If you are a busy professional and you can't spend hours in a classroom improving your English, I have good news for you. You don't have to spend hours in an English class. If you are living in the United States, you can practice English anywhere and at anytime. In an earlier post, I talked about how to improve your English by taking risks. But today I will talk about another strategy that a lot of students and English tutors don't consider. Engaging in English conversation is important but sometimes it's just not possible. In that case, you can improve your English just by listening! Through listening, you can practice English on your way to work, during your lunch break or even while waiting at the hair salon. Your life is busy but you can still improve your English every day! Keep reading to learn more.
The 6 Keys to Successful Listening Practice:
It is possible to improve your English through listening to conversations around you but there are a few things you have to remember in order to be successful with this strategy. Here are the 6 things that you need to keep in mind.
Be an Active Listener: It is not enough to sit next to two people having a conversation and just take in the sounds. You need to be perceptive. You need to actively process the conversation in your own mind.
Focus on the General Points of the Conversation: Don't worry if you hear individual English words that you don't understand. Try to get the general idea of what each person is saying and understand the basic flow of the conversation.
Take Notes: If possible, keep a notebook and write down any new words or expressions that you hear. Again, don't worry about their meanings. Later you can find out what they mean and learn how to use them.
Don't Translate to your Native Language: Your goal during this listening practice is to get comfortable listening, thinking about and processing a conversation entirely in English. You should not be translating any part of the conversation back to your native language.
Listen for Accents: If you live in New York, Boston or any other major city and you are doing your listening practice in the park or on the train in the morning, you will probably hear a variety of accents. Maybe you will hear tourists from the southern US, England or Australia. Perhaps you will hear non-native speakers using English as well. As long as they have a high level of English, this is also a good way to practice.
Pay Attention to Pronunciation and Body Language: Learning a language is more than just learning new vocabulary words and grammar. Listening practice is a great way to pick up on natural English intonations, speaking rhythms and pronunciation. If you can be perceptive of the way that people pronounce, you will have an easier time using the correct pronunciation when you speak. Body language can also give you clues about the meanings of new words or phrases.
Great Places to Practice your Listening:
On the subway
In a cafe
In the park
At a party
So if you want to make this strategy work for you, start by identifying every opportunity in your day to do listening practice. The next time you are on the train on your way to work, why not give it a try? This is an authentic way to practice English that can lead to excellent results! If you try it, please leave a comment below and let me know how it goes!
photo credit- Patrick Haney