When reading through a job description, you may come across qualities that are listed under “soft skills” and “hard skills”. And, when composing your resume, you may also need to classify your skills as soft and hard.
Fortunately, the difference between hard skills vs soft skills is quite clear and very easy to define.
Hard skills are skills that are easy to measure. They are typically specific to a particular job and can be acquired through training: like the ability to code or translate texts from one language to another. The use of IT and activities related to logic thinking.
Soft skills, on the other hand, are a bit harder to pin down and measure. These may include your personal qualities that may be helpful in a specific profession (like sociability) or more specific attributes (like negotiation skills) that may you have spent some time developing.
When listing these skills on a resume, hard skills typically take their place in the areas where you hold specific certifications. Soft skills, on the other hand, can be described under personal qualities or illustrated in how you handled specific work situations.
What are hard skills?
As we’ve mentioned above, hard skills are skills that are quantifiable and measurable. These are skills that you can train and your abilities can be certified.
Here are just a few hard skills examples Accounting Knowledge of a foreign language Business analysis Computer programming and coding Marketing and sales Cloud computing Ability to perform medical procedures Knowledge of the legal system Copywriting SEO and so on.
This list can be very long as almost every profession comes with a list of its own hard skills.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills, as we’ve mentioned above, are much harder to measure compared to hard skills. And while soft skills can definitely be developed and even trained, there are very few options for proving your level in a specific soft skill with a test or certificate. On the other hand, a study by Wonderlic mentions that 93% of employers find soft skills essential or very important when hiring new employees.
Here are soft skills examples that may better illustrate this concept Social skills Creativity Negotiation skills Collaboration skills Adaptability Emotional intelligence Teamwork ability Leadership skills Listening Attention to detail Punctuality Flexibility Patience Ability to multitask Decision making Conflict resolution Cultural awareness and sensitivity Likeability Problem solving Organization and more Some of the skills above are often referred to by HR managers as “people skills”.
While soft skills are not easy to evaluate, they are often listed in job descriptions and important requirements for various positions.
NOTE! Soft skills are often referred to as ‘life skills’ …why do you think that is?
If you are an adult learner looking for ways to sharpen your listening skills, you’ve come to the right place. Learning a new language can be intimidating and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.
In this post, we will look at five effective listening techniques that will help you become more proficient in your language learning. With the right approach and determination, acquiring these listening skills will become an invaluable asset in your journey to mastering English. So, let’s get started!
1) Listening for context and understanding
Listening for context and understanding is a critical skill for adult learners to acquire. This skill involves understanding the overall meaning and message of a conversation, speech or dialogue. It also includes paying attention to non-verbal cues such as body language, facial expressions and tone of voice to get a better understanding of what is being communicated.
To develop this skill, it is essential to focus on the speaker’s key points and use your critical thinking skills to identify the message behind them. It is also essential to pay attention to the way the speaker delivers their message, as the tone of voice can significantly affect the intended message.
To practice listening for context and understanding, it is helpful to engage in group discussions, listen to podcasts and watch English movies or TV with subtitles and understanding the message conveyed.
And remember: you do not have to understand every single word. As said: elicit meaning from the context as much as you can!!
Watch the video below and try your active listening:
As the name suggests, these skills form the foundation of all listening techniques and are crucial for understanding spoken English. Basic listening skills include paying attention, understanding the speaker’s tone and body language, and being able to retain information.
To develop your basic listening skills, start by focusing on the speaker. Avoid distractions such as cell phones or other people in the room, and try to maintain eye contact with the speaker. Also, try to identify any non-verbal cues such as facial expressions or gestures that the speaker might be using to convey their message.
Another important aspect of basic listening skills is being able to retain information. One way to improve your retention is to take notes while listening. This not only helps you remember important details but also serves as a reference for future review.
It’s also important to practice listening to a variety of speakers with different accents and speech patterns. This can help improve your ability to understand different English speakers and become more confident in your communication skills.
Remember, developing your basic listening skills is an ongoing process. Consistent practice and attention to detail can help you improve and become a better listener.
