sexta-feira, 18 de março de 2011

How to improve your listening skills

Hi, sweets!
When we start studying English as a second language, we found out it's not easy to develop the listening skills. I mean, our English is progressing well, the grammar is now familiar, the reading comprehension is no problem, we are communicating quite fluently, but: Listening is STILL a problem! Then, we start thinking that's so hard to understand English and because of that most of us simply give up.
If this situation seems familiar to you, don't worry! First of all, remember that you are not alone. Listening comprehension is probably the most difficult task for almost all learners of English as a foreign language. So, now you know you are not alone! OK. The most important thing is to listen, and that means as often as possible. The next step is to find listening resources. This is where the Internet really comes to be useful as a tool for English students. First you need to:

  • Accept the fact that you are not going to understand everything.
  • Keep cool when you do not understand - even if you continue to not understand for a long time.
  • Do not translate into your native language.Translating creates a barrier between yourself and the person who is speaking.
  • Listen for the gist (noun=general idea) of the conversation. Don't concentrate on detail until you have understood the main ideas.  
As I said earlier, the internet is an important tool to find listening resources as well as songs and films. So, you can follow these tips:
1. Make sure you have the right software to take advantage what of is available on the www. You can    download players and find links to online radio stations at,, and You can subscribe to podcasts and radio stations on iTunes too.

2. Films in English are an excellent language resource. You can download them without subtitles or watch the DVD all the way through in English only. You can follow my tips on how to use films to improve your English (Can I improve my English watching movies?).

3. Listening while reading is a good idea too. There are lots of audio books on the market. There are also some fun podcasts on the Have Fun with English site and on the Interesting Facts site. Listening to adverts can help too. They're nice and short!

4. Keep up to date with current events and watch an English-language news station, such as BBC World. Watch news reports on events you are already aware of.

5. Find out how to switch languages on your TV. If you have digital or satellite TV, there are several channels that broadcast in multiple languages. Eurosport is one and Euronews is another, You should be able to set these to the English language.

6. You can go on Audio-Língua (, a site's languages that offers mp3 recordings in several languages. Choose the language you want to listen to and start practicing!

Finally, think for a moment about your friends, family and colleagues. When they speak in your native tongue, do they repeat themselves? I don't mean literally (word for word), I mean the general idea. If they are like most people I have met, they probably do. That means that whenever you listen to someone speaking, it is very likely that he/she will repeat the information, giving you a second, third or even fourth chance to understand what has been said.

By remaining calm, allowing yourself to notunderstand, and not translating while listening, your brain is free to concentrate on the most important thing: Understanding English in English. 

I hope this will help!

Teacher Jô

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