Site Feedback

Techniques to improve Listening and Understanding the "conversation between natives"




If you're a student of any foriegn, you might be having trouble with understanding the conversation of "Native Speakers".

It is common that non native people use "subtitles" when they're watching a movie. This is because they can't understand the dialogs.


Some people might have suggested you to watch more movies and documentaries to practice and improve the listening skill. But this is not very effective if you don't exactly know what is wrong with your listening.


The problem with most non-native English students is, they don't pay attention on the sounds when natives are talking. Rather, their mind is busy interpreting, looking for words and trying to find meaning. If you're watching a movie with subtitles, you're not listening, you're mostly reading. This practice will improve your speed reading skill but will not improve your listening much.


The natural flow of learning a language is:

Listening ---> Speaking ---> Reading ---> Writing

This process is what everyone follows as a child. You acquire "Listening" and "Speaking" skills before you can even read and write. This is why a 4 year old kid can understand conversations and speak fluently without the knowledge of words, sentence structre and grammar.


If you learn "Reading" before you learn to "Speak", you'll have a listening problem.


If you've alrady learned to read and you got the listening problem, you need to focus on these three important components of the language:

1. Speech Music

2. Word Connections

3. Pronunciation


I hope this will help every language learner. This applies to all languages. So it doesn't matter what language you're learning or want to learn.


If you have any further questions, feel free to ask.



  Would you say the first step to learning a foreign language is to do a lot of listening?

Listening like a may not know what is being said, but you listen and continue to listen.  Should one do this before working on grammar, pronunciation, and everything else?


Yes. Watch and listen.

We actually learn meaning of lots of words in context. We don't look out for meaning of every word in the dictionery or ask someone. Most of the words are understood because of their context.

So you can start with watching movies of the language you want to learn (without subtitles).

I have to say that movies help a lot, obviously you have to pay attention carefully of what native speaker are saying. I'd like to say that I've been practicing by watching movies. First I watch the movie without subtitles and then watch it with them.

I agree with you but we are not a child and this is the problem . We are not patient as a child , I think rush in learn is the first step to fail.

Great, I agree with you.

What you suggest us listening to ?


What do you think about "Never Study Grammar" method ?


As long as you don't want to be a "Writer" in that particular language and your goal is to speak like natives, the method you mentioned is good to go.

Mike, thanks for advice. This is quite helpful.


Answering Simone's post, you said that start watching a movie without subtitle. 

But I always watch a movie or a drama with subtitle off and on so that I can follow just key information. I guess a movie is an example on your post though, do you mean that just starting off subtile sometimes or turn it off on whole time?





Thanks a lot Mike. I will Take it in my consideration. Waiting for the next advice :)



The key point to remember is, you need to listen to the "sounds", not the "words". If you watch movies with subtitles, you don't develop the habbit of listening the sounds. The more you watch WITH subtitles, the less you'll learn to pick the sounds.



With the knowledge of how our mind works while listening, we CAN teach learners how to do it. There are exercizes to gradually train how to listen right.


If anyone is interested, I can explain the concept in a trial session.

Add a comment