Learn English with Short Videos
I believe we’re all learning languages for the purpose of communication. Successful communication is possible if you’re able to express yourself (speaking skills) and understand the others (listening skills).
Whereas many would agree that developing speaking skills might be the most challenging task when learning a foreign language, it seems the difficulty of acquiring the ability to understand natives is underestimated. To be able to understand spoken English you need to
- have rich vocabulary
- know correct pronunciation of the words
- distinguish accents, recognize grammar patterns in speech (patterns like “I’ve, I’ve been, it might have been” are pronounced very fast, unless recognized comprehension may be hindered).
If you ask how to work on your listening skills, the answer is simple – listen to natives as much as possible. However, some types of listening yield more results than others. You might be familiar with the concepts of extensive and intensive listening/reading.
The difference is very simple. When you listen extensively, you listen a lot (radio, series, podcasts), but
- you don’t understand a certain amount of information (from 20% to 80%)
- you don’t make a note of new/unusual/useful expressions
- you don’t talk about what you’ve heard
Obviously, the intensive listening is the opposite (I’ve written more about it here) When learning a language BOTH types should be part of your routine.
Know-how of extensive studying is rather self-evident, whereas when it comes to learning intensively, there might be some doubts.
Here are 3 principles that I always follow
1. Listen to the content according to my current level, or slightly higher.
2. Make sure I understand at least 95% (to achieve that I listen several times and look up new words).
3. Create flashcards with the new expressions to study them later in a spaced-repetition program.
As you might know, at the moment I’m studying Chinese, and during my search for the best way to learn to understand the chinese people, I’ve discovered a great tool, called FluentU.
This tool is also meant for learning English, Spanish, German and some other languages.
It’s a collection of short videos, grouped by the level of difficulty and by a topic.
The best part is that each video has
- responsive subtitles – by clicking you see the meaning of the word and you can add it to your flashcards with one click.
FluentU a truly awesome tool designed specifically for language learners.
How well do you, guys, understand spoken English? What do you do to improve your skills? I’m always happy to hear from you in the comments:)