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How to be a better listener

You spend more time in school listening than doing any other activity. It is important that you understand most of what you hear, so that you can learn about your different subjects and at the same time improve your English. In order for you to become a better listener, look first at the following list. It contains many of the things that can make it hard for you to understand what you hear:

Any one of the above problems alone can make it difficult for you to understand. But very often you are faced with two or three of them together. For example, you may be in a lesson where the teacher is talking quickly and in complicated English about a topic you know nothing about. Then your chances of understanding will be small.

However, there are quite a few things you can do to improve your comprehension of what you hear. These are listed below:

If you do all these things, it will help you to become a better listener in class. But you can practise your listening understanding outside of the classroom, too. For example, you can borrow cassettes with stories to listen to at home, or try to understand the words of the pop songs you like.

Watching English language TV or videos is a great way to improve your listening skills because what you see can help you understand what you hear. Even better is to watch DVDs with the English subtitles turned on. Or how about listening to a podcast on the internet? [Go to an ESL podcast website.]

Working on increasing your vocabulary will also help you to become a better listener.

Finally, remember this: the more you speak to people, the more they will speak back to you. Talking with other students is a great way of getting lots of extra listening practice!


Frankfurt International School: Art and artists. (Click to see at full size.)