English Listening Tip: Listen for One Specific Thing | ESL Listening

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If you’re studying English, I’m sure you want to improve your English listening skills. English listening is important for a whole lot of reasons-to give a good answer in response to a question, to be able to understand a TV show or movie, or even to get a better score on an English proficiency test. Whatever the reasons for improving your English listening skills, here’s a tip to help you do that.

When you’re a beginner or intermediate student, it can be really useful to listen for only one specific thing. This way, you won’t get overwhelmed, like you would if you were trying to listen to too many details at once. Start small, and work your way up to bigger and better things! Keep on reading for the English listening tip.

An English Listening Tip: Listen for One Specific Thing

Choose an audio that is over five minutes long and listen carefully for one specific aspect of the language. Some things you could listen for include the following:

Sentence/ Word Stress
Subject-verb agreement


You Can Start Small Too

If you find that five minutes is too long and your attention starts to wander, start shorter. Like exercising a muscle, you must build up endurance. Here is one activity you can use to practice any of the above with YouTube or any podcast with a transcript. Breaking News English would be perfect for this, if you don’t look at the transcript first!

1. Choose a short video or audio clip.

2. Look at the title and think about what the topic is likely to be and what vocabulary you might hear.

3. Listen or watch (without subtitles or transcripts!) several times. Write down the words you are focusing on. For example, if you are focusing on stress, you will write down the stressed words. If you are focusing on articles, write down the noun phrases you hear (“a man” or “the storm”).

4. You can stop and check what you have written using the transcripts or subtitles.

5. If you are using Breaking News English, you can continue listening a few more times, until you are ready to complete the listening activities for a more complete listening study session. Alternatively, you could use the dictation activity and listen very closely to extremely short segments of text.

Need more English Listening Tips?

If you liked this ESL listening tip, and need more, then you’ll need to check out this book on Amazon: 71 Ways to Practice English Listening: Tips for ESL/EFL Learners This tip about listening for one specific thing is from the book, and there are 70 more useful tips.

They’ll help you improve your English listening skills, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced level student. Head over to Amazon to pick up your copy today. The book is available in both print, and digital formats.

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