Listening Exercises

Baby Steps

One of the largest inhibitors for students learning English is often the mental block. It is not uncommon for a student to concentrate on individual words during a conversation; trying to translate its meaning. As a result, the student misses much if the conversation. At this point, many students just tune out and convince themselves that they are not able to understand spoken English well.

Avoid the following while listening:
> Looking up words
> Writing down words
> Loosing focus


It's Okay if You Do Not Understand

Despite what many think, it is okay if you do not understand everything that is said. As a beginner learner, it is much harder to comprehend what is being said.

For beginners, a good method to improve your listening skills is by listening to podcasts. Find a podcast series that interests you. Each podcast should be no more than five minutes long and you should listen to it each day. If you have time, take ten minutes to review vocabulary prior to the podcast.

For intermediate learners, listen to 20-minute TV shows. Documentaries are the best genre because the presenters enunciate their words clearly and speak in a standard English dialect. The following tv channels are an excellent source of documentaries:

Discovery channel:
> BBC World
> BBC 2
> Animal Planet
> The Science Channel

As you become comfortable with documentaries and would like a challenge, try comedies and dramas. There are a lot more idioms used along with a lot of slang. The real challenge comes from the different dialects that you will hear.

Advanced learners should try watching full-length TV shows each day. Time permitting, watch a movie on the weekend to add variety. Avoid using subtitles as you tend to spend more time reading than listening.



Listen to, or watch, five-minute podcasts.


Watch 20-minute TV shows. Start out watching documentaries and move to dramas and comedies as your listening proficiency increases.


Watch 40-minute TV shows. Documentaries are narrated with a standard English dialect that is easy to understand compared to most dramas and comedies. Action genres are the hardest to understand. Action TV shows and movies should only be used by those with the most advanced listening skills.