The most common comments I hear about listening difficulties are “too fast”, “too much slang”, “again please” and “again please”. Although this is completely natural like anything, practise makes perfect so the day will come when suddenly you realise you understand everything.
The great thing about practising listening is that there are countless ways to do it and it’s so easy you can literally do it with your eyes closed! Here are 3 diverse ways work towards acing that next listening test.
Tired of listening to the robotic conversations from your textbook? Want to hear native speakers in having a natural conversation in their natural habitat?
Next time you get on the bus, train or ferry, forget the latest Spotify playlist. Listen instead to what people are saying around you. This may sound trivial but it’s actually an excellent opportunity to be exposed to real English spoken by real people. Often it’s just small talk; about what happened on the weekend, what is happening now or in the future, but this is exactly the type of dialogue which you should start out with. As people on public transport tend to only chat about these things, you will pick up on repeated vocab and before you know it, it will be etched into your brain, ready for use in speaking!
Students often assume that listening to English music will greatly improve their English. The truth is that when sung, words become much harder to comprehend, even for native speakers so pure listening can be an uphill battle, especially for students of lower levels.
This is where Lyrics Training comes in. LT is an amazing website which allows online users to select songs from a massive library and challenge themselves to fill in the lyrics while the song plays. This interactive lyric gap fill website is super fun and each song can be modified to suit the student’s level.
For intermediate to advanced students of English, TED Talks are an interesting way to practise your listening. The great thing about TED Talks is that there are thousands of topics which people have given a speech about, which means you can choose whatever interests you, rather than listening just for the sake of listening practice. Another advantage of TED Talks is that online, they have the option of using subtitles which can be very useful when the vocabulary gets more challenging!
Podcasts are similar to TED Talks in the sense that you can choose to listen about a huge variety of topics, from ESL to stand-up comedy to murder mysteries. What’s more podcasts are highly portable so whenever you have a spare few minutes minutes walking to school, at the gym or even in the shower you can enlighten your brain and practice listening at the same time!
In the end it comes down to how much English you pour through your ears and brain. In a similar way that babies learn language, humans are masters at imitation so be social and LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN!! Ultimately, your ability to listen will work wonders for your speaking so don’t take it lightly!
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