Listening can be difficult when you are learning English. Different accents, new words, and people speaking quickly can all leave you confused. But, don’t worry! EF English Live has four great tips to help you train your English listening skills!
1. Use your smartphone to record conversations
The voice recorder on your phone can be a useful tool to help you quickly improve your listening skills. If you don’t have one, here’s one for Android and here’s one for iOS. Of course, you need to ask permission to record. Next, start making recordings of conversations in your EF English Live classes or with friends. They will help you to get familiar with new vocabulary as well as people’s accents.
2. Listen to your EF English Live teacher for word stress
When you play back your recordings, listen for word stress (how many syllables words have and which syllables are stressed). For example, the word ‘intonation’ has 4 syllables is pronounced intonNATion. Getting the word stress right will make a huge difference to how well people understand you when you speak. Practice listening for your EF English Live teacher’s word stress and then try copying it when you are speaking English. If you are shy about doing this in front of others, try this by yourself first!
Also, sentences and phrases also use word stress. English speakers tend to stress the most important words like question words, nouns and verbs. For example, How was your class today? Have you seen the new movie with Brad Pitt? When you listen back to your recordings of your EF English Live teacher, try to imitate the words that they stress in sentences and phrases. This will not only improve your listening but also your speaking!
Get into the habit of listening to podcasts about things that interest you. Think about your hobbies and interests and find podcasts to match them. For example, this page has many podcasts on all kinds of fascinating subjects. You could listen to them on the bus or train, or when you have time in the evenings. The more you listen, the more your listening skills will improve! If you don’t understand certain words, pause the podcast and look them up. Then, when you understand everything, practice speaking along with the podcast and copy the speaker’s voice. Which words are stressed? Which words are said quickly with little stress? Try to imitate the speaker and you will find both your listening and speaking skills will soon get much better!
4. Listen in to natural conversations!
While studying English online with EF English Live, try also spending time in places where people are speaking English like cafes, parks or even on the bus! Without disturbing anyone, just listen to what people are talking about. At first, you may not understand much as you may have joined in the middle of a conversation. But you can try to guess and make a note of any new words you hear. By training your ear to everyday English conversations, you will quickly find your self understanding more and more! If there aren’t any English speakers around, then head to Ted Talks and choose a one which you find interesting.