Getting to Know the EFF Standard Listen Actively

The EFF Standard Listen Actively defines one of 16 content areas that make up the EFF Content Framework. Go to Standards for a complete list of the standards. The definition of the Listen Actively Standard is:

In order to fulfill responsibilities as parents/family members, citizens/community members and workers, adults need to be able to:

  • Attend to oral information.
  • Clarify purpose for listening and use listening strategies appropriate to that purpose.
  • Monitor comprehension, adjusting listening strategies to overcome barriers to comprehension.
  • Integrate information from listening with prior knowledge to address listening purpose.

This definition was developed as part of an intensive multi-year research and development process that included input from teachers throughout the U.S. as well as content area specialists. More information about the history of this development process can be found in the Assessment Resource Collection.

This guide should be used in conjunction with the guide for the EFF Speak So Others Can Understand. While each standard has its own set of five performance levels that are helpful for the purposes of guiding assessment, teaching, and learning, it is almost impossible to consider the practical, real world implications of listening actively without simultaneously considering the implications of speaking so that others can understand. As a result, the performance level descriptors for Listen Actively refer to the descriptors for Speak So Others Can Understand, and vice versa.

These two EFF Standards reflect the performance of both native and non-native speakers of English along the same continuum of performance. Of the performance levels currently described for these standards (Levels 1-5), we expect that the first three will apply primarily (though not exclusively) to English language learners, beginning with learners who might be described as at a “low intermediate” level. Higher performance level descriptions (Levels 4 and 5) may be equally applicable with native as well as non-native speakers. While these higher performance level descriptions take into the account the language development needs of English language learners, students at these levels of performance are not just “learning to listen and speak” but are also “listening and speaking to learn.”

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