Interactive English: Reception

Reading and Listening

Listening to Lectures

on October 18, 2012

Professors’ lectures are often long and sometimes really boring, but we need to gather, process, and retain the information. How? One way is by listening actively. Sunni Brown, owner of a visual design company, explains how and why “doodling” is a great way to do this. Watch her video HERE, fill in the worksheet, then answer ONE of the questions below in the comments.

1. How do you usually take notes and keep yourself awake during a long, boring lecture?

2. What do you think about Sunni Brown’s idea about doodling?

Also, as you read pages 19-40 of Paranoid Park, keep track of the characters and map and answer the following questions (make sure all information is in your journal):

1. Why do you think the security guard was trying so hard to hurt them?

2. Would you have tried to help Scratch or would you have run away? Why?

3. Without using a dictionary, what do you think “hyperventilating” means? How did you guess?

4. Without using a dictionary, what do you think “foot traffic” means? How did you guess?

5. Why do you think he threw his skateboard over the bridge? Was it a good idea? Why/Why not?

6. What kind of image do you get from the words “peeled off” in the sentence “I peeled off my shirt” on page 37?

7. Do you think what happened with the security guard was an accident? Do you feel the boys are to blame? What do you think he should do now?

8. What do you think will happen in the next 20 pages?


18 responses to “Listening to Lectures

  1. Takumi Nakanishi says:

    1. How do you usually take notes and keep yourself awake during a long, boring lecture?

    I usually take notes in the following way.

    (Ⅰ) Motivation
    (ⅰ) In SLA
    ( 1 ) Instrumental motivation :
    (A)Good Point
    (B)Bad Point

    ( 2 ) Integrative motivation :

    (ⅱ) In Pedagogy
    ( 1 ) Intrinsic motivation

    ( 2 ) Extrinsic motivation

    And when I have to listen to boring, tedious, monotonous, disappointing lectures, I often draw picutures or caricatures. Sometimes I write source cords I wrote before.

    Shot( )

    for(int h =0;h < Max; h++)
    ShotX[i] += S_VectorX;
    ShotY[i] += S_VectorY;

    if(ShotX[i]480) ShotFlag[i] = 0;
    if(ShotY[i]<0 || ShotY[i]<640) ShotFlag[i] = 0;


    if(ShotCounter <= 0)
    for(int =0; i<Max; i ++){ if (ShotFlag[i]==0) break;}
    ShotFlag[i] =1;
    ShotCounter = 30;


    • tufsmatt says:

      Wow, I didn’t know that you could write source code… I’m impressed!
      However, it might not be the best way to retain the lecture’s information… 😉

  2. Wataru Okubo says:

    1. How do you usually take notes and keep yourself awake during a long, boring lecture?

    The fight against the long boring lecture (LBL) begins before attending it. First task is to discern which lecture can have potential for LBL. Find small size class with interesting topics and you will learn a lot and never be passive. However, we have limited options and it is mostly in the compulsory ones that we find the essence of LBL. My half-year study has shown that nothing is more boring than “write down what’s on the board because it will be on the test” type and “listen to the lecturer for 90 minutes and submit a paper at the end” type. A great example of the latter is one that is conducted in a humid, over-capacity hall, where I had to sit in the aisle and all I saw was a giant pillar standing right in front of me and I had no idea what’s going on on the stage.
    What makes a lecture boring? We find it boring when it contains few valuable information, lacks stimulation and goes at a slow pace.
    Thus, as a solution, probably the same as 50 years ago though, you could bring some work to do, which never runs out, and get it done while half-listening to the lecturer and picking up some interesting topics and ideas. Good points are: 1) you won’t sleep 2) you won’t miss important information 3) you won’t distract other students because you look like an eager listener 4) you will have fruitful results.

    To understand the content of lecture, the important thing is clarify the order and relationships. That is the raison d’etre of notebook. In most lectures, the explanation goes from basic concepts to more specific, complicated concepts. So I follow these lines. To catch them, I pay attention to finding the reasons and effects.
    However, from my experience, it is the knowledge and ideas in the related field that makes a difference. When you have them, not only will it lead to better understanding, it will also allow you to think extensively about different possibilities or doubt if he/she tells the truth (an invaluable lesson I learned recently). Then, you will take a lecture actively and actually learn something. It can apply to doodling I think. Without interest and background knowledge, we couldn’t come up with any ideas or connect different ideas.
    I don’t draw pictures much, because if I did, my notebook would be as messy as 5-year-olds’. So I usually try to compile the information using simple marks(bullet point, line, circle, arrow, etc) and making spaces to make it look clear and that works enough for me.

