Practice your English listening skills
By engaging in a conversation, you are immediately testing your listening skills. But what if you hardly ever have the chance to speak English?
You can take some steps to build up confidence in understanding foreign accents before an important phone call, or going to a meeting, training course or social event.
Here are a few movie review sites to help:
Rotten Tomatoes – an all-in-one movie informational website famous for giving red tomatoes for movies enjoyed by critics and green ones which are not.
Roger Ebert’s Great Movies – a selection of the famous American movie critic’s favorite movies of all time
Here are 6 tips:
1. Allow your ear to get used to the language: listen to music, sports, news in English while you work out, cook or relax. This is to get used to the sound of the language. Not for comprehension purposes.
2. Find the lyrics to a song you like in English and practice pronouncing the words or singing the words like the artist does. Look up any words you do not understand. Folk pop music is a genre where the lyrics are the main focus, so it’s usually not so difficult to understand. Current pop folk artists include:
- Christina Perri: A Thousand Years
- James Blunt: Monsters
- George Esra: Hold My Girl
- Ed Sheeran (without lyrics but for some fun: car karaoke)
3. Listen to podcasts that are designed for your English language level. Choose a voice you find pleasant to listen to. If you are used to the American accent, but you’re going to meet someone from London, then choose a British podcast. Also, try listening to podcasts that require you to concentrate to challenge yourself, pushing yourself to the next level.
Here are a few podcasts specifically created for English learners:
- ESL Pod (American English)
- ESL Culips (American English)
- BBC Learn (British English)
- 6 Minute English (British English based on BBC Radio)
4. Watch video clips on YouTube on topics that interest you. There are many which come with a listening transcript or subtitles to make it easier to follow when they speak too fast, use words you are unfamiliar with or their pronunciation is different to what you are used to.
Here are a few video clip sites I can recommend:
- FiftyFiftyFilm a Zurich video production company has their own YouTube channel that shares their own video clips produced locally as well as a well-thought-out compilation of others. Hard not to keep watching!
- TED Talks great presentations about big ideas
- VOA (Voice of America) American radio station broadcasted around the world
- BBC Reel (Many videos in foreign languages but with English subtitles)
5. Take it the next step: watch longer programs, movies and the news. If you are going to a 5-day seminar where you are only going to hear English all day long – it’s going to be tiring. Get your brain used to this kind of stimulus by listening and concentrating on comprehending a message for longer stints of time.
Movies or shows with lots of dialogue and of course, the news or political debate discussions will help you to stretch your concentration skills. Make sure to add something light and fun from time to time, though, to keep yourself going.
6. Turn your listening practice into an active vocabulary learning exercise: take note of new words, look them up, use them in a sentence and if you can, get a native speaker to check if you have used it correctly. Then, read the transcripts out loud while recording your voice. You can then play it back to listen and self-correct.
This becomes a listening and speaking exercise. The more effort you put in, the more you will gain from your efforts.
Hope you have found these tips helpful. We do offer free listening exercises and more through our monthly newsletter. Why not sign up to receive our upcoming issue?
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Some great companies and their staff
Long established in the Zurich Area, The Boston School has provided lessons in a variety of towns across Switzerland.
It has also meant we have helped staff in different business sectors from banking and chemicals to precision parts and sanitaryware wholesaling.