How To Check Understanding: The Secret Step-By-Step Guide To Hacking Reading and Listening Comprehension in 18 Achievable Ways for Course Writers

How To Check Understanding: The Secret Step-By-Step Guide To Hacking Reading and Listening Comprehension for Course Writers. By Graeme Smith

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.

How To Check Understanding: The Secret Step-By-Step Guide To Hacking Reading and Listening Comprehension in 18 Achievable Ways for Course Writers

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:

  • Students
  • Learners
  • Customers

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

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Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

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