Does anyone understand anything I say?
Do I need to check understanding every time? Why are people so stupid? Is there any way that I can hack reading or listening comprehension so I know whether they “get it”?
If you are a course writer, teacher or salesperson you’ve probably thought some version of this to yourself – if you haven’t shouted it out loud.
Course writers need to check understanding
And not just course writers. If you work in education or sales then you need to check whether people understand what you say as well.
I’m a teacher and course writer myself. I’ve been teaching for nearly 20 years. I started out teaching English as a second language (ESOL) and later moved into adult literacy and numeracy education.
I’ve worked as an education consultant since 2004. And in that time I’ve written A LOT of stuff including a bunch of different courses for face-to-face, blended and online delivery.
One of the things that I learned, and then taught others, was how to hack reading comprehension so that I could try and figure out whether anyone actually understood what I was teaching.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a teacher, some kind of content expert or specialist or just keen to create a course to teach others your skills, you need to know whether people really “get it”.
Because if they don’t, and you don’t know it, you can’t do anything to help them let alone improve your product or whatever it is you’re teaching.
Have you ever stopped to consider?
- Does anyone really understand your message?
Even if you’ve managed to slow down long enough to ask yourself this question, it immediately raises other questions. Like these, for example:
- Do I even want to know if they “get it”?
- Assuming I do want to know, how would I go about checking this?
- What if they don’t understand, but they’re too embarrassed to say anything to me?
- How could I help my people understand better?
You might have asked yourself these questions. Or, perhaps you’ve never asked yourself these questions. If you haven’t then you should.
Because what you need is some rough and ready ways of hacking listening or reading comprehension in order to find out whether people akshually understand whatever it is that you’re saying or writing.
Your readers, listeners, students and learners probably don’t have Snoop Dogg levels of comprehension.
That means you have to help them understand. And that’s what I’m going to help you with.
I’m going to give you the strategies for that.
It’s not that difficult… there’s a little bit of a learning curve and some technical jargon to learn.
That’s about it.
In no time you’ll be able to write the kind of questions that will help you – and the people reading or listening to your work – learn better and understand what it is that you have to say.
Reading versus listening
Most of what I write about here relates to both reading and listening comprehension. So, sometimes you’ll see me refer to one or the other or both but just adapt to your own context.
If you have created (or are creating) a course that is largely text based, then adapt this material for reading comprehension specifically.
For a course that is largely audio or video content, then it’s going to be listening comprehension that you need to take into account.
Of course, you may have a mixture of text, audio and video. You’ll figure it out.
My point is that the principles are the same. Assuming that you’ve got some kind of content to work with, you’ll be able to use the information in this book and apply it to your situation.
Another thing to note is that sometimes I may use these words interchangeably:
These are three different ways of talking about the end-users of your course. School teachers tend to talk about “students”, some education people like to refer to “learners” and more business oriented folks talk about “customers”.
These are all different points of view that bring some different ways of understanding how you work with the people using your content, but the idea is still the same.
They’re all the end-users of your content and – if you care about them – you need to know whether they understand whatever it is that you’re trying to teach them.
Actually, let me back up on that a little.
It’s probably more accurate to say that it serves YOUR purposes better in the first place if you know that they know what you mean. In other words, you need to check understanding.
As a course writer or teacher, feedback about whether or not your students understand basic concepts at the beginning of course will be vital as to whether or not they achieve the outcomes you need to deliver.
As a business person, if someone doesn’t understand the content they’ve paid for they are unlikely to recommend your material to anyone or buy from you again.
It’s tough out there
Let’s face it. It’s actually really tough to improve someone’s reading or listening comprehension.
Reading on its own is difficult enough for a lot of people and it takes a long time to see real gains.
Listening is tough too and the experience of receiving information via the auditory cortex (in your brain) can be quite different to getting the same information from reading through your visual cortex.
The whole problem of understanding is compounded if you have to do training or teaching in an environment where gains of any kind are more “high stakes”.
Perhaps your students are tested for reading comprehension improvements at the college where you teach.
Or perhaps you just want to make sure that your learners actually read AND understand the life-changing content that they’ve just paid you for.
Whatever the case, the Listening and Reading Hacks I want to show you are offered up for you to experiment with, adapt and amend.
There are no guarantees though. Pick and choose, but you will need to do the work.
