Book Reviews

Book by Julia Salehzadeh
Review by Dr. Rachel Kirk
College of Education
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

What? Huh?? Whatcha mean by that? Every advisor has encountered the blank look of a student completely lost in the myriad of information we give them. Imagine the struggles of a student who is desperately trying to understand the actual meaning of the words before being able to put those individual meanings into the context of a university setting. Meanings which can change dramatically based on sentence structure, tone of voice (i.e. sarcasm) and setting. Academic listening strategies: A guide to understanding lectures utilizes researched practices to assist the student in comprehending lectures, text, and informal discussions within a classroom. 

While the author does include a sample session with an academic advisor, the intent of the book is to teach students the skills of listening to a lecture, and frequently makes reference to students for which English is not their primary language. The book raises awareness of the issues a second language learner might encounter and serves as a reminder that language and culture interact to define meaning. Beyond that, however, there is limited use for this book as an academic advisor. This book is clearly written for use within a classroom setting and relies heavily on partner/group work; an individual student would find some of the assignments difficult to complete independently and he/she would need to be highly motivated in order to carry out the breadth of research asked of the students. The most beneficial use of the book would be either in an ESL institute or a freshman seminar course. The author does a respectable job providing a variety of examples of the spoken word through the use of a DVD, as well as the written word through the use of lecture notes, and the assignments are closely related to the material. 

Julia Salehzadh provides the student the opportunity to identify his/her own listening strategies, assess the effectiveness of current strategies, and acquire new listening skills. She addresses the informality of the spoken word versus the written word and the importance of words within context. Salehzadh encourages students to research the topic beforehand, read through and make notes on the information, learn new vocabulary words, develop and practice using abbreviations for new words and predict what the lecture will be about. In addition, she discusses lecture styles, the use of humor, anecdotal stories and current events within a lecture, and how lectures are typically organized. Finally, the book not only addresses language comprehension, but also addresses the learning environment: noise level of a class, optimum place to sit in a classroom, interaction and personalities of professors and other students. She repeats key ideas, promotes multiple practice sessions and encourages students to share their individual findings within a group setting. Real-life examples are provided through the use of the DVD and sample notes taken from lectures. Additionally, a bibliography of research is included at back of book and studies reflect current thinking on listening strategies within an academic setting

Interactive materials and self-assessments make this an engaging resource for students. I would recommend it for use in an ESL classroom or in an introduction to college seminar, but I do not see the value in adding it to an academic advisor’s library.

Academic listening strategies: A guide to understanding lectures (with accompanying DVD). (2005). Book by Julia Salehzadeh. Review by Dr. Rachel Kirk. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press. 176 pp. $45.00. ISBN # 978-0-472-03144-3
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