Academic Communication

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Listening and speaking skills are crucial to your success at university. When you attend lectures, strong listening skills are essential. Not only will you be listening to your professors speak about abstract, complex concepts, you will also need to take effective notes that summarize and help you learn the material.

Effective listening in lectures includes:

  • Evaluating information: While listening, you need to be able to identify which parts are important to write down. You should not try to write every word the professor says, but summarize key points in your own words.
  • Organizing information: Even as you listen to the lecture the first time, you need to capture the relationships between the ideas/concepts that are being presented. Completing assigned readings before your lectures can help with this.
  • Predicting information: Being able to anticipate how the information that comes up connects with what has been presented so far enhances your ability to understand the lecture.

Oral communication skills are essential to convey your understanding of course materials and participate fully in the classroom discussions and presentations. Your professors and TAs often want students to communicate amongst themselves in small discussion groups, and some professors require in-class presentations for one of the assignments. Having the confidence to speak with – or in front of – your professors and peers can be a struggle for all students. With stronger speaking skills, you can feel comfortable doing the following:

  • Giving presentations in class or participating in group discussions.
  • Developing a network of professors, TAs and friends to help you participate in the campus community, build rapport with peers and evaluators, and achieve your personal and academic goals by comfortably participating in academic exchange.
  • Projecting more confidence during interviews for jobs or graduate school.
  • Enjoying better chances of success during job placement terms because you will be a more effective communicator, team member and contributor to any projects assigned to you.

With better oral communication skills, you can enjoy greater participation in campus life. Studies show that students who are more actively involved in campus life end up with better grades. The more personally fulfilling you find the campus experience, the more dedicated you will be to participating and making the most of the opportunities available to you at university.

CTL Support for Listening and Speaking


  • Read ahead of your lecture and keep up with assigned reading. This will help you become familiar with key vocabulary and develop an awareness of concepts, which makes identifying these important components during lecture much easier.
  • Do not attempt to take note of everything. Just note the main points. The point of notetaking isn’t to copy every single word the professor says, but to isolate the most important information and begin internalizing it.
  • Improve your listening ability by keeping up with the news through reputable websites.
  • Participate in CTL’s English Language Development Communication Café to improve your listening and discussion skills – all our programming is open to everyone of all language backgrounds.


  • If you are still learning English, use English at every opportunity.
  • Participate actively in CTL’s English Language Development Support (ELDS) Communication Cafés. All students are welcome.
  • CTL also offers Presentation Skills consultations. Click on the link above to learn how to book an online appointment.
  • Talk to your professors and/or TAs about your desire to participate fully in your courses. They are often supportive and want to help you be the active classroom community member you’re striving to become. 
  • If you speak English as an additional language, consider booking an ELDS Consultation to work out a personal program for your improvement. The schedule will be available soon.