Friday 13 July 2007

AAE 82: Listening


Please i ask about how can i improve my English listening.

Thank u

Goulhiane Latifa

Hi Goulhiane,

Firstly one of the most important things is to remember that you are not alone. Listening comprehension is probably the most difficult task for almost all learners of English as a foreign language.

The most important thing is to listen to English as often as possible. Therefore you need to find listening resources. This is where the Internet really comes in handy (useful) as a tool for English students.

There are many free listening resources:


Once you have begun to listen on a regular basis, you might still be frustrated by limited understanding. What should you do?

Here is some advice I give my students:

  • Accept the fact that you are not going to understand everything.
  • Keep cool (stay relaxed) when you do not understand - even if you continue to not understand for a long time.
  • Do not translate into your native language (mother tongue)
  • Listen for the gist (general idea) of the conversation. Don't concentrate on detail until you have understood the main ideas.

Translating creates a barrier between yourself and the person who is speaking

While you are listening to another person speaking a foreign language (English in this case), the temptation is to immediately translate into your native language. This temptation becomes much stronger when you hear a word you don't understand. This is only natural as we want to understand everything that is said. However, when you translate into your native language, you are taking the focus of your attention away from the speaker and concentrating on the translation process taking place in your brain. This would be fine if you could put the speaker on hold (make the speaker wait). In real life however, the person continues talking while you translate. This situation obviously leads to less -not more- understanding.

Most people repeat themselves

Think for a moment about your friends, family and colleagues. When they speak in your native tongue, do they repeat themselves? I don't mean literally (word for word), I mean the general idea. If they are like most people I have met, they probably do. That means that whenever you listen to someone speaking, it is very likely (probable) that they will repeat the information, giving you a second, third or even fourth chance to understand what has been said.

By remaining calm, allowing yourself to not understand, and not translating while listening, your brain is free to concentrate on the most important thing: Understanding English in English.

I hope this helps


1 comment:

Steve said...

Another good way is to watch English TV. I for one (for example) watch a lot of Sitcoms. This way you listen to how Americans/Brits/Aussies really talk and pronounce things. You also learn a lot of slang and figure of speech (sayings) this way.

Hope I could help a little.

- Steve