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 Listening Note-taking Skills

e.g – for example

i.e. – that is

etc – similar

N.b. – note

Q. – question

Probs. – problems

p./pp – pages

1st – first

Max – maximum

c. – approximately

thro – through

ref. – reference

imp. – important

sit. – situation

eval. – evaluation

anly. – analysis

diff. – difficult

econ. – economy

Key Listening Strategies


Using arrows help to identify cause and effect in your notes



Listening for signal words help you identify the use of examples for support in a lecture

For example, such as, to exemplify, like, etc…, so on..


Critical thinking ‘inferencing’

By listening to expressions ‘goof up’ and ‘something not fitting into a situation’

You can infer that something didn’t do well.


Topic signals

Listening for topic signals in an introduction will help identify what the lecture will focus on.

“for now let’s just focus on semantics and particularly – slang”


Sequence Markers

Listening for sequence markers such as ‘first’ or ‘second’ help to distinguish details and organise them in your notes.


Identifying summaries

Usually a lecturer will give a summary after discussing complex ideas. This is a time when you can review your notes to check you have understood everything that has been said and add more if necessary.


Critical thinking – thinking of examples

Sometimes lecturers give ideas but don’t offer any examples – this a moment for you to think of some and add them to your notes. This will benefit memorisation.

In a lecture on slang the lecturer indicated there are a lot of slang expressions for like and dislike but doesn’t give any example. Here you add some of your own. ‘Rubbish’ ‘crap’ ‘sick’ ‘awesome’.


Identifying topics thought questions

Sometimes a lecturer may ask questions at the beginning of a lecture. For example, ” do you know anyone who is extremely clever?”. By answering these questions in your mind you are preparing yourself for the lecture, activating the necessary vocabulary and gaining an insight to the outline of the lecture.


Identifying ‘important’ examples

Some examples are really important to note down .Lecturers often give examples that support exactly what they are trying to explain. They make concepts real and easier to understand. For example, the lecturer says that ” a six year old who can play Mozart’s Sonata in G major, would be considered gifted.” This adds support to the point made on a child who is ‘above- average’


Applying own Knowledge

By adding information that you have on the topic in your notes will help you to personalise the notes thus, helping memory.



At the end of a lecture a lecturer will summarise the main ideas again. This is a good time for you to look at you notes, check you have all the main ideas and make any changes. BEWARE – lectures often use different phrases and synonyms to repeat previous ideas. For example, “think creatively” is used in the main body of the lecture and “use their imagination” is used in the summary – these mean the same thing.


Organising ideas

Use bullets, arrows, symbols, numbers or letters. Choose a style that you like and suits your writing. What is most important is that you capture the main ideas, supporting details and show how the ideas relate. Also, you need to organise your notes neatly and logically so you can review them with ease. E.g: a basic structure for organising notes – main idea / supporting idea / supporting idea / less important idea about A / less important idea about B.


Recognising speakers cues

If a lecturer asks ‘are you with me?’ – what do they mean? They are asking if you understand the concept. Speakers often use phrases like this to check understanding or speed. This is a time when if you didn’t get something to ask for clarification.


Recognising new topics

Lecturers often present topics and subtopics. How do you know when they are presenting a topic or subtopic? The language they use gives you a clear indication. E.g: ‘so now let’s move onto the second challenge – propulsion.’ Then ‘there are 3 propulsion options to consider’. Here the lecturer has reinstated the topic ‘challenge’ and then suggested a sub-topic ‘propulsion’.



Once you have listened to a lecture it is important to spend a few minutes reviewing your notes and adding any additional information you may recall. It is also good practice to write a short summary of the main points. using your own words to write a summary helps memory and understanding.



Often lecturers give definitions of key terms. It is important that you listen for this and try to write down exactly what is said. Even if you don’t get the whole statement the parts you do get will help you re-construct it later. You can always consult a dictionary, a classmate or the speaker to clarify the term.



Today it’s possible for ‘savvy’ private organisations to get information on individuals.. What does ‘savvy’ mean? Can you guess from context? If you guessed ‘in the know’ or ‘smart’ = correct. You don’t always have time or opportunity to check a dictionary so guessing skills are an important skill.



Lecturers often use statistics to support their lectures. Often statistics are dense and require close listening skills. You need to use abbreviations and symbols to copy information quickly. E,g; 6M cameras / 1:14 / 300x/day/


Critical thinking of point of view

What’s the speakers opinion? Often tone is a good indicator of how someone feel about a subject and how much they are in favour of it. How does this affect the lecture? The point of view may impact your own opinion. Therefore it is important to try to identify the lecturers point of view so you can be objective.


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