How to listen to lectures: Understand & remember with these strategies


hello my name is emma and in today's videoam going to tell you about the best strategies  

you can use when you're listening in lectures  okay so this video is for anyone who is in college  

university any type of program where they're  taking courses that require a lot of listening  

it's very difficult for many people to listen  um in lecture so whether you speak english as  

a first language or whether english is your second  or third language for people who go to university  

or college one of the most challenging parts can  be understanding and remembering what you learned  

in lecture so let's talk a little bit about um  some of the types of people you might see in  

your lecture why lectures are hard and why they're  difficult to listen to and then i'll give you some  

great strategies that i know really work that can  help you in your listening so let's get started  

imagine the situation you are in  college and you're taking a really  

hard college course maybe it's physics maybe  it's um english or some sort of math course  

and you have to sit there for two hours and listen  now that's really hard for a lot of people to do  

but this is the reality for many courses you  might take there's a big um stress on listening  

to professors talk so i'm going to tell you  about some people i know and what they were  

like during their lectures my brother was the type  of person who would go to lectures for two hours  

and he'd just sit there he would not write  anything down he would just sit and listen  

now the sad thing that happened with my brother is  he did not remember anything so during the lecture  

he understood and he would think oh okay yeah you  know i don't need to take notes i understand but  

when he would leave he'd forget everything and  this was a big problem for him whenever it came  

time to exams or tests now i had a friend whenwas in university who would bring a tape recorder  

and record the professor talking and so for the  two hours she would be on facebook checking her  

emails doing other things but not really listening  and she would just record the professor talk  

and then when she got home then she would listen  to the recording again and again and again  

so while she might have learned a lot of the  material she spent hours doing this it was a lot  

of time wasted where if she had just listened  during the lecture it would have been a lot  

easier for her and she wouldn't have spent so much  time in her free time listening to this material

i had another friend who had a computer and would  come to class and would type type everything the  

professor was saying now this friend was really  fast at typing and she could just type every word  

the professor said and so her notes were always  great but the problem is while she was typing  

she didn't really listen well she didn't process  the information that the professor was saying  

because she was just typing everything he  said word for word so she would spend a lot  

of time reading her notes and studying from  her notes which was also a bit of a waste of  

time because she could have understood more  during the lecture okay and now this is true  

this is about me when i was in my first year of  university it's taken me a long time to get really  

good at listening in lectures but in my first year  of university i was terrible i thought it would be  

good if i sat in the front row because that way  i would be paying a lot of attention and i could  

take notes well but what often happened i took  classes too early or too late in the evening and  

i would fall asleep and it would be bad becausewould sleep and then i was in the front row so the  

professor could see me um and again i didn't do  this on purpose it was always an accident i wanted  

to stay awake and take notes but because i wasn't  using the proper strategies i also wasted a lot  

of time and i actually had more problems than the  rest of these people because i didn't take notes  

because i was asleep and i didn't listen sodidn't get any information from the lecturer  

so there's many different types of people  in colleges and universities many types of  

students who have these types of problems and they  don't use their time well in lectures they don't  

listen well so i am going to teach you now some  great strategies you can use that will help you  

become better at listening to those lectures  that might be really difficult or very long  

that can really help you with achieve academic  success okay so the key to doing really well  

in listening in lectures is to put  in the effort while you're listening  

so this means you need to actively listen okay  so you can't just listen be on your phone and  

looking around the class no you really need  to think about what the professor's saying  

the other thing that will really help you is to be  prepared and what do i mean by prepared well i'll  

talk about that in in a moment but what should  you bring to lecture how should what is your  

plan for when you're in lecture it's important  to be prepared and to have a plan in advance  

so i think that active listening and preparation  will help you have more success and actually save  

you a lot of time because by doing this you don't  have to keep re-listening to a lecture or you  

don't have to spend all your time trying to figure  out what you missed okay so let's look at what can  

you do before the lecture because that's when  this all starts before you go into the lecture  

so sometimes at college or university you actually  have a choice about what time you go to lecture so  

maybe they have a course and it's offered at 9am  and maybe on a different day it's offered at pm  

so if you have this option really  think about when do you listen the best  

and again not everyone has a choice in this  sometimes there is only one lecture and you  

have to go no matter what but if there's  a choice and you can choose what time  

think about what is the best for you when i took  statistics in university the first time i took it  

i did not do well and that's because the course  was at 9 00 a.m for me that was too early to  

learn math and to be in lecture when i retook the  course a little while later um i found that taking  

the course at about 11am was actually really  perfect for me my mind was very sharp at 11.  

