Selective attention is the ability to select and process specific information while ignoring irrelevant information. For example, in listening tasks, we listen to specific information and answer the questions accordingly. Selective attention (not focusing on the irrelevant information mentioned in the audio) can help us complete the listening tasks effectively. Also, when we practice selective attention, we are better able to focus our attention on one thing and avoid feeling overwhelmed by the many different events that happen in our lives. Selective attention can increase our well-being since it can potentially help us focus on the positive while leaving the negative aside. Even when we face challenges and obstacles, we can choose to focus on the positive. In this lesson, we will learn about how selective attention, meaning what you decide to focus on, can help your well-being and language learning.
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Watch the following video until at least 3:00. If the students want to watch the remainder of the video to see other people’s reactions, that is optional. Before watching the video, ask students to follow the instructions given in the video.
Ask students to share their responses to the following questions with the class.
Explain to students that distractions may stop us from paying attention to something else. Just like the distractions (so focused on one task) we had while watching the video, we did not notice things that were happening around us.
Check students’ understanding of the term “distraction.” Distraction is something that prevents us from giving our attention to something else. Explain to students that distractions are everywhere around us. Ask students to name some and list them on the board.
Ask students to discuss the following picture with a partner.
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Ask students to answer the following questions with a partner.
Distractions are everywhere. That’s why it is important for us to attend to the right, positive, and important things.
Selective attention is something we use in listening all the time; we look for specific information and ignore irrelevant information while listening.
Something that stops us from purposefully paying attention to something is called mindless habit. What are mindless habits? Give a few examples to help students understand what these are exactly.
These are things that you do without any purpose; mindless habits make you not live in the moment. Ask students to complete the following tasks:
Setting this kind of goal can help us reduce mindless actions that contribute to negative emotional states, such as seeing bad news on social media and eating mindlessly and regretting it. It can also give us more sense of direction (feeling like we are going somewhere/getting something done) and make us more aware of our actions and states. As we change these mindless habits, we can improve our focus and have better selective attention.
What are other ways we can improve our focus to have better selective attention? There are many ways, and only a few can be practiced in class. We are going to practice selective attention by playing this activity called Domino Storytelling.
Another activity to practice selective attention is meditation. We are going to listen to a guided meditation. This requires a lot of attention to our own bodies, which is very beneficial to our health and minds. There might be some phrases you don’t understand. Don’t worry about that! We will pause and briefly talk about that when these words come. *Put on subtitles
Have students complete the following tasks:
The teacher will follow up on this on Thursday, and they will be invited to share their experiences.
Play the game telephone. Tell one student a few short sentences and they must focus to remember what was said, then pass on the information to the next student. Have students convey messages relating to selective attention, the reduction of mindless habits, etc. A teacher might even model by saying something like “Instead of surfing on my phone, I sent uplifting notes to friends” or “I listened to a guided meditation yesterday and tried hard to tune out the noises around me.”
Discussion question: What does the word concentration mean? Did anyone try to concentrate more this week? Did you cut out distractions? (*Highlight any comments about dealing with and avoiding distractions.)
Ask students to look at the infographic below and discuss anything they found interesting or surprising from the tips given. Also, have them think about one tip they would like to try this week. Or maybe talk about how doing some of these things makes them feel.
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Follow up on the goals they set on Monday and ask them to share their experiences with a partner, their groups, or the class. Ask them to share how they felt when they replaced a mindless habit/action.
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