In a conversation modeled on the “Learn to Listen, Listen to Learn” method, learners reflect on a topic in their journals, share their reflections in a small group, and then present their ideas to the whole class. This structured format helps learners develop their discussion skills with a focus on strengthening their listening skills. This is a useful discussion format when your class is discussing controversial topics.
- Learners Write in Journals: Before they share their ideas, it is essential to allow learners to clarify their views. We suggest giving learners five to ten minutes to write in their journals about the topic they will be discussing. After this writing time, ask learners to underline or highlight the ideas they find most exciting or worthy of sharing.
- Learners Share and Listen in Small Groups: Divide the class into small groups of four or five learners. Once learners are in their groups, they must appoint a facilitator to keep the group focused. Each learner now has the opportunity to share a part of his/her journal entry with the group. During this sharing process, no one must interrupt the speaker. When it is each learner’s turn to share, he/she must not directly respond to a point someone else has made. Instead, the sharing must focus on the individual’s feelings and reactions.
- Learners Have an Open Discussion in Small Groups: Drawing on what they just heard, the small groups now have an open discussion. Before beginning this step, explain to learners that this discussion is about listening to each other and acknowledging our diverse array of thoughts, fears, and hopes. Learners must also be reminded that not everyone will be in agreement and that the goal is to better understand other people’s viewpoints. After 10 to 15 minutes of discussion, groups must decide on two or three ideas from their conversation to share with the class.
- Small Groups Present: Groups of not more than four learners present their key ideas to the class. You can facilitate a whole-class discussion based on these ideas, or you can proceed directly to personal journal reflections.
- Learners Revisit Journals: Allow learners to reread the journal entry they wrote at the start of this learning activity. Then ask them to describe how their ideas have changed. Perhaps their views have grown more reliable, or maybe they have shifted a little. It is possible that some learners have entirely changed their attitudes or that the conversations have left them uncertain or with new questions. Prompts you may use to structure learners’ thinking include: What did you learn from this learning experience? What questions are you left with? What did you learn more from—listening or presenting your ideas? Explain your answer.