Did you know that listening
is the first skill a child learns in his/her own language?
When we listen we have to do lots of different things at the
have to process speech from non-speech sounds (background
*Separate unfamiliar sounds into words
*Identify the words
*Try to understand what the speaker means
*Try to get ready to give an appropriate reply
*Select the information that we need
We take all this for granted in our own language until we
try to learn a second language. Listening is often considered
to be a 'passive' skill but as you can see from the above
it is a very 'active' skill and one that you can work on independently.
you should stop, think and make notes before moving on
how do you feel about listening to English: good, bad, okay?
Does your attitude match any of the comments below from some
of our language learners?
reflects how many learners feel. Believing that you have to
understand every word when listening can be very frustrating
both inside and outside the classroom
attitude is realistic. This learner knows that you don't need
to understand every word to get the message and they make
use of outside signals to help them understand
is a very positive attitude and will help this learner to
remain open-minded when they meet problems with listenin
about the following listening situations. Talk about them
with a friend or member of your family. Put them in order
of difficulty. <>Easiest = 1<>
A lecture on nuclear fission in your own language
2. A conversation with an English speaking friend
3. A railway station announcement in your own language
4. The song "Happy Birthday" in English
5. An English TV programme or your favourite programme in
6. A short talk on "My favourite holiday" in English
7. A conversation with a friend in your own language
think about what makes some situations more difficult than
Did you identify
some of the following problems when listening?
speakers speak too fast
learners feel that they simply cannot keep up with what they
hear. They are so busy working out the meaning of one part
that they miss the next part!
Try recording some English from the TV or radio.
Listen to it again. Go back over the parts that are difficult
for you as many times as you need. You are in control.
Native speakers don't pronounce all the words
We do not pronounce all the beats (syllables) in English as
you do in Bangla
many new words or slang words
In our own language we can often work out the meaning
of an unknown word from its context. However in a foreign
language an unknown word is like an instant barrier causing
many learners to simply stop listening while they try to work
out the meaning. This makes them miss the next part of the
one way to build up your word power is to do lots of reading
and listening in English!
Some accents are more difficult than others to understand.
The more you listen to different accents the more familiar
these accents will become e.g. British, Scottish, Welsh, American,
Australian etc. Listen to BBC, CNN and SKY.
In real life listening rarely takes place without distractions
or interference. Noise such as traffic, people talking, telephones,
sirens etc, interfere with listening.
Put some soft English music on in the background sometimes
when listening to the English news. You won't notice it after
a little while.
Not knowing much about or being interested in a topic
is a problem because if you are listening to something you
don't know much/anything about it's hard to understand what
to listen out for.
*Too much information
Unlike writing when we speak we often repeat information
Practise listening for main ideas
to concentrate for a long time
It's hard to concentrate for a long time and when you
try to you lose the meaning. It is also very tiring.
Set time limits for listening e.g. listen or watch the news.
Try to relax and listen to short bursts at a time.
to understand every word and losing the main ideas
When you stop to understand a word you miss what is being
said as the speaking continues without you!
TIP Make a big effort to listen to what is
coming, and letting things that have passed go rather than
thinking about them. Speakers often repeat or rephrase things
so you'll get a second or even a third chance to catch the
to try on your own:
a regular time for listening
*Read reviews of films, TV programmes either in English or
Bangla before listening
*Find a 'listening' buddy. One thing you could do together
might be to decide to listen to the world news at the same
time and afterwards telephone each other and check if you
agree on the main ideas in the main stories.
*Listen to as many different accents as possible. You can
do this by switching in to BBC, CNN or Sky. Also listen to
the news at 10 on BTV.
*Listen to music in English. Songs are a great way to 'tune
in' to the language. Go to www.lyrics.com to find the words
of all your favourite songs and use these as you listen. If
you don't know what to listen for check out the top ten songs
via the search engine Google on the Internet.
*Watch English movies on DVD with the subtitles option on.
by writing a short paragraph or make notes about what you
have listened to.
How well have I understood?
How could I improve next time I listen?
it for now folks. Happy listening!!
(R) thedailystar.net 2005