15 Ways To Be A Better Listener

Listening to people speaking a foreign language can be incredibly frustrating at times, but with a little focus and a lot of patience, like everything to do with language learning, it gets easier the more that you do it. Here are a few tips that might help:

  • Listen as often as possible. Listen while doing housework, at the gym or in your car. To be a better runner, you run more. To be a better listener, you need to listen more
  • Don’t get annoyed when you don’t understand something. Be as calm as possible. Breathe slowly. Be patient. Don’t give up…
  • Try not to translate into Spanish
  • Listen to something you enjoy
  • Try not to get too frustrated. You are not going to understand everything for a while. It takes time. Relax. It’s normal
  • Prepare and predict before listening. From the information you have (title/questions/vocabulary/picture), what do you think the listening/conversation could be about?
  • Make a goal. Each time you can listen for different things – meaning, sounds, pronunciation, rhythm, vocabulary and emphasis
  • Notice how the language changes when it’s spoken. Where is the emphasis? How do the sounds/vowels/consonants connect?
  • Listen to the rhythm of the language. Where is the stress? Listen for the intonation
  • Concentrate on sounds which you are not familiar with
  • Think about what the other person in the conversation could be saying. What’s the context? What could they be saying? A barman will only say a handful of things
  • When you watch TV/films in the original language, observe the mouths of the actors and read their lips
  • Listen to a recording more than once. Firstly, to understand the gist and only then, to get details
  • Remember that listening is an active process. Note down any phrases, words or sounds which you find interesting or simply don’t understand
  • If you want to be a better cook, you need to cook more. So, if you want to be a better listener, listen, listen and listen a bit more….

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