Tips for Improving English in a Classroom Setting
If you learn best in a classroom setting, here are some tips that’ll help you quickly improve your English listening skills in the classroom.
Record class activities on your cell phone.
If you have trouble understanding every spoken English word during your classes, record them. Later, you can listen to the class again and hear any of the words you might have missed the first time. These recordings will also help you become familiar with the sound of your teacher and classmates while they speak.
You should listen for the tone and intonation (sound of a voice, high or low) of their words. This will help you pronounce difficult words more clearly and easily. Eventually, you’ll find it easier to understand everything that’s being said during classes.
Most smartphones come with a voice recorder, but if yours doesn’t have one, here’s one for Android and here’s one for iOS.Have a list of words to listen for in class.
Using a recording, write a list of the words you hear most often in class. Then, bring this list with you to class and listen for those words. Whenever you hear a word on your list, write a checkmark, dot or X next to the word. Which words do you hear the most often?
When making your list, you can also add words that you think you might hear in class. For example, if you’re starting a unit on traveling, add some English words for travel to your list.
Listen for the context, or how the words are used in sentences. This active listening exercise will help you understand when and why certain words are used. Once you’re comfortable with the words you hear all the time, you can focus on the words from your list with fewer checkmarks.Ask your classmates for help.
While you can learn a lot from your teacher, it can also be helpful to learn from your classmates. Find someone in your class who wants to learn with you. You can agree on a certain podcast, speech, song or other audio and listen together. Then, quiz each other on what certain words or sentences mean.
By doing this with someone else, your classmate will probably understand words that you don’t, and vice versa. In addition to the listening practice, this will let you get to know your classmates better, which can make you more comfortable in class.
If you want, ask your teacher if you can share the audio with other students in the class, and be sure to ask your teacher about anything you couldn’t understand.
Tips for Improving English Listening During One-on-one Classes
If you learn best being one-on-one with a teacher or conversation partner, here are some tips to improve your English listening skills.
Listen to your teacher for intonation.
During a session, try to listen to your conversation partner or teacher only for intonation. Intonation is when the voice rises or falls in pitch (high/low sounds) while speaking. In English, intonation often communicates the emotion or attitude of the speaker.
If you can notice intonation, this will make it easier to hear the difference between a statement or a question. So pick a day, and instead of listening for the words your teacher/partner uses, listen for the emotion behind the words—based on the intonation.
You can even ask your teacher/partner to say the same phrase or sentence with different emotions (angry, excited, sad, etc.) so you can listen for the difference. You can even turn this into a game: Guess the emotion that your teacher’s using based on their intonation.Listen to your teacher for stress.
Stress is another important part of understanding spoken English. When English speakers say words, they do not put the same force behind each syllable. The stress is always placed on a vowel. For example, you say “China” it sounds like “CHIII-na,” not “chi-NAAA.” Listening for the stress of words will also improve your spoken English.
Phrases and sentences also have stressed words. For example, in the question “What did you say?” the biggest stress will be on “What” and “say.” If you know music, consider those two words our main beats of the sentence. The middle words “did you” will be said more quickly and are not on the beat, since they’re not as important.
To practice listening for stress, try to do an impression of how your teacher speaks and sounds. Listen carefully, think about stress and intonation, and then give it a try! If you’re not comfortable doing this in front of your teacher or partner, record part of your lesson and then try it at home. You can make this a really fun exercise!
Have a conversation with someone who isn’t a native English speaker.
If you can, have a session with someone whose first language isn’t English (a non-native speaker). This will give you a chance to listen to the differences between how native speakers and non-native speakers sound.
how-to-improve-english-listening-skillsIf you can hear the differences, it will actually make it easier to listen to native English speakers. To find a non-native English speaker online, try an online language exchange or online private tutor.
So, whether you learn best in a classroom, one-on-one with a teacher or by yourself at home, practice English listening the way that’s best for you. These tips will help you improve even faster than before. Good luck!