uh also important to know a lot of people start to  feel tired or sleepy in the afternoon especially  

around 3 p.m this has to do with our hormones  and it has to do with our our uh sleep cycle so  

know when you get tired for a lot of people  around 2 3 4 p.m they're very tired and maybe  

avoid having a lecture at this time if you can  because it is harder to listen if you're tired  

um okay what do you bring to lecture you  should try to pack your bag the night before  

just so you're prepared and it's important  to bring water a water bottle because keeping  

hydrated will actually help you stay  awake and keep you from being distracted  

it's good to bring snacks what kind of  snacks you know healthy snacks so not  

like mcdonald's or something that's  going to make you feel super tired  

and sluggish but maybe a granola bar or something  that's healthy because during the the lecture if  

you have a break you can take a bit of a snack and  then that can help you with your thinking as well  

um sometimes in certain classes they give you the  lecture notes in advance so if your professor is  

very kind and gives you lecture notes or slides in  advance it's good to bring these um and then for  

some people they like to bring their computer to  lecture this is a very important point you really  

need to know yourself are you the type of person  that if you have your computer there you're going  

to be on facebook the whole time or instagram  or tinder or what whatever websites are popular  

a lot of students are very distracted in class  these days and it's a total waste of time because  

they're too busy on their computers so they're not  listening which means why are they even there i  

think what is very helpful for a lot of students  is not to bring their computer but to only bring  

the slides or have the computer but keep it  in your backpack and pull it out if you need  

it um or if you do bring your computer and you  like to type your notes maybe use some sort of  

um something that will prevent  you from going on the internet so  

just know yourself with your computer because this  is a trap a lot of students fall into computers  

can be very distracting another point on this is  a lot of research has actually shown that writing  

your notes by hand is actually better than typing  your notes and this is because when you write your  

notes you tend to write slower and you don't write  everything so you process what you're hearing a  

lot more and by processing uh you remember a lot  more if you're typing you might type too fast  

you might type every word the professor says  and you're not really processing the information  

so for a lot of people it's actually easier to  remember information if they write it by hand  

so i recommend writing it by hand that's  how i always do it i never bring a computer  

to lecture because i find it's too  distracting and i don't remember as much

another part of your plan is  uh oh here look at your slides  

readings early so sometimes the professor  will give you an assigned reading  

ideally it's good to read everything before the  class but some people are too busy with that  

or to do that or they're not going to so if you  don't have time at least just read key words see  

what the reading is about you know look at  the title look at the headings the subtitle  

this information can or even in the slides  you can look at the pictures in the slides or  

the titles of the slides this  allows your brain to start working  

and it starts working before you go to lecture  which will prepare you to actually learn so  

it's really good to look at the slides and the  assigned readings in advance even if you don't  

uh read everything closely you can still prepare  yourself to learn that way and to listen better  

if while you're looking at the  slides and the assigned readings  

if you see there are things that  are the same in both of them  

that often is important because professors often  test on things where there's overlap so if the  

reading says something and the professor says  the same thing or the slides say the same thing  

that often is tested so that's a hint if you're  wondering what to study that can help you later on  

um there's a lot of new terms you'll hear  in lecture a lot of new words you've never  

heard before you know you can look at  these words in advance if they are in  

the readings or in the slides learn what they  mean so that way when the professor says them  

you're not wondering oh i have no idea what that  means okay and a lot of the times professors will  

give a definition of a word but sometimes  they don't so this can be very helpful  

okay my next tip is arrive to lecture early  it's not good to come running in 10 minutes late  

because your brain is going to be stressed  and stress prevents learning okay and not  

