3 ways to practice listening in English out of the classroom

We have all probably experienced learning something that we have been told to learn and have no interest in, and learning something that we enjoy. For the former, time seems to drag and there seems to be no way to get the information to stick in your head whilst for the latter, time flies and you don’t even feel like you are learning….you are having fun.

This latter is how all learning should be and for all you English learners out there, it is how it could be.

Improve your English while listening to music
Listening to songs in English not only gets a smile out of you but it helps you improve your English skills.

Take for example practicing your listening skills in English. A good text book will find interesting and stimulating listenings for you to hear, there will be a purpose to your listening and a way for you to measure your progress and ability. In the case of listening to English though, you don’t have to be limited by what your English text book provides for you….there is so much more out there….so much more, which is useful, informative and most importantly…fun!

In this blog post we are going to look at a three of the ways you can improve your listening skills in English whilst not even realizing that you are ‘working’.

The first of course, is music. Who doesn’t like music? Well ok, there may be a few of you but probably not many. The music world is dominated by American and British songs of pretty much any genre you can think of. Are you into jazz, heavy metal, rap, pop, R + B, folk, country or Blues…well there will be a song in English that you can listen to and find the lyrics for and practice your English.

As you are likely to already know, if you are looking for lyrics to a favourite song, all you need to do is type the song title into google and then type ‘lyrics’ after it, hit ‘enter’ and there you go… I can’t guarantee that you will find the lyrics to every song that you can think of, but you will certainly find most of them.

Listen to the song, read the lyrics, sing the lyrics along with the music…not only will you be practicing listening but you will also be practicing producing the natural rhythm of the English language.

Next on the list is movies. What a great way to practice your listening in English…immersing yourself in one of your favourite movies! As with the music industry, the movie industry is dominated not so much by British films, but certainly by American ones and again whichever genre is your cup of tea, you will find a film in English to watch.

Watching English movies improves your listening
Santa was so immersed by improving his English through films so that he forgot his main duties :)

If your English level is advanced, then watching without subtitles is a great way to get used to spoken English at a natural speed. If your level is not so high, then listen in English and read subtitles in your own language. If you really enjoyed the film, then watch it a second time without the subtitles – you will probably be surprised at how much you understand during this second listening.

Finally, in this age on cable TV most of you will have access to several TV channels in English. Choose a channel which you enjoy, switch on, and get listening. It may be tough at first to pick up everything which is being said, but persevere…you will soon be understanding most of what you hear…and you will be hearing ‘real’ English at ‘real’ speed, which will not only prepare you for any listening tests you may need to take, but will also prepare you for dealing with native English speakers wherever you may encounter them.

One additional piece of advice. Try to combine your listening activities with building your English vocabulary. Get some synonyms to words that catch your eye or try to find out if other words can be replaced by idioms so you make your English work better.

English idioms
Using idioms makes your English sound more natural.

Please tell us the ways you use, to improve your English listening skills. Feel free to comment below.

Happy Listening!

About Keith Halstead

Hi, I'm Keith and I have been an ESL teacher for almost 20 years. I'm currently working in Plovdiv in Bulgaria and in the past have worked in the UK, Turkey and Vietnam. In addition to teaching, I am also the founder of VideomapBulgaria, which is pretty much what it says on the box and is a project which has taken me the length and breadth of Bulgaria in my mission to complete the map. I also write and make videos which you can find on YouTube if you search for Keithwhu. And that username is also a clue to my other big love which is the mighty West Ham United FC!

2 thoughts on “3 ways to practice listening in English out of the classroom

  1. It is always better if you spoke with an English native speaker instead of watching movies and listening to songs but of course if there weren’t native speakers around …

    1. Yeah, those are some strategies to improve English skills and it is very important to use different sources of listening so that you don’t get use to only one type of listening.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your Browser is out of date!Please upgrade your browser or try another browser to enjoy the full functionality of this and other websites.
JavaScript is not enabled! Please enable JavaScript to enjoy the full functionality of this and other websites.