You WILL increase the chances for your learners to understand what you’re teaching them. You CAN set up the ideal conditions for comprehension and understanding.
But you can’t MAKE them understand. Ultimately, your learners or customers need to do some of the work too. Which is as it should be.
Are you a course writer, teacher or salesperson interested in learning how to check understanding?
If you wanna learn how to hack listening and reading comprehension then PRE-ORDER my new book NOW. Hit the button below
Wanna know more? Read on
Are you looking for more books on how to teach better?
Have a look below
Literacy & Numeracy – It’s Not Rocket Science
Learn the fundamentals of literacy and numeracy with Graeme Smith
Discover how to be more successful in your teaching journey. I’ll introduce and explain some of the fundamentals of adult literacy and numeracy.
Once you’ve finished reading, you will have a better understanding of the basics including how to integrate or embed literacy and numeracy into your teaching. This includes with technical and vocational education. You can read more here.
Now bundled wth two free printable resources – a place value chart and hundreds grid.
CHECK OUT LITERACY AND NUMERACY: IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE BY GRAEME SMITH
Click the link below to find out more about Literacy and Numeracy: It’s Not Rocket Science.
The Educator Entrepreneur – Don’t Bring a Whiteboard Marker to a Knife Fight
Learn how to think like an Entrepreneur with Graeme Smith
Education is a tough business to work in. And that’s true regardless of whether you are a teacher, a trainer or any kind of specialist educator. But what if you’re a business owner AS WELL…!
If you’re like me, most days you’re probably pretty excited about what you do. But some days… Some days I can’t understand why anyone would want to work in education. But I learned to survive and thrive and you can too. Teach yourself a lesson and start thinking like an entrepreneur. Read more here
CHECK OUT THE EDUCATOR ENTREPRENEUR – DON’T BRING A WHITEBOARD MAKER TO A KNIFE FIGHT BY GRAEME SMITH
Click the link below to find out more about The Educator Entrepreneur – Don’t Bring a Whiteboard Marker to a Knife Fight
What is Learner-Centred Teaching – 12 Concepts from Te Ao Māori You Should Embrace to Create Learning Success
Discover time-honoured approaches to learner-centred teaching
What if I told you that there were time-honoured approaches to teaching and learning you can use to create the conditions for learning success. Imagine if your teaching really connected with your learners… What if your classroom or training environment was a place where your learners felt like they belonged and wanted to learn?
Here’s a secret. It’s totally possible if you discover and embrace time-honoured concepts from Te Ao Māori – the Māori world. This book is for you if you want to teach or train in a way that is more learner-centred or if you want to learn to think in a more holistic way. Read more here
CHECK OUT WHAT IS LEARNER-CENTRED TEACHING? 12 CONCEPTS FROM TE AO MĀORI YOU SHOULD EMBRACE TO CREATE LEARNING SUCCESS BY GRAEME SMITH
Click the link below to find out more about What is Learner-Centred? 12 Concepts from Te Ao Māori You Should Embrace to Create Learning Success
Three Simple Approaches You Need for Learner-Centred Teaching
Find out more about three of the fundamentals of adult teaching
Have you ever thought about how to improve your teaching? Have you ever wondered what it takes to create learner success in any teaching environment? Well, you need three things. Make that four things… You need to:
- Understand what people mean when they talk about “learner-centred” teaching.
- Know how to leverage your learners’ prior knowledge.
- Have simple ways of increasing the motivation of your students.
- Know what learner agency is and how to develop it.
Read more here.
CHECK OUT THREE SIMPLE APPROACHES YOU NEED FOR LEARNER-CENTRED TEACHING BY GRAEME SMITH
Click the link below to find out more about Three Simple Approaches You Need for Learner Centred Teaching – Proven Ways to Use Prior Knowledge, Increase Motivation and Develop Learner Agency to Pave the Road to Learning Success
How To Not Suck At Writing More Than 280 Characters
Learn strategies taught in university and college writing courses
So you can write 280 characters. So can a lot of people. But what happens beyond that? What happens if you want – or have to – write something longer?
This is where it gets tricky for some. Discover you you can write long-form content like blog posts, articles and books. Read More Here
CHECK OUT HOW TO NOT SUCK AT WRITING MORE THAN 280 CHARACTERS BY GRAEME SMITH
Click the link below to find out more about How to Not Suck at Writing More than 280 Characters.