Best way to improve listening skills

How do you train comprehension of real life spoken English? I can quite easily understand lectures and usually there are no problems with talking to English speakers, but when I try to watch TV shows or movies in English I'm having great problems. I've watched a lot with subtitles, but, as it turned out, subtitles don't help in improvement of listening skills.


What is your approach?

Jan 11, 2016 11:33 AM
Comments · 8

Try this way, may be it helps.


January 11, 2016

Do you watch them with Russian or English subtitles?

You can also use transcripts to practice. For example, find a website with transcripts of Big Bang Theory, like this one: https://bigbangtrans.wordpress.com/

My suggestion would be to watch (part of) an episode and look up the transcript if you can't understand what's being said. Then watch that part again. It takes some effort, but will help a lot.

Online podcasts often have transcripts too. Tv shows are obviously more challenging. Not only because people talk fast and sometimes mumble, but also because they are full of cultural references, jokes and sarcasm.

Don't worry. Watching series in English does help, even with subtitles. It just takes time.

As you advance, focus on understanding the general dialogues. Don't get frustrated when you can't recognize a particular word, even when you have the transcript. Most native speakers of any language don't exactly understand <em>every</em> single word and sentence on TV. They just don't get frustrated over it, because it doesn't make them doubt their language skills. They blame the actors or the quality of the audio recording. In fact, there are plenty of online forum discussions where native English speakers complain about mumbling actors and unintelligible dialogues ;-)

Good luck!



January 11, 2016

Personally, I would advise to listen to audio books, than to read a lot, next step - to watch TV series, and skills you need will come

Try to start with easy TV series 

February 8, 2016

Of course, transcribing audio is a great way to practice listening and writing skills at the same time. It's quite an intensive exercise, though. Pick audio samples with transcripts, so you can check your work afterwards.

You'll have to decide what works best for you. If your writing is great but listening is your weak point, it might be more effective to watch a few episodes with transcripts than to write out one yourself. If your writing skills could use some practice, transcribing is an excellent idea.


January 11, 2016
I watch videos, videoblogs, English lessons, news, shows
January 11, 2016
Show more