9 easy ways to improve your listening skills!
Listening is one of the most important skills in learning a language. Once you can identify sounds, words and expressions, you’ll start learning a lot faster. Here are 9 top tips for improving your listening skills.
First of all, you need to accept the fact that you aren’t going to understand everything. Experts have shown that we only actually hear or fully understand about 40% of the words during a conversation… even in our own language.
2. Keep calm!
While you’re listening, the most important thing is to stay calm. You won’t understand everything, so don’t let that upset you. The aim is to get a general idea of what the other person is saying. Never try to listen out for every word. Listen for the gist of the conversation – go for the main ideas.
If you’re having problems during the conversation, ask the other person to speak more slowly. Also, ask people to repeat things if you didn’t understand. Again, the speaker is trying to have a conversation and will do what they can to help you.
4. Don’t translate!
While you’re listening, don’t try to translate. If you do, you’ll start concentrating on translating and not on processing the information. And then you’ll lose track of the conversation.
The most important thing is to listen out for the key words – the important, stressed words. Basically, English is a stress-timed language. This means that when we speak, we focus on specific stressed words while quickly gliding over the rest. Those stressed words are usually nouns (“dog / table), verbs (“sit / run”), adjectives (“beautiful / wonderful”) and adverbs (“quickly / slowly”). Most of the other words (determiners, auxiliary verbs, pronouns, etc.) are weak sounds. The great thing is that you only really need to understand the key words in order to follow the conversation. For example, if you heard the following key words, “saw / film /cinema / last night”, you’d understand that the other person is probably saying, “I saw a film at the cinema last night.”
6. Think “context”!
The other really important thing is to think about the context. If you know what the main topic is, you’ll be able to guess what the people are talking about. For example, if you know the topic is “the weather”, you can be sure that they’re going to mention things about the rain, the snow, the wind, the temperature… and so on.
If you know what the context of the conversation is, you should be able to guess a lot of what the other person is saying… even if you don’t hear or understand all the words. The trick is to use your imagination, to guess and to follow your intuition. It isn’t an exact science, but it works!
Finally, you need to learn about English pronunciation, and above all, connected speech. This occurs when
sounds merge together to form new sounds – often when a consonant sound at the end of a word is followed
by a vowel sound in the following word. For example, “She lived in New York” would be “She liv din New York” with connected speech. And we don’t usually say, “Look / out” (with separate sounds), we say, “Loo kout” (with the final consonant “k” combining with the vowel sound “ow” of the second word).
So, what can you do to improve your listening skills? There are three main things:
1. Listen to recordings that are specifically targeted at your level.
2. Listen to native speaker conversations and recordings (from films, the news, TV series, songs, etc.) in order to develop your ear for the language.
3. Listen to recorded material and read the audio script at the same time so you can see how the words and sounds fit together.
Start listening, start learning!
Copyright © 2014 by Hot English Publishing
Now is the time to really improve your English!
Copyright © 2014 by Hot English Publishing
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