Do you have some problems understanding native English speakers?
Maybe you can understand certain materials that are created for English learners, but when you listen to real native speakers, it’s difficult for you to understand?
That’s completely normal!
The English that you learn in books, programs, and academies doesn’t sound like the English that regular native speakers speak on a daily basis.
Would you like to know a better strategy for how to study English listening skills?
This strategy is for English students who have at least an advanced beginner or intermediate level of English. If you are a complete beginner, I think it’s better for you to study using materials made especially for English learners.
However, if you are an advanced beginner, intermediate or advanced English student, you should definitely be studying with native speaker materials.
Here is the Phase 8 Strategy for Improving English Listening Skills:
This strategy requires patience, attention to detail and dedication.
Of course, there are 8 phases to this strategy!
For this strategy to work best, you will need to have short 1-5 minute recordings in English that you can listen to. It’s best that they also have a transcript available until you get to the more advanced levels when you can understand the majority of the English you hear.
If you only have longer audio resources (like movies, TV shows, etc.), then you can just break it down into scenes and use the scenes as natural breaks into shorter audios.
Phase 1: Listen
Listen to the audio for the first time.
It is not important to understand the audio 100%.
Do not expect to listen once and stop.
You’ll need to listen again and again, but focusing on different aspects of the audio. We’ll talk about this in the rest of the Phases.
Once again, don’t worry if you don’t understand the audio 100%. Don’t worry if you don’t even understand it 50%. That’s why we have this strategy!
Now let’s move on to Phase 2…
Phase 2: Who? What? Where? Why?
Listen to the audio again. This time, pay attention to see if you can understand the answers to this question:
- Who is speaking?
- What are they talking about?
- Where are they?
- Why are they speaking? (What is the purpose of the conversation?)
That’s all you need to do for this phase. Only focus on answering these questions.
Phase 3: Review vocabulary
Now it’s time to start focusing on the vocabulary. Maybe you didn’t understand some words or you recognized some words that you usually don’t use.
Try to make a list of new or unfamiliar vocabulary. Don’t look at the transcript yet! Just use your ears.
Phase 4: Listen for details
Listen again for the details. Write a detailed summary of the conversation.
Phase 5: The transcript
Listen again, but this time read along with the transcript.
You can download and print the transcript to write any notes as you listen.
It’s important to complete this step because it can help you to fill in any gaps in your understanding.
Phase 6: Special speech characteristics
Now it’s time not to focus on what was said, but how it was said. You’ve just looked over the transcript, so you should be quite certain of what the people are talking about in the audio.
Now it’s time to listen carefully to the pronunciation of the speakers. You can use the transcript again to note down any pronunciation traits you notice.
For example, you could notice that the past tense suffix -ed sometimes sounds like a ‘T’ or that the speaker links two words together when pronouncing them.
Phase 7: Visualization
Now is the time to activate the visual side of your brain! When you listen to the audio again, try to picture the situation, like creating a video in your head. You can even repeat what the people are saying in order to visualize it better.
In this phase, you’re trying to understand the speech not just with your ears, but also with your “eyes” and mouth – “seeing” the situation and speaking it.
Phase 8: Challenge yourself
Now it’s time to put yourself to the test. This time, listen again to the audio, and transcribe it exactly how you hear it! Don’t look at the transcript. Only use your ears and write what you hear.
By now, you should be able to understand almost 100%.
Want to try this strategy in action during our free live training to improve English listening?
Register for the free training to level up your English listening by clicking below. And don’t worry if you can’t attend during that time. There will be a replay available, so register anyway!