How to Improve Listening Skills

Well, good morning, good afternoon, good evening, and hello! My name is Teacher Dominic, from the website

I’m going to give you 10 tips on how to improve your listening skills.

Tip number 1

One of the things my students often say to me is, “I don’t understand anything when I listen to something in English.” So this article will teach you how to understand more information when you listen to a news story, a song, someone speaking to you, or a public announcement.

First, let me explain why you may find it difficult to understand English. When native English speakers talk, they often “eat their own words,” or they connect words together. This is a natural part of speaking English. The official term is called word linking.  It mainly occurs when a word finishes with a consonant and the following word begins with a vowel sound. Let me show you an example:

“This sentence has got six words.”

However, this sentence is different:

“The sentence I am saying to you is almost entirely attached to each word I speak.”

This is because of the last letter at the end of one word and the first letter of the following word.

So if you concentrate on this idea, you can identify specific words when you are listening to spoken English.

Tip number 2

So that’s the first tip. Here’s tip number two. When you listen to anything or anyone, very often your brain is distracted by various external sources. This could be a car passing, someone talking nearby, loud music in a nightclub or a party, or simply a handsome man or a beautiful woman. So the tip is to stay focussed. Concentrate 100% on what the person is saying, or the English you are listening to. You see, if you get distracted, it is very easy to lose the sense of the conversation or what you have heard up until now. So concentrate.


Tip number 3

Which brings me to tip number three. Understand exactly what the subject is from the beginning. It’s no use listening to someone speak if you have no idea what they are saying.

Generally, teachers recognise when you don’t understand and they will stop speaking to clarify what they have said. However, I can’t say the same for native English speakers. They might go on talking for some time before they stop. Then they ask you for your opinion, or some information, which embarrassingly enough, you are unable to answer.

So the tip is, if you don’t understand what is being said, stop the person politely and clarify this.

“Ok, what about if I’m at the airport and I don’t understand some announcements?”

My advice is to record the announcements. In the end of the day, it is quite common that they will repeat those comments more than once. So record them with your mobile phone or get a voice recorder.

Tip number 4

This brings me to tip number four: Practice. That’s right, practice listening to every day conversations, public announcements and English radio stations. If you practise listening to these types of English-speaking situations, it will help you improve your listening skills.

Tip number 5

Take notes when it is possible. Obviously, if you take notes when you are listening to someone talk to you it can be a little strange, unless you tell them you are a journalist and you are interviewing them. It could also be seen as not very cool if you are at a party and you get out your notebook every time you have a conversation with someone. Even if that shouldn’t be something to worry about, it can be a little rude if you are taking notes while someone is talking.

So take notes where possible, when you are listening to something in English.

Tip number 6

Learn specific phrases for situations you often find yourself in. By this I mean that if you are often travelling, learn as many phrases as possible related to travel. If you enjoy listening to a particular singer or group, find their lyrics and do everything to understand them.

If you have to attend meetings, conferences, or presentations, find as many examples of listening dialogues and presentation speeches as you can. Have you tried listening to It’s a website all about presentations.

Tip number 7

To improve listening skills listen to as many different accents as possible. Another thing my students say to me is that they have a lot of trouble understanding some people from particular countries. India is a wonderful country and when I travelled there I had an amazing experience because of how pleasant and helpful the people are. They have a beautiful accent, though it is fairly difficult to understand due to the nature of their pronunciation. So this is the tip, listen to accents.

Tip number 8

This is my favourite of all these tips because it is a lot of fun. Watch YouTube videos of people speaking English. Simple, you may think. I already do that, you say. However, did you know you can change the speed of the video? So, in reality, you can slow down or speed up the voice of the person speaking. I often do this if I have to watch a lot of videos in a short space of time. By speeding up the voice I reduce the time I’m watching the video. When I learn other languages, I also do this to listen to their voices as if they are speaking faster. This can also be useful if you slow down the voice when you don’t understand. So use YouTube to learn to understand spoken English more quickly.

Tip number 9

Watch or listen to the news. This is a very useful exercise to help you improve your English listening skills. Why is this useful? Well, first of all, when you watch the news on television very often the images will help you understand more in English. Secondly, and this also applies if you are listening to the news on the radio, the news is repeated many times throughout the day. So, if you don’t understand the news at 8 o’clock in the morning, by listening to it again and again throughout the day, with a little luck, by the end of the day you will understand what is happening in the world. If not, don’t worry. The news rarely changes very much, so the news of tomorrow will most likely talk about very similar subjects: politics; war; jobs and economy; sports and the weather, for example. So, another tip can be to study the vocabulary for these common news topics.

Tip number 10

For my final tip I advise you to plan your responses when listening to someone speak. It’s all very well when you are able to understand what someone is saying. However, not knowing how to reply can leave you without anything to say. So plan your responses.

That’s all from me. I hope you enjoyed this article.

Thanks for reading.


Teacher Dominic

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