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 ...


Worksheet79.35 KB

Language level

Average: 4.1 (101 votes)
Do you need to improve your English listening skills?
Join thousands of learners from around the world who are improving their English listening skills with our online courses.

Submitted by Toan3002 on Mon, 29/01/2024 - 04:03


I normally listen to podcasts or just watch English videos to enhance my listening skills.

Profile picture for user

Submitted by on Sat, 27/01/2024 - 21:35


I ask people to speak slowly in advance, but sometimes it doesn't work. Actually, I find Gabriella's strategy very useful and I am looking forward to try it as soon as I can. Anyway, I remember my English teacher saying that sometimes she went to England to pay a visit to her friend Joice: she understood her very well because she spoke clearly, but not her Joice's sons because they mumbled and their speech was confused. In other words, listening is much harder if people mumble instead of speaking and can't express themself clearly.

Profile picture for user natinnatnat

Submitted by natinnatnat on Thu, 25/01/2024 - 20:39


I've improved my listening skills by watching videos with subtitles. This way If I can't understand what people are saying I can just check the subtitles and understand right away.

Submitted by oumkhaditima on Mon, 08/01/2024 - 09:04


When I listening I can understand some section comparing to author, but to more understand I read the text and listening again the recording and this help me to hear and understand more words.
In finally thank you to British council

Submitted by abrarkh on Thu, 14/12/2023 - 17:15


Actually I don't have much experience in listening skills, but recently I’m trying to improve myself in listening by much listening to British Council podcasts and practicing . pray to me to continue 🥲

Submitted by pikanov on Fri, 20/10/2023 - 07:49


Focus. My key to answering the listening test is focus so I can understand the story's substance even though I can't here all the words exactly.

Submitted by Hibazerhouni on Wed, 18/10/2023 - 12:15


Hello beautiful community,
Actually I don't have much experience in listening skills, but I can say that I usually close my eyes and clear my mind to focus at least 90% on the recording and it works for me. Furthemore ,I try to memorise as much as possible


Submitted by Safe_Mode on Wed, 11/10/2023 - 20:25


I just try to listen to more conversations in English, as much as I can. Unfortunately, you can't improve your listening skills with any exercises, it's something you get with experience, you can't try to listen better or stronger)

Submitted by zizo2006 on Tue, 10/10/2023 - 14:54


How much I should listen to podcasts like that. By the way my sites at listening section is 4.

Submitted by zizo2006 on Tue, 10/10/2023 - 14:51


I don't have something to say, but I really appreciate your effort Mr peter.
thank you. ❤️