One of the most common questions my A1 –A2 level students make to me is how to improve their listening comprehension. They are usually worried because they can’t understand most of the things they listen to during the classroom. However, it is completely normal to not understand if we haven’t heard or studied a language before. Actually, a lot of English learners have trouble understanding English at the beginning. So, today I’m going to give you some tips to improve your listening comprehension in English or any other language but first I’m going to talk about my own experience learning a new language.
I remember the first time I got into a French shop to buy a mobile phone. It was during my Erasmus internship and it was awful. I couldn’t understand what the seller was saying and he couldn’t understand me so I spent almost an hour and a half just to buy a simple mobile phone. The same happened when I tried to sign the rental agreement a couple of hours later. So, that evening I phoned my mum desperate and I said to her that it was too difficult to me to understand and that I wanted to come back to Spain. Now, I speak fluent French and I can understand basically every word I hear. How did I improve my comprehension? Basically, with a lot of practise, you can start by speaking with people and listening to people carefully.
Speaking with somebody else forces you to concentrate and be actively engaged in the dialogue, and if he or she is a native speaker or speaks good English, he or she can help you to improve if you make a mistake. My tip: don’t hesitate or be ashamed of speaking another language, speak as much as you can.
What about watching subtitled films or listening to the radio? Sometimes we think that watching TV with subtitles or listening to the radio in another language is enough to learn but we have to make a difference between watching TV passively and watching TV actively. Occasionally, watching TV doesn’t work because there isn’t anything to push you to improve. If you want to build up your listening skills you need to have something that forces you to concentrate and focus, for example, watching your favourite TV programmes (Vikings, Game of Thrones, The walking dead, etc.) or films (Harry Potter, Passengers, The lion king, etc.).
Finally, be curious. People who are curious see conversations as learning opportunities. They want to know more and more continuously so that helps them to learn without almost realising they do.