Studying (and teaching) grammar is easy. Vocabulary? Easy peasy! There are even a thousand tricks to learn expressions and phrasal verbs … But what about listening ? Can you teach listening ? Can you learn to listen ?
The answer is… OF COURSE! Of course it can. What happens is that many teachers do not do it , since it is much more difficult. Why?
Because learning to listen requires a lot of patience on the part of the student. Especially at the beginning! If you listen to a language for the first time that you have not heard before, you understand absolutely nothing . And once that barrier is past, there are countless accents and registers! And it is VERY difficult for a non-native to understand all of them.
So it is very important that you follow our letter to the letter …
5 infallible tips to improve your listening
And yes, for those of you who are preparing your exams we have included listening exercises B1 , listening B2 and listening C2 in this article. Let’s see it!
1. GET IN THE RIGHT MINDSET
Mindset means mindset or attitude . What are the four basic ingredients to have a good mindset when facing listening ? These: open-mindedness , realism , patience and motivation .
There is not only an “English”. There are MILLIONS of “English”. And we are not referring to the inhabitants of England, but to dialectal varieties of the language, accents, registers, slang, ways of speaking according to age … And they all sound different! The sooner you get used to the idea of this variety and stop saying things like “I don’t understand Americans,” the better for you. Embrace linguistic variety and be passionate about it. It is very interesting!
You will never understand everything. In fact, if you started to learn English really (as of the Cole and the institute does not usually count here) from the 18 years, it is virtually impossible to reach a point where you understand 100% of what they say all the natives of the world in all the communicative contexts that exist. Not even the natives themselves understand each other! That’s why Can you repeat was invented , please?
You will get it. Never entirely, but you will advance more than you think now. Maybe not today, not tomorrow, not next week. And no, at first you will not be able to watch your favorite series without subtitles. You are going to have to settle for more affordable things. It is what it is! But, if you follow our advice, someday you will be able to do that and more. We assure you.
Be happy 🙂
It is imperative that you enjoy the process of learning to listen . If you don’t, in a few weeks you will be frustrated and you will leave it impossible. If you can do it by yourself or by yourself, great. And, if you can not motivate yourself, it is best to find a teacher or a teacher who knows how to really motivate you while you focus on training your ear.
Do you need someone to motivate you with your English? and you can’t go to our academies?
LEARN ENGLISH FROM ANYWHERE IN SPAIN WITH VAUGHAN TEACHERS
2. MIND THE GAP!
Do you know what the main problem is that we don’t understand other languages when we hear them? Look at this text. There are holes ( gaps ) between words and understand why. If this were followed, it would be much more difficult to understand even if it was in its own language and even if it was actually written that way.
When we speak, we don’t usually leave gaps between words. We unite the sounds. But those holes are there. They really are. Just as your brain has grown accustomed to perceiving them in your native language, so it may become accustomed to perceiving them in English. But it takes time! And above all, practice, sooo much practice. And when we say practice, we mean active listening , not passive listening.
What is active listening and how does it differ from passive listening?
The passive listening (or passive listening ) is what you do when you hear something without paying attention to the whole. For example, it’s what happens when you play a song in English, but you don’t worry about understanding the lyrics. And you know what? Passive listening does not work. It’s no use. Because you are not really listening! And thank goodness it doesn’t work! If not, everyone would listen to English while sleeping and there would be no English academies. Hehe
Now seriously. For listening to work, it has to be active . Ie: active listening . In other words, your brain has to be 100% focused on the task of listening if you want it to do any good. Already, sorry, it sounded better to listen to English while you sleep peacefully … It is what it is! Deal with it!
3. CHOOSE WISELY
Fortunately, there is plenty to choose from… and almost everything is free! But it all depends on your level. Do not start with something too advanced, or you will end up being demotivated. Really. Start with simple things. Here we leave you a list of types of audios in English that you can listen to, ordered from lowest to highest level :
- The Vaughan books
- Vaughan Radio ! Free English classes 24 hours a day, what else do you want?
- Videos from our YouTube channel
- Audiobooks with transcription
- Documentaries (with or without subtitles)
- Interviews on YouTube (with or without subtitles)
- Series and movies (with or without subtitles)
Of course, whatever you choose, make sure it is relevant content for you, either because it interests you, because you like it or because you need it for your work . Yes, this last reason may not always be the most exciting, but it is what will feed you!
4. KEEP IT SHORT, SWEET, AND SEXY
We recommend that you work with audio clips that last between 1 and 3 minutes . Why? Because unless you have a super advanced level, you will end up exhausted or exhausted after working with long audio. In addition, short audios allow you to examine them in depth and repeat as many times as you want , and if you know anything about the Vaughan method , you will already know that repetition is crucial, especially in the basic levels.
Really, working for 30 minutes with an audio of about two minutes is much more effective for your English , in every way, than listening to a 30-minute audio once. Remember what we said about active listening !
And now the question is … how to work an audio practicing active listening? We offer you an exercise. First, choose the level that best suits yours among these three audios:
Listening exercise B1
B2 listening exercise
Listening exercise C1
You already have it? Brilliant! Now, follow these steps, which you can apply to the three clips above or to any other audio you choose:
Step 1: Just Listen
Don’t read anything yet . Hit play and focus on your listening skills. What percentage are you able to understand? Have you been able to catch a single phrase, at least? Do not worry , it is only a first contact, to see how it is. Instead of understanding everything, try to know if the topic is above.
Step 2: Repeat!
Again, UNREAD! Have you caught something new? Have you better understood the main idea of the audio? Either way, repeat three more times .
Step 3: Just Read
Do you remember our second tip? The one with mind the gap ? Well this is where you will find out where the damn holes are. Surely you also discover that this word that you had no idea what it meant was actually two words that you did know, but together. Or maybe three! And you may also be aware that the word that you thought was pronounced like this really has nothing to do with how it sounded in your mind.
We know it, it gives a lot of rage! If you had learned to listen before learning to read in English like the guiris did , everything would be easier; but it wasn’t, was it? Anyway. It is what it is. This is the time to write down the pronunciation of those “you didn’t know” words, to try to guess their meaning from the context and, if you can’t, find them in the dictionary and add them to your to-do list .
Step 4: Listen with the Text
This step is where you are going to join the two stimuli: the auditory and the visual . Enjoy it! Seize it! How do the words sound? How do sounds come together? And a PRO-TIP : If you listen to the text a second time while reading it aloud , your brain will connect the sounds with how your muscles have to move to produce them, so you’ll also be improving your pronunciation . Here we leave the transcripts of the audios above so you can carry out this step.
Listening exercise B1
Veronica loves to play the flute. She started playing when she was eight years old. That was nearly twenty years ago. Now she plays the flute professionally in an orchestra. The orchestra travels a lot. Last year they went on a tour of Europe, stopping in France, Germany, Austria, and finally Italy. During the tour, the members of the orchestra had time off to visit the places in which they were playing. Veronica liked Vienna the most. They stayed there for three days and played two concerts. During the second concert, Veronica played a difficult solo. She was very nervous, but played it perfectly. After the concert, several people came up to her to congratulate her for her playing. The next day, she did some sightseeing in Vienna. She had coffee and a cake in one of Vienna’s famous cafés, which was very expensive, but delicious. And wrote some postcards to send to her family and friends back at home. She also bought some souvenirs as mementos of her success in Vienna, the classical music capital of the world.