Would you like to improve your English listening skills? Good listening doesn’t just come naturally (unless you were born listening to English). We need to make a special effort to work on our listening skills.

In this listening skills guide you’ll learn about:

  • listening and how it differs from hearing
  • listening materials for English language learners
  • typical tasks found in English-language listening tests
  • general listening tips to become a more active listener
  • where you can find listening materials
  • listening strategies for better comprehension
  • questions to ask yourself

10 Tips to be a good listener

  1. Try to be still as you are listening.
  2. Try to ignore distractions.
  3. Make eye contact with the speaker.
  4. Try to pinpoint the point of view of the speaker.
  5. Try not to daydream. Refocus when you catch yourself thinking about something else.
  6. Try not to think about what you are going to say next when another person is talking. Concentrate on the speaker.
  7. Observe body language (including your own).
  8. Learn how to paraphrase what you have heard.
  9. Learn how to ask for clarification if you don’t understand. Don’t pretend to understand.
  10. Avoid interrupting (unless you are practising how to interrupt politely).  Take notes if it is not distracting to the speaker.

Listening strategies

Here are some strategies for improving your listening skills:

  • Practise listening for the gist or main purpose.
  • Reduce listening barriers.
  • Listen for specific details such as problems.
  • Listen for speaker bias.
  • Make assumptions and predictions.
  • Listen to many different accents.
  • Listen with noise in the background. Learn to “tune out” other sounds.
  • If you ask a question, listen for the answer.
  • Practise summarizing and paraphrasing.
  • Ask questions you think you know the answer to.
  • Recognize pauses and false starts.
  • Create your own questions.
  • Find English music that you enjoy listening to.

Listen to natural speech: Listening to your teacher, your classmates and even the audio recordings from your textbook is not enough. You also need to listen to real people speaking real English. You will notice the following:

1) People link words together. For example: turn off -> tur-noff
2) Some vowels fade out when people say them out loud.  They become weak and almost non-existent. For example: Can I talk t[o] you?
3) Some sounds and syllables disappear altogether. This is called elision. This is common when with the letter “h” in an initial position. For example: What will [h]e do?
4) Sometimes people leave out full words. This is called ellipsis. For example: Have you got a second? -> Got a sec?

Listening barriers: Recognize why you don’t understand what you hear. First figure out which barriers are affecting your listening. Next, reduce or eliminate the barriers that you have control over. Your listening barriers may include some of the following:

  • The speaker spoke too quickly.
  • The speaker used informal language and idioms.
  • The vocabulary level is too high.
  • You assumed incorrectly that you knew what they were going to say.
  • The speaker has an unfamiliar accent.
  • The recording is not clear.
  • The recording is not loud enough.
  • You are not interested in the topic.
  • You don’t have any background knowledge.
  • You had a strong emotional reaction to a word or point that you heard.
  • You did not give the speaker (or recording) your undivided attention.
  • Something is distracting you.
  • You are tired.
  • You are hungry.
  • You are nervous.

Listening terms

A glossary of words and terms that we use to talk about listening

accent (noun): how words and syllables are pronounced based on the regional or social background of a speaker
active listening (noun): taking in sounds and attaching meaning to them
audio (noun): sound
barrier (noun): something that blocks or reduces your ability to do something
bias (noun): a preference for one over another often due to emotional ties or relations
body language (noun): communication via gestures and facial expressions
caption (noun): text that informers a viewer what has been said
clarification (noun): the act of making something clear that was previously confusing
comprehend (verb): to understand
dictation (noun): a process of recording in writing something that has been spoken
distraction (noun): something that takes one’s attention away from a focal point
documentary (noun): a non-fiction show or film that often tells something historic, social or political
false start (noun): a word or phrase a speaker uses and then rewords for clarity
gist (noun):  the main point
hear (verb): to have sound enter your ears
idiom (noun): useful expressions that usually cannot be understood by defining the separate words
inference (noun): a conclusion the listener reaches based on what has been heard
interrupt (verb): to start speaking or asking a question to a person who is already speaking or engaged in an activity
iPod (noun): a type of mobile device that can be used for listening to audio files
lecture (noun): a planned speech that is educational in nature
listening lab (noun): a place such as a room full of computers where students listen to preselected audio materials
lyrics (noun): written words that go with a piece of music
mobile device (noun): hand-held communication technology such as a phone or MP3 player
MP3 player (noun): a device for playing and listening to downloadable audio files
paraphrase (verb): to reword in one’s own words
pause (verb also noun): to take a short break between words, phrases, or paragraphs
podcast (noun): a regularly updated listening episode that you can download and listen to on the go
point of view (noun): the speaker’s attitude or belief on a subject
prediction (noun): a guess about what will happen in the future
standardized test (noun): a test that is formatted and scored in a specific way and is used to determine a person’s level of ability
subtitles (noun): words that scroll across a screen to indicate what a narrator or speaker is saying (may be in another language)
transcript (noun): the full written version of something that you can listen to
transmit (verb): to send out

sources : Original Link