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To learn a new language, you must be able to listen well. The more you improve your ability to listen, the more your ability to speak will improve. This is a special part of learning a new language. It is related to how you learned your first language. When you were a child you did a lot of listening before you spoke complete words and sentences. Before you started to speak you were being exposed to your language. “Being exposed” means that you heard your language spoken around you.

There are two types of listening skills and both are important when you want to improve your language skills. General listening skills are your ability to understand meaning. When someone speaks you understand what they want to say. Focused listening skills are your ability to hear particular sounds. Each language has a set of sounds: these are the vowels and consonants specific to the language. When you learn a new language, your brain expands its set of language sounds by listening. Here are a few ways to improve your listening skills.

Listen to Yourself

When you take an English speaking course you will hear the teacher and your classmates speak English. It is also important to be able to listen to yourself. For example, you can use your phone to record new words. When you listen to the recording you can listen for differences between the way you sound and the way your teacher sounds. Don’t be discouraged if they sound different! If you hear a difference that means you are a good listener.

Recording yourself is an easy way to practice listening and speaking

Recording yourself is an easy way to practice listening and speaking

Another idea is to record yourself talking about your day in English. Then you can hear how you sound when you say complete sentences. You will also notice how sounds change naturally depending on the sentence. This exercise has a bonus: you also practice speaking.

Try Watching Movies or Listening to Podcasts After English class

Everyone has an accent and people speak English in many different ways. The more you expose yourself to native speakers, the better you will be at listening. Watching a movie or listening to a podcast is an excellent way to practice listening.

After you watch a movie or listen to a podcast you can summarize what you hear. For example, you can tell a friend what the movie was about, or you can write down what you remember. It may also help to watch a movie twice. The first time you can practice focused listening. Pause and try to repeat words or sentences. The second time, you can use your general listening skills and enjoy the movie.

Speaking and Listening Belong Together

Have a conversation with someone from your English class. Talk about your lives, or role-play if you want to practice a specific set of words. Listen to your conversation partner and, just like before, listen to yourself. The more you speak the more you will have the opportunity to listen. When you speak and listen your brain makes stronger connections with the grammar and vocabulary you learn.

Talking with your classmates can help you improve your listening skills

Talking with your classmates can help you improve your listening skills

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