    I could never be thankful enough for my left hand; can’t remember how many times it offered to lean on during LBLs!

    • tufsmatt says:

      LBL? Ha! I learned a new word!

      I’ve read that students only retain about 10% of LBL’s information making it the LEAST effective way of teaching/learning. Discussion, practice, and even reading were proven to be much better at communicating information.

      Also, I’m glad you learned the lesson of “doubting”… it is invaluable. I promise not to knowingly give you false information ever again!!

      I hope you have at least a couple of interesting classes (non-LBLs) each semester. They will surely get better as you advance in your studies.

  3. Satomi Togari says:

    Interesting lecture!
    I was almost about to _count_ how many times Sunni said “doodle”, because
    now my head feels like it’s stuffed with noodles.


    1. How do you usually take notes and keep yourself awake during a long, boring lecture?

    Boring lecture? What boring lecture? Of course I’m awake, alert and attentive.
    Well, for most of the time I am. Or I think I am.

    I usually *ahem* try to listen to and focus on the lecture and taking notes, but more or less there are times when my mind suddenly goes blank out and decides goes on holiday no matter how hard I try. Bet this happens to every single student AND teacher at some point!
    It’s inevitable, bro.

    Why does this happen?

    possible answers…
    a) I’m sleepy. Or maybe it’s just that I need to catch up on some extra sleep.
    Face it, I’m still a growing girl.(Horizontally.)
    b) Either the lectures don’t interest me, or they’re not interested in me.
    c) The lectures are passive;you don’t exactly need to “be” there to contribute. (Minus GLIP English lessons from here!)

    All these excuses seem like a load of rubbish when I write them down….oh well!
    So what can I do to prevent myself from falling asleep?

    answer to a)
    1. Sleep, but not in class. Although judging from the massive amount of homework we get (hint hint!), this is not a very easy option to follow.
    2. Find a trustworthy friend who can kick me from behind whenever my head is on the verge of lolling off my shoulders.
    3. Consume spearmints like mad while stabbing my hand with the tip of the pencil numerous times. Not exactly ideal because at the end of the lesson my hand will look like if it’s been butchered by Chucky The Killer Doll.
    4. Recount the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to me and roll around in shame. Only problem: I forget them as soon as they’ve happened.
    5. Sit up straight and keep my eyes open wide. It also emphasizes my “enhanced enthusiasm”, and therefore sometimes draws unwanted attention from the professor; “Looks like someone can share some ideas with us!”

    answer to b) = Attend a lecture that actually is interesting…or BE more interested in the lectures. (how can I do that?)

    answer to c) = Not much can be done here; not all lessons are cool enough to let you sit in groups and share ideas about skateboarding/train hopping teens. 😦

    And how do I take notes for the rest of the 90%…oh, all right, 70.5% I’m awake?

    – Write down what professors say, write on the board, or Ask the Audience.(too bad they don’t have the option to Phone A Friend….)
    – Make my handwriting extra-neat to stay concentrated. (On the lecture, not on the handwriting…!)
    – Draw pictures (doodle!) if necessary. All my energy is channeled into drawing the perfect stick-figures and apples.

    Back to sleep !! Doodles !! I mean, Toodles!!

    • tufsmatt says:

      I know what you mean about how many times she said “doodle”… I had a dog named Doodle and so everytime I heard that word I thought of my dog and that made it hard to concentrate.

      Your ideas for staying awake during boring lectures were great. I also use your 3rd idea (mints – not stabbing myself!). Peppermint gum works for me, but if I need a superburst of energy I place an Altoid on my tongue and it keeps me wide awake for up to 10 minutes. Black Black gum (from Lotte) has caffeine in it so chewing a stick of that really keeps me alert – although it might be the bad flavor more than the caffeine…

      Like you said, being more interested in the lectures is really the key, but doing that is a bit of a trick. I think the secret is knowing that no matter how boring the lecture is, there is going to be some information that you can apply directly to what interests you. Imagine listening to the lecture as a kind of quest for those little bits of treasure.

      See you tomorrow!

