How to Improve English Listening Skills
Do you ever find yourself having trouble following conversations or movies in English? It can be tough, but don’t worry, you’re not alone. We’ve got your back! In this blog, our academic director has put together a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you improve your English listening skills.
Learning English? Follow our Tips Written by our in-house experts to Improve your Listening Skills.
Working on English listening skills is the most common problem for English learners – it’s not something you can just learn. Oftentimes, students might have a high level of grammar and writing skills, but it’s a whole new story when it comes to English listening or speaking skills. The first thing to remember is that improving English listening skills is difficult for most students- if you’re feeling emotionally overwhelmed, you’re not alone. And there are also things you can do to improve the situation. Read our tips below and use them to create a study plan that’s suitable for you.
1. Develop your conversation and functional language skills
The first step to improving your listening skills is ensuring you have the vocabulary to follow or participate in conversations. If the language is not familiar, your challenge with listening may be due to a lack of vocabulary or familiarity with the language. The best way to improve this is by looking for books, videos, articles or courses focusing on improving fluency and functional language. Functional language refers to areas of English used to perform specific functions in different day-to-day situations. This could include introducing yourself, speaking about the weather, ordering in a restaurant, giving opinions, making suggestions, explaining rules, complaining, etc.
2. Listen to audio lessons or audiobooks
This task involves passive listening and is ideal as one of the first steps when learning English. Doing this will help you understand the sounds of the language better and, therefore, improve your listening skills. You will understand the difference between how the phrases are written and how they are pronounced. Apart from that, you can practice repeating the language to ensure you can also produce the language accurately. This is a vital step before moving on to more challenging tasks.
3. Practice active English listening skills
Passive listening refers to listening mainly for exposure to the language but involves no action on your part. As mentioned in point two above, this is useful to gain familiarity with the language. Once steps one and two are done, it’s time to move on to active listening, which is when the real learning occurs. Active listening is when you are fully concentrated on what is being said. So, to improve your English listening skills in this way, give yourself a task to do while you watch the movie (make a list of common phrases or topic words).
How can that be done? Here are some examples:
- If you studied adjectives, listen to songs in English and write down all the adjectives you can hear.
- If studying past tense verbs, do the same with songs or movies.
- If you’re learning law-related English, study some useful phrases, watch some law TV shows and list all the phrases. To be more effective, this can be segregated into different areas, for example, in internal meetings, discussions with clients, and court.
4. Practice with people of your level
Reach out to other people in your situation who are also learning, studying and practising together. It’s completely fine if you make mistakes; that’s the first step in learning. Even if your friend is on the same level, this is still useful because you practise saying the phrases and reacting to responses. It will increase your fluency, confidence and quickness with English listening skills.
5. Overhear an English conversation
After studying and learning some phrases in a controlled environment, like in English classes and through the steps mentioned above, it’s time to listen to a real conversation. This way, you can try to notice how the things you learn in your studies occur in real life. Trying to follow a real conversation between native speakers is the best challenge to improve your English listening skills.
If you live in an English-speaking country, take an afternoon stroll and try to look for an English conversation. When you start to hear English, slow down and listen, and put your English listening skills to a real test by trying to figure out the topic discussed. It won’t be easy, but it’s practical and fun.
Don’t live in an English-speaking country? Join expat events!
6. Be interactive
Rather than just listening to someone’s conversation, join it a step further. Try to find conversation groups purposely organised by English learners to develop English listening skills. When talking to people, you listen more carefully and think about how you will reply. Put yourself in situations where you must practice all the phrases and functional language you’ve learned. Find a job or hobby that pushes you to use your English listening skills daily, like interacting with shop assistants, receptionists, or in restaurants.
Can’t do this in your country? Travel to a country where you must speak English.
7. Practice English skills with native speakers
Practising with real native speakers will boost your English listening skills and improve your rhythm and stress when speaking. The best way to improve your English listening skills is to practice having social conversations with a native English teacher a few times a week. This would also help take your language to the next level.
Practise your Listening Skills in Real Life! Book a Study Trip with BELS English Language Schools in Malta and Gozo.
Do you struggle to improve your English on your own? Is it difficult to practice speaking English in your home country? Sometimes, there’s a limit to how much you can learn independently and in your country. To see different results, you need to take a different approach. The best way to improve your English is by immersing yourself in the language by travelling to an English-speaking country.
That’s where BELS can help. We provide a completely immersive experience with courses, accommodation, and activities in our international student community. Our English courses in Malta and Gozo are designed to help people like you stop feeling stuck and start speaking English.
So, if you want to start acting on improving your English, write to us at [email protected].
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