How Not to Learn English by Listening
By Les Perras | Submitted On March 10, 2021
The four biggest mistakes, you can make.
It’s difficult to learn English for many people and it’s even more difficult if you make mistakes. Learning English by listening is a great way to go but you want to make sure that you do things right. I’ve been teaching English for several years and I’ve noticed some mistakes that lots of students make in learning English by listening.
What’s the biggest mistake you can make?
The biggest mistake I see many students make is just listening. That’s it. They just start listening and try to understand what they are listening to. They don’t really have a plan. They are unaware of their skill level and they don’t know how to increase their listening skills. In fact, they don’t even know what the skills are sometimes.
The first skill is hearing the sounds. Listening to something over and over again helps you become sensitive to the sounds and sound patterns of that language. Simply listening is not a good idea. You should try to practice making the sounds you hear as well. Shadowing is the easiest way to do this.
Another skill is being able to remember what you’ve just listen to. This skill take lots of practice, and without it you can’t understand anything. I have asked many of my students easy questions that they did not understand. the vocabulary was easy. the grammar was also easy. So why did they have trouble? They were not expecting the question. In that case, I teach them to repeat the question. Once they repeat it, they have remembered it and then they suddenly understand it.
Without these basic skills, understanding English is very very difficult. So when you start to learn English by listening you should really start increasing your listening skills.
What’s the second biggest mistake you can make it?
The second biggest mistake that I often see is listening too long. Students go out and buy a CD or perhaps they download a podcast. Some of these recordings are 10 or even 15 minutes long. Some are even longer. Then they start to listen to it and complain that it is too difficult.
If listening to English is difficult, then listening to English for 10 or 15 minutes is very difficult. You will become too tired. Your brain stops absorbing information when it’s too tired. If you study by listening for long periods you are wasting your time.
You’re better off breaking up your listening session into much shorter chunks. I recommend studying for one to three minutes for at least the first three months until your listening skills are really strong. Once you can listen to large chunks of English and understand and repeat them, you’re ready for longer passages.
Listening to short lengths of English also increases your motivation. You don’t end tired. IN fact, you end feeling pretty good and warmed up. You have a positive attitude towards English. Stopping in this positive frame of mind is very good. You will think of English with this positive memory and then you want to study more.
What’s the third biggest mistake?
The third biggest mistake many students have is just having no plan. They don’t have any real goals for their listening practice, and they don’t know how to set them. This is related to the first biggest problem. Once you know the skills that you need to work on, you can set concrete goals for improving the skills. This is especially easy for listen and repeat. Simply try to listen and repeat longer and longer selections.
Set aside some time to plan out goals for yourself. Of course, you may set goals for how much English you can listen and repeat, and that is great. but you can go further than that. Also set goals for learning vocabulary through listening practice. Combine your listening practice with flashcards when you do this. And then make sure you don’t make the fourth biggest mistake.
What’s the fourth biggest mistake?
The fourth biggest mistake that I see is just not practicing regularly. Learning a language is like learning the piano. How can you expect to play the piano, if you don’t practice regularly?listening is a skill and it demands regular practice. I mean daily practice. The good thing is you don’t have to practice long. I believe two sessions of five minutes or three sessions of five minutes every day, is good enough for your average person.
Now you are aware of the big four mistakes, you will make a plan for your listening practice, and practice in short study sessions. you will work on building individual skills for listening. You are also committed to regular study.
Les Perras owns and operates the Smith’s School of English Franchise in Ikoma, Japan. He is also the author of the website English-Listening-World http://www.english-listening-world.com. Visit the website for free listening practice