3) Active Listening Skills
Active listening skills are essential for ESL adult learners who want to improve their language proficiency. These skills enable learners to not only hear but also understand what others are saying. Active listening involves paying attention to the speaker and demonstrating engagement through verbal and nonverbal cues.
The following are some active listening skills that can help ESL students enhance their English language learning:
Focus on the speaker: Active listening requires focusing on the speaker and the message being conveyed. Learners should avoid distractions, such as phone notifications or background noise.
Ask clarifying questions: Asking questions is an excellent way to show the speaker that the listener is engaged and wants to understand the message. Clarifying questions can also help learners grasp concepts they are struggling with.
Summarize what you’ve heard: Learners can show active listening by summarizing what they’ve heard. This helps the listener clarify and remember the speaker’s main points.
Use body language to demonstrate engagement: Nonverbal cues like nodding, maintaining eye contact, and smiling show that the listener is paying attention and interested in the conversation.
Respond appropriately: Active listeners respond appropriately to what the speaker is saying. This means responding with relevant comments, acknowledging the speaker’s perspective, and asking follow-up questions.
Active listening skills help learners improve their English language proficiency by enabling them to understand and engage in conversations with native speakers and other learners. With practice, learners can develop these skills and use them to communicate effectively in any setting.
4) Critical Listening Skills
When it comes to critical listening skills, the focus is on analyzing and evaluating the information presented. This type of listening skill is particularly important in academic settings, or when reading a text of a certain complexity, where students need to be able to comprehend complex concepts and ideas.
Here are some key elements of critical listening skills that ESL students can work on improving:
Understanding the context: Critical listening involves being aware of the context in which information is presented. This means taking note of the speaker’s background and expertise, as well as the purpose and audience for the message. By understanding the context, students can better assess the relevance and reliability of the information presented.
Identifying bias: this is core! Critical listeners are also attuned to any biases or assumptions that may be present in the information being presented. They recognize that all communication is influenced by personal perspectives, cultural values, and social norms. By identifying and analyzing bias, students can gain a deeper understanding of the message and the speaker’s intentions.
Analyzing arguments: Critical listening involves evaluating the strength of arguments presented in a speech or conversation. This means examining the evidence, reasoning, and logic behind the message and assessing whether it is credible and convincing. Students who can analyze arguments critically can better understand and respond to complex ideas in a variety of contexts.
Asking questions: Finally, critical listeners are not afraid to ask questions and seek clarification when necessary. They understand that communication is a two-way process and that seeking additional information is key to understanding complex ideas. Students can improve their critical listening skills by practicing active engagement in class discussions and seeking feedback from instructors and peers.
Overall, developing critical listening skills is essential for students who want to succeed in academic and professional settings. By practicing these skills, students can better comprehend complex information, analyze arguments, and communicate effectively with others.
5) Emotional Listening Skills
Emotional listening skills are essential in effective communication as they involve empathizing and understanding the emotions behind what someone is saying. This skill is particularly important in English language learning, as understanding the emotional cues in conversation is vital for comprehension.
To develop emotional listening skills, adult learners should start by paying attention to non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice. These cues can help students better understand the emotional context of the conversation, making it easier to grasp the meaning behind the words being spoken.
Another technique to improve emotional listening skills is to actively engage in the conversation. By asking questions, summarizing what has been said, and providing feedback, learners can demonstrate that they are actively listening and understand the emotional nuances of the conversation.
Lastly, it’s important to recognize cultural differences when it comes to emotions. What might be considered appropriate in one culture may be completely different in another. learners must be aware of these differences and adapt accordingly to ensure that they can understand and respond appropriately to the emotional content of conversations.
In summary, developing emotional listening skills is crucial for learners as it helps to improve their communication abilities and facilitates better understanding of English
language conversations. By paying attention to non-verbal cues, actively engaging in conversation, and understanding cultural differences in emotional expression, learners can enhance their emotional listening skills and become more effective communicators.
