Some effective ways to improve English listening skills
By Hebe Adventures

If knowing how to write and speak English are the students' ultimate goals, knowing how to listen and understand is the starting point. If we don't understand what you are being told, we are unable to process the information and any attempt to learn is in vain. In addition to serving as a foundation, listening comprehension is an essential skill to practice, as it allows you to communicate in different situations. This includes the ability to attend lectures, participate in conversations, understand media such as podcasts and television programs, and interact successfully with native speakers. By developing this talent, you can improve your general language skills, including your understanding of various dialects and accents. This can give you access to new job prospects, improve your ability to interact with people from other cultures and give you the confidence that you can travel alone at any time. There are many contexts in which to practice listening. It can be done independently, with friends, during courses and in class. Or by going on an English-speaking holiday, which offers complete language immersion. Whatever the situation, these tips will make it easier for you to practice and soon you'll be able to converse with native speakers without difficulty.

Tips to improve English listening skills on your own

You can improve your English listening skills on your own, wherever you are and even in your free time. An effective method is to focus on the conversation and adopt tools and techniques that are more in line with your learning style. Podcasts, TV series and audiobooks, if listened to in English, can become valuable tools for refining listening skills. Moreover, they can cover different topics, including those that are most interesting to you.

Each format has its own peculiarities that make it more suitable for improving certain skills. In podcasts and radio broadcasts the dialogues are spontaneous and use colloquial expressions and typical terms. This can help you become more familiar with some accents, although your natural speaking speed can hinder understanding.

The TV series offer an additional advantage, as the visual feedback can help to understand the content of the speeches. Subtitles are a valuable aid in case of difficulty, but should preferably be used only as a verification. Try to catch the speeches yourself, this will help you train understanding.

Audiobooks are excellent allies for expanding vocabulary, as they reproduce a written text in audio format, generally richer and more varied in terms than a conversation. Also in this case it is possible to purchase the hard copy, which can be useful for the less understandable parts and as a feedback to verify the correctness of what you have understood.

Songs and videos are great tools when used to improve listening skills. It's up to you to decide how to dispose of these resources. You can use them as a pleasant background for other activities or as study material to focus on with continuous playbacks. In the latter case it might be useful to transcribe the audio and then check with subtitles or with the original text, if available.

How to improve your English listening skills with other people

Speaking English with other people is the best way to become a better listener. There are several situations that offer this possibility, each of which has its own pros and cons. Compared to self-study, speaking cannot be slowed down or listened to over and over again. But this is not necessarily a disadvantage, as getting used to conversation naturally pushes students towards more attention. Among the most common situations are the classroom, as in a summer English course, conversations with a language partner and living in English.

Improve listening in the classroom

For an English learner, the most common circumstance is that of the classroom. Whether it's a school course or a summer English course, you can talk to your teacher or classmates. Sometimes, teachers themselves encourage students to talk to each other and to focus more on listening rather than responding, an approach that can also be useful in other contexts.

Of course, it is always possible to register, but only after obtaining general consent. Recording allows you to listen calmly, understand the parts you didn't understand and analyze the tone of voice, a very personal aspect that you will have to get used to.

Improve listening with a language partner

Often used as a way to become fluent, speaking with a language partner improves your English listening and understanding skills at the same time. Unlike the classroom, a video call with a native speaker allows you to expose yourself more realistically to the language, complete with an accent, idiomatic expressions and typical vocabulary. The circumstance is also more informal and the topics can be chosen on the basis of one's interests, thus encouraging one to continue the conversation and increasing the attention span, a crucial aspect for understanding the interlocutor.

Also in this case it is not possible to interrupt and repeat at will. But, given the friendly environment, you needn't feel embarrassed if you don't understand. You can say it clearly and ask for a sentence to be rephrased.

Improve your listening with an English holiday

The English language holiday is the most popular language immersion solution for students, as it allows them to live abroad for a certain period. Among the countries in the European area chosen for this type of experience, Ireland is the one that is attracting the most interest, thanks to the well-known hospitality of its inhabitants, the level of the courses and the splendid landscapes that offer a perfect setting for a holiday.

During the weeks of stay in English you can only speak with native speakers, so there are many occasions and contexts in which you can test your listening skills. Choosing a local family ready to host you further helps to improve concentration and fluency in speaking. Hebe can help you find the right family, with a large choice across Ireland. You will have all the necessary information and the opportunity to communicate even before departure.

Once you leave, you will find yourself immersed in a new context full of opportunities to test your English. If you already have experience of conversations in the language, you will know that at the beginning it will not be immediate, having to get used to the tone of voice, the pronunciation and new vocabulary. Just as it will be difficult to find the right words to answer. But continuous interaction, even with different people, pushes us to listen more attentively and to understand the exact words, above all because it happens in real time and we need to reply instantly. A good workout that will prove invaluable once you get home.

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