  4. Shogo Inoue says:

    I’ll answer the first question

    During a long boring lecture I tend to sleep……well, I’m trying not to.
    When I tend to sleep, it’s probably because
    a) I’m sleeping late, the day before.
    b) Class after lunch
    c) no reason

    When I try to stay awake I usually concentrate on something(stare at one point) and think about unimportant things. I stop focusing on the class for a little while and, once drowsiness stops, I start concentrating on the class.

    When I take notes, I usually copy what teacher’s write on the board and something important the professor says. With doodling, I don’t usually do it, but when I am board I usually connect line and draw some shapes.

    • tufsmatt says:

      Third period is the worst for me too… eating lunch makes me soooo sleepy. I try not to eat too much, but I still tend to space out in the afternoon.

  5. Masato Kurosawa says:

    Hi! I’ll answer the Q1.

    Whether it is boring or not, when I am being given a lecture, I usually use a mindmap. Mindmap is a brain-stimulating method invented and produced by Tony Buzan. In this method, we use a large paper(A3 or at least A4 is recommended) and color pens(as many as you can).
    Firstly, we put a large and coloful visual image of the theme of the lecture on the center of the paper. And secondly, draw main branches from the center image by using bold lines(each lines with deferent colors) and put an important word on each of them. Then next, draw some sub branches from each of the main branches and put a word which is related to its main branch word. We can put some marks and cartoons on each branches if possible.
    This method always makes me active listening to lectures even if they are boring.
    But if possible, I don’t want to attend boring classes. Time is precious. We gonna die. We should do things we really need for living a true life!


    • Masato Kurosawa says:

      Probably, I will not attend the class tomorrow because i have a cold today, not because your class is boring!

    • tufsmatt says:

      Oh Masato, I hope you feel better soon! Everyone is sick recently…

      The mind map is a great idea. I always use it when trying to prepare a presentation or research paper.

  6. saya says:

    I am answering the first question!
    My aim during this semester is not to fall asleep druing lectures, so I am glad to hear many kinds of advise from you all. Especially, Satomi!! Her idea was a little bit extraordinary, though…like “Find a trustworthy friend who can kick me from behind” and “stabbing my hand with the tip of the pencil”.
    Anyway, thank you friends.

    Well, here’s my method to keep me from dozing off:
    ・massaging my hand (I heard that there is pressure point on the middle fingers.)
    ・doubting what teacher said or applying it (especially something abstract) to my real life situation
    Today, I had a lecture about ‘exclusion’. (so vague. You must be confused about what I am learning) Regarding this topic, teacher talked about the problem of bullying, the World-Systems Theory, and so on. It was just boring to listen to her examples so I recalled my experience of ‘excusion”. When I was a child, I always excluded(?) wasabi from my sushi. I also have an experience of not letting my junior take part in a competition of the brass band. It was a severe choice but necessary for the other members. It is kinda ‘excusion’, though this word has an acrid impression. It is a good way to make your brain active! Try it. But you get too into thinking about your own experience, you might miss teacher’s words.
    ・Take notes. (maybe doodling is better) Just listening is so boring that you may well be sleepy. Taking notes is much better than doing nothing!
    ・Counting how many people are sound asleep. And speak to myself that I am superior to them in that I haven’t gone to another world like them and I must never be one of those.

    Every lecture is a battle against lethargy. But I will try hard to achieve my aim( very poor aim…so embarrasing) with using my original way and yours.
    Bye and see you tomorrow!

    • tufsmatt says:

      Great ideas Saya! Especially trying to apply the lecture to your own life…

      I daydream during an especially boring lecture. I think daydreaming is a good thing for our creativity and to organize our thoughts, but missing the point of a lecture may not be so great.

  7. Ayumi Sugaya says:

    Hi. I’ll answer the first question.
    During a long, boring lecture, it is so hard for me to keep awake. When I attend such boring class,I always try to sweep my sleepiness away, but usually I can’t. If I once become sleepy in a class, it is difficult to overcome that sleepiness , so I try some steps not to become sleepy.
    First thing is watching the face of a speaker when I hear a lecture. Expressions of lecturers tell us many things, and it won’t make us boring.
    Second thing is taking notes diligently. Moving my hand makes my brain active, I think.
    The last one is the most important; trying to keep a tense feeling that the speaker might suddenly throw a question on me. I think that Tense feeling has the greatest power to avoid becoming sleepy.
    See you tomorrow!

    • tufsmatt says:

      You have a good point about being afraid the speaker might ask you a question. In a small class you HAVE to pay attention. But if there are 100 students in the room, it’s safe to sleep 😉

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