



as a result



in summary


D: Noting details

The second skill required for good listening is the ability to notice factual details. A detail can be a specific example, a date or other number, or a name. Listen to Paragraph 1 and write down the details in the order in which they are presented in the passage. (The headings can be: examples of production, examples of financing, and examples of services.)


E: Outlining

A technique which you can use for note taking, reading, or writing is outlining. An outline shows the organization of a speaker's or writer's ideas. When you find the pattern of organization, you can make notes in an outline form. Use the writer's cue words to detect the form. The form of your outline will be the same as the organization of the text. What you write in the outline are the factual details.

A system of Roman numerals, letters, and Arabic numerals is used to show the organization of the ideas. The most general ideas are written to the left using Roman numerals. The subheads are indicated by alternating letters and numbers which show the relationship of exam­ples, details, or other important facts to each other. Look at the outline below for Paragraph 1.

I. Definition of Business: activity related to material things needed for civilization

A. Production

1. making airplanes

2. building buildings

3. constructing paper boxes

B. Finance

1. lending money

2. trading stocks and bonds

3. selling insurance policies

C. Other

1. sales

2. service

a. accounting

b. distributing

c. repair

Now listen to Paragraphs 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. (The paragraphs may be repeated as necessary.) Organize your notes into an outline, and fill in the details in the order in which you hear them. Remember the impor­tance of the details is indicated by their position on the outline chart. Begin with: II. Four Factors of Business.



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