Effective listening

To develop listening skills, it is best to find a source of spoken English, with only sound: Not TV, as too many images give information that allows the watcher to infer/ guess what the subject is.

All the information is by sound: voices, music, sound effects. Tone of voice, silence, …and words. Listening is not just about understanding words, it is about getting an idea of about the topic, being able to hear patterns (e.g. verb forms/modals), recognising key connectors, and dividing sections of speech.

Live radio, unlike a cassette or CD, cannot be ‘stopped and replayed’. You need to learn an important skill, that of being able to get what you can and let the rest go. Forget trying to understand EVERY word; this is not done even in a mother tongue. We subconsciously use a number of strategies that allow us to get meaning even from only partial recognition of words.

So just start listening, and see HOW MUCH you can understand 🙂

Can you understand what language is spoken? Can you guess what type of topic the program is about? (Sports programs tend to have informal, relaxed speakers, often speaking very fast during races and matches; Financial/ economics programs tend to be the opposite. Etc.

Can you recognize a few words? First you will recognise international words spoken in the different accent, with different stress (Pizza, piano, telephone, …). This way your ear will tune in.

Learn to catch what you can, stop worrying about the word you couldn’t catch and make a few guesses – you could be right; if you don’t try, you’ll never be right!