How to: Improve your listening skills – listening for detailed information



Listening and understanding everything you hear in English is not an easy skill, from listening to an announcement at an airport to catching important information or instructions in a meeting. Here is some advice to help you prepare and practice your skills for listening for detailed information.

Prepare to listen:

Depending on the context (place, main topic or theme etc.) you should already know what kind of information you expect hear. So use this knowledge to PREPARE your brain for KEY WORDS that you need to listen out for. For example: In a presentation about how the company is re-branding you may hear key words related to new identity, image, reputation, reaction, new markets etc. Focus your attention on these words – or ones related to them – and the words, phrases and verb forms that give you the information you need to know. For example, comparative or superlative adjectives, numbers, locations, future forms (will/going to).

Listening for sign-post words and phrases:

When the speaker you are listening to is going to introduce the next bit of information related to the topic, or to link or contrast information, they will often use SIGNAL (SIGN-POST) words and phrases. For example: Words to order information – firstly…moving onto…now let’s look at…finally…Or words to link and contrast such as in addition…as a result…despite…however etc.

3. Practice listening for detail using podcasts and news broadcasts:

Try to find time every day to listen to a few minutes of a podcast or a news channel in English, which you can ‘re-wind’. Listen once, to understand the topic/context, then listen again, writing down some of the facts or important details you hear.

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