It can be pretty hard to take notes when the teacher is speaking English in ‘light’ speed, watch a film without subtitles or even listen to a podcast. You may find yourself struggling for concentration or getting nervous because it’s ‘too fast’. It’s frustrating. You’ve been studying English for so long and you still have problems to understand it.
So, here are some tips to help you develop better listening skills:
- Be attentive but relaxed. It doesn’t matter whether you understand 100% of the material you’re listening to, the point is that you’re relaxed and trying to catch as much as you can. Don’t worry because you don’t understand a word or a phrase. You can always go back and listen to it again. Screen out the noise from the background and just listen.
- Don’t translate in your head. Try to understand the material you’re listening to in English. It may be blurry or unclear, but believe me, this technique will improve your listening immensely. Besides, thinking in two languages at the same time will exhaust you! Remember that you’re not a translator but an English learner. So, relax and listen without translating.
- Try to understand the unknown words from the context. It is unacceptable to interrupt your listening and look for new vocabulary. It would ruin your concentration and you’d miss the point of the material you’re listening to. Even if you don’t understand all the words, try to understand them within the context.
- Listen to all kinds of English. Non-native English speakers make the largest part of the English-speaking community. I’m sure you’ll find it easier to understand English speakers whose native language is the same or similar to yours.
- Learn the vocabulary for the material you’re listening to. For example, if you’re listening to something about hotels, then you should learn the hotel vocabulary such as front desk, lobby bar, room service… Knowledge of the vocabulary will make your listening much easier.
- Listen without prejudice. Keep an open mind! Don’t judge on the material you are listening to or jump into conclusions. Don’t allow your thoughts to distract your listening.
- And finally, once you chose the material to listen to, make sure it’s interesting and able to keep your attention. Don’t listen to boring news or reports. Watch an interesting film (without subtitles), a radio theatre, an audiobook (you may have read in your native language before), a podcast…