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How do I Improve my Auditory Skills?

By Matthew F.
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Auditory skills are those that focus on sound detection, sound identification, sound discrimination, and the comprehension of sound. In basic terms, this means to hear, identify, and understand sounds. Most auditory work is done with children, but adults can improve their skills too. You can improve your auditory skills by listening and playing music, having conversations and identifying different tones of voice, and practicing identifying the differences between similar sounds.

Before trying to improve a person's auditory skills, it's important to identify any problems that he or she may have with hearing or understanding. One example is Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), a condition that inhibits a person from processing information they hear. A person with APD is able to detect sounds, but the ears and the brain do not work together to interpret and comprehend the auditory signal, especially speech signals. When placed in a noisy environment, a person with APD would have a much more difficult time picking out speech amidst other external noise than they would in an optimal listening environment. An audiologist can determine if a person has APD.

If a child has APD or another auditory condition, there are a number of things that can be done to improve his or her auditory skills. The child should be healthy and not suffering from any other auditory impairment, however, or else these practices might not work. Letting the child listen to a wide range of different types of music and assisting in his or her music appreciation is a good way to begin improving auditory skills. Playing and singing songs and rhymes can help a child learn to detect different sounds and coordinate the recognition of different tones between the ear and the brain.

Simple conversation with a child is also very helpful in building his or her auditory skills. When having a conversation, you might have the child respond in different intensities of voice to make sure he or she is able to hear specific sound intensities. Having a child respond in specific voice intonations, such as the voice inflection used in asking a question, is also beneficial to improving a child's auditory skills.

It is possible for adults to improve their auditory skills as well, but can be more difficult. An adult has already established the neurological framework in the brain, so it is more difficult to change in adulthood. A child's brain is much more "plastic" in neurological terms than an adult's brain, meaning a child's brain changes and adapts more easily.

An adult may participate in the same type of exercises as children, however, and also gain benefit from it. Listening to music, especially tone recognition, can help improve your auditory skills in terms of strengthening the relationship between the ear and the brain. Practicing conversation can also be beneficial, if you listen carefully to how different people use vocal queues to express meaning.

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Discussion Comments
By irontoenail — On Oct 04, 2014

@pastanaga - I think that's more like auditory memory skills or comprehension and concentration, rather than straight auditory skills. Most people automatically gain very good auditory skills as children just from normal stimulus and don't really need to focus on making them better.

But if you've got a child who wasn't spoken to very often for whatever reason, or a child with some kind of disorder they will need extra help, which an audiologist can recommend.

By pastanaga — On Oct 03, 2014

@umbra21 - Usually it will be fairly obvious if there is a problem with someone's ears and kids do get checked in most of the world if anyone suspects a problem.

I've always had difficulty taking in information through my ears and I always thought there would be a mild processing disorder if they checked, but I had it done recently and there isn't one. So I think auditory skills can be just a matter of some people being better at understanding what they hear than others.

I've recently started listening to audio books while I walk and that seems to have improved my concentration a great deal.

By umbra21 — On Oct 02, 2014

My sister is an audiologist and since she has become and expert on this kind of thing I've been surprised to find out how many people actually have difficulty with their auditory processing skills.

There is a wide battery of tests she can do to see whether you have hearing loss or if there is a problem with the way your brain communicates with your ears. If there is, then you might have problems with processing sound or understanding when people speak.

I don't remember ever having this kind of test done before (although I know most people get a basic test when they are a baby) and it seems like a mistake not to get it done on every child just in case their difficulty learning is actually an ear problem.

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