Listening and Paraphrasing

Listening and Paraphrasing


Listening is among the senses that everyone has. The Student Dictionary by Thorndike Barnhart defines listening as the attempt to hear. When it comes to communication, however, listening is a skill. It has to be developed over time and it takes a lot of nurturing to perfect this skill. Paraphrasing is another skill in communication; it is the act of stating the meaning of a passage in other words. Basically, it is a summary of the information one possesses. English language has four basic skills which one needs to possess perfectly in order to be regarded a guru in the language; writing, speech, listening and visualizing facts (Smith; 2009).

This paper shall address two of these skills with regards to communication. Listening and writing. With regards to writing, paraphrasing will be the issue in concern. I decided to put my listening and paraphrasing skills to the test. I therefore set out and purposed to meet two important people in the society. A young man aged 20 and a senior citizen aged 88 were the subjects of my test. I engaged them in a conversation where I asked three questions; what they were doing, what they were interested in and what they were planning to do. In the next few paragraphs of the paper, I intend to briefly take one through the conversation exactly as it went.

The Conversations

Thomas is a college student pursuing a diploma in community development. He is aged 20 years old and will be turning 21 later in the year. Although they are on holiday, Tom (as he is commonly referred to) is currently engaged in some community development work. He is attached to an organization that deals with cases of human rights, particularly those of the child. He is currently handling a case where they suspect that a parent is physically abusing his child and they want to relocate the child to a conducive shelter or a home. Tom is really interested in the legal profession and hence his short term plan is to complete his diploma and join a law school. His interest is in family and children law. The long term plan he has is to establish a well recognized children’s home that will carter for the needy children in the society.

Nathaniel is a war veteran. He participated in the Second World War and has an amputated leg to show for it. Today, he is 88 years old. One amazing thing about Nathaniel is his zeal towards life. Although he is 88, he still has much joy and hope towards life. Currently, he is a preacher. He is a senior pastor in one of the evangelical churches in the state. He is not able to travel long distances but he informs me that he is interested in spreading the gospel across the world to all nations. This is what, perhaps, has made him made his only plan. He intends to visit the Middle East in the near future to spread the gospel and perhaps reach out to the masses.


Paraphrasing and listening are skills that one acquires through constant practice. In the conversations above, it is hard to believe that they lasted for an average of 3 hours each. The content given by the interviewees was quite a lot though very necessary. This leads to the two lessons learnt from the assignment given; one of them is that all information, though it might be bulk, is very necessary in paraphrasing. The other lesson is that when engaging in a conversation, the listening skills are very essential for the final written document. One cannot assume that he/she knows what the person being questioned intended to say and therefore one needs to perfect the listening and writing skills.


Barnhart T. (1991). The Students Dictionary. Illinois. Illinois University Press.

Smith J. (2009). Academic English Coursebook. Hong Kong. Hong Kong Polytechnic University Press.