Tips to improve listening

To listen and understand what is being said is a very important part of learning a new language. It’s a skill that is particularly hard to practice if you don’t live in a country where that language is spoken or if you don’t have native speaker friends. Luckily, there are many ways to improve your English listening skills right where you are.

Always remember that it is normal to not understand everything. DO NOT get frustrated! We recommend you listen for key words that give you a general idea of what the audio is saying. Often speakers will use key phrases like “the main point is…”, so make sure you look for them. Always pay close attention to the speaker; body language and facial expression can communicate a lot and will make it easier for you to grasp meaning.

An easy way to begin is by watching commercials. These are short and may include a lot of slang and idioms that will enrich the way you speak. While watching, think of the message the images and the audio are trying to convey. Here are some funny ones.

We all love music/movies/books and have a favorite artist/singer/writer/actor. Go to and find short interviews where your favorite artist appears. This will be very helpful because they all have different accents and you will be exposed to different ways of speaking the same language.

You already know that watching your favorite TV show in English is a great way to practice, but we think you can do something a little more challenging. Next time try to watch lectures or classes on topics you are interested in. Universities like Harvard and Stanford offer really cool courses that you can watch for free on iTunes U. With this, you will not only improve your English, but learn about many interesting things.

Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged if you don’t understand. Keep practicing and you will progressively get better and better.

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