Listening Skills

by Sergio Rodrigues
(Brasilia, DF - Brazil)

I am aware that you already posted about this subject, anyway I would like to get a piece of advice about how to improve my listening, because there is not a consensus among specialists.

Some people say we should listen to only we understand much of it is said - say 90 to 95% - otherwise, they claim, would be a waste of time.

Others, however, say we should listen to practically everything, as long as the subject seems interesting to the listeners, even not understanding most of it is said,
just to get acquainted with the intonation, rhythm and the so-called melody of the language.

I am a subscriber of a wide range of podcasts, and sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the amount of audio I can't understand and with mixed feelings about it,bored when the audio is too easy and frustrated when it is too difficult.

I would appreciate your take about that.
Thanks in advance


Hi Sergio,

I am more of the 2nd opinion that you mention. I believe listening to English (even when you don't fully understand) is the best way to improve your listening skills.

I justify this by comparing it to moving to an English speaking country. What would happen if you moved to Canada? You would be submersed and surrounded in English. Most likely (indefinitely) you would not understand everything.

At times you would feel frustrated and defeated but as you live there you would push forward and continue to try. You would interact as much as you could and you could continue to improve.

Slowly but surely your listening comprehension would improve. You would have good days and bad days but little by little you would improve because you had to. Living abroad is the best way to learn a language because you NEED to use the language you are learning.

It creates a sense of urgency. It is hard though. I moved to Spain and felt the exact same frustration and embarrassment when I did not understand people.

It took quite a while but I am confidant that I could speak Spanish in almost any situation.

So my advice to you? Move abroad. If that isn't possible surround your self in English...English that you need and want to learn.

If you enjoy travelling watch travel videos about your favorite destinations. If you are a photographer learn about the art of photography in English. Take what you love in your native language and explore it in English.

I can't promise that you wont be frustrated at times, but I can tell you that when you surround yourself in English and use it to speak, listen, write and read on a daily basis you will improve.

All the best,
Diana Tower

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