To improve your English listening skills, you’ll need to develop better listening habits and work on your active listening skills. With practice, you’ll be able to understand native speakers of English more efficiently and keep up with the flow of the conversation.
There are many different ways you can improve your listening skills, but my favorite way is by studying from a variety of sources. If you get used to hearing multiple points of view, then when people speak to you or answer your questions, you’ll be more inclined to listen to what they say.
And being able to listen closely enough so that others will want to continue talking is one step closer to developing great communication skills.
10 Tips to Improve Listening Skills In English
Here are ten tips to help you improve your listening skills in English.
1. Focus on Comprehension
Many students tend to let their minds wander when listening. Although we may think we are being respectful by listening quietly, we aren’t learning anything from what we hear if our mind is wandering.
On top of that, tuning into class discussions can be daunting for beginning English speakers because it involves following rules about formality (i.e., who speaks and when) and understanding concepts like rhetorical structure and tone.
However, once you understand these things, participating becomes more accessible, and you learn more about how native speakers talk together.
To improve your listening skills in English today, focus on comprehension. Ask yourself: What am I hearing? What does it mean? Why is it important? How will I use what I heard? When you listen with purpose, your comprehension improves and your speaking ability.
2. Know What You Want to Listen To
Before turning on your MP3 player or tuning into a podcast, take a moment to think about what you want to hear. If you’re trying to listen for more advanced concepts (such as idioms), choose materials that will match your current level of comprehension.
On the other hand, if you want something more casual and fun (like sitcoms), be sure your academic listening fits that goal. Choosing audio tailored for your own needs makes it easier to listen closely and improve your listening skills.
3. Understand the Purpose of Listening Material
When you listen to new material, there’s usually a purpose. For example, you might be listening for specific facts or trying to figure out a new set of vocabulary. An excellent way to improve your listening skills is by focusing on that goal.
This will help you better understand what you hear and better absorb new information. Pay attention when hearing instructions: We sometimes tune out instructions—even though we should be listening more closely than ever.
The next time someone gives you a series of directions, pay special attention so that if they need clarification, it won’t come as a surprise later down the road. Become familiar with background noises: Ever wonder why it’s so hard for people with iPhones to hear their calls?
It’s because smartphones use noise-canceling technology. In other words, they actively block out background noise. If you want to improve your listening skills, start doing just that—blocking out distractions.
That means turning off the music and closing those extra tabs on your computer screen! Focus on one thing at a time: It can be tempting to multitask while learning something new, but it hinders our ability to retain information effectively.
Instead of checking Facebook every five minutes or going back over notes again and again, focus all of your energy on one thing at a time until it becomes second nature (and then move on to something else).
Practice makes perfect: No matter how many tips I give you about improving your listening skills in English, nothing beats practice!
4. Use Active Recall Strategies
Active recall strategies help us take what we’ve learned and apply it to our everyday lives. Active recall strategies include:
underlining key points, writing out specific details or significant concepts on a separate sheet of paper, taking notes or recording important information, highlighting key vocabulary or phrases that may be particularly useful in conversation and practice with a language partner.
One thing’s for sure: if you’re learning how to improve your listening skills in English, active recall techniques will make you a more successful listener!
5. Make Predictions
When it comes to improving your listening skills, you’re not getting better overnight. The only way that’s going to happen is by improving your predictions. Every time you listen, you should be trying to predict what comes next.
If you can accurately predict what’s coming next, then that means that you are very likely familiar with whatever subject matter is being discussed. Then all you have left is to pay attention to any details that might differ from your prediction.
When you try making predictions about what comes next in a conversation or even a lecture, try and think about how confident you are about each one of those predictions.
As soon as one of your predictions is wrong – correct it! It’s important to know where you went wrong so that you don’t make similar mistakes again.
Please Pay Attention: This is an obvious one, but it’s worth mentioning because frequently, people will think they are doing well at predicting what comes next, but they aren’t paying attention because they’re too busy thinking about something else entirely.
