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Effective note-taking systems for academic English listening

EAP Space - Digital Academic English - Effective note taking methods for academic English listening

Listening and taking notes at the same time can be stressful. Especially when the speaker is speeding up or adding more details, having a structured approach to note-taking can help you stay organised and focus on the key information.

Different note-taking methods have been developed to accommodate individual thinking styles and specific information needs. Whether you are taking notes when listening to a lecture, an academic English test or a TED talk, the 3 note-taking systems below will surely be of great assistance in capturing essential information.

1. Outline method

EAP Space - Digital Academic English - Outline notetaking method

The outline method organises information in hierarchical groups, differentiated by ordinal numbers and indentation. This method is popular in academic listening as lessons and textbooks often share the same structure. However, students would need to read the materials in advance to understand the outline to avoid getting confused during the speech.

2. Cornell Method

EAP Space - Digital Academic English - Cornell notetaking method

The Cornell note-taking system shares many characteristics with the Outline method, in which the spoken information is jotted down in hierarchical order on the right side. On the left margin, students put down related clues or keywords, and give a summary at the bottom section. In future review sessions, students can cover up the right side and try to recall the information by looking at keywords on the left side.

3. Mapping Method

EAP Space - Digital Academic English - Mind mapping note taking method

The mind map is another popular note-taking system frequently utilised by visual learners. The content is organised like the roots of a tree with subtopics branching out from the core idea in the middle. This form of visualisation is suitable for subjects with interconnected topics or complex abstract ideas, allowing for a more engaging learning experience in future review sessions.


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