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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

ESL Student Blog: Hear Vs. Listen

What do you hear while waiting at a bus stop: traffic zooming past, honking horns, speeding motorcycles, squealing brakes or perhaps stereo systems blaring from cars stopped at the red light? Do you wish you had earplugs when you hear a chain saw, leaf blower or dental drill? Whether we like it or not, we’re constantly exposed to sounds around us. When we hear, we do so unintentionally.

Hearing is one of the 5 senses through which humans perceive the world (also: sight, touch, smell, taste). Can you hear well underwater (when you dive)? Would you hear your teacher in a noisy room (even if you tried to listen)? How about when someone whispers?

As we age, we might experience (partial) hearing loss and therefore might need a hearing aid - a device that can help us to hear better. When was the last time you had your hearing test done? This test is usually performed by an audiologist.

If you listen, you pay attention and make a cognitive effort to focus on particular sounds. You do so intentionally. As learners of English as a second language, you listen to the native speakers of English to pick up intonation and pronunciation. Do you always listen to instructions your teacher gives in class?

When you listen to an orchestra or a band, what and how many instruments can you hear? Can you listen to a musical tune and then recreate what you heard?

Sometimes, even if we listen, we can’t hear:

I tried to listen to their conversation, but couldn’t hear a word.

Some other times, we aren’t listening, but we might hear something:

The radio program was boring and I stopped listening until I heard the breaking news.
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 12:06 AM
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