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How to Improve English listening

A lot of students ask me how they can improve their English listening. Many people have a good English vocabulary but they can’t understand because the speaking is too fast for them to listen to. The funny thing is that they still keep trying to build their vocabulary, hoping this will improve their English listening.

You need to know that in order to improve your English listening ability you need to spend more time listening to English. Reading will improve your vocabulary but that’s often not the problem when it comes to improving listening. Think about it. It’s common that you could know all the words of a sentence if you read it, but if you only heard it in regular speed you won’t catch the meaning. Why is that? I hear a lot of people say that “the English speaking is too fast”. Unfortunately, people are not going to change the speed they speak English. You should instead look think of the problem is “your listening is too slow”.

When native speakers are listening to English spoken quickly as on CNN, they don’t listen to every word and think of the meaning of each word. That would take much too long and they also wouldn’t be able to understand. Their brains are good at listening to only the important words and getting a feel for the general meaning. It’s very hard to explain how to do that. If you are really good at a sport or a musical instrument, it’s hard to explain how you are doing it exactly, but one thing is for sure, you need to practice a lot before you will be good. It’s quite similar with improving English listening. Even though the progress seems slow, you are certainly improving your listening.

It’s important to listen to things that are challenging for you but not impossible. If you are listening to something too easy you won’t improve your listening. If you are listening to CNN and can almost understand nothing, you won’t improve your listening very quickly that way. If you have a chance, it’s a good idea to practice with TV shows like friend’s. Our podcasts are also designed to help you improve your English listening. It’s good to read the dialogue on the website as well as listen so that you know exactly what is being said. Keep practicing and don’t give up. You will certainly improve your English listening that way.


50 Responses to “How to Improve English listening”

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  3. Kena Says:

    i think it’s very hard to improve listening,i practice everyday.the progress is very very slow .

  4. Nitin Says:

    I totally agree. To improve listening you have to listen carefully to what people say. But it is not going to improve your improve your speaking. To improve that, you will have to speak a lot. Believe me I have learned many slangs and idioms in English. I understand them pretty well when other people use it. But when comes time for me to use it I do not even recall them. But recently after reading this post it finally clicked it in my mind that that I will have to talk in English more and more to actually be able to recall them. Practice is the only thing which will improve me. Thanks again guys for great service!

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  8. Himanshu Chamoli Says:

    Keep the good work going guys…i really liked your talk show clippings,would like to see more of them…..

  9. santosh Says:

    how the improve the all the feild of the english

  10. santosh Says:

    good messages

  11. Vinicius Says:

    Many people stop studying because they can’t easily see how much they improve…
    Regarding Enlgish, the challenging part “in most of times” is to improve the listening ability. I know how difficult it is though as you said we will only start understanding with we practice…

    Thank you for your podcast, and keep up with the good work…

  12. jamil Says:

    thank you for this wonderful tread .. i absolutelly very grateful .. what you have said is very important and interesting

    keep up this beauiful work

  13. Mustafa Sazak Says:

    Thank you very much. I hope it will help me better to improve my listening ability.

  14. Sam Says:

    Thank you, good article

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  17. Lola Allen Says:

    i always watch current events on TV and also read newspapers daily to keep myself updated”.:

  18. raju Says:

    I like this tip of a person who has written about how to improve listening power , really too good , and i will follow these instructions , inshallah

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    i always stay updated about current events, specially disasters that happens around the world`~,

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    i love hearing news specially when it talks about current events,”

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  24. kiana Says:

    thanks for useful tips.im an English learner.you have mentioned it’s a good idea to listen to news but news is very difficult for me. i have a question. i’ll appreciate it if you reply me.when i listen to something and i couldn’t underestand some words, what should i do? should i look at the transcription?
    please help me

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