Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Ah! Hello, everyone, Anna here from englishlikeanative.co.uk. In today's lesson, we're going to look at 5 ways to improve your English listening skills. The first thing to do is expand your vocabulary. Now, expanding your vocabulary might not seem like it's strictly related to listening, but hear me out⏤"hear me out" means "listen to what I have to say before making a judgement". A lot of students have problems with listening because they don't know the words that the person is saying. Studies show that students need to first understand the words in the text that's being spoken to understand what's being said. So, expanding your vocabulary only gives you a better chance of knowing more words in the listening piece, and this will help your understanding of the overall piece, which is especially useful in standardized tests such as the IELTS exam. Remember that knowing the word means understanding the meaning, but also knowing the word class⏤is it a noun, a verb, or an adjective, for example⏤ the register, collocations, and pronunciation. This brings me on to number two. Number two, improve your pronunciation. By improving your pronunciation, you give yourself a better chance of understanding a word when someone says it. I have often had students who understand the majority of English when it's written down, but don't understand words when they're spoken. That's sometimes because they think the word will sound different, because they haven't learned the correct pronunciation of the word. For example, in many English words that have two vowels in a row, learners expect there to be two sounds, but there's often just one. So, they don't recognize a word like "cousin" when they would easily understand that word written down. There's just one vowel sound in the first syllable of "cousin"; /ˈkʌ/, /ˈkʌ/, /ˈkʌzən/. Say it with me: /ˈkʌzən/, /ˈkʌzən/. Now, English pronunciation is one of my specialist subjects and something I can really help you with. If you're keen to improve your pronunciation, then hit that subscribe button and write "Help me, Anna" in the comments. Number three. So, the third strategy for improving your listening is to become familiar with the rules of connected speech. Learning how to say individual words is really important, but you should dedicate some time to learning about full phrases, too. If you want to check out my tips for connected speech in more detail, you can watch my video, "How to Sound Like a Native English Speaker: Connected Speech". But, basically, when we speak at a natural speed in English, sounds often disappear or change, get mixed together, or sometimes, sounds appear out of nowhere! For example, let's take the sentence, "Can you tell me what you're looking for?" Can you tell me what you're looking for? When we say this sentence quickly, you may be confused by the "what you're" part. That's because when we have a /t/ and a /j/ sound together, they mix together to make a /tʃ/ sound⏤/wɒtʃʊr/, /wɒtʃʊr/. The next thing to notice in this sentence is the sound in the word "you" is shorter than a lot of people expect. We normally say /jə/ instead of /ju:/, and the auxiliary verb "are" almost disappears. Additionally, the sound at the end of "looking" changes. So, the last part of the sentence isn't "what you're looking for", but "what ya lookin' for". At the beginning of the sentence, the "you" becomes /jə/, too, and we find that same vowel sound in "can" (/kən/). So, the whole sentence is, "Can you tell me what you're looking for?" Can you tell me what you're looking for? That's a lot of changes in just this one example. Don't worry about learning all the rules together, but if you can learn them bit by bit, it will really help you understand natural speech when you listen to it. Number four. My next tip is to be realistic about what you can listen to and how long you can listen for. If you're an intermediate student, watching a whole film without subtitles is just, perhaps, a bit too much. Start out small⏤maybe ten minutes a day⏤using materials that are made for language learners, like videos or podcasts. The internet is full of great resources. It's better to start small and do good-quality work then build it up bit by bit than start too big and be discouraged. That would be the worst thing. I'll leave a link to my podcast in the description if you haven't yet discovered it. Number five. When you find a video or podcast you like, my next tip is to listen to it again and again. You won't understand everything you hear the first time, and that's totally normal. Even in our native languages, we don't hear everything all the time. We have to fill in some gaps. In a language we're still learning, filling in the gaps is extremely difficult because we just don't have the vocabulary, grammar, or pronunciation knowledge to do that. So, listening again and again, even if it's only to specific parts you found difficult, this will help you to fill in those gaps. You may need to listen more than five times, and that's ok. The effort you make now will help you in the future. Also, identifying the parts you don't understand and keeping a record of the problem areas will help you build up your own personal bank of common problems to overcome. Then, you'll know what to listen out for the next time you're trying some listening practice. Bonus Tip. After listening multiple times, check the transcription, listen back again, and repeat. This will help you to develop your understanding of the relationship between letters and sounds, especially when a native speaker talks naturally and quickly. Listening and reading at the same time is a really useful trick for training your ear. And going back again and shadowing the piece you're finding particularly difficult, that will just be phenomenal. So, why not give it a go right now? There's a link for you because you stayed all the way to the end of the video. There's a link for you to download a free transcript to one of my popular podcast episodes. There you go, that was five, or rather six, with the bonus, ways to improve your English listening skills. Until next time, take care and goodbye.