An interview about listening skills

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 ...


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Submitted by kaanxcolak on Tue, 19/09/2023 - 12:33


When I was watching someone in general I used subtitles. Of course, it is not suitable for the average conservative. I always say that I'm sorry I didn't understand.

Submitted by imlix08 on Wed, 13/09/2023 - 04:58


I put a subtitle when watching movies and when talking to English Speaker I make sure to pay attention so I can better understand what he is saying.

Submitted by dta89uct on Sat, 26/08/2023 - 03:55


"I hope you don't do this – quite often the person just repeats what they said equally as fast and I'm still lost!"
I'm so coffusing in the sentence, I couldn't hear a word "fast", it sounds like "first" or "f/ə/st"?, I don't get it clearly

Hi dta89uct,

The presenter has a southern English accent, so they use the verb /a:/, which is a long verb similar to far as in far away. It's a common way of pronouncing this word, though it's not how I say it. I'm from the north of England and I use a short vowel sound written /æ/, similar to the sound in cat or fat.

English is very rich in terms of accents and dialects. We try to include a range of these in our listening texts so you can get ready for the many varieties of English you might hear when using it outside of a learning environment.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by marcialopes on Fri, 25/08/2023 - 16:33


I understand the interviewer's preference for speaking over listening, as I share the same preference. My IELTS test is scheduled for September 14th, but I am not very confident in my listening skills. That's why I am here... to improve as much as possible. To achieve this, I am using audio with transcripts to ensure accurate understanding, singing English songs with lyrics, watching TV shows and movies with English subtitles, among other methods.

Hi marcialopes,

Good luck with your IELTS test! I don't know if you know these sites but maybe they will be useful. You can find practice tests to do (with answers), including listening tests with mp3 files for download on both sites in the 'Prepare' section, plus a lot of tips, advice and information about the exam:


Good luck!



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by dao nghia on Tue, 11/07/2023 - 01:17


i am vietnamese person. when i was child, i dont focus on learning English. So my english is very terrible.

Submitted by LKARINAM on Fri, 30/06/2023 - 02:21


I'm a native spanish speaker, to improve my English listening skills had been pretty difficult but hadn't been impossible. I had practiced listening skills reading in loud voice (I love reading in English), listening popcast and some short coversations of native English speakers. Everyday I listen one song at least on youtube that I like, after that I browse its lyrics on google website and finally I sing that song with the lyrics on hand. I feel that I'm on way to improve my listening skill and I enjoy it! (Sorry if I have mistakes in this comment, I'm also learning how to write in English).

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Submitted by elifkglx on Sat, 24/06/2023 - 09:39


I am trying to develop my listening with doing exercises as much as i can. My listening exercises contain: this web sites listening exercises, podcasts, songs , videos etc.