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How to improve your listening skills

Listening is such an important aspect of language learning. It's the skill that I have always found the most difficult to master. I have a tendency to focus on the one word that I don't understand rather than the twenty words that I do. I find accents difficult to decipher and I'm not very good at guessing what people are talking about from the context. This all means that I have to work hard at improving my listening skills. Fortunately, living in Switzerland I am surrounded by different languages and am able to practice my German regularly by watching television, listening to the radio and simply talking to the people I know.


If you want to improve your English listening skills there are lots of things to do. You'll hear lots of English voices in big cities like Zurich and you can maybe meet up with an English speaker to practice. There are also millions of resources on the internet to help you.


The two sites that I recommend to my students most frequently are BBC 6-minute English and TED Talks. 6-Minute English is especially good for lower level learners who want to practice regularly and increase their vocabulary. TED talks are more advanced but the subtitles and transcripts will help you to understand them. Here are some of the TED talks we've discussed in my conversation classes.


Your body language may shape who you are - Amy Cuddy

Inside the mind of a master procrastinator - Tim Urban

Do schools kill creativity? - Sir Ken Robinson


There are also lots of podcasts that might be interesting. Try to find a topic that you are interested in and listen every day!


The Word of Mouth podcast is about words and the way that we use them.

In our Time is a BBC podcast about history.

The Why Factor is another BBC podcast, talking about everyday objects and stories. I particularly liked this episode entitled 'Why do we text not talk'

If you want to listen to American English, you can check out the NPR site and if you would like to hear Australian accents, have a look at ABC.


Of course another way to improve your listening skills is to join an English class where you will hear the teacher and, if you join a group class other learners, using English.


Contact us to arrange a free trial lesson.