Learn how to use a podcast to improve your listening skills with THE 5-STEP METHOD.
Do you remember the first time you heard native English speakers talking to each other? How did you feel? Confused? Lost? Terrified?
Reaching an advanced level of listening is one of the most difficult language skills to acquire.
A lot of people lack listening skills because they don’t know how to do it. Should you listen to audio with or without text? What do you need to listen to? Should you use translations to help you?
The Tools You Need to Improve Your Listening Skills
To improve your listening skills you need audio with a text transcript. You should be able to pause and play the audio so you can break up the audio if you find it too challenging.
The content should be interesting and engaging for you. Find something that sparks your interest.
The Five Step Method
Step 1- Listen to the audio without reading
The first step is to listen to the audio alone. Don’t use the transcripts to aid you in this step. Here your main goal is to test yourself and see how much you can understand without any visual aid.
If you’re at an intermediate or lower level this might be difficult for you. Don’t get discouraged. Try to understand the context of the audio and guess what is going on based on familiar words or phrases.
When you hear familiar words or phrases write them down.
Step 2- Repeat
It’s okay if you need to repeat the audio. Many students make the mistake of looking at transcripts too early. The idea is to improve your listening skills so you need to remain focused on this.
When you repeat the audio you’ll hear the same words and phrases that you recognized during your first listen. You might already know what the context is about. You can use this to your advantage and guess what else is going on. If you can’t get it exactly don’t worry, continue to write down the keywords you might think are important.
Keep at the stage if you need to. You should try and use your current knowledge of English to understand as much as possible.
Once you feel you’ve squeezed as much as you can out of this step it’s time to move on.
Step 3- Time to read
Now read the transcript without listening. How much did you understand from the audio? While you are reading identify any new words or phrases. See if you can guess their meaning based on the context. If you can’t figure out what they mean then you can look them up in a dictionary.
When you’re reading you might see some words that you already know but didn’t hear when you listening to the audio. Some words will sound different when they are spoken at a native level. Write these words down so you can listen to them when you repeat the audio.
Step 4- Listen to the audio with the text
Once you’ve read through the text a few times you can now listen to the audio with the text. Look for the words you couldn’t hear when you listened the first time.
This is the chance for you to use your listening and visual skills together. Pay close attention to connect the written words to the sounds of how the words are pronounced together.
If the audio you were listening to had a lot of new words you can break down the audio by paragraph and repeating the smaller portions. Don’t force yourself to listen to the whole audio at one time.
Repeat this if you exercise to strengthen the connections between the written words and the sounds you hear.
Step 5- Listen again without text
Now you’re ready to listen again with the text. By this point, you’ll have a clear understanding and be able to understand almost everything in the audio.
Listen to the audio again a few more times over the week. Repetition is key here, the more you listen to more comfortable you’ll get with your level of understanding.
Keep the audio downloaded on your phone so you can listen to it throughout the week when you have time.
Since you’ve become so comfortable with the next phrases and vocabulary in the audio you’ll hear these words and phrases come up in conversation or other English material you listen to.
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