Do you find it challenging to understand what people are saying in English? Do you struggle when watching a show on TV without subtitles?
This is something that happens to all of us, even to the most experienced speaker of English. Sometimes how we think English should sound is not aligned with how people actually speak in real life.
It could be because we’ve been exposed to reading and writing more, because the speaker is speaking in an accent you’re less familiar with, or because when people speak, all kinds of things happen: for example, words are linked together and vowels are reduced.
It doesn’t mean that you have problems with your hearing or with your English. When you come to think of it, you probably misinterpret things that you hear in your first language as well from time to time.
And usually, where there’s a challenge, there’s a solution. Improving your listening skills is a matter of practice. You have to do some active listening, which will allow you to understand different people better.
In this episode, I’ll share with you some of my best tips and strategies so you’ll feel more confident in future interactions in English.
First, practice the pronunciation of sounds in English out loud. If you teach your brain to make new distinctions, you’ll find English easier to understand.
The same goes for the intonation, rhythm, and stress of English Especially, becoming aware of vowel reductions in English will be very helpful in understanding people speaking.
2. Intonation Cues
Look for intonation cues in words that are more important – when the speaker slows down, pauses, raises or lowers their pitch, etc.
You also want to look for hand gestures and facial expressions. These signals can help a lot when you don’t get all the words right.
You usually don’t need to understand every single word so don’t try to analyze it to death.
For more tips and exercises, watch the video.
How do you practice your listening skills in English? Do you have other tips that worked for you? Let me know in the comments below.