only that you will distract everyone around you so  please arrive to class early and this way you can  

be calm take your time getting prepared for  lecture and this will help you listen better  

my next tip choose your seat well you want to  be in a place where it's quiet um and there's  

not a lot of distraction if you sit at the back  door people are going to keep coming in and going  

and so maybe it's harder to listen because you  keep seeing other people come and go if you sit  

in the front seat um you know that might be an  idea for some people i never liked doing that  

personally because i told you i fell asleep in the  front seat so um i feel like the professor notices  

you more but it could be a good spot for some  people too the main thing is try to find a spot  

that is not does not have too many distractions  okay and where you can hear really well  

so this is what you do before the lecture  let's see what you do during the lecture  

okay so there are many different ways to take  notes and it's important to have a system  

and finding a system that works best for  you okay for me personally i always like  

the cornell approach i have a video on this  if you're interested some people like to  

take notes using something like a flowchart where  they don't write full sentences they just um  

you know draw circles and with arrows to show  how things connect um some people actually  

like to just write everything out so find the  system that works best for you and stick with it  

it will make your life a lot easier to be  consistent in your note taking also it's good to  

come up with a system of key words or words you  see a lot so for example whenever i'm in lecture  

and the professor says because i don't write  the word because because that will take too  

long what i write is bc and so whenever  i read my notes i know this means bc  

because or if um the professor says therefore what  i write instead of therefore is i put three dots  

so having your own system and you can use  different symbols or different abbreviations  

can help save you time when you're taking notes  so come up with a system and stick to it it's also  

very important in lecture to pay  attention to information that is repeated  

a lot of professors keep saying  the same thing in different ways  

if you hear the message again and again and  again this is likely something that's important  

and maybe on the exam so  listen for repeated information

also speaking of exams or tests a lot of  a lot of professors like to give clues  

to students so what they might say during  lecture is they might say um you know make  

sure you study this it's very important or this  will be on the final exam it might even just sit  

straight out like this or they might say hint  hint wink wink this is important for the exam  

listening for these um hints or tips can  help you so you know what to study what i  

like to do is when a professor says something  like this i take my red pen and i put a giant  

circle around it or a giant red star so i really  notice it for when i go back and study my notes

it's also important to listen for language cues  there's a lot of things happening during lecture  

a lot of information coming at you and it's easy  to get lost in all the information so one thing  

that can help is knowing when the professor  is changing topics or giving an example or  

giving smaller points or details and you  can use language cues to help you with this  

so for example if the professor is about to change  the topic they might say now let's move on to  

and then they'll tell you what the next topic is  uh if they want to emphasize something they might  

say the important thing is as soon as you hear  this you know okay it's important write it down  

next i'm going to talk about again this might  be a signal that they're going to change topics  

so this is helpful in the organization of your  notes as well as to understand what's happening  

because again it's easy to get lost in lecture

my next point is about the organization  of the lecture it's good to know what  

your professors like and you'll notice different  professors do things differently some professors  

like to just say exactly what's in the textbook  and their lecture is organized the exact same way  

as the textbook so if you know that then  listening isn't so important because you  

know okay the textbook and the lecture are the  same i can get the information in either place  

other professors might give a lecture that's  very different from the textbook and it might  

be more like a spoken essay they give you their  argument or their idea and then they give you  

uh reasons why they believe this or reasons  why this is how it is um and then they might  

give you details so understanding howprofessor gives a lecture and how their  

their uh lecture is organized can really help  you um understand what the professor is saying

one thing i like to do in lectures is ask why  why is the professor saying this understanding uh  

the answer to why and how everything connects can  help you understand the main idea of the lecture  

which is important so you always want to ask  yourself why is he talking about this or why  

is she talking about this and your answer can help  you figure out what's important to listen for um  

some profs also like discussion in  class so they will have you think  

about something and then they will ask you  for your opinion so it's also good to know  

people who give lectures like this because you  might be expected to speak during a lecture

now there's so much information so  what happens if you miss something  

i had no idea what the professor just  said i stopped listening for a moment  

well what i like to do isput a mark so maybe like a star  

beside you know that area and i wait until break  at the break i ask my friend or my classmate what  

