Around 90% of the students that I typically meet want to learn how to
improve their speaking. They want to know how to speak faster, feel more confident, use more idioms and vocabulary words, and sound more like native speakers. However, students often don't realize that it's just as important to practice listening as it is to practice speaking.
Think about it: if you can't understand what another person is saying to you, then it'll be impossible to carry on a conversation.
While there is a plethora of listening resources out there, the question is how can a person use these resources effectively? One of the best ways of doing this is by keeping a listening journal. By listening to something in English every day and taking notes, you'll improve your listening skills through this daily practice.
Here's how you can start:
1. KEEP A CONSISTENT SCHEDULE
Try to listen to something in English every day or as often as you can. Write down the date and the listening resource you have chosen.
2. TAKE NOTES
Try to write down the main ideas. If you hear a word that you're not sure about, try your best to write it down, but don't worry about spelling.
3. LISTEN AGAIN
When you are done taking notes, look over your notes again. Were you able to cover all the main ideas? Did you get confused or did you have any questions? Listen to the audio again if you had trouble.
If possible, check the transcript for the listening resource. Check your notes and add in any information that you are missing. Write down new words and phrases and find out the definitions. You can increase your knowledge of vocabulary very easily this way.
Use your notes to practice speaking. You can record yourself summarizing your notes. Listen to your recording again and pay attention to your pronunciation and grammar. Make notes about the mistakes you've made and practice again when you can. You can also use your notes to practice writing summaries.
Now that you've learned one great way to practice listening, here are some useful listening resources for you to check out.
Level: beginning to advanced
This site is a great resource for anyone who wants to practice listening to conversational English. There are over 2,000 conversations that you can listen to on elllo.org, and many of the listening exercises come with a transcript, explanations of vocabulary words or grammar, and a short quiz.
With Newsy, you can learn more news in less time. Each video covers a news story in 2 minutes or less and comes with a transcript below.
3. 60-Second Science (Scientific American)
For anyone who is getting ready for the TOEFL, Scientific American has an excellent podcast to help you practice for the listening section. Each episode is about 1 to 2 minutes long and features difficult vocabulary words and fast, natural speech along with a transcript.
4. The English We Speak
This is an excellent podcast produced by the BBC. Each podcast is about 3 minutes long and explains an English phrase that is commonly used by native speakers from the UK.
5. 6 minute English
Another great listening program from the BBC, 6 Minute English covers a range of interesting topics. In addition to the transcript, there is a section that covers the vocabulary words used in the podcast episode.
If you're having trouble with listening in English, please don't give up! With continued practice, you will see an improvement in your skills. If you have any questions about listening, leave a comment below!