Prepare yourself for listening activities!
Before you listen, try to imagine the context, the situation, the vocabulary. Predict what you are going to hear.
SKILLS TO BETTER LISTENING
- Making predictions: Before you start your listening, try predicting what you will hear. Training yourself to be one step ahead of the speakers enables you to be familiar with a particular topic quickly. Although you may not get the exact words, you have the framework of the topic.
How to predict
- Use your background knowledge. What do you already know about the topic ?
- Think of questions that listening materials might provide answers for.
- Create a spidergram which shows everything you know about a particular topic.
- Pay attention to voice emphasis People usually speak with stress. The position of stress is a good indicator of key points. Recognising stress can help you to tell the more important points from the less important ones.
- Pay attention to signposts Speakers frequently speak with signposts. They are words, phrases or questions which signal what you are going to hear for the next stage.
Some examples of signposts are:
To introduce a new point: “right, Okay, good, now, well”
To list points : “first, first of all, for a start, second, another, also, then, next, finally, last”
To explain: “In other words, that is, I mean, look at it this way”
To signal important points: “the important/central point, I would like to stress, You have to remember that, the fact is that, so you see that, in fact, what I am saying is that”
To express result: “so, therefore, as a result”
To give an example: “for instance, for example, take the case of , imagine, like, such as”
To show contrast: “but, however, on the other side”
To sum up at the end: “In conclusion, In short, In brief, summing up, so you see , the result is that”
- Pay attention to repetition People often repeat or rephrase what they have said for various reasons. Listeners can use these opportunities to catch the meaning a second time.
- Pay attention to clues Understanding spoken words actually goes beyond the literal words. In order to guarantee successful listening, an intelligent listener will make use of relevant clues which go along with the speech. These clues include:
- Who said the words? If the speaker is a politician for example, you can probably make predictions about what will be said.
- Where did you hear the words? In different contexts, people use different words to suit the context. The language that a news reporter uses in a news report is not the same as the language which he uses in his daily life.
- Did the speaker’s tone change? A change in tone may imply a change in meaning.
Obviously, you will not be able to use all these opportunities for listening. However, you should choose a few of your favourite opportunities. Then try to practise all the skills of listening. Relax and keep listening!
Ellis, G. & Sinclair, B. (1989). Learning to Learn English Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.
Geddes, M. (1989). How to Listen The Bath Press. Avon. Great Britain.
Lynch, T. (1990). Study Listening Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.