Your listening skills in language learning are your abilities to understand another person speaking a foreign language. Of course it is very difficult to understand a native speaker speaking at a normal speed. I said difficult, but not impossible. 😉
What’s more, as students you don’t have many opportunities to develop your listening skills in English if you live in a country like Italy, where the language you’re studying is not spoken.
However, technology can be of great help and provide you with extra opportunities, other than the ones created by your English teacher in class, to practise your aural ability to understand the different varieties of English in the world. You should never forget, in fact, that there are many different types of pronunciation of the English language. It’s nothing to worry about… just think it’s the same with every language… think of the different pronunciation of the Italian language that people from the north and the south of Italy have!!! With practice you’ll get used to the different accents people have throughout the world in the English-speaking countries.
So what can you do to further practise your listening skills?
Here are some suggestions…
If you love music and have a favourite English speaking singer or band, you have an excellent opportunity to practise both your listening and speaking skills!!!
You can watch videos of your favourite songs, look for the song lyrics and try to sing them after having carefully listened to the singer’s pronunciation!
The Internet is again a very useful resource for watching short extracts from films or sketches from comedies. Or you can hire a dvd of your favourite British or American film and watch it in English, with or without subtitles.
While listening, you should try to identify, to recognize the words or expressions people in the video or film are saying.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand everything immediately.You will, after some time. Believe me. But for now just try to train your “ear“, i.e., your aural ability, at recognizing and getting used to the sound of the language, to the intonation, to the different stress patterns people utter.
The sooner you get used to these sounds, the quicker you’ll start identifying the shapes of sentences, pick out single words, then short phrases, and so on.
This kind of practise will also be very useful in developing your speaking abilities.
Ready for an experiment?
Step 1. Choose a song, and a film, both in English (of course ;-)).
Step 2. Practise listening/singing the song, or watching a few scenes of the film every day. It is very important that you do this kind of exercise, let’s say, for about 15 to 20 minutes every day over two weeks, as I said before.
But make sure you do it regularly, just like something you would do for your health or for your pleasure.
Step 3. Leave a message here in which you tell us the result of this activity.
And don’t cheat!!! 😉