On the opposite side of Academic Listening, which is trying to improve and get the highest score, Realistic Listening here means that you just focus on listening and understanding the person you are talking to. This can become a real problem because not everyone has the opportunity to learn listening skills in an academic way and they just need to make a good conversation with others. So these below tips will help you improve your listening skills in real life.

Understand in English. Do not try so hard to translate words into Vietnamese

“Okay… This is way too much to process…”

This is quite a terrible mistake but very common in English listening. When listening, many people try to translate certain messages into Vietnamese but the more you try, the more difficult it gets to understand.

The information which comes from listening is constantly, meanwhile, translation requires a “delay” in getting – processing the information, which leads to a consequence of missing information or something worse. Translating is a complex brain process, so if you can’t directly understand, get used to the way they say instead of trying to translate.

You don’t have to understand every word

Imagine that you are at a party, everyone around you is singing, dancing, the music is louder and louder. Suddenly, you see a friend of yours and start talking. The fact is you and your friend are “screaming” to each other because of the noisy sounds around.

“Hey! Can you hear me?”
“What?! Say it louder!”

Do you hear every single word that your friend say to you? Absolutely not. But can you still understand and continue the conversation? That I can assure you! Because in Vietnamese, we have the ability to define which information is the most valuable and you only need to have a grasp of that information to fully understand the dialog. The only thing you have to do is to apply that same method to English.

Take this sentence for example:

….. weather … …. hot …. ….., I ….. …. ….. swimming ….. .

Forget all the … that you have no idea about but still understand through the remaining words like weather, hot, I, swimming; which only takes place of 31% in the sentence.

Just like that, in English, you don’t have to listen and understand 100% every word spoken out to get the meaning of the sentence. Especially, when having a conversation with native speakers, you may feel like they speak so fast but actually, only those UNNECESSARY WORDS be “fast”.

Improve your vocabulary

When you lack vocabularies, no matter how much you listen, how hard you try, your listening skill will not improve.

Listening in English to get used to the sounds, how to distinguish them and improve vocab to know the meanings and define them. These two jobs need to happen constantly at the same time.

So, you have to improve your vocabulary, not only learning by heart but also applying them to real-life situations.

Focus on pronunciation

Being good at Listening means that you can differentiate between different sounds. Wrong pronunciation can lead to misunderstanding.

Two of the most common reasons are: not getting rules of pronunciation and learning words without pronunciations.

Don’t be scared to get some “communications”

Another reason for people that have not been good at listening is that they have no “output”. Many people are afraid of speaking, which leads to missing the chances to talk and communicate with others. Listening or reading is the act of receiving information (input), speaking and writing are the acts of processing and exporting (output).

So, when listening in English without communications, you will lose your motivation to be better at it, even practicing listening as much as possible will also become less effective.

Besides that, when listening through communication activities, the brain will have to use more to receive and process information, which definitely helps your skills improve.

2. Academic Listening

Beside Listening in real life situation, Academic Listening plays an important role especially with people who want to earn a certificate in English like IELTS or TOEIC.

So, we will give you some useful tips to help improve your English as well as your results in these tests.

Practice IELTS test at home

– Use listening tests from CAMBRIDGE books ( from the 7th ) for recent updates.

– Spend 2 hours per test to check the answers and make full use of the transcript.

– Learn new vocabularies from transcript including pronunciation, meaning, circumstance…

–  Get used to of the pronunciation from the audio.

– Do the test without the transcript then check it.

Remember to make use of the transcript and learn new vocabularies

And also pay attention to the audio and the pronunciation.

Create the habit of listening to English 15 minutes daily

This can be very useful for busy people who don’t have much free time. You can practice while driving to work/school, taking public transportation, exercising or doing homework…

It doesn’t always have to be plain English audio. Try music, films, youtube videos, audiobooks in English, they are a lot more fun. And you’ll see your skills improve in no time.

You can visit these sites with audio/text to practice:

– VOA Special English

– BBC Six-minute English

– Ello.org

14 Top tips for IELTS Listening Test

– “Write no more than 3 words”. You have to read the instructions carefully and follow them.

– Get used to British English (Because for the listening section, you will be listening to British accents. Sometimes, you might hear Australian or Canadian accents, you might hear a range, but most of the accents will be British. So, it’s very important to familiarize with listening to British accents). Like the BBC news.

– British Vocab (It’s good to know some British expressions, some British words like lorry and truck). Using the website www.engvid.com

– Spelling counts (when you write down your answer, you have to spell something out so you need to be careful with the spelling. Practice spelling and learn spelling rules).

– Focus on the plurals, singulars and listen carefully (cat vs. cats).

– Practice tests (The more you do, the better and better your mark will be).

– Try prediction (Look ahead on the test so you can predict what the next answer is going to be and your chance of getting that answer right will go up).

– Write and listen at the same time (Listen to BBC, get used to writing quickly while listening).

– Be aware of changes: “It’s 2078. No, I’m sorry. It’s 4078”.

– Listening to groups of numbers – phone numbers (Get used to listening to large groups of numbers in sequence).

– Discriminate “13 vs. 30” (the trick here is, for “thirteen”, the stress is on “teen”, so you might hear it louder and stronger than the rest. Same for “thirty” when the stress is now on “thir”).

– Handwriting must be clear (if they can’t read what you write, you’re not going to get the marks for your answer even if it’s correct. Practice writing, start off slowly and then work on speed).

– Spelling double (name: T-a-t-t-o-l-l with “double T”).

We hope that this small report about our research has helped you with some advice on improving your Listening skill.

Thank you for reading and hope you will achieve your goals soon.


ET Team

ET Team

From Specialist Department

We are the English Trainer Team, majoring in Research and Development. We are in charge of offering fundamental English training sessions which provide you with effective English learning methods. Besides, you can gain more insight into learning English through our online posts.

Posted by Mỹ Trân from Communications.