Listening Comprehension in English - Understanding TV

by Carlos Araujo

My name is Carlos and I'm a 70 year old retired man with a strong liking to master the English language.

My dream is to speak this language as the two speakers(a female and a male) are doing in this video. Click here to watch Alfredo's "English Success" videos. You can watch the first 7 for free.

I'd like to find an English material compatible with my needs.

Listening and speaking are the biggest difficulties, the two skills that most require from us students.

I believe that I have a good knowledge of it, I can hold a conversation about several topics but I see I have to improve considerably my communication.

I have the opportunity to talk once a week to an American who lives here. I can understand him with no problem except when he uses some idiomatic expressions when I ask him to repeat them for me to jot down in a notebook for my personal studies at home.

My frustration is regarding not understanding completely a tv program, for instance.

Taking into consideration all I've explained I ask your kind attention to my questions, pointing out exactly what I should do to achieve my target.

With all my respect and admiration for you remarkable work,

Carlos Araujo

Dear Carlos,

Thank you very much for writing me.

Your particular situation is quite common, as during the process of learning a language we reach a point where we can basically understand, basically communicate but our skills fall short (are limited) in one or two area's.

You mentioned that you are frustrated while watching TV shows, as you do not understand everything.

This is natural and the best and more effective way to push through (continue and improve) is to watch more of these programs.

Initially you might not notice a difference, but over time you will be able to understand more of what is being said in these programs.

I would recommend buying a TV series on DVD that you really enjoy. That way you can watch the DVDs when you have time and you can also put subtitles on.

When watching DVDs always put the subtitles in ENGLISH if you need them.

Some people put subtitles in their native language but this really is counterproductive. If you put the subtitles in English then you will be hearing and reading English at the same time.

Once you are more comfortable with watching TV I would suggest not adding subtitles, so you can work on your listening without help.

Again, the main idea here is to practice.

Over and over again. There really isn't a quick fix or magic activity that will help you improve your listening comprehension.

It takes time and effort but if you are consistent (incorporating English into your daily life) then you will see an improvement.

As for looking for a specific program or materials to help you study, you can review the courses I like here.

I particularly like English Harmony and English Success.

I discovered English Success in January 2013, so I haven't had a chance to write an official review of the course, but I have used the course myself and it is quite impressive!

English Harmony focuses on improving your oral fluency, while English Success is a more overall approach which uses videos and audio to improve your grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and listening comprehension.

In general it is important to find an activity that you enjoy doing (in English) and do it everyday.

That way you will improve your skills over time BUT you will enjoy the process.

Thank you again for getting in touch with me Carlos. Keep in touch and let me know how your studies go.

All the best,

Comments for Listening Comprehension in English - Understanding TV

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Feb 13, 2014
Understanding TV movies
by: Sergio Rodrigues

The best advice I could give to Carlos, which has worked for me, is listen to TV series, one episode
each week, first with subtitles in Portugues, then with subtitles in English, and finally with no subtitles.

Jan 19, 2013
Self Study in 70's
by: Selma

First of All, I would like to congratulate to Carlos who'd given great effort for learning English while he was 70 years old, I'm addicted to improve my English too, so I have to say that he is a real role modal for all of us. Thank you.

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