Tips for Learning a New Language: Listening


Throughout the month of January, we’re giving you some support with your new year’s resolutions by offering tips for learning new languages. Last week we looked at the best ways to learn how to read in your new language and told you the best place to begin with your studies. Now that you’ve started to recognize a few new words visually, it’s time to learn some tips for listening comprehension.

Why Listen to The Audio?

It’s essential to listen to audio (or native speakers) as you’re learning a language if you wish to speak it. It’s likely, after all, that you’re learning a language to communicate, and listening is a big part of communication. Also, how else will you learn how to pronounce a language if you’re not hearing the words pronounced?

Getting used to the sounds of a new language can be tricky, though, especially if you’ve had little to no exposure to the language before; where does one word end and another begin? Why are they speaking so fast?

The best possible thing for listening comprehension is repetition. Don’t be afraid to click play on the same word over and over until it sounds familiar to you, or a sentence until you can pick out each individual word, or a conversation until you’re comfortable to the pace.

Don’t be shy about reading along with the book or text as you listen; seeing the words in context in the sentence as you hear them will be vital to understanding the structures of a language and how the words work together.

If you’re listening to someone speak to you in your new language, don’t be afraid to ask them to speak more slowly so that you can pick out the individual words and ease your way into comprehension.

Where Else Can I Hear My New Language?

You don’t just need to listen to the audio in your language learning course. The more you surround yourself with the sounds of a language, the more your ear will grow accustomed to it. Listen to as much music in your new language as possible; listening to online radio from a country that speaks your language is a wonderful way to do this, as the DJs and commercials will give your ear practice with the spoke language too. Watch foreign movies to hear more examples of the language. Even if you are relying entirely on the subtitles, you’re still likely processing the audio and getting more exposure to the sounds of the language.

Lesson Plan for Week 2

By now you should have begun to learn some greetings and basics of your new language. You should start to have an idea of the fundamentals of pronunciation, and with practice, you should be able to say a few things already in your new language: Hello, My name is, Thank you.

  1. Now that you’ve been through Lesson 1, listen to the audio again without looking at the book. Repeat each phrase after you hear it.
  2. If you’ve already started writing in your new language, write down the words that you hear.
  3. Then listen with the book in front of you, covering up the foreign language with your hand so you can just see the English side of the list (you can do this in the online flashcards by flipping them over to the English side). This will help you associate just the sound with the English meaning.
  4. Next, see how much you understood by responding to conversation prompts in each lesson after you hear them.
  5. Move on to Lessons 2 and 3, paying attention to the repetition of sounds. Be sure to listen while you read the text, and always say words out loud after you hear them.
  6. Finally, go listen to some music to unwind. You can find some suggestions for music in your preferred language on our blog.

Don’t forget: aim for at least 15 minutes every day rather than large chunks just a few times a week! If you can’t study that often, be sure to at least expose yourself to the language with music or films as instructed above.

Next week: Tips on Speaking.

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