"Could you please repeat that?” Does this sound familiar? Maybe someone is using a lot of slang, talking too fast, or has an accent you aren’t family with. It can be difficult to hear and understand what native English speakers are saying. Here are some tips to help you not just hear what someone says but also understand.
Learn about natural pronunciations:
Real, spoken English is not what you’ve probably learned in school. There are a lot of sounds that blend together or aren’t pronounced at all. For example, in school you might have been taught to hear, “What are you doing?” but when you listen to a native English speaker, what they’re really saying is “Whatcha doin’?” Here are some tips to help you improve your listening comprehension!
Tip #1: Watch my video about the 10 most common reductions in English
Tip #2: Listen to short videos (especially TED talks) on a daily basis.
Here are some other great, short YouTube video channels:
Tip #3: Write down what you hear
Write what you hear when you listen to a short video. First, listen to a 30-second section of a Ted Talk, YouTube video, series or movie. Then, listen again. After you’ve listened to it at least two times write down what you here. Start by listening to the first sentence, pause the video, and write what you heard. Continue this exercise with each sentence in the 30 second section of the video. It’s okay if there are some words you don’t understand. Just try to understand the general message of the sentence and leave a gap on your page of the words you don’t understand. Once you’re done listening to the video review the sentences that have gaps and try to use context clues to figure out what the word is that you missed (this helps you notice what you’re not hearing).
Tip #4: Watch a short video without subtitles
This is going to be hard at first but it’ll help you strengthen your active listening skills. This doesn’t mean you need to start by watching a whole movie without subtitles. You can start by just turning off the subtitles for one minute. After you’ve listened to a minute of the video, pause it and write down a brief summary of what you heard (you don’t need to write down every single word). After you’ve done this, listen to the same minute of the video with subtitles to see if you understood the gist. Choosing a movie you've already watched can make this activity much easier.
Tip #5: Listen to a variety of accents and voices in different contexts
This helps you get used to the different ways people speak (i.e., pace, sound, intonation etc.). This will also help you become more comfortable speaking and listening to English in different contexts. For example, having a conversation in a group setting is completely different than one-on-one.
Now is the time for you to start using these tips and improving your listening comprehension in English!