Listening is possibly the most challenging aspect of language learning for people to master due to its complexity. The issue is that the learner cannot control the content that they need to process and can often find it stressful. On account of this, many learners avoid it and tend to focus on other areas. The key is to understand that listening does not need to be difficult, it requires practice and perseverance.
Listen for gist: it is a good idea to listen for general meaning, the gist of something means the “essence” of something. Therefore listening for gist is to focus on the basics of an audio or dialogue (What, Who, Where, When, Why).
Take notes: at the beginning of language learning it is essential to take notes so that you can later look up words and expressions that you have not understood or need to brush up on. It is a good idea to train your listening skills by taking notes of key information and interesting phrases.
Listen for key words: it may sound a little weird, but in fact, most native speakers only list to about 20% of what they hear. They take the key information and use it to continue the conversation. A key skill is being able to withdraw key information and key words from an audio or dialogue.
Dictations: there are two types of dictations. The first is when you listen and write everything that you hear. These tend to be short texts or even single phrases or questions. Secondly there are native level audios, in which the learner simply needs to withdraw the key information.
Have conversations: when holding a conversation, listening can be stressful. That is because in many cases, the listener is more concerned about what they are going to say to be able to process the information that they are listening to. This is why learners must practise real conversations to sharpen up their listening skills.