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An interview about listening skills

Listen to the English teacher talk about listening to practise and improve your listening skills.

Do the preparation task first. Then listen to the audio and do the exercises.


Presenter: So, today's expert teacher is Gabriella, a university English teacher from Leeds. Gabriella, hi and thanks for joining us today.

Gabriella: Thanks for having me!

Presenter: So, I have to confess today's topic is something I am really bad at: listening. Most people say speaking is the most stressful part of learning a new language but, for me, with my B1 German, speaking isn't so bad. At least I'm in control of it. But listening … woah … people speak so fast and it's like my brain just shuts down. Am I just really strange and bad at listening? Tell me, honestly, I can take it.

Gabriella: No, you're not strange. In fact, it's really common. You know, in exams most people do pretty well in speaking compared with listening. Of course, exams are a different situation from real life because in an exam you can't ask for something to be repeated or explained. You usually have just one or maybe two opportunities to listen to the dialogue and then it's gone.

Presenter: Right, but in real life I feel stupid always saying, 'Sorry, can you repeat that, please?', especially if I still don't understand even when they repeat it. And people out there listening, I hope you don't do this – quite often the person just repeats what they said equally as fast and I'm still lost!

Gabriella: They do, don't they? In real life, you've got two strategies. One is to pretend to understand and get out of the conversation as fast as you can.

Presenter: Yep, sounds familiar!

Gabriella: But, obviously that's not going to help if it's a conversation with high stakes. It might have important consequences. I mean, if you're just chatting with a stranger at the bus stop, it doesn't matter. But imagine you're at a government office or a bank, trying to find out what paperwork you need to get your ID or open a bank account. What can you do then?

Presenter: I hope you've got the answer, Gabriella, because I'm coming out in a cold sweat just thinking about either of those situations!

Gabriella: The other strategy is to summarise what they said.

Presenter: But how can you do that if you didn't understand what they said?

Gabriella: Ah, well, you only start the summary, so you might say, in German in your case, 'OK, so the first thing I have to do is …?' and make it a question. Or, for example, 'And which office is that again?' Break it down into smaller questions and the other person will naturally start answering them. That way you're controlling the conversation a bit more.

Presenter: I get you ...



Language level

Intermediate: B1


IRL my listening is at an average level, but it’s better than in exam. So to help with listening, I learn listening skills on British Council web, listen to music and sometimes I watch movies. In addition, I studied dictation methods to improve my listening skills when I went to Simple English Center. That’s all my way, I hope I will be more confident in every conversation to perform my full potential.

Oh, listening!?! That`s really difficult skill, I try to listen and to be concentrate on the topic of conversation, to ignore other things which take my attention... but sometimes I understood half of the conversation and should be explain with simple words. I think if I watching films, TV shows of English will be so useful for me. I watching podcasts, listen music but I feel its not enough. I must listen and understand everything if I wanna pass IELTS..

Well, in the near past, one year ago, I was so afraid of listennig. Almost scared every single time I faced a listening challenge or exercise. But I said to myself, If I wanted to get a good level on English, I must improve this skill. So, I started watching news and listening to several podcast. When the time was running, I felt more confidence and could follow general ideas. One guy form those tools I used told to the public that this skill must be 40% of your English practicing process and I took that advice for my own routine. Obviously, there is a plenty of competence I should get, but I'm enjoying it. The hoped day will come!

I try to practice my English listening every day by watching English movies at lunch, and also I used to have an app on my cellphone to practice listening every day, and finally I'm here practicing the listening part with this section and also sometimes practicing with the post cast section. After this, I'm still wondering something...... My native language is Spanish, so I have my University classes in Spanish, my classes are through the zoom app, but I want to practice my listening more, so I would like to know if anyone knows an app or a software which helps me to translate what the teacher is saying during my University classes into English?

Of course, listening is the most difficult for me. I usually do not get the points.

Yes, listening also hardest for me. Now, I listening podcast and try to understand words, only for my ears and brain adapt, I don't understand clear, but fill more relaxed after one week when I listening podcasts.

I have been doing different things to improve my listening skills. For example, I listen to a podcast on Spotify about several topics in real life (transport, culture, politic, religion or language) sometimes could be difficult because my brain shuts down, but I don't give up! Also, I watch some series and listen to music in English.

I'm very poor in both speaking and listening. One way to solve this problem, you should be learm much vocabulary. Then you can find that you're listening is improve. In this time I am learning listening intermediate level in British Council. It's very helpful for me.
Thank you

Could you please tell me how to download the audios?

Hi Bakeer,

If you're using a computer, you can right click on the grey audio player, then choose 'Save audio as ...'. I hope that helps :)


The LearnEnglish Team