Listening Skills

Listening plays a huge part in learning any language. The first thing you did as a child was listen - you couldn't talk, or write or speak, so you listened. Unfortunately as we grow up a lot of us lose the skill of listening, but like most things, it is something you can improve on.

The first thing to do is learn to listen actively". Learning a language is a lot like learning to play a musical instrument. You can listen to music for enjoyment, but if you want to study the music you have to listen more critically. It's the same with languages; you need to make a conscious effort to hear not only the words that someone is saying but, more importantly, pay attention, and try to understand the complete message behind the words.

Watching films, TV shows or videos is a good start. If you're not sure what films to watch, look at our recommended films pages.

If you enjoy reading, why not listen to some of your favourite books? Audio books are available in many different formats, and you can even borrow some audio books from libraries. If you like the classics you will find many available to listen to online, for free.

Films and TV shows are scripted, so listening to talk radio or chat shows can be a bit more challenging. It's all good practise.

Listening to popular music is a great way of learning some new vocabulary and expressions. There are many free radio stations out there, and you can look up the lyrics online.

!On the Network: Every so often we publish a listening session using Spreaker. You can listen to the text and often you can also read the comments on the Network. Previous episodes are archived on YouTube.

!On the Network: You can listen and read on our English blog. Each article has text to voice enabled, just click on the button - you can even speed it up, or slow it down.

!On the Network: Every week or so we read out the News Round Up from the English blog. Members of the Learn English Network can listen to each other read the articles, and leave feedback.

!On the Network: We also select and read out some of the corrected posts from the lessons on Learn English Online.

!On the Network: We run several voice sessions every week. We use different platforms, so check the calendar for more details.

!On the Network: Little and often is a good idea, so try our Interesting Facts pages. Every week we write some interesting facts and there are accompanying sound files for the most interesting ones.

!On the Network: There is always a bit of light-hearted fun on the Have Fun with English pages. There are new videos or listening files every month.

!On the Network: You can join the forum and once you are a Full Member, you can ask Teach to read a short piece of text out loud. Yes, she takes requests.

Go to some TTS (text to speech) web sites and use their free services. Some of the results are surprisingly good.

Start visiting virtual worlds, for example Second Life or Open Sim. Virtual worlds are the one place we've found where you're pretty much guaranteed a conversation, you won't always want to listen to the people you meet, but for every blood sucking vampire who asks if they can bite you, there are at least ten, nice people who just want to socialise, the rest you can easily block. If you want a list of nice places to go, just contact us on the forum or look at some of the places we have already visited (sometimes Sims close, so it's best to ask us).

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