One of the most difficult tasks when learning a new language is to make sense of what we are listening to. So much so, that many students focus on studying vocabulary, grammar and reading and don’t really practice listening comprehension beyond the classroom.
In fact, the only way to improve listening skills is by listening! There is no workaround to it. There are, however, strategies to consider and steps to follow to practice listening comprehension successfully and continuously. To start, it is utterly important to select materials according to your skill level. If you are a beginner student, then watching a movie, a TV show or listening to audio materials created for a native audience will be too difficult and may create unnecessary frustration and confusion. Selecting materials designed for students is the way to start and continue by increasing the level of difficulty. The content of these materials must be comprehensible but still challenging, that is called “comprehensible input” by professionals of language acquisition. The complexity of this input will gradually progress allowing you to build up skills with a structure (scaffolding). Our instructors will help you with this selection (in addition to the listening comprehension practice included in our conversational method) according to your level of proficiency in the language.
Once the appropriate video, audio, podcast, etc. is selected, there are steps to consider in order to listen actively and make the most of that practice: Then, when listening practice becomes part of your learning routine and you know how to approach it and make the most of it, include variety as you progress (for example, listening while exercising, driving, doing chores, etc.).
After reaching an intermediate level of proficiency, you will be in the position to discern which material is comprehensible to you and will know how to actively listen. One important thing to consider then, is choosing materials that are relevant to you. This will ensure that you will remain engaged and interested while improving your language skills. During all this process, your Be Bilingual instructor will be your best advisor, supporting you through the initial steps until you know how to do it independently. Remember this simple principle : practice makes the master.