In case you haven’t noticed it, a child starts to learn the first language by listening to others speaking around in his early life. Therefore, listening is considered as the key to access a new language in a natural and sustainable way. However, of the four skills, it is cited to be the hardest task by many English learners.
Now you might want to ask “What can we do to consolidate our English listening capacity?”. Well, before starting, remember that listening is like other skills, if you want to be good at it, you have to devote time and effort to it. “No pain, no gain”, isn’t it?
So, here are a few strategies you might want to try in order to improve English listening skills.
The first and also the most important thing is to listen, as often as possible. Listen to whatever comes to you in English. It might be the TV news, a radio show, a video on YouTube, a song, a movie… Immerse yourself in English. Once you have begun to listen on a regular basis, you might have to accept that you do not understand everything. It is okay, stay relaxed even if you continue to not understand for a while. In this stage, just try to listen for the general idea of the talk without concentrating on details. More importantly, please stay away from the temptation of translating every word into your mother tongue since this act will separate the listener and the speaker.
The second, start listening on purpose, also known as practicing your listening skill seriously. Paul Nation suggests several techniques to improve English listening skill such as reading while listening, transcription and repeated listening. The first exercise uses reading skill to support the other. 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. When it comes to transcription, you should replay a record of a short spoken text many times while trying to make a written version of it. It is fine to pause, playback and focus on specific part of the text. This activity improves listening skill by providing useful feedback on word and phrase recognition.
The third activity, repeated listening can be done with short films with subtitles. While repeated material becomes more familiar and easier, the repetition provides quantity of practice that makes repetition an important factor in fluency development.
Nowadays, there are plenty of programs and English learning apps which can provide you endless qualified material to practice listening. Therefore, you don’t have any excuse to not getting your English skills better. Start listening to English and broaden your world.