Today we’re gonna talk about listening, and there’s two tips to help you improve. Whoopee!
Listening is sometimes seen as a skill that’s not as important as some of the others, especially speaking. While speaking is an important skill, let’s not underestimate the power of being able to listen well. Listening is how we gain friends, how we learn at school, how we find out about news. Business people know how important it is to listen to customers, politicians must listen to the people, doctors have to listen to their patients. Life is made up of listening. Without listening, it’s hard to speak.
So how is listening different from hearing? We’ve all been in a really boring lecture or lesson, the type where you can feel yourself getting sleepier and sleepier, you doodle on your paper, and you think about your lunch. We hear the teacher talking, but the information literally enters our heads and then floats out again within seconds. We can’t really remember the details of what was said. That’s hearing. We hear the words, but we’re not listening.
Listening is what you do for your friends when they have a problem. They explain what is wrong, you understand, and you offer them solutions. What they said entered your head, and was processed by your brain. You concentrated. You thought about how to help them. You went a step further than hearing, and focused, analyzing the information. It’s an active skill, whereas hearing is passive.
So, how can you improve your English listening skills? It can be difficult to focus, especially when the audio or the speaker is too fast for you.
Firstly, we advise you to approach listening activities differently. When you do a listening exercise with comprehension questions on your own, try using two steps, with two different listening skills. Close your book, don’t look at the questions, and play the audio. Just listen. When the audio is finished, go over everything you remember in your head, or write it down. Then listen again, this time, looking at your questions. Listen for the specific information. You’ll be surprised at how much you understand, and how much easier it is for you to answer the questions. Your overall understanding will have improved. If you approach listening exercises by just listening for specific information, you are missing out on a chance to improve your listening skills fast.
Secondly, if you’re listening to a native speaker of English, and it’s impossible to pause and rewind, ask yourself what the subject, or the topic of conversation is. Don’t confuse yourself by trying to understand every word, or you’ll get left behind. It will be hard at first, but you’ll find you are concentrating less, and therefore able to join the conversation more.
We hope this helps you to improve your listening skills!