Developing Listening Skills

Developing Listening Skills :

Could you repeat that, please?

Whenever you engage in a conversation, watch TV, participate in class or attend a meeting at work, you are listening. But are you also understanding? In order to make sense of the spoken word, you must develop strong listening skills and this takes practice and patience.

Here are some tips for improving your listening skills in English.

Get to know the English Sound System…Consonants, Vowels, and Blends. When you first heard English, it probably sounded like a long strand of sounds with some pauses and pitch changes. Learning to recognize the different sounds of the language will help you identify syllables, words and sentences and finally general content and ideas.

Listen for Key Words that Carry Meaning….English speakers emphasize “content words" that carry meaning more than “function words" that help modify words and connect sentence parts together, so instead of striving to catch every word and becoming overwhelmed with excess information, listen for the emphasized words. Comprehension will come much easier. Web here list some categories of function and content words.


Auxiliary verbs…..Adverbs
Modal verbs…..Nouns
Prepositions…..Verbs (main)
Pronouns…..Questions words

Do the speakers speak too fast?

Many English Language Learners would answer YES to that question. What surprises many is that the speed of native speech is not the problem….the spacing between the words is. In spoken English, words are commonly linked together, made into contractions or reduced by turning two or more words into one sound.

For example, when a word that begins with a vowel follows a word that ends in a consonant, the words link together with no pause between them. We provide examples of linking, contractions and reductions in spoken English. Here are few websites which offer the resources for improving your listening skills. We share these sites to encourage you to engage in as much literacy skill practice as possible and to take advantage of the many free resources available online.

Note : The external Web sites linked to this resource are not owned by or affiliated with us, so please adhere to each one’s privacy policy and support service when using them.

Linking :

Turn off sounds like Tur noff.
I’m online sounds like I monline.
That’s enough sounds like That senough.

Contractions :

Can not becomes can’t.
Do not becomes don’t.
I am becomes I’m.
Was not becomes wasn’t.
You are becomes you’re.

Reductions :

What did you do? sounds like Wadjado?
Beans and rice sounds like beans-n-rice.
It’s for you sounds like It’s fer you.
Some of sounds like some uh.

Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab :

Arlyn Freed's ESL/EFL Listening Resources :

American English Pronunciation Practice :

“Enuf" is enough?

English is not a phonetic language. Words are not always spelled the way they sound, so listening while simultaneously reading will improve your fluency by helping you identify the way written words sound and the way spoken words are written. Listening to news programs, e-books, recorded speeches and lectures while reading the transcripts will also help you acquire the way ideas are organized in English which is important for being able to follow along and take notes. We list Web sites where you can read along as you listen to English spoken by native speakers.

Voice of America :

Repeat After Us :

National Public Radio :

American Rhetoric :

Lecture Fox :

Speech Archive :

Say, “Yes!" to subtitles…

Television services offer subtitle options as well as programming in various languages. Watching programs in English and referring to subtitles in your first language to maintain the show’s context or clarify a new word can improve your listening skills and show you how English speakers use gestures to construct meaning. Watching a program in your native language and then watching it in English will also promote greater fluency. Since you will already have knowledge about the subject, you can compare the different ways speakers of English and speakers of your first language present the same content. Awareness of the differences can reduce the tendency to translate what you hear into your native language to understand. Instead, you will begin thinking in English to understand and that is a true sign of fluency development.

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