Learner Success

6 techniques to help you boost your English listening practice

As language learners, we understand the crucial importance of improving listening skills in English. However, sometimes it is hard to make it a regular activity and fit it into our daily routine. Many of us find it challenging at times.

Today I am going to share six easy techniques and activities you can use for your listening practice and some tips on how to create a study plan.

There are many ways you can practise listening skills such as:

Listening regularly to various videos, films, podcasts, TV shows, educational programmes, songs, etc. 

Exposing yourself to a variety of accents and dialects, people of different ages and gender.

Communicating actively in conversations or English-speaking clubs and communities.

What about techniques and activities?

Here are the top 6 that work with most people.

1. Listen and read at the same time

While listening to the podcast or audiobook use subtitles or transcripts. That will enable your brain to correlate the sounds and the written text and help you recognize and learn new words. You can also put subtitles off to make it more challenging to understand as we don’t have subtitles while communicating with other people. Feel what best suits you each time you practise.

2. The “shadowing” technique

Repeat what you hear immediately after the speaker. Mimic the pronunciation, intonation and rhythm. That’s the best way to improve your pronunciation too!

Here a “Chunking” technique might be of help. Break down longer sentences or phrases into smaller, more manageable chunks so that you don’t feel overwhelmed.

3. Active listening technique

Summarise what you’ve heard, paraphrase with your own words, ask questions, and discuss with others what you have been listening to. That is also a great way to master your speaking skills.

4. Transcribing activity

Take notes or transcribe (write down) as much as you can what the speaker talks. Use a minute or two of a short audio clip (don’t overdo it or you will get bored with that activity).

5. Prediction (guessing) technique

Try to anticipate what the speaker will say next based on the context clues and the topic of conversation. Use your knowledge of the subject of the conversation. Focus on stressed words, which are usually the important keywords, and listen attentively to the end, not trying to think of an answer or translate. Stay fully present and focus on gestures, body language, the tone of voice. 

6. Pronunciation workout activity

Work on your pronunciation, intonation, and sounds. Practise relaxed pronunciation and reduction, and learn how to sound more clearly in English. That will help you to recognize more sounds of the speaker and understand more.

Website recommendations.

The Intrepid English Podcast

BBC Learning English – Learn English with BBC Learning English – Homepage

TED: Ideas change everything

Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab – English Listening (esl-lab.com)

Learn Languages with Music Videos, Lyrics and Karaoke! (lyricstraining.com)

Have you tried any of these techniques before? Which ones do you think sound the most useful? Do you have any other tips for improving your listening skills? Let us know in the comments!


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