Listening is a critical element in the language performance of non-native English speakers. Studies have shown that, through the normal course of a day, listening is used nearly twice as much as speaking and four to five times as much as reading and writing. In a study of Fortune 500 Corporations, researchers found that listening was perceived to be essential for communication at work with regards to employment, job success, general career competence, managerial skills, and the effectiveness of relationships between employees. It’s no surprise, then, that one of the most common questions directed to OISE language coaches is, ‘How can I improve my listening skills?’ Besides speaking English as much as you can while living in Britain or the United States, the Internet is a great tool to turn to for listening practice. Here are three English language websites (for both American English and British English) that OISE coaches recommend:
British Council English Online Learners – This website it designed for students preparing for the IELTS exam, but it’s great for any language learner at any level. You can speed up the speaking pace while listening to really challenge your listening skills. Or, you can slow down the speaker’s voice and work up to a higher level.
NPR – National Public Radio, known in the States as NPR, is the American radio broadcast network. One of its programs, “Five Minute News,” publishes a new five-minute news story every hour. Each story includes the transcript of the news report so you can listen and read along at the same time. This is recommended for Upper Intermediate to Advanced learners.
BBC Learning English – If you’d like to perfect your British accent, this is the perfect tool to use. This website offers six-minute lessons for English-language learners of all levels. Each listening exercise includes a transcript and a list of vocabulary words.