Listening skills for learning English as a foreign language are normally broken down into 3 different skill sets:
1 – Listening for Gist;
2 – Listening for Specific Information; and
3 – Listening for Detailed Information.
Listening for Gist is probably the easiest skill to explain and train. The aim of this type of listening exercise is to train the listener to understand the basic context of the conversation. The aim is not to have the learner understand every word and every detail because this is not necessary to create a general understanding of what is being said. My upper-intermediate flight announcement listening exercise 1 is a good example of listening for gist:
Listening for Specific Information is also an easy skill to explain and fairly easy to train. The aim of this type of listening exercise is to train the listener to understand a very specific piece of information. This information is normally unique information such as a number or a name. My beginner flight announcement listening video is an example of listening for specific information:
Listening for Detailed Information is a little more difficult to explain and train. It is often confused with listening for specific information. Unlike gist when listening for detail you want to understand the information on a deeper level, a general understanding is not enough. However, the listener is not simply looking for one specific or unique word, they are looking to understand a string of words that construct the meaning. For example, the word taxi is normally a noun that means a car that you hire where someone drives you somewhere. However, in a flight context, the word taxi is a verb and means the action of the plane driving along the ground. Without an in depth understanding of the text the meaning of taxi may be lost on the learner. My upper-intermediate flight announcement listening exercise 2 is a good example of listening for detail:?