The factors behind lack of practical English listening comprehension

G’day mate, how you going? Today, I am going to be touching on the factors behind lack of practical English listening comprehension. Yes, there are heaps of reasons behind, but I want to address particular four aspects that have an immense impact on listening comprehension. Let’s get underway.

First of all, can you pronounce all 44 patterns of phonetic symbols accurately?

If you lack the accuracy of too many phonetic symbols, then you hardly listen and understand. Some people mention that even if you’re not good at pronunciation, you can still hear and understand English. That’s somehow correct. But, that’s probably for passing English examinations, not practical listening comprehension. You can definitely answer the questions by picking up some keywords, but you’re presumably not catching up with word by word. You don’t recognise the deficiency of refining your pronunciation until you understand yourself. This is, I reckon, one of the hardest ones whether you could develop your listening comprehension or not.

Second, are you just shadowing tv series, dramas, movies or podcast programs recklessly or meaninglessly?

The second hardest one whether or not you could improve your listening comprehension is just doing shadowing as a part of your learning training. There is no doubt that shadowing is one of the proper training methods unless you do it in an appropriate way. But nonetheless, I don’t recommend shadowing, simply because it doesn’t really help improve your listening skills. Shadowing is you’re just trying to regurgitate what the speaker is talking about, but not really understanding what the speaker is saying. If you want to emulate how native speakers talk, then repeating sentences is so much better. When you listen to the speaker, you intently try to understand and memorise what the speaker is saying. So your short-term working memory takes effect accordingly. How about shadowing? Not really. Shadowing training comes into fruition if the main purpose is to check your pronunciation and boost your oral fluency, not improving listening comprehension.

Third, can you immediately understand what subject and verb are when you are listening to radio or something?

Catching subject and verb plays a pivotal role in listening comprehension. Conversely speaking, if you cannot catch these two, then it’s going to be extremely difficult to understand what it is about. How do I solve the problem? To put it simply, just grab a grammar text, and review all the basics of English grammar. Personally, I sometimes review them in order to polish the accuracy of grammar rules. In especial, for us, we tend to read English sentences from the beginning, and then the end of the sentence due to the complete different word order grammatically (SOV). Tips: first, English word order is SV…, not S…V; second, catch whereabouts of SV; third, don’t be distracted by unimportant redundant words, phrases or any extra information.

Last but not least, are you just listening to something without having any background knowledge?

The best way to improve your listening comprehension is to garner sufficient background knowledge via reading stuff prior to embarking on listening practice. It’s going to be tough for you to understand what it is about unless you’ve got enough information in your head. English is not your mother language, so do some reading stuff should normally be required. I do understand some of you might reckon ‘I can understand what it is about without having any background knowledge because I can hear and catch every single word what the speaker is saying. In this particular case, yes I guess you can. But, unfortunately, that’s not the case quite often. Having enough prior background knowledge amazingly helps boost your listening comprehension.

That’s all for today. Thanks for reading!

Have a good Monday!

Published by Masato Kawaguchi

I am an English entrepreneur here in Australia. I've been teaching the PTE exam for the last 2 years or so, now mainly general English online.

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