So pay close attention to everything that happens around you and ask yourself if there’s anything that could come up later on in your conversation/lecture/etc. Focus on Specific Parts:
There’s no need to focus on everything at once, especially if something more interesting has just been said or done (or vice versa). It’s okay to ignore certain parts of a conversation/lecture/etc.
6. Use Visualization Techniques
Studies have shown that imagining something can make you more likely to achieve it. For example, if you imagine yourself achieving some outcome, you’re more likely to work toward that goal and succeed than if you never imagine it at all.
The same is true for listening skills. If you regularly picture people speaking clearly and pronounce words perfectly, your mind will begin helping you improve your listening skills.
Meditate each day on specific examples of clear speech or precise pronunciation, and before long, your brain will start making subtle adjustments toward a clearer understanding of spoken English.
Over time, these changes will improve your ability to listen carefully and comprehend what’s being said around you.
7. Get Familiar with Non-Native Pronunciation
Many English speakers are natively proficient in their language and don’t realize how difficult it can be for a non-native speaker. By learning how non-native speakers pronounce words, you can improve your listening skills when interacting with them.
It will help you understand them better and make you a more empathetic person as well. Just pay attention to your responses in conversations with people from other cultures and try repeating their pronunciations for yourself; get familiar with what’s different about their accents.
Then, listen closely next time someone from another country speaks to you—try mimicking those identical pronunciations and practice hearing through those barriers of difference. With some time and practice, we can all learn how to improve our listening skills!
8. Read Aloud to Practice Intonation and Pace
We all know how important it is to speak clearly with correct grammar, intonation, and pace. Many learners are surprised to discover that improving their speaking and listening skills can improve their pronunciation, mainly if they focus on reading aloud.
To improve your listening skills in general (and pronunciation, too), read a passage aloud and listen back for incorrect intonation or poor pacing. Listen closely—do you speed up when speaking? Do you slur words together?
By paying attention while you read aloud, you’ll be able to spot common errors that aren’t noticeable when we speak off-the-cuff or talk around friends. Don’t expect perfection—you’ll make mistakes but try your best!
9. Study From a Variety of Sources
To improve your listening skills, it’s essential to study from various sources. You can learn how conversations flow by watching British TV series or movies and practicing with native speakers. You can also keep up with current events by reading magazines and newspapers.
The more you listen, read, speak and write, the more– you’ll be able to experience and master these conversational techniques quickly and without too much effort.
Try something new every day (or week) to improve your listening skills. Even when it comes to learning a language like English, there’s no shortcut around hours of practice!
It takes consistent training to improve speaking and listening abilities, so make sure you regularly make time for those activities. If you don’t have access to native speakers, find someone fluent in English as well as your target language so that they can help guide you through conversations.
Today, many online tools will allow you to learn another language by listening, such as podcasts or online radio stations that play music while broadcasting news segments throughout the day.
This is one of my favorite ways to learn English vocabulary because I often find myself singing along with songs while improving my ability to understand them!
10. Record Yourself and Analyze Your Performance
Recording yourself and listening back is an effective way to improve your listening skills. Sometimes we can mishear something, or we’re unsure what was said. It’s always better when you have a recording to make sense of it without relying on your memory.
Even if you do not understand everything, try repeatedly rewinding until you start understanding what is being said. After a few listens, you’ll be amazed at how much improvement there is! Keep in mind that certain things will only improve with practice, as with any language skill.
While you can read about improving your listening skills, it will only help if you put them into practice regularly.
For those interested in learning English as a second language, getting a grasp on listening skills can be key to improving your fluency.
It’s not enough to understand that your teacher is telling you something; you need to process what you’re hearing, which often comes from hearing it repeatedly. Read more about these ten tips for improving your listening skills here.
Azizul Hakim is the founder & CEO of englishfinders.com. He is a passionate writer, English instructor, and content creator. He has completed his graduation and post-graduation in English language and literature.