The first thing to mention is when We refer to improving listening skills, we are talking about speaking and listening skills, they fall under the same category and are impossible to separate. In this post I am going to talk about things that teachers of English should know and share with language learners so that they can improve their listening skills.
It is thought that listening is one of the hardest things to improve, but why is it so complicated? How can We improve? Listening is complicated because it requieres you to perform various tasks at the same time; it is like when you are learning to drive a car, it seems like there are too many things to do at once. So, what’s the key? Try breaking it down into parts. Look at the vocabulary as one element, the speed, the grammar and the context. When we are choosing listening material you need to consider various things: the level, vocabulary and speed of the piece. When you are at a beginner level PREPARATION is essential. It is far easier to understand something if you know and understand the topic before hand. Don’t be afraid to thoroughly analyse the text before listening, and don’t be afraid to listen more than once. When you get to an upper intermediate or advanced level you are going to need to use movies, songs or TV programmes; try watching things that you have already seen in your own language and watch it with subtitles (in English). Use it as a learning resource and of course, don’t be afraid to watch things more than once. I personally used to watch episodes of my favourite series, while watching I used to write down all of the expressions or phrases that I didn’t understand, look them up afterwards and then repeat the process. I had to accept that for a long time I wouldn’t understand everything, my goal was to understand (just) enough to be able to understand and then I built from there.
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There is a huge importance of enjoyment, students need to enjoy what they are doing. Haven’t you ever noticed that it is easy to understand and remember the words to a song you like? Even songs that are in a foreign language. Also, it is easy to remember a quote by someone you admire. This is because you enjoy them! When we are fond of something, we are more relaxed and take it in better, we don’t tend to put as much pressure on ourselves. This is a big factor in the learning process, as anxiety impedes learning.
This brings me to my next point, cosistency. It is really important to practice, little and often is the key (see The Importance of Listening: Comprehensible Input for more information). To avoid getting bored you will need to encourage your students to listen in various ways, such as TV, music, exercises and face to face conversation. The important thing is that students listen to English.
Teaching tips: Persevere, students will improve if they are given the right tools and motivation. Encourage students to listen outside of the classroom, to listen to things, topics and songs that they enjoy. This will create a sense of comfort and also students won´t mind the repetetiveness of tasks.