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PAL Central: Listening

An online hub of guidance and resources for our PAL Leaders and their Level 4 students.

Active Listening

Active listening is a key skill for facilitating effectively. This is relevant in a PAL context as it is important that your students should always feel that they are being listened to and that you, as their PAL Leader, are paying attention to what they have to say and acting on it if need be. This is particularly important during the feedback stage of your PAL session.


A description of active listening can be found here:

“Active listening involves listening to the whole person and absorbing both verbal and non-verbal cues. You can think of this as listening to the head, the heart and the feet.” (Oxford English Dictionary 2018)


To explain the more ‘practical’ elements of active listening, the acronym below may help:

Look: make eye contact

Interest: concentrate and be interested in each individual

Stay on track: remain focused on your students' agenda

Test your understanding: ask questions to clarify

Empathise and encourage: be enthusiastic

Neutral: avoid judgement


Wait Time


  • Wait-Time is the period of listening time between asking a question and receiving a response


  • Your PAL students will need time to think, process, and come up with an answer


  • PAL Leaders should not feel pressured to fill the silence or rephrase the question immediately - often your group will be taking the time to consider what they want to answer and by rephrasing the question, you may be cutting off their trail of thought


  • Overall, Wait-Time can lead to better quality and quantity of answers from your PAL students


  • If you use wait time you can gauge the group dynamics more effectively and assess/interpret their level of understanding