When learning a foreign language, students usually worry about actually understanding it. When they reach intermediate levels and they are (at least in theory) capable of holding a prolonged conversation on different topics, it can be somewhat frustrating to ask the other speaker to repeat everything he or she says all the time. We have to bear in mind that native speakers tend to speak faster than learners, and in many cases students have to face accents they are not familiar with.
Studying grammar, reading different kinds of texts and doing exercises is great to improve our command in a foreign language. However, listening needs to be regularly trained, which is not always easy if we live in a country whose official language is other than English. Today we have the pleasure to present five tips on how you can take the opportunity to improve your listening skills, which will help you cope in an English-speaking environment whether you intend to spend a long time abroad or you are just travelling.
- Establish a routine in the long term. One of the first things you need to know is the fact that improving significantly your listening skills in English will take time. Therefore, you need to establish a routine and keep it for a long time. It is no use listening to the news, the radio, or watch films in English for three hours a day if you are going to quit after a month. Try to listen as much as you can, but whatever the amount of time you choose, do it every day.
- Be an active listener. Many students become passive listeners, i.e. they do not pay attention to what they listen, and this does not help improve their listening skills. You really need to focus on what you listen, be it films, news, TV series or audiobooks. In this respect, try and find topics you are actually interested in. Subtitles can be of great help, specially if these are in English language as well.
- Gather as many listening materials as you can. Thanks to the internet and digital television it is quite easy nowadays to access movies and series in original version, news from British or American television, or download podcasts on your smartphone.
- Try to incorporate English while doing uninteresting tasks: when you drive or commute, when you do your housework, when you do exercise, and so on. This way you will not have to use all your free time to improve your listening skills.
- Adjust the listening material to your level. If you are a beginner and you try and watch a whole film in English without subtitles you might get discouraged after discovering that you cannot understand much of it. When you listen, it is fine not to understand certain parts as long as you get the main idea. However, if films, TV series or the news are too difficult for you, you can easily find podcasts or audiobooks adapted to your level. Once you get used to this level, though, it is recommendable to go a step forward and gradually increase the difficulty.
We hope you found these tips useful. For more tips please click on the posts below 😉