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How to Improve Your English Listening Skills

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Arash July 15, 2021 16:00

How to improve your English listening skills

Improving listening skills is the interesting part of english learning process as much as speaking fluently. This is what keeps you on your toes to continue with practicing and not to give up on acquiring any new language. The excitement of understanding what people are now saying in another language is the first reward you get during your learning journey. Here are some tips on how you can quickly formulate and improve your listening skills.

Don’t fool yourself

We have seen some English learners who always have headphones on and are constantly listening to some online conversation, podcasts and so on. In fact many people believe that if you listen to another language even though you don’t understand your listening skills will eventually improve over time, some even are a big fan of listening during their sleep.

While these methods of passive listening may or may not be helpful to your listening skills, there is no solid evidence to support this hypothesis. But on the other end we believe that there is a lot of waste of time in listening to English passively, one reason is that if you don’t fully pay attention to a voice your brain will filter the sound and think you are listening but you are actually not. Even at the seminars or in the classrooms, the attention span is short, when someone is giving a speech you only pay attention in the very beginning then your ears start to filter the sound and you start surfing into your imaginations.

As a result you may think that you have listened to a podcast for 4 hours but the truth is you only listened carefully the first few minutes and only caught some words once in a while, that’s all and you wasted a few hours of your time because you were trying to multitask and your performance for every task decreased.

Listen carefully and take notes

So if you really want to make a difference, you need to dedicate at least half an hour of your day to improving your listening, the first rule is to only focus on listening, not to multifunction, no riding bicycles or making food during this time. Take a piece of paper and hit pause and write down the last meaningful sentences that you listened to. Still try to write the sentence you heard even though there are missing words in it, repeat the recording if possible. This way your brain will be fully engaged, focused and your ears will become sharper. If you keep on doing this method for a while you will notice there are more words that you can catch. The fact is sometimes when you listen to a new language there are words you already know but your brain can not catch them during a conversation, so with this simple approach you are training yourself over time to catch all the different sound variations of the words you know.

Read the script

If there is a movie, music, or a simple conversation, let’s say a short youtube movie, or a podcast, see if you can have the script and try to read it once before listening. Remember to read the script first and do not look at it again, now try to listen or watch if it's a movie, try to see if you can catch the familiar words you know from the script, do this for about 1 minute long of the listening, repeat it a few times if possible. Now for the last time read the script and listen to the recording one more time.

Don’t get stuck in one part of the listening process, move on to the next part, you don’t want to memorise the words, it’s just about challenging yourself to catch the words. This could be very helpful to improve your listening skills, but you need to keep on doing this for a while and if possible try listening to various people with different accent and so that you don’t get used to only one, otherwise you won't get the best out it, in machine learning this is called “overfitting” you make a perfect result with only one pattern, this is not effective you need to use different voice patterns and accents so that you get more prepared to guess the word from any conversation.

Make it a loop

Let’s say that you are listening to a recording about half an hour every day. One strategy is that after two or three days to go back just one time and only one time and listen to what you have practiced with for the last two days, try again to catch the words, don’t worry if you didn’t see any improvement, if this is your first week or two you may not see any tangible result which is normal, but don’t be disappointed you should know that you are on the right path and there is no magical way to boost your listening skills, all you need to do is to keep on practicing, now this loop of re-listening to old recordings once in a while will show you over time that how much you are improving your skills in catching the words.

If you don’t do this after all, listening will become boring and repeating without any rewards, which is not good for your progress and encouragement. Just remember not to give up, no practice is best and effective if you simply quit.

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