Subversive, queer and terrifyingly relevant: six reasons why Moby-Dick is the novel for our times
The book features gay marriage, hits out at slavery and imperialism and predicts the climate crisis – 200 years after the birth of its author, Herman Melville, it has never been more important
Having grown up loving whales as a boy – in the era of the Save the Whale campaigns of the 1970s – I was underwhelmed when I watched John Huston’s grandiose 1956 film, Moby Dick. Perhaps it was because I saw it on a tiny black-and-white TV, but the whole story seemed impenetrable to me. And there weren’t enough whales. I would have been even less keen had I known that the whale footage Huston did include had been specially shot off Madeira, where they were still being hunted. For the Hemingwayesque director, there was none of that final-credit nonsense: “No animals were harmed in the making of this film.” Because they very much were.
Forty years later, I saw my first whales in the wild, off Provincetown, a former whaling port on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It was there, in New England, that I finally finished the book. What had seemed to be a heroic tale of the high seas proved to be something much darker and more sublime. I realised its secret. Not only is it very funny and very subversive, but it maps out the modern world as if Melville had lived his life in the future and was only waiting for us to catch up. I fell in love with Melville as much as I had fallen in love with the whales. My own five-year-long voyage searching for these magnificent creatures produced my own book, Leviathan or, The Whale and a subsequent film, The Hunt for Moby-Dick. But even now, having read it a dozen times, I’m still not sure I can tell you what Moby-Dick is all about. Yes, it’s the tale of Captain Ahab, who sails his ship, the Pequod, in search of a white whale that had bitten off his leg. But it’s also a wildly digressive attempt to comprehend the animals themselves. And despite the author’s rather unhelpful conclusion, after 650 pages, about the whale, “I know him not, and never will”, here are some very good reasons why you need to read his crazily wonderful book.
It is adored by the great and the good
It is precisely Moby-Dick’s forbidding reputation that has inspired artists, writers, performers and film-makers from Frank Stella to Jackson Pollock, Led Zeppelin to Laurie Anderson, Orson Welles, Sylvia Plath, Stanley Kubrick and Lynne Ramsay, as well as the makers of Tom and Jerry, and even The Simpsons. The musician Moby claims direct descent from Melville (although he admitted to me that he wasn’t so sure it was true at all). There are many who hold it as one of their favourite books: Barack Obama, Joyce Carol Oates, Patti Smith, Nile Rodgers and Bob Dylan (who cribbed it for his Nobel speech), among them.
It has never been more relevant
It’s a tribute to Melville’s imagination that his book remains so strongly in ours. He may have done for the whale what Peter Benchley’s Jaws did for the shark – recreating the animal as an icon of otherness. He invests cetaceans with their own intrinsic beauty and in doing so, he pre-empted our conception of animals we know to be highly sentient and entirely matriarchal, expressing their own culture through their sonar clicks.
Equally, Melville’s reflections on our own species still reverberate. Days after 9/11, the Palestinian-American writer Edward Said compared George W Bush’s pursuit of Osama bin Laden to Ahab’s obsessive hunt for the white whale. The current tenant of the White House draws comparisons to Ahab’s crazed mission, too: Trump’s desire for a wall – an “unnecessary and expensive …vengeful folly”, according to Neil Steinberg in the Chicago Sun Times – is as irrational a pursuit as Ahab’s. You might apply similar metaphors to the head of our own shaky ship of state. When the prime minister’s cabinet was announced last week, I couldn’t help but think of Melville’s line: “Such a crew, so officered, seemed specially picked and packed by some infernal fatality to help him to his monomaniac revenge.”
But it is Moby-Dick’s premonitory brilliance that continues to make it relevant. Melville predicts mass extinction and climate breakdown, and foresees a drowned planetfrom which the whale would “spout his frothed defiance to the skies”. And in its worldwide pursuit of a finite resource, the whaling industry is an augury of our globalised state. It’s no coincidence that the Pequod’s first mate, Starbuck, gave his name to a chain of coffee shops.
It’s a very queer book
Moby-Dick may be the first work of western fiction to feature a same-sex marriage: Ishmael, the loner narrator (famous for the most ambiguous opening line in literature) gets hitched – in bed – to the omni-tattooed Pacific islander, Queequeg: “He pressed his forehead against mine, clasped me round the waist, and said that henceforth we were married.” Other scenes are deeply homoerotic: sailors massage each others’ hands in a tub of sperm oil and there is an entire chapter devoted to foreskins (albeit of the whalish variety).
