Develop Your Listening Skills To Deepen Your English Language Skills
An important part of speaking any language is listening. As an ESL student to the US you were focused on learning new words, and pronouncing them correctly. It was all about speaking. But listening is the king of communication.
Practicing good listening skills will improve your spoken English skills.
Active And Passive Listening
The first, and most important aspect of listening is to pay attention. There are two forms of listening—active listening and passive listening.
Passive listening is like listening to music. You’re letting the lyrics wash over you, and maybe your mind wanders, and you think about whether you want pizza for dinner.
Active listening is when you’re listening to the same song, but you’re trying to learn the lyrics. You repeat the singers words, and look up words you don’t know so you actually understand what the singer means. You replay sections over and over to verify that what you heard, and understood is actually what was sung.
Now, I used an example that wasn’t a 2-person conversation to point out that you have probably practiced active listening in the past. As an ESL student active listening in an English language conversation can be an exhausting exercise. You’re not going to bust out a reporter’s notebook every time you speak English with someone.
TED Talks Podcasts
A great way to practice active listening, and to become more educated on a variety of fascinating subjects is to watch TED Talks podcasts.
Put in your ear buds, and listen to Lisa Dyson tell you how a 1960’s idea for deep space travel developed by NASA inspired a new type of crop cultivation that could feed the world in the future. Or, let Kio Stark motivate you to talk to strangers in her podcast about making connections.
Listen and learn. Write down unfamiliar words, and look them up. Replay the section you didn’t understand, and see how understanding the words, and phrases you didn’t know makes the idea expressed come together. Act as if the podcast IS a conversation, and think of questions you would ask. Restate ideas the speaker expressed to better understand the key points, and to learn synonyms.
Listening is a skill like any other. The more you practice it, the better you’ll become. Before you know it you’ll be having English language conversations, and someone will hesitate, and you’ll ask, “What’s wrong?” because your English language listening skills have become so acute that you’re able to read subtext and emotional content.