Tips To Improve Listening Skills


Listening plays a key part in English fluency. It is vital both for active skills (e.g conversation), and passive skills (e.g watching a film).

Actively using listening skills during a conversation with advanced speakers is something that a lot of English learners fear, because misunderstanding just a small part can affect the flow of the whole conversation. This is why it is important to practise listening in a variety of different ways, so that you can be prepared for anything! 

So here are 6 ways that you can improve your listening skills:

1. Read and listen at the same time

A good way of doing this is by reading an audio book with a digital text. By doing this, you always have the transcript in front of you, and if there is any vocabulary that you don't understand, you can check the written word. This will also help you become familiar with any nuances between pronunciation and spelling.

2. Listen to TED Talks

TED Talks are a great resource in general for language learning, because they give learners the option to find many topics. This means that you will always be able to find something that you are interested in, with the option of a short video clip or something a little longer if you have the time. 

When you find a talk that you like, a good way to work with it is to listen to it every day for a week. This is a good way to monitor your progress, and you will recognise new words each day and notice that you understand more and more. 

3. Write down what you hear

You can learn a lot of new vocabulary when you are listening, and it's a great way to do it because it will always be in a context. 

So be sure to write down any new words!

4. Listen to as many different accents as possible

There are a vast variety of different accents in English, both amongst native and non-native speakers. This makes learning English both challenging and interesting!

To become more familiar with these, you can also include this information in your search for listening content. For example, when searching on TED or YouTube, you can include "British/American/French/Chinese English" in your search, and you will find many different varieties of English on whichever topic you choose. 

5. Listen in little bits

Sometimes a particular audio might seem long and overwhelming, but it is important to remember that you do not have to listen all in one go. 

A possible way of managing this could be to listen to the first two minutes, check understanding and then continue. 

You can then follow this pattern all the way through, because it is better to take your time and understand most or all of it rather than rush through it any understand nothing. 

Learning a language takes time, and needing to sped a bit longer on certain tasks is not a reflection of your ability. 

6. Focus on natural pronunciation

By "natural pronunciation" I mean things like contractions, sentence stress and intonation. These aspects could commonly cause misunderstanding during conversation due to the speed of natural speech. 

A good way to improve your understanding of these is to actually practise them yourself. For example, listen to an audio and focus on on contractions, sentence stress and how intonation is used, then pause the audio and repeat it in the same way. This will make you more aware of these particular details when listening in the future. 

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