How to Improve Your English Listening Skills

Let’s look at 3 different methods to improve your listening skills in English. We’ll look at the advantages and disadvantages of each one.

1. Passive Listening

Listening to English but not using your brain to interpret it

Advantages: It’s very easy to do and requires very little effort. You can do it in any amount of free time you have during the day. Even a few minutes here and there can add up to a lot at the end of the day. It may also help you get used to the sound of English.

Disadvantages: Many studies suggest this doesn’t really help with the acquisition of new words. Something that requires little effort will probably have little result.

2. Study Listening

  1. Listen to some audio or video and look at the transcript as well.
  2. Study all the new words you don’t know.
  3. Repeat sentences out loud
  4. Add the new words to flash cards
  5. Listen again and again until you understand the entire audio

Advantages: This is an excellent way to get phrases and vocabulary stuck inside your head.

I still remember phrases learnt this way form several years ago. Studying along with the intonation of the voices helps cement it in your memory too.

Disadvantages: This is very time-consuming and it can get boring listening to the same audio again and again. Also if you’re doing it to a TV show you enjoy then doing this may ruin it for you.

3. Focused Listening

  1. Listen to a podcast or audio carefully and try to understand everything that’s being said.

  2. When you hear words you don’t know, you can look them up in a dictionary app, but this is not necessary.

Advantages: It’s a good middle-ground. It’s not very time-consuming but also you are actively using your mind to interpret the audio. It’s a good way to learn some new words if you have the time to use a dictionary too.

Disadvantages: It can be frustrating if you are listening hard but don’t understand anything. You may only hear some phrases once so, unlike study listening, there is no repetition to help you learn.

Which method do you like best?

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