If you ask English learners, especially those are beginners, “What is the most difficult skill when studying English ?”, the common answer you may receive is “Listening”. Indeed, for a non-native speaker, listening to the native ones talking in English with fast speed is a big challenge. This, gradually, turns into a fear that prevents people from improving their English communication. How can you communicate with others in English when you even cannot understand what they are saying about?
Actually, “practice makes perfect”, and everything needs time. Hence; all you have to do is listen to English a lot and turn it into a daily habit. However, is practising over and over again improve your skills fast? How to listen correctly and improve your English listening skills most effectively? In this writing, Learn English Fun Way will introduce to you six Masecret tips, thanks to which, you will not only conquer the fear but also become an English lover!
6 Tips To Overcome The Fear Of Listening To English
1, Listening to your favorite topics
You may have ever been fascinated with watching, listening, learning about your favorite topics to the point of forgetting all the time, and not feeling tired, right?. It could be a late-night soccer game, a cooking or baking competition, a make-up or hairdressing video, cartoons, comedies and vlogs, TV shows, etc.
However, when taking a little time to open the book, turn on the tape to listen to English, your inspiration will drop downhill. When you have listened for 5 minutes, you start yawning; listen to another 5 minutes, even though your ear seems to be listening, your mind is travelling somewhere. This is quite normal; you must be very determined to have enough patience and discipline to listen to the boring content in English textbooks.
The solution for you to watch what you love and practice listening to English is to combine these two things together.
Listening to English on favorite topics will make it easy for you to learn, you will always have great interest, which is a necessary condition to help you be able to maintain daily listening English habit.
Why not spend some time searching for Youtube videos of your favorite topics in English and listen to them with all passion?
One of my favorite videos to learn English is the very attractive reality TV shows from countries like USA, UK, Australia.
- Regarding Music and Entertainment, there are: Got Talent, Next Top Model, So you think you can dance
- Regarding Cooking, there are: Master Chief, Hell’s Kitchen
- Regarding Business, there are: The Apprentice, Shark Tank
- Regarding Adventure, one of the best option is Amazing Race
The reality shows are designed and choreographed to be entertaining and dramatic, capturing the attention of the viewers in each episode. I’m sure that you guys will feel super excited and watch them without feeling tired and bored.
In order to achieve positive result in listening English, when watching these TV programs, you should not watch subtitles. Do not try to translate every sentence you hear into your mother tongue, but try to guess the meaning through the context. If you still can not understand, you can “cheat” a little bit by clicking on the “CC” on Youtube to display English subtitles automatically with 90% accuracy.
These reality TV programs will give you the most natural view of how native speakers use language to communicate in different contexts.
With a number of in-depth topics such as cooking, business and fashion, they also provide you with the vocabulary for those topics visually and vividly.
In addition to the TV shows, speeches by famous speakers also bring positive emotions and great inspirations for you to watch. I highly recommend you to watch the following speech by Steve Job.
2, Choose the suitable listening content for your English level
Practicing listening a lot is good, but if the content is too hard, the subject is too in-depth, you will only able to get used to the sounds without understanding nothing. For a long time, this will make you feel depressed, even get obsessive fear of listening to English.
For a 4-year-old native English speaker, no one would let him practice listening by giving him CNN program, or reading Harry Potter to him, but instead choosing simple, appropriate content that is suitable for their qualification.
When listening to a content, the ideal one to help you develop listening comprehension is that you must understand 80% of the whole content.
Whether it is in the form of a radio show, podcast, movies, TV show, it should not be too hard. If you listen to a content that you only understand about 60%, you will surely feel discouraged, and become bored right away. If you can understand 100% the content, it will also boring for you to learn. Trying to find the listening content that is appropriate for the level, not too easy, nor too hard, aiming at 80% is ideal.
To choose yourself a suitable listening content, it is necessary to know where your current level is. The most common standard English assessment is according to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). According to this framework, English proficiency is divided into 6 levels from low to high including: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2.
This 10-minute listening test provides a relatively accurate assessment of your English listening skills. Once you know where your level is, it will be easy for you to find listening content that suits your level. You can google to search for CEFR listening tracks with the keyword “English listening material for CEFR level” or simply “[basic / advanced] listening material”.
3, Listen – Read – Repeat
First, when listening to something, try to listen, not translate it into your mother, just try to understand the main ideas. Then listen again and read the transcript at the same time.
It sounds simple, but this is a very important process, when listening and reading at the same time, the brain will match the sounds that we listen with the letter. This helps us to revise vocabulary, as well as learn new words in the form of sounds.
Finally, re-read the transcript aloud. When repeating, copy entirely the speaker’s voice, every stress, every stop. In doing so, you have listened to the text while combining multiple senses together, ears listening, eyes reading, and a mouth speaking. The neuronal links in your English studying will greatly improve when you do this technique regularly.
4, Write down the words you listen
This method is called “Transcription Technique”. In basic form, the Transcription Technique has just two steps: Listen to a recording in your target language, and transcribe (write down) the recording as you listen. Record yourself speaking the text that you’ve written down. You then repeat these two steps until you’ve mastered that piece of text.
During the first step (listening and transcribing), I recommend that you listen to a recording in short segments, pausing and repeating the recording regularly to type or write what you hear. Once your transcript is complete, check that it’s correct before you record yourself reading it aloud.
This method requires great determination and perseverance, because with a 3-minute listening test, you will probably have to listen to 10 to 20 times to listen and copy about 80% to 90% content.
However, the final result is well worth, you will memorize new words very quickly, your writing and spelling skills will also greatly improve. This method is suitable for those who aim to take certificates that require writing skills such as TOEFL, IELTS.
5, Make guesses
When listening to English, everyone wants to be able to confidently listen 100% the whole content. Actually, for a non-native speaker to learn English, it is very difficult to expect complete confidence in listening comprehension, so a guessing skill is essential.
- To be able to hear well, the first guess is to guess what you are about to listen, the purpose is to make the necessary mental preparation and prepare related vocabulary.
For example, in this sound track “Men Escape American High Security Prison”. When reading the title, even though you don’t know what it talks about, but you can guess some of its content based on words like “prison”, “escape from”. Thanks to this, you can guess in your mind that you are going to listen about a content related to the prison.
- The second guess is to guess the main idea.
Guessing the main idea while listening may seem unlucky, but assist a lot in listening to the main idea of the listening text. This can be called “a trial and error technique”. When listening to insufficient data to get the main idea, you need to guess one of the main ideas based on what you’ve heard. This will help you get the necessary comparison. If your guess is right, the more you listen, the more you will find supportive arguments. If your guess is wrong, the more you listen, the more the main idea will actually reveal.
- The third guess is to guess meanings of words.
When listening, there will be many new words we have never met before, do not try to understand the word and fall behind the rhythm of the listening. Keep listening, if the word is an important word, in the next paragraph there will be more information to clarify the wordor repeat the word. Based on these additional information, you can partially guess the approximate meaning of the word heard.
6, Practice listening to English everyday
Finally, daily, continuously and regularly listening to English is my reminder. English needs a long and steady time of accumulation before we can achieve a clear result.
There is no shortcut here, but the only effort, perseverance and determination. All the tips I introduced above; all the techniques used and mastered by English learners are useless if you don’t practice listening to English every day.
Try to turn your English listening into an indispensable habit like brushing your teeth, washing your face, and showering every day. Listening time every day may be more or less, but you must keep listening, if you skip a day, you will give up two days, three days, then one week and then quit immediately.
Good luck to you! Thank you for reading and see you in the next writing!