Were there times when you needed someone to repeat things for you?
Whether it’s because they’re speaking too quickly, have an accent you don’t recognize, or are using slang phrases you don’t understand, it can be challenging to hear what they are actually saying. And that’s why it is so important to improve your English listening skills.
What makes listening so difficult?
There are a few things that make listening more difficult to learn than reading. It needs more than a strong knowledge of grammar and vocabulary to understand speech and recordings in English. Unfortunately, that is not enough, you also need to know how to pronounce English correctly.
Each speaker brings a level of clarity and uniqueness to speaking English, such as how fast and clearly they speak or their accent. Even if your general level of English ability is strong, it can be quite challenging to understand a native speaker if you have never heard them speak before.
It does not get any simpler only because of the language, as there are several terms in English that have pronouncing and spelling differences. It is very difficult to recognize such words in conversation, but it would be easy if you have seen them in a text.
However, it does not mean that you will always have listening difficulties. You may significantly increase your listening skills if you follow the appropriate procedures (and exercise some patience). And to make it easier here, we have come up with the simplest tips to improve your English listening abilities.
Preparation is one of the keys to levelling up your English listening skills. Before diving into something challenging, you must prepare for what you want to learn and focus on that particular thing. There are a lot of ways to do that, but here I’ll be familiarizing three basic but important steps for yourself to succeed in learning English, i.e., set a goal, make a plan, and track your progress.
Set a goal
When you think of understanding the native speakers, the grammar points that you slot need to excel, or the vocabulary, it can be overwhelming. Thus, you set up SMART goals.
- Specific: Point out the things that you are trying to achieve.
- Measurable: Assign yourself the goal in such a way that you will be able to measure your progress
- Achievable: Pick a challenge that is still within your reach.
- Relevant: Ensure that your goal is relevant and matters to you.
- Time-bound: Define a time period for your goal. By when will you accomplish it?
Set the objective for yourself in a way that allows you to track your progress. Setting goals enables you to break up your learning journey into doable tasks. By doing this, you don’t get discouraged. It’s important to set goals that are both positive and realistic. For instance, rather than trying to memorize every rule of English grammar, you can decide to focus on learning how to use the words “can” and “could.”
Make a plan
The second-best thing to do is make a plan. Planning is important when you are dedicated to achieving your goals. So, ask yourself how you can learn best and make a plan accordingly, for example, do you like to learn from visuals, stories, music, or by memorizing the rules?
You need to prioritize learning styles and techniques that will help in making all-around improvements. Once you figure out your own learning style, you can make a plan to improve your English listening skills based on the resources that will work best for you.
Making a schedule on a daily basis can help you focus on specific steps towards your language learning goals. It can look like this:
Day 1- You can listen to an English podcast at half-time by using a transcript.
Day 2- You then listen to the same podcast at a normal time without a transcript.
Day 3- Now, you listen to it for the final time, start making notes on what you heard and then use grammar and vocabulary.
Day 4- Write a description of the podcast, read it out loud and record it yourself.
The secret to mastering English listening skills is maintaining a regular schedule, hard work, and a lot of patience.
Track your progress
Verifying your plan on how to improve your English listening skills is much needed to track your learning process. You have to keep notes on how you practised, how much you understood, and any new words you learned after each learning session or lesson.
Also, summarize your progress at the end of the week by writing a brief on what you learned. If possible, rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10. With time you will observe a pattern in your growth and understand which practices are helping or hurting your English listening skills.
Focus on active listening, not passive.
If you are engaging in a conversation and a little later, you realize that you actually had no idea what was being discussed? This happens when you aren’t participating in “active listening.” In active listening, you actually engage and learn the things being discussed, whereas passive listening means you simply aren’t hearing what is being said.
Practising your listening through active listening helps you a lot when you ask questions either at the moment when face-to-face with a speaker or note it down for follow-up later. It would be better if you take notes if you struggle with active listening.
While taking notes, try not to write down what is being said word for word, instead, focus on summarizing the main points, including key phrases or new words. By doing this, you’re strengthening your listening skills and also increasing your chance to remember the context of the whole conversation or new words the next time you hear them.
If you decide to practice your vocabulary with a language partner or tutor, it will ultimately help you feel more comfortable in finding new words to express yourself.
Wondering what resources to use to improve your English Listening skills? Here, start with English podcasts, films, and TV shows and learn while having fun.
English has been the official language of over 50 countries worldwide. You will find podcasts for every interest varying from sports commentary to lectures on history and culture and funny incidents of every kind. Choose the one that excites you the most and starts listening.
English Movies and TV shows
A fun and interesting way to practice and improve English Listening skills is by noting jokes while watching a comedy. Movies and TV is a classic way to improve English listening skills and offers a wide array of genres. The visuals make movies and TV great options everything being discussed is also happening in front of you on the screen.
Not only that, movies, TV, and podcasts offer valuable insight into the culture and can be really helpful in learning and practising listening English skills.
One of the great ways to improve your English listening abilities is through conversation. Initiating conversations with native or fluent English speakers can be intimidating, but you have to do it if you want to get better at it.
Luckily, studies have shown that regular conversation elevates mood and reduces loneliness. This means that even a quick conversation with a friend, family member, or coworker can create positive feelings toward language learning and motivates you to keep practising.
Although it can be scary when speaking to a highly skilled English speaker, it can motivate us to perform our best active listening. As a result, we become better at remembering words, speaking clearly, and picking up on words we haven’t yet learned. Even if you have a limited vocabulary, working with a language partner or tutor will eventually make it easier for you. You will feel at ease learning new words to express yourself.
Practice the Five-Step Method
The following 5-step process is highly effective in learning and remembering new words to advance your English listening abilities. You must have access to a text, a recording of the text, or computer software that can read text aloud in order to apply this method.
Step 1: Listen to the audio
First of all, pick a text, it can be a news article, a short story, or even a children’s book. Then, choose a topic that interests you and is appropriate for your level of language learning. Next, read the sentence aloud while avoiding looking at the words.
Step 2: Repeat
When you are listening for the second, listen, make notes of the speaker’s main points, anything you didn’t understand, or any questions you have.
Step 3: Start Reading
After hearing the text twice, try reading it to see if you can find any answers to the questions you had earlier. This is a perfect time to take note of any words or phrases you may have missed or failed to understand while listening. After that, draw a circle or highlight the unfamiliar words.
Step 4: Listen to the text
Read the text while listening to the tape. Especially if you are a visual learner, this is a helpful way to connect your listening and reading abilities. Continue taking notes on your comprehension, just as you did in the previous steps.
Step 5: Listen again without the text
Now without reading, play the recording a fourth and final time. See if you can understand more this time, if not, try again and note any terms or phrases you still don’t understand. (Always do a quick internet search after using these terms.)
Start Practicing Right Away!
It may seem like a major task to improve your English, but it only requires lots of practice. By setting yourself up for success with proper preparation, having meaningful conversations, and using resources that work for you, you can make sure you’re receiving the finest possible practice.
The most crucial step is identifying your own language-learning needs and developing a plan to meet those goals. The most important part of improving your listening skills in English is active engagement to achieve those goals.
Even though a casual conversation with coworkers or classmates can be beneficial, why not try an expert? Thousands of experienced English teachers offer one-on-one lessons for all of your English listening needs. They can also provide feedback on your English learning strategy and suggest other resources.
So, what are you waiting for, now is the time to start taking the small steps to master native-level English listening.