did the professor say here i notice a lot of  people will ask during lecture they'll turn to  

the person beside them and say hey what what did  he just say i did i didn't get it the problem is  

then you both miss the very next point and then  it's easier to become lost so don't panic if you  

miss something just put a star and at the break  ask your classmates or if they don't know you can  

go up and ask the the professor and hopefully  they'll be able to tell you what you missed  

all right now let's look at some other strategies  for how you can become better at listening during  

lectures okay so i've talked about what to do  during lecture for a lot of lectures you'll  

actually get a break it might be 5 minutes 10  minutes or 15 minutes it's important to use  

these breaks well okay so my first piece of advice  is talk to your classmates and get to know them  

your classmates can be very helpful in a class  especially if you miss information or maybe  

you're sick one day um or maybe even to formstudy group it's very important to get to know  

people in your class because this will really  help you be more successful so how do you get  

to know people in your class well what i usually  do is i talk to somebody close by me and i notice  

something i like about them maybe they havenice backpack or um an interesting necklace or  

you know a nice shirt i might say oh i like your  bag where did you get it from and this can open up  

conversation or i might talk about the lecture wow  our professor just said something so interesting  

so there's many different ways to get to  know your classmates but make an effort

okay and also you know choose your  classmates that you talk to wisely  

if you notice the person was on facebook  the whole time during the lecture  

maybe they're not the best classmate  to talk to um you know to create a  

study group with look for somebody who is  actually really interested in the material

another piece of advice is during breaks it's  good to walk around or to stretch or do some  

sort of light exercise the reason is when you  move blood goes back to the brain and this helps  

helps wake you up and it also helps you with  your learning okay so if you just stay in your  

seat you're gonna get more tired and it's  gonna be a lot harder um to listen to the  

second half of the lecture so get up and get  moving and that way you will have more energy  

i had one friend who would go up and down  the stairs during um breaks in order to  

get that blood flow so get moving during breaks  another option is you can talk to your professor  

some professors really like this they like to  talk to students other professors don't so know  

your professor you can ask them questions  about what you're learning about or maybe  

you didn't understand something this is  a good time during break to talk to them  

finally you've made it the lecture is finished  okay good for you it was hard listening for those  

two hours so what can you do after the lecture  well it's always a good idea to review look at the  

assigned readings okay maybe you didn't read them  before class well now's a good time to read them  

because everything is fresh in your mind or you  can look at your notes again just take a moment  

look at what you wrote so review these things  can be really helpful and save you time in the  

future you can also discuss what you heard with  classmates sometimes just talking about something  

helps you to remember it better finally  if there's something you don't understand  

from the lecture you've talked to your classmates  you still don't understand it's really confusing  

to you it's a good idea to make an appointment  with your professor during their office hours  

so office hours are a time when professors can  answer your question and because they have an  

hour or two devoted to this they're not in  a rush so they can explain things to you  

clearly and they can take their time sometimes  if you ask them a question just at break or after  

class the professor can't give you the best answer  because they're in a rush they want to get going  

so it's good to to find out what are the office  hours and um go to them okay this is also a great  

way to connect with your professor which can help  you in the future if you need references or if you  

are looking for maybe a job or something like  that okay so get to know your professor it's a  

really good thing to do during lecture so i know  i've given you a lot a lot of different strategies  

now it takes time to change so what i recommend  is trying out a few of these things first  

see what helps okay you don't have to do  everything in this video but try to take  

some of the tips that work the best for you  and try them out see if it helps you with your  

listening i've been in university or i've taken  many university courses and so i have tried all  

of these tips and for me they have all been  very helpful so i wish you the best of luck  

and i also wanted to tell you that if you wanted  to practice what you learned in this video  

you can come visit our website at  there you can take a quiz on everything shown in  

this video that can help you with reviewing the  material you can also subscribe to my channel  

i have a lot of other resources on all sorts of  topics just remember to ring the bell finally you  

can also visit my website at  and there you can find more resources as well as  

information about me so thank you so much for your  time and for watching until next time take care