As a rule, listening is one of the most significant components of effective communication in English. Listening is crucial when learning a language as complex as English especially if one is learning English as a second language. Learning to listen may sound simple and easy at the onset. However, students will soon realise it requires considerable mental energy and skill. It is especially true for non-native students learning English as a second language. Proper English listening is a vital requisite of developing speaking skills. The ability to listen to the language and reproduce and imitate those sounds contributes significantly to developing good speaking skills. To develop English listening needs rigorous practice just as one develops muscles in the body.
Of the four skills essential to learning a foreign language i.e. reading, writing, speaking and listening, none requires more concentration and practice as listening. From birth, listening plays a significant role in developing language comprehension. Babies listen to words spoken by their parents for almost two years before mimicking sounds and speaking their first words. Listening is, therefore, one of the most, if not the most important skill necessary to develop a complete understanding of the English language.
When improving English listening skills, it is imperative to accept that one is not going to understand everything right from the onset. The key is not to get discouraged. Perseverance is essential and will deliver the desired results. When listening, one should pay attention to keywords in a spoken sentence. Understanding these keywords will enable the listener to gather the gist of what the speaker is saying. After repetitive listening to the same sentence while knowing its purpose and meaning will help the listener to understand the rest of the words in a sentence.
It is also important never to translate into one’s native language. It detracts from the message the speaker intends to communicate, and merely becomes an exercise in defining each word. It can often lead to the words being taken out of context. The best way to improve one’s English listening skills is to seek out resources on the internet. The accessibility and ability to repeatedly watch or listen to such content makes it an ideal source for improving listening skills. One of the best resources is English Club TV. It is a website designed specifically to help non-native speakers learn English. Shows such as “Speak Up” and “Art of Conversation” are ideal source material to improve one’s English listening skills.