listening-recording-deviceOne of the largest inhibitors for students is often mental block. While listening, a student suddenly decides that he or she doesn’t understand what is being said. At this point, many students just tune out or get caught up in an internal dialogue trying translate a specific word. Some students convince themselves that they are not able to understand spoken English well and create problems for themselves.

 

Strategies:

 

First of all, remember that you are not alone. Listening comprehension is probably the most difficult task (noun=exercise, job) for almost all learners of English as a foreign language. The most important thing is to listen, and that means as often as possible.

Translating creates a barrier between yourself and the person who is speaking

While you are listening to another person speaking a foreign language (English in this case), the temptation is to immediately translate into your native language. This temptation becomes much stronger when you hear a word you don’t understand. This is only natural as we want to understand everything that is said. However, when you translate into your native language, you are taking the focus of your attention away from the speaker and concentrating on the translation process taking place in your brain. This would be fine if you could put the speaker on hold (phrasal verb=to make a person wait). In real life however, the person continues talking while you translate. This situation obviously leads to less -not more- understanding.

Most people repeat themselves

Think for a moment about your friends, family and colleagues. When they speak in your native tongue, do they repeat themselves? I don’t mean literally (adverb=word for word), I mean the general idea. If they are like most people I have met, they probably do. That means that whenever you listen to someone speaking, it is very likely (adjective=probable) that he/she will repeat the information, giving you a second, third or even fourth chance to understand what has been said.

By remaining calm, allowing yourself to not understand, and not translating while listening, your brain is free to concentrate on the most important thing: Understanding English in English.

Tips:

 

* Listen to something you enjoy: Probably the greatest advantage about using the Internet to improve your listening skills is that you can choose what you would like to listen to and how many and times you would like to listen to it. By listening to something you enjoy, you are also likely to know a lot more of the vocabulary required!

 

* Listen for Keywords: Use keywords (noun=principal words) or keyphrases to help you understand the general ideas. If you understand “New York”, “business trip”, “last year” you can assume (verb=to take for granted, suppose) that the person is speaking about a business trip to New York last year. This may seem obvious to you, but remember that understanding the main idea will help you to understand the detail as the person continues to speak.

 

* Listen for Context: Let’s imagine that your English speaking friend says “…I bought this great tuner at JR’s. It was really cheap and now I can finally listen to National Public Radio broadcasts.” You don’t understand what a tuner is. If you focus on the word tuner you might become frustrated. However, if you think in context (noun=the situation explained during the conversation) you probably will understand. For example; bought is the past of buy, listen is no problem and radio is obvious. Now you understand: He bought something – the tuner– to listen to the radio. A tuner must be a kind of radio! This is a simple example but it demonstrates what you need to focus on: Not the word that you don’t understand, but the words you do understand.

 

Listening needs a great amount of practice and patience. Allow yourself the luxury of not becoming nervous when you do not understand, and you will be surprised by how quickly you do begin to understand.

 

By Kenneth Beare, adapted from About.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: