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Who remembers when they first learned to listen?
Impossible! Because we're all born listening!
Perhaps that's why it is so easy to take listening for granted. After all, everyone can listen effectively, right?
I'm Alan Ehrlich, Chair of the Listening Disorders Division of the Global Listening Centre and a past president of the International Listening Association. I have been studying, writing and speaking about listening disorders for the past 17 years and I have found that, unfortunately, there is a growing percentage of the population that is finding it difficult to hold up their side of a conversation, enjoy music, or recognize important sound patterns. They might be able to hear people talking but have enormous difficulty in understanding the words that are being said. They can hear, but they can't listen!
To many, listening is about understanding speech but we listen too much more than just lingual sound-streams. In addiiton to speech sounds we listen to the birds singing, medical personnel listen to our heart sounds, auto mechanics listen to the sounds of the engine they're working on—much more than just speech.
If you think about it, it becomes obvious that listening is more than just understanding speech or simply attending to a sound stream. Listening is a process. Actually a series of complex processes.
Listening is a series of complex processes that, working together, provides us with understanding,
socialization, entertainment, analytical information and also a degree of safety.
The key here is 'series of complex processes.' The main ones being: reception, conversion, attention, recognition, contextualization, and integration.
And like any of complex system, there are plenty of things that can go wrong.
The things that go wrong are what we call listening disorders.
A Listening Disorder is a physical, cognitive, psychological, or external condition that inteferes with one or more of the normal processes of listening.