Here are some tips to follow as you work on your listening skills.
Listen: 7 Ways Listening 1&2
- Download news or stories from the internet. Keep them on your MP3 player and listen to them until you can summarize what you have heard. Take it on a walk or listen while doing household chores. Surround yourself with the language.
- Listen to music. Ballads are great for catching the sounds of English. You’ll become familiar with stress patterns, how sounds are linked together, and how vowels are pronounced. Singing along won’t hurt either. You can also build your vocabulary by searching for the lyrics to any particular song.
Listen: 7 Ways Listening 3&4
- Join a group. Don’t just join a language group. Join a hobby group (like cooking, dancing, or painting). This way, you can practice English in a context that is unfamiliar. Unlike joining a speaking group for ESL students, the instructor or group leader is not trained in ESL, and will, therefore, not accommodate your language needs. Instead, you will be forced to pay attention (YIKES!). You can still ask people to repeat if you are truly lost.
- Find a sitcom and turn off those subtitles! Sitcoms are great because the characters are more active and animated. Also, this will give you a chace to connect words and phrases to images and situations. If you read subtitles, your eyes are doing the work. To train your ears, turn the words off!
Listen: 7 Ways 5, 6, 7
- Go shopping! I know you love to shop online, but eventually, you will actually need to go to the grocery store or Walmart. The next time you go, practice your listening skills by choosing something to search for in the store. Then ask an attendant where you can find that item. “Where can I find lipstick?” or “Can you tell me where the pimento stuffed olives are?” Listen carefully to the response. Test yourself by seeing how fast you can actually find your way to that item.
- Listen to lectures. Local colleges often have lectures that are free and open to the public. Visit one sometime and listen to the organizational patterns of speech (transitions, main ideas, support details, introductions and conclusions).
- Join an exercise class. At least three days per week, you will hear the same words over and over again. This will also give you a hands-on opportunity to connect words to gestures or actions. Repition is key.
After a month, you’ll look and hear better!