Usually, when we are just starting to learn a foreign language, it’s relatively easier to start reading it and understand basic grammar rules, but when it comes to understanding what people are saying when they speak that language, it’s a complete disaster. It seems to us that we are hearing a smooth continuous muttering and we can not distinguish any separate word within that speech. Most of the time we get confused, not to say depressed that our progress in learning sucks and we often end up demotivated to continue learning the language.
However, here is my formula which I use to train my own and my students’ listening skills.
So, let’s take a book which teaches our target foreign language and which has some audio exercises. Most of such books contain tapescripts at the end.
Let’s pick up an audio file, preferably a monologue. We are going to listen it three times.
In the first time, we listen to the audio without looking into the book and at the end we estimate how much we have understood. Say 10-20%, if you are just starting learning the language.
In the second time, we listen to the audio file while reading the tapescript at the same time. After we have finished, we look up new words in the dictionary, so that there is no word left which is unknown to us.
In the third time, we listen to the audio file once again, and now without reading the tapescript. Again we estimate how much we have understood and usually the result is more than 95%.
The idea behind this exercise is that when you listen to the audio (for the second time) while reading the corresponding text simultaneously, your brain corresponds the sounds that you hear to the actual words.
Thus, you form a strong word-sound-pronunciation connection and you start being able to distinguish separate words in the speech.
That’s why, in the third time of your listening it’s much easier to understand what is being said.
Try practicing this exercise as much as possible, and you will see that your listening comprehension will improve dramatically.