A step-by-step guide to practice English listening (with RESULTS)

If you are here, we suppose your English listening skill is not that great and you want to change that. We’ve met so many learners who complain they can’t understand anything English speakers, so it’s okay, everyone struggles sometimes in life. One pattern we see very often that most of these learners have in common, though, is that only focused on long-ass vocabulary lists and boring textbooks. If you are doing the same thing, this post is the solution.

Our motto is very simple: to develop your English naturally, you need to practice listening skills right on the first days of your language learning journey, all the time and with fun, just like how you did when you were little. That’s it.

Think about how infants start to acquire their mother tongue. They learn first by LISTENING to people around them as they speak. By having constant exposure to the sounds and words, they learn which phonemes belong to the language they are learning and which don’t. The ability to recognize and produce those sounds is called “phonemic awareness”.

After some time, babies begin to say single words. In other words, they now start their
SPEAKING learning stage. This stage continues for a while as they pick up more language and speak more correctly and fluently. It’s not until about they reach the age of 6 years that they begin to learn how to READ, and later how to WRITE.

Listening is the first skill that a child acquires in learning his/her native language and it has been like that since the day human evolves. Yet it is often the most forgotten factor in the English learning process. In order to do listening better, there’s only one thing you need to change: you have to ACTUALLY DO MORE LISTENING.

So now you know the root of your struggle is your lack of devotion to listening. How can you solve this though? Let’s find out.

5 Steps to practice English listening skills

Step 1: Watch your favorite movie/ video 

First off, only choose to learn with the content that you love, and never the other way around. Later on, when your English is advanced enough for you to listen to academic stuff on medical stuff and archeology, you can certainly step out of your comfort zone and do that as you please.

But as you are working on it, remember to take it easy. You like cooking videos? Want to binge-watch Friends? Do it.

Once you know which movie/ video you’d like to practice with, go ahead and watch it in dual languages. At this step, your goal is to get the gist of the video or movie. You might need to use dictionaries or translation tools along the way if dual subtitle is not possible.

If you choose to watch movies/ video on Netflix or YouTube, on laptop, you can install eJOY Extension on your browser. It allows you to look up and save new words/ phrases directly while watching videos on your favorite site. 

In case you are lazy, head to eJOY GO website (or eJOY app for phone) and get access to thousands of authentic videos on various topics and look up new words/phrases in the subtitles available. We have carefully hand-picked these videos so you don’t need to.

Read more: How to Look Up New Words While Watching Videos YouTube, Netflix, Phim Learning

ejoy extension

Read more:

eJOY App 4

Step 2: Active listening: Focus on 1 short scene (< 3 minutes)

This is perhaps the most challenging, yet powerful step that you should never consider skipping. Active listening requires a significant amount of time and concentration. Having said that, the more you practice, the more joyful the step becomes. So stick with it, eh?

(1) Cut apart a favorite scene from the movie/ video (shorter than 3 minutes)

After having a general idea of the movie/ video, select a few scenes that you find the most interesting and cut them apart using eJOY’s Cut a Clip function. If you watch the movie on Netflix, you can just bookmark the beginning and ending subtitles of the chosen scenes.

Read more:

(2)Practice active listening

There are a variety of ways to practice active listening with your selected scenes. 

Below are some popular activities that are believed to bring about great results. These listening activities are available on both eJOY app/ eJOY Go.

– Active Listening 

Active listening is a combination of comprehension listening and bottom-up listening (listening for details or focused listening). This method of listening will focus on language forms at the word and sentence levels.

Active Listening

– Quiz 

Listening Quizzes will allow you to practice your active listening through word recognition and sentence completion. 

Listening Quiz

– Shadow

By doing this, learners might gain more vocabulary and also develop speaking skill in the meantime since they know how a word is written and spoken.


– Write

Dictation is one of the best methods to improve your listening fluency. By transferring what you hear into text, your brain will have to work hard and fast to process new information, which means that you’ll need to work on both your listening and writing skills simultaneously. Over time, you’ll be able to recognize the hard words or sounds that you used to miss before.

Write (Dictation)

– Role play 

Role-play (Dubbing)

  • Hướng dẫn luyện nghe tiếng Anh trên điện thoại
  • Hướng dẫn luyện nghe tiếng Anh trên laptop

Step 3: Review vocabulary with games 

So you’re done with the active listening step, now what? Open eJOY app or eJOY eXtension, go to Game Center and start reviewing all of the words and phrases that you’ve saved during the step 1. 

  • Flashcard 
  • Matching 
  • Rearranging sentences
  • Gap Filling
  • Listening 
  • Speaking

Read more:

Step 4: Passive listening: Focus on the selected scene 

Last but not least, take your time to train your ear with passive listening. This step is as important as the other steps. By practicing passive listening, you’re perfecting your English listening skills why simultaneously reviewing your vocabulary. 

Spend some time each day: 

– Listening the chosen parts without subtitles 

– Listening & repeating what the speakers say

– Listening in the background while carrying out your daily activities

Step 5: Practice listening with Audio Reader

This step is more suitable for those whose English level is intermediate or above. If you’re a beginner in English, you can skip it and spend most of your time practicing listening skills with videos, as you may find listening to audio very boring and difficult because of limited listening abilities.

So if you look for more diverse listening environment, look for some audio/podcast programs. This is what many native speakers listen to every day and it’s where you can really test your listening capability. Popular applications such as Spotify, Tunein, and Google Podcast all update numerous radio and radio channels around the world.

The thing is, these podcasts and radios of native speakers often use slang or punctuation. Also, the speaker also speaks at a daily pace, which is generally too fast for people who are still working on their English listening skills. They also rarely have transcripts, especially with individual podcasts, making it difficult for average learners to follow.


Another way is to use the Audio Reader feature available on the eJOY eXtension or our newspaper reader app eJOY Reader for phone. The software will read any paragraph you choose with native voice, read at your preferred speed, and turn any English text into an English listening/podcast in a snap of fingers.


Exercises to support your active listening process

The “active listening” process consists of 2 main approaches: bottom-up and top-down. Both of the approaches are equally important and play large roles in learners’ listening improvement. Below are some suggested activities that help you with each approach

Bottom-up exercises

  • Fill in the blank
  • Complete sentences
  • Multiple choice
  • Find mistakes
  • Fill in the table
  • Complete a dialogue
  • Label a map/ diagram
  • Active Listening

Top down exercises

  • Summarize
  • Put events/ pictures in order
  • Guess the main idea of the listening tape
  • Identify the topic of the listening tape
  • Answer the questions

Highly recommended English listening resources

English listening for personal growth

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English listening for business negotiation

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English listening for academic life

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English listening for job interview

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English listening for TOEIC

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English listening for PTE

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English listening for conference 

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English songs to practice listening skills

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English movies to practice listening skills

English TV Shows to practice listening skills

Now you get the picture. English listening doesn’t have to be burdensome, and with a bit of practice and some patience, you can certainly make it work. All the tools are there for you to use, just remember to always learn with fun and practice as much as you can.

We hope with our simple guide above, you will be confident in no time.

Good luck!

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