How to Improve your Listening Skills?
When attending university in France, I knew a British girl, fluent in French, but didn’t know how to pronounce the French letter “u”. It took me one afternoon to teach her how to pronounce correctly the letter “u”. For those who don’t know French, our “u” is seems to be difficult for foreigners to pronounce … foreigners tend to pronounce like “you” ou “ou”.
My friend is not the only I met with this issue. When I taught my 3 years old son the letter, he was able to duplicate in one shot. Neuroscientists say that most adults have trouble distinguishing sounds.
Having good listening skills is necessary to learn a new language. You have to learn and reproduce new sounds that you don’t familiar with and in order to do it correctly you need to learn how to listen, how to acquire good listening skills and how to improve them.
There are people who can’t sing because they don’t have musical ears and don’t have the ability to reproduce what they hear … it’s the same when learning a foreign language, there are people who can’t reproduce the actual words because their listening skills are weak. The solution for both cases it’s to work, exercise the ears to acquire and develop listening skills.
1) Be physically and mentally prepared to listen to the native of your target language. In general, most people don’t listen in a conversation, some of them are preparing what they are going to say next or think about something else if the conversation is boring. Listening is a skill, it’s something that you learn. You can hear that doesn’t mean that you can listen.
2) Listen carefully to TV, DVDs, Radio in your target language. In order to not be distracted, don’t put the subtitles in your native language. This is available when you work on your listening skills. Because when you put the subtitles when you watch a DVD, your mind will be focused on the reading and not on the listening.
3) Exercise your ears to different accents in your native language. If I go to some regions in France, people may not understand when I speak because even if I speak the same language, since I have a different accent than theirs, some people won’t understand me because their ears are not trained to different accents. It happened to me.
When I came to America, I was familiar with the Caribbean accent and the British accent … the American accent was a barrier for me to fully understand what people were saying. I had to train my ears to different American accents by watching the news and focus on conversations.
Expose your ears to conversations and give your brain the time to process the new data. The brain will do most of the job for you.
4) If you decide to work on your listening skills during an interaction. Don’t talk a lot but focus on listening.