How to Improve Your English Listening Skills
The ability to perceive oral speech is one of the most important skills for communication in aany language. That’s why international exams in English necessarily include listening comprehension. To pass the test, you need to properly prepare for English listening comprehension: this is probably the easiest and most interesting part of exam preparation.
How Listening Comprehension Works
Listening is an exercise that assesses listening comprehension. It may be a question, a conversation between several students, or a simple reading aloud of a text to be retold. A competent teacher conducts listening comprehension in English regularly, not just for tests. Only in this way will students learn to perceive other people’s spoken language and speak on their own.
Listening comprehension may include a variety of exercises:
- selecting one correct answer from several choices,
- Determining correct or incorrect statements about the listened text,
- arranging sentences from the text in the correct order, etc.
In individual tests (such as end-of-semester examinations) you may be asked questions. As for me, I always retell the text I have heard, do my essay based on its storyand discuss its main meaning.
Keep in mind that listening comprehension may vary from major to major. If you are studying English as a general subject, you will be read the text a few times at a slow pace and maybe excuse a few mistakes. Most likely, you will have only one attempt to listen to the text and a greater variety of assignments.
Listening training consists of listening to spoken language. This can be done in a variety of ways:
- Listening to English-language songs. Give preference to artists whose native language is English, so you get used to the correct pronunciation.
- Small audiobooks will allow you to get used to the plot texts. Especially convenient that they can be checked against the Russian version.
- Watch videos: news releases, video bloggers, podcasts – choose anything that suits your interests.
To make sure these techniques don’t go to waste, make up your assignments. This can be a retelling of what you’ve heard, answers to pre-prepared questions, or a short essay with your own opinion and conclusions from what you’ve heard. In the beginning, it will be enough just to write out unfamiliar words and look for their meaning, so that next time they will not stump you.
Try to find out in advance from your teacher what types of tasks you can expect in the exam. It is worth practicing them at home in a relaxed atmosphere, with the texts that you have chosen yourself. And if the tasks seem too easy to you, try to gradually increase the speed at which you can reproduce the texts. If you learn to parse live speech at a speed of one and a half or two times faster, then you won’t have any problems with passing the listening comprehension.
There are also more traditional ways to prepare. Listening exercises are easy to find on the Internet: on educational sites and social networks. If necessary, you can contact a tutor, with whom you can study remotely via video link. In addition, there are many educational sites for English, including those with teacher support. And the easiest option is to ask friends and classmates to take turns reading and paraphrasing texts together. That way you can get accustomed to different people speaking and practice speaking English a little more.
What to Keep in Mind
If you can, use drafts and write down everything you have time for. You don’t have to write in English in full, either: use the same techniques that help you save time in lectures.
You’re lucky if the teacher told you in advance what the assignment will be. You may be given questions that you will have to answer or a plan for which you will have to prepare a paraphrase. In this case, highlight the keywords from the task: they are worth paying attention to when you first listen to the text. Don’t be shy to write down the phrase you heard right away: it will help in preparing the task.
If you can listen to the text twice, make sure you take advantage of this. The second time you listen to it, check how completely and correctly you wrote it down the first time.
The prospect of listening usually scares students who have little practice in class. However, it can be quite easy and fun to prepare for such a test. You’re playing music or watching the news anyway-why not do it in English? Of course, it won’t be easy at first and you’ll have to turn to a dictionary or translator often. But after a few days of actively listening to the texts, it will be much easier for you to navigate in a foreign language.