Listening in Lectures

You will learn most effectively from lectures if you look out for the most important points the lecturer is making.

Lecturers often use signal words within their lectures, and structure them in a similar way to an essay. There will be an introduction setting out the aims of the lectures, a main body and a summary or conclusion at the end.

If you find that you sometimes lose track during lectures (most people find it difficult to listen with undivided attention for an hour), look for lecture ‘signal words’ as outlined below. These will be helpful to identify what part of the lecture you are listening to, and can be useful when trying to 13.09 043

Beginning of the Lecture: making sure that students know what they are going to listen to

  • “What I’d like to do today is…”
  • “Ok everyone, today we will  look at…”
  • “OK, the focus of today’s lecture is on…”
  • “I will break today’s lecture into …”
  • “I’m going to divide the lecture in two parts…”
  • “In the first part we will look at…”
  • “In the second part we will…”
  • “Finally we will…”

Main Part of the Lecture: providing demonstrations; giving working examples; comparing and contrasting theories; analysing varying viewpoints; tracing a historical development; presenting facts and figures

  • Using a question for emphasis : “So, what exactly is Kitsch?”
  • Providing a sequence : “Firstly”, “Secondly”, “Thirdly”, etc.
  • Giving examples: “For example”. “Let us take the case of…”, “…is a case in point”, “Let’s look particularly at the case of…”, “There are several examples of this…”
  • Providing additional information : “Another example of this is……”, “We can see this situation elsewhere”.
  • Signalling a shift in the argument : “Let’s turn our attention now to…”, “What I’d like to do now is to move on to consider…”
  • Referring to sources: “As Pascal observed four centuries ag0…”, “This is in line with Sartre’s view of existentialism”.
  • Emphasising a point : “The main point I’d like to stress here is…”, “The key issue at stake here is…”, “What I am essentially arguing is…” . “What I am suggesting to you is…”
  • Providing a summary : “So what I have essentially been doing is…”, “So the key point to bear in mind is…”, “To summarize, the three main issues are…”

End of the Lecture: summarising the key points; suggesting further reading or research

  • Providing a summary: “So what I have essentially been doing is…”, “So the key point to bear in mind is…”
  • Suggestions for further research: “To find out more about how we define ‘design’, I recommend Design History and the History of Design by John Walker, or you might like to take a look at…”


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