1 Active Listening Strategy for Language Learners

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Sounds_WavesListening was once thought to be a passive skill. Anyone who has ever tried to learn another language knows this a bunch of hooey. You strain. You sweat. You rewind. You listen over and over. You say, “Please repeat.” Nothing passive about it. The good news here is that you CAN work to improve your active listening strategies.

To use this strategy, you’re going to need a listening passage along with the transcript (a transcript is what the people say – word for word – written out).

You’ll use this transcript to read along with the passage.

Here’s the strategy:

Read through the passage first. Identify any key unknown words. Identify main ideas. Identify who does/did what in the story in chronological order. (You can take notes.)

Do you need to know every word? No. Just get the main ideas down and straight in your head.

Next, listen to the passage without reading or looking at your notes. See if you can pick out the information that you just read. If you can’t, spend some more time with the reading.

Go back and re-read that difficult part of the passage OUT LOUD.

Play with the sounds in your mouth. Often times, the words that we read on the paper sound very different in our brains and there’s a disconnect between the written language and the actual sounds of the language.

Now go back and listen to that part of the passage again. You should be able to make it through this time.

Here’s the final step:

Summarize what it is you heard by speaking OUT LOUD – again, we’re marrying the written and spoken parts of the language together.

By this point you should be able to process the listening with confidence.

That’s it! You’re on your way to developing an awesome active listening strategy! (Nothing passive about it!)

Psst: Next time I’ll cover where you can find these amazing listening passages with their transcripts.

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  • carin chapin

    Thanks! I’ll give this a try with my ESL adult student.