Listen and understand spoken English

How to listen, and why.

Students should listen to English speakers as often as possible. Although they can improve their own pronunciation, they cannot change the way another person speaks, so they must practice listening to others.

Picture this scenario: John is happy; his lessons are coming along nicely and he is beginning to feel confident that he can speak English quite well. When somebody speaks to him, he understands them – and when he replies, they understand him. Wonderful…

But then he tries to listen to a group of people all talking together and he just can’t follow what they’re saying. They may be speaking too fast, or they may all have different accents. The only way for John to improve this is to listen to spoken English as often as possible.

Three ways to help listen…

  1. Listen to English radio.
  2. Watch English films (but NOT with subtitles).
  3. Try sites like:English Listening for English with an American accent.

 

Try this musical quiz:

Some more examples of ‘Listening’ sites:
BBC World News – An excellent programme with updates every 5 minutes.
Elllo – Gives you different accents, American, South African, Australian, etc.
Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab – for mainly American English.

 

Listening is something that needs to be practiced every day if possible. If one lives in an English-speaking country where one can go out and talk to people, this is good. If one does NOT live in an English-speaking country then one must listen to English using the ideas listed above.

  • Remember: At first, a learner will not understand everything. This is quite normal.
  • They should concentrate on the words that they DO understand to get the general meaning.
  • Even if only a few words are recognizable, this will improve with time.
  • Learners should not try to translate into their own language. It takes up time and won’t help.
  • They should not follow sub-titles either, because subtitles don’t give the exact translation.

 

The British Council– Learn English BBC Learning English – Downloads
Learning English – 6 minute English Podcasts in English – Listening Practice

 

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