Developing your English Listening Skills…

When we are born, we’re exposed to one or more languages that are completely alien to us. Over several years of people talking to and nurturing us, we eventually begin to practise the vocabulary learnt without inhibitions or embarrassment. As we get older, however, understanding another spoken language can become increasingly difficult, as not only do we make comparisons with our mother tongue which can prohibit progress, but we tend to feel more self-conscious and anxious of getting things wrong.

The key is repetition and practise and, while English listening comprehension can be tricky, it’s perfectly do-able. Here are 12 great ideas on how to improve your English listening ability.

  1. Make Time for English Listening Activities

Many people expect English listening skills to develop naturally, but unless you put in the work your progress may be slow. In order to enhance your understanding, make time for comprehension activities every single day at a time when you are relaxed, have a clear head, and are ready to learn.

  1. Don’t Rush through Material

If you really want to improve your English, choose listening to the material you are interested in and continue to use these specific listening aids until you are familiar with both vocabulary and sentence structure. What’s more, don’t rush through material. Instead, take your time to absorb the information and keep going until you can repeat all phrases fluently.

  1. Listen to Music

Song lyrics can stay in your head for days, weeks, months, even years. There’s a high chance you can remember the words to hits that were released decades ago, so why not listen to British music in a bid to learn English and improve your overall comprehension? The tune and rhythm of songs make them particularly catchy, so choose a genre of music you like and plug in your headphones – you can even do this on the go if you have a particularly busy lifestyle.

  1. Watch Movies

If possible, try to watch British movies without subtitles as this will make you really listen to the words and encourage you to work out what’s being said – rather than what’s being written on the screen which often isn’t completely correct. Don’t be afraid to stop, pause, rewind and make notes as you go bringing any questions you have to an English tutor.

  1. Watch Trash TV

The more you listen to English conversations, the better you will be so don’t shy away from trash TV. Instead, flick through the channels and see if there’s a drama, comedy, sketch show, chat show or something similar to watch. Gameshows such as Countdown can also be good for letter and number pronunciation.

  1. Watch Kid’s TV

It might sound strange, but children’s television is designed to teach youngsters vital communication skills and while programs will be directed at infants, they can certainly help adults understand key vocabulary.

  1. Listen-in to Conversations

One of the best ways to pick up new vocabulary is to listen-in to conversations. You can do this by sitting yourself near the counter at a coffee house or standing next to a market stall to see what the seller is shouting. If you have basic vocabulary already, you should be able to work out a lot of what’s being said and start to practise sentence structure.

  1. Go Out with a Group of English Speaking Friends

What better way to improve your English comprehension than by going out with a group of English speaking friends? While you might not feel overly confident, getting out and about will encourage you to speak as well as listen, and you’ll get better and better by the day – particularly if you’re keen to interact with like-minded people.

  1. Pay Attention to the Stress of Words

English speakers put stress on certain parts of words which helps to clarify meaning. If you have a tutor, ask them to explain this to you and do some work on where the stress lays in each word. You can then practise both in and out of the classroom until it comes naturally.

  1. Listen to Material with Different Accents

Not everyone speaks the Queen’s English. There are many different accents in Britain, so once you have the basics behind you, try pushing yourself by listening to an array of different speakers – some with southern accents, others with northern accents, maybe even Australian or South African accents, as this will greatly improve your attention to detail.

  1. Listen for Intonation

Sometimes, you can tell a question apart from a statement by the intonation of a sentence – whether the voice rises or falls while speaking. This can be hard to identify at first, but if you listen to material in which people ask questions and compare it with regular statements, you’ll be able to see the difference. You can then practice the examples yourself.

  1. Work out Where you Learn Best

As mentioned above, you can learn in a classroom, on the street, in a café, or even out with friends. While it’s good to do all the aforementioned things, you should also work out where you learn the best. If your brain works well in a classroom, try to do the more difficult tasks there and relax with a bit of trash TV. If, however, music helps you improve, play tunes as much as you can and use the classroom as a back-up.

Enrolling on an English Language Course in London

With English language courses widely available through the likes of UK College of English (UKCE), there’s every reason to make your brain work and take on a new challenge. Reading, writing, listening and speaking skills are covered and with classes for all English levels, you’re sure to find something you enjoy.

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