Improve your English: listening skills

Before students carry out any listening activity, they need to change their mindsets about what it is to listen in English.

Learners have real difficulties in understanding simply because their ears have not been exposed to the varieties that exist in English and have no regular contact with the languaje.

Instead of students thinking “I need to understand everything” they should think “I’M NOT GOING TO UNDERSTAND ANYTHING!!” and then motivation levels increase when students realise they can actually understand something.

With different activity types, students need to think about exactly what they are going to do with their listening:

Plan BEFORE watching/listening?
Predict language and vocabulary BEFOREhand?
Just listen and see what happens?
Focus on understanding context?
Focus on specific information?
Features of connected speech?
Are they going to write a summary / make notes AFTER having watched it?
Keep a diary about how difficult / easy / frustrating they find the different listening activities?

Tips and recomendations to improve your listening skills

Students could put the radio on in English every time they pop to the shop or are washing the dishes: no matter your level, the idea is exposing your ears even if you don’t understand a single word!

Indirect listening skills, useful for exposing students ears to English intonation patterns and lilts of accents, and features of connected speech.

Remember: DON’T GET FRUSTRATED IF YOU CAN’T UNDERSTAND!! Students need contact for at least 1 year to see results.

Record yourself saying expressions and vocabulary with the correct pronunciation and listen on your phone or MP3 player when on public transport or walking in the street.

This activity is also useful when studying for exams or planning presentations etc; record yourself, read out loud so you can learn while you’re at the gym or running.  Recycle your time.

  • Download the app TuneIn Radio (Digital) on your phone or go on on your computer and listen to different radio stations for 5-10 minutes every day.

TuneIn radio has podcasts, international programmes, literally every radio station you will ever need!

Differentiate those accents!!

  • Use and other sites and watch one video a week. Ted is fantastic because learners of all levels can use the interactive transcript.

Don’t put pressure on yourselves to watch loads of videos, you might not even like Ted and think it’s boring.  There are many other options on YouTube.

This is extremely useful in identifying sounds vs. spelling in English and helps learners to notice and focus on aspects of connected speech (native speakers) vs. their written forms      

(used by most non-native speakers in spoken utterances)

A website designed for people learning English.

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Liz McFarland

Lingüística e innovadora en educación, con más de 10 años de experiencia en formación de lengua inglesa.

Una Familia Online: Ideas, sugerencias y fuente de inspiración para familias activas.

Aprende ingles por tu cuentaImprove your listening skills

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