7 Best Radio Stations for English Learners

Today's Guest post is by Kenneth Waldman. He is a Professional Writer and also an Editorial Assistant at EssayMama.com. The areas of his interest include the latest education trends and technologies, digital marketing, social media. Listening to radio stations is a terrific way to improve your ability to understand spoken English. Listening to the radio provides opportunities to listen to many different people speaking English at a normal rate of speed and in many different dialects and accents. Talk radio is especially helpful because it forces one to concentrate and focus on the spoken word. You will begin to listen and to understand English without translating from your mother tongue. You will improve your own accent and learn many commonly used phrases.  Read about these 7 stations that can help you improve your spoken English, comprehension and vocabulary. (more…)

Do Headphones Improve English Listening Experience? (How to Stop Using Subtitles!)

Hi guys, whenever it comes to English listening, the typical picture most likely displayed is the following: It’s the headphones I’m talking about! Well, quite obviously there are other ways you can draw people’s attention to the fact that it’s the listening aspect that you want to focus on: One way or another, but headphones are strongly associated with English listening practice and I don’t doubt for a second that you’ve used them at some stage in your English learning routine. But here’s the thing. (Did you know you can say nearly everything using the word THING?) When I had to sit my English exam in secondary school, nobody offered me to use the headphones. When my daughter is doing her German homework, she doesn’t’ use her earphones – she just listens to the German audio lesson on her loudspeakers. After all – when you listen to other English speakers speak in real life, there’s no headphones involved, and you have to be able to perceive the meaning of speech from a distance. I mean – nobody is going to talk right into your ear, right? As a matter of fact, they actually take it one step further during the listening part of exams, for example – they make it HARDER for you to distinguish the words and make out what the speaker is saying by adding some background noise the audio such as the sound of cars passing by… You think it’s a good thing? You think it’s going to improve your ability to understand? It’s total NON-SENSE! Your listening comprehension won’t improve just because you make it harder for yourself to understand! In reality, you’ll make huge improvements in your ability to understand if you make it EASIER for yourself to understand what’s being said. Using subtitles is one way of making it easier for yourself to understand when watching films, for example. But it’s not always an option, and furthermore - It’s a good idea to teach yourself to understand English just by listening instead of reading, and that’s exactly when the headphones step in! Before we move onto discussing the merits of using headphones though, let me just show you the difference between earphones, headphones and headsets – just in case you’re wondering whether they’re the same thing or not! So, this is a typical set of headphones: And here’s what earphones look like: As far as headsets are concerned - this is what people mean when they mention it: And no, it’s not me wearing the headset! :-) Here’s me: Anyhow, going back to using the words “headset”, “headphones” and “earphones” - in real life these terms are sometimes used interchangeably. But now at least you have an idea of what exactly each of them represents! So, now it’s about time we looked into the subject a bit deeper… (more…)

You Don’t Need to Separate English Listening from Speaking!

The fact of the matter is – you can’t listen your way to English fluency no matter how hard you’d try. To consider yourself being fluent in English, you have to be able to SPEAK. To develop your ability to speak, you have to SPEAK. If most of your English improving related efforts are geared towards listening to: Specific English learning audios; Films and videos in English; Podcasts on various websites… … then you will greatly develop your English listening and comprehension skills, there’s no doubt about that! Your ability to produce fluent English speech, however, isn’t going to come along at the same pace for the simple reason that you wouldn’t have trained your mouth to speak, and that makes an awful lot of difference when it comes to one’s ability to deliver a verbal message. It’s pretty much the same as if you were trying to learn to drive a car by watching other people drive without attempting to sit behind the steering wheel yourself! Not all listening activities, however, are a waste of your time. As a matter of fact, you can’t actually separate listening to English and speaking in English because these two activities are quite naturally interlinked. (more…)

How to Develop Good Ear for English Listening

Nonsense of Learning English by Listening to Fast English Spoken by Locals

Back in the day, when I’d just come to Ireland and was still struggling with my spoken English, I was working in a massive warehouse offloading trailers all day long while at the same time trying to understand what my Irish supervisors and managers wanted from me. Why did I just say “TRYING” to understand? Well – guess what? – it’s not that easy to figure out what you’re told in English if the person in question speaks very fast AND with a distinct accent! Needless to say, over the next few years I did learn to understand the local speech, and nowadays the Irish accent has become so familiar that I’d pick it out in a crowd immediately. The heck, I can even imitate English spoken in Ireland a little bit myself now, so I have to admit that over time things have gotten much, much better in terms of understanding English spoken by people from all over the world. The reason I’m writing this article isn’t to conclude that you can just listen to fast English spoken by heavily accented local speakers and you’ll be just fine in a few years’ time down the line. It’s quite the opposite actually – not only it could very well be that you DON’T learn to fully understand the local slang (and please bear in mind it’s not just limited to English spoken locally; all these problems may occur when you’re listening to FAST English in general!), but also you could pick up quite a few psychological issues along the line! You may constantly strive to speak just as fast as natives and as a result you constantly stumble upon words and hesitate when speaking in English. You may develop a habit of comparing your English with theirs which has a detrimental effect on your fluency. And you may also find it very difficult to learn the English language to proficiency if you’re constantly forcing yourself to listen (or read) to something you only half-understand. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to persuade you that: Under no circumstances you should be exposed to English the way it’s spoken by natives in real life; You should only be exposed to English you understand 100%. If that were the case, you’d never learn anything because by the very definition LEARNING implies acquiring something NEW, something you don’t know yet. There’s a huge difference, however, between learning English by listening and repeating words, phrases and sentences that are EASY to understand AND listening to something you can only remotely recognize! (more…)

You Can’t Listen Your Way to Fluency!

My Honest Opinion on Developing English Listening Skills

I hate when I’m told what I didn’t ask for, and so do most people for that matter. Let’s say for instance, I walk into a drug-store and ask for slimming pills because I’m fed up with my extra weight and I want to look more masculine. The pharmacist starts telling me that I should start engaging in some physical activities, eat a balanced diet and use the pills only as a supplement. Would I listen to him? Nope! All that rant about a balanced diet and a workout regime simply wouldn’t register with me because I want the damn slimming pills which will give me the kind of a body I’m dreaming of, right? Same goes with most advice we get in life – it’s very hard to change our beliefs and opinions just because someone tries to convince us of something. Basically it boils down to this – we often hear what we want to hear, and we just screen off everything else - unless we’re really trying to analyse the matter at hand and we have an open mind while doing so :!: For example, I’ve been blogging about English fluency development for years on end, and I always point out the following things: To speak fluent English we need to engage in HEAVY SPEAKING PRACTICE, there are no magic shortcuts! Passive English immersion will mostly develop our understanding – NOT OUT ABILITY TO SPEAK! You can’t listen your way to fluency, you need to speak in order to train your mouth and mind to work together! Still there are many English teachers out there preaching the importance of English listening practice. Some even claim that first we have to spend all our time listening just like babies do, and then we’ll be able to start speaking… Now I’ll adopt the role of the pharmacist trying to tell you something you probably don’t want to hear – but I’ll give it a shot nonetheless! (more…)