No matter how long you have been learning English for, it is still possible to find yourself in unfamiliar conversations and hear English phrases that you’ve never heard before. This happens to everyone, including native speakers!
With the uprising trend of globalization, English has been reborn in many forms: different structures are used on the internet compared to those of real life conversations. Business English has gained more importance, and it might happen that if you dial the number of a call centre with a problem, the person answering the phone (speaking in English) will be sitting in a country where English is not their first language.
It is better to be prepared to be able to speak, not only with native speakers of the language, but to those who come from completely different parts of the world and use English in their professional lives.
Fortunately, there are a lot of great ways to improve your listening skills. Let’s take a closer look at them.
1. Learning English via Skype
This is not the first time I’ve suggested that you choose a teacher and try out online classes. There are advantages and drawbacks too (as there are with everything!), but there is no doubt that it is one of the most efficient ways to improve your listening skills. You don’t even have to go that far, just to the location of your laptop or smartphone (as long as you have an internet connection). If you have foreign friends or colleagues, use every opportunity to speak with them in English through Skype. No matter where in the world they are!
2. Listen to audiobooks!
Audiobooks are a great source for pronunciation practice and speech improvement. They also provide a pleasant way of spending your free time and learning with ease!
By this, I mean watch British and American television serials or dramas and movies in English! Search for cinemas that show movies with subtitles! Don’t wait until your next serial is dubbed! Subscribe to TV channels that broadcast your favourite serials, and if you buy the DVD edition watch it in English. If you find it too difficult, use English subtitles at the same time! Recent statistics have shown, countries that broadcast TV shows, movies and serials with subtitles have more citizens speaking foreign languages.
4. Attend English classes!
This seems pretty obvious doesn’t it? But there is a difference between language classes. Try to stick to groups and teachers that only speak in English. If you cannot join a multinational class or cannot afford to pay for a native English-speaking teacher, don’t forget that you can learn from your classmates through their speech, and even from mistakes they make, regardless of which country they are from.
5. Go online!
The Internet has become a huge playground for English learners. I’ve collected some web pages that are brimming with listening exercises for you. ESL-cyber labs is free with dozens of listening scripts, pre and post listening exercises and with an online checker.
If you prefer visual learning, use videos such as the listening tasks on Esolcourses.com, and select your favourite amongst the different topics they offer.
As a visual learner myself, I would also recommend you learn English using English Central‘s amazing video materials. They help you to learn new words, improve your listening and speaking skills.
Last but not least, Youtube is always at hand. When you have some free time, search for your favourite song (find a version with lyrics in English) and try to understand it.
Do you know any other useful websites for listening practice? Let us know!