Do These 9 Listening Practices to Hone Your English Listening Skills

Listening is one of the key skills one must develop when learning a language. Even if you have a wide vocabulary or can write well, if you cannot listen to people communicating to you verbally, it will be difficult to thrive in an English-speaking environment. Not everybody can speak to you slowly and in a well-enunciated manner, so it is important to hone your listening skills to understand people even if they speak quickly or unclearly (i.e., with an accent).

There are many different ways you can practice your English listening skills—the best being conversing with native English speakers. That said, there are other activities you can do on your own, with a peer, or even a smartphone! Here are nine examples of listening practices you can do to improve your English listening skills!

Simon Says

Simon Says is a simple listening practice for students of all ages (it is especially effective—and fun—for kids!). The game is simple; one person, usually a teacher, becomes a moderator. He or she then proceeds to say commands that players must follow. It can be as simple as “raise your hand” or “hum a tune.” However, they must only follow a command that is preceded by the phrase “Simon says…” 

For example, you can say, “Simon says touch your nose,” and the players must touch their noses. Then you can say, “clap your hands.” Since you did not say “Simon says…” before it, the players should not follow the command. If a player does anyway, he or she is out of the game!

Simon Says is simple, but it practices a person’s ability to recognize phrases and follow commands. And if the moderator makes the game extra fun by saying the prompts quickly, then it encourages players to think fast.

Where’s the Mistake?

Where’s the Mistake is an activity you can do using pre-recorded audio clips. You can ask your language teacher (or a friend) to provide you some, or you can search for more clips on the Internet. The challenge is to listen to the clips then identify the mistakes made. It could be grammar, pronunciation, or vocabulary. You can ask the person providing your clips for targeted exercises, depending on which aspect you would like to focus on.

Podcast Listening

Listening to podcasts is a great listening activity because it is very similar to engaging in actual conversations with people. Podcasts are often hosted by different personalities, each one with a distinct way of speaking. It could open you up to various voices and accents, helping you recognize and practice understanding each. And since podcasts come in all lengths and topics, you can choose which ones to listen to and for what purpose: for entertainment, education, or just to listen to people talking about specific topics.

Following Instructions 

Following instructions is a listening activity that also improves your comprehension skills. This is similar to Simon Says, except it is more complicated. You can do this activity when you are starting a hobby. For example, if you want to learn how to paint, cross-stitch, or play an instrument, you can double the learning by watching videos and listening to verbal instructions on how to do the task. You can also practice following instructions using toys, furniture, or anything that comes with instructions. You can have someone read them to you, then follow along.

Music Listening

Music is an efficient tool in learning a language because it helps you retain vocabulary better, thanks to the accompanying melody. Beyond remembering words, though, music can help you hone your listening skills because it encourages you to break through the melody and nuances of voice to understand the lyrics. At least once a day, listen to a new song in English, then try to catch the lyrics by writing them down as you hear it. 

Listen and Draw

Listen and Draw are fun activities for visual learners who want to practice their English listening skills with some creativity. The task is to listen to a descriptive sound clip—it could be a reading, a script or dialog, or just a descriptive phrase. Based on what you hear, draw how you imagine the scenario to be, what you feel about the phrase, or just your personal interpretation of what was said.

Explain the Clip

Explain the Clip is an activity that exercises both your listening and description skills. It starts with you watching and/or listening to a video or sound clip. Based on what you hear, you must describe what is happening or explain the clip’s scenario. For example, the clip could be from a television show where two characters are discussing buying a house. You must watch the clip then listen to the conversation; then, you can describe the scene. You can answer questions like “What type of house were they buying?”, “Who was deciding to buy a house?”, “What were they considering before they made the purchase?”

Pass the Message

Pass the Message is a team listening and pronunciation exercise. The game starts with one phrase or sentence that becomes the “message.” A team forms a line (or a circle), and only one person knows the message. That person then passes the message to the next player, and the next player must be able to relay the exact same message to the following person and so on until the last person in the group receives the message. The goal is to have the same message from start to finish. It sounds simple enough, but it can be very challenging, especially if the message is long or if there are words that are miscommunicated because of translation and context. To do this successfully, you must be able to listen carefully and speak clearly at the same time.

Audiobook Listening

In general, reading books is an effective way to practice and improve one’s English skills. You pick up new vocabulary, hone your personal voice, and enhance your comprehension skills. If you want to take it up a notch, listen to audiobooks instead. You get all the benefits from reading while at the same time practice your listening skills! Many audiobooks also give you options as to the person reading so you can test out listening to different voices and accents. Plus, you can listen to audiobooks on the go!

Before you practice on your own, let our tutors at LingualBox help you build a foundation of your English language skills. We offer one-on-one language tutoring sessions with friendly, professional teachers who can help you master the language. Book a class today!

Jica Simpas is a writer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. She has over two years of writing experience in producing travel and food-related content. She is currently exploring new writing ventures to expand her practice.