The whole book is a love letter (sadly unreciprocated) from a besotted Melville to his hero, Nathaniel Hawthorne, to whom he wrote: “You have sunk your northern roots down into my southern soul.”
Faced with such unbridled flagrancy, the US establishment has never been keen to accept the idea that Melville may just possibly have been gay. And it must have rankled to have the brilliance of his book pointed out to them by a bunch of British queer writers. When a modest Everyman edition appeared in London 20 years after Melville’s death in 1891, DH Lawrence declared it a work of futurism before futurism had been invented; EM Forster and WH Auden extolled its queer nature. Virginia Woolf read it three times, comparing it to Wuthering Heights in its strangeness, and noted in her 1926 diary that no biographer would believe her work was inspired by the vision of “a fin rising on a wide blank sea”.
It is genuinely subversive
The alluring figure of Queequeg is one of the first persons of colour in western fiction, and the Pequod carries a multicultural crew of Native Americans, African Americans and Asians (evocatively reflected in the paintings of the contemporary black American artist Ellen Gallagher). It is a metaphor for a new republic already falling apart, with the pursuit of the white whale as a bitter analogy for the slave-owning states. It is why, in 1952, the Trinidadian writer CLR James called Moby-Dick “the greatest portrayal of despair in literature”, seeing an indictment of imperialism in Ahab’s desire for revenge on the whale. (In fact, Melville hints it wasn’t only his leg that was bitten off. As Cerys Matthews asked me: “Shouldn’t it be called Moby-no-Dick?”)
It was born in Britain
Melville was born in Manhattan on 1 August 1819, in sight of the sea. As a failed teacher, he signed up for a whaling voyage in New Bedford – then the richest city in the US, wealthy on the oil of whales. He deserted the ship a year later, but on his return to the US became a glamorous figure, acclaimed for his sensual books about the “exotic” inhabitants of the Marquesas islands. But by 1849, his output had become increasingly obscure, and that October, he arrived in London, seeking inspiration. Installed in lodgings overlooking the Thames at Charing Cross, he spent his time visiting publishers and getting drunk. Stumbling home, he saw whales swimming down Oxford Street. It was if they were haunting him.
A month later, after a diversion to Paris, he returned to New York with a new book he had been given: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Its tale of perverted nature and overweening ambition fed into Moby-Dick. The first version of the book was published in Britain in 1851, entitled The Whale. It came out in the US later that year as Moby-Dick – and failed, miserably. When Melville died 40 years later, he and his book were long forgotten.
It has never been easier (or cheaper) to get hold of
If the last 1,400 words haven’t convinced you (“Oh, Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience!” as Melville complained), you don’t have to read the book at all. The artist Angela Cockayne and I have curated the Moby-Dick Big Readfor the University of Plymouth, featuring Tilda Swinton, David Attenborough, Fiona Shaw, Stephen Fry, John Waters, Benedict Cumberbatch and 130 others who will read it to you, chapter by chapter, for free. The site has had 10m hits to date.
A word of caution, though. Once you do read it, it’s hard to let it go. I’m still haunted by Melville: this winter, staying alone in an 18th-century house that he visited on the island of Nantucket off Cape Cod, I started to think that he was coming up the stairs. This side of the Atlantic, his anniversary ghost has conjured up some aptly eccentric events. The Isle of Man, which lays claim to a crewman on the Pequod, has issued a set of commemorative Moby-Dick stamps, while a Yorkshire stately home is asking for the return of bones pilfered from the only whale mentioned in Moby-Dick that really did exist – a skeleton assembled at Burton Constable Hall in 1825, on whose jaws, Melville joked, the lord of the manor liked to swing. And if you happen to be in Paris on Thursday, you can join us reading the book aloud in the bookshop Shakespeare & Co, close to where Melville stayed in 1849. We are hoping for a bigger crowd than his book launch, when the party consisted of just him and Hawthorne. Melville was defiant. “I have written a blasphemous book,” he declared, “and I feel as spotless as the lamb.” The wickedness lives on. Happy birthday, Herman.
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