If you are looking for tips to improve your listening, you are not alone. This is by far the most common struggle of all my students. I get this question all the time. Teacher, how to improve my listening?
In this post, I’ll share 5 ways to improve your listening skills for FREE. If this is something you are interested in, please keep reading.
Tip # 1: Podcasts
I’ve mentioned this so many times that I now feel like a broken record saying it. If you want to improve your listening skills, you have to actually activate your listening skill. Whichever skill you want to improve has to be the skill you exercise. Podcasts are invaluable tools available to you.
Podcasts are super convenient because not only do they train your ear to be able to pick up English vocabulary, but they also help you to expand your vocabulary and even better, can be used while you pass the time.
There are many podcasts out there. Some you have to pay a subscription fee to use, but here are some apps that allow you to listen to podcasts for free. Who doesn’t like free right? Just download a few, try them out to see which ones you like so you can improve your listening skills on the go.
- Anchor FM: Android OS, iOS
- Google Podcasts: Android OS, iOS
- TuneIn Radio: Android OS, iOS
- Castbox: Android OS, iOS
- Doggcatcher: Android OS
- Podcast Addict: Android OS
- Spotify: Android OS, iOS
- Pocket Casts: Android OS, iOS
- Podbean: Android OS, iOS
- Podcast Go: Android OS
Tip # 2: Radio
Another great and convenient way to improve your listening is by listening to English radio. You can listen to the news, radio game shows, stand up comedy, or just radio talk shows. Whatever tickles your fancy works just fine and as with everything on this list, you get the added benefit of expanding your vocabulary.
>tickle your fancy (idiom); meaning: something that you like
If you have access to English radio stations, you can listen to them in your car on your way to work or listen to them at home while you do chores or relax. Similar to podcasts though, there are radio apps available for those who prefer to have the radio on their phones.
Here are some apps you can download and listen to English radio for free to help improve your listening:
- AccuRadio: Android OS, iOS
- SiriusXM: Android OS, iOS
- iHeartRadio: Android OS, iOS
- Spotify: Android OS, iOS
- XiiaLive Internet Radio: Android OS, iOS
- myTurner Radio: Android OS, iOS
- Radio Online: Android OS
- Pandora Radio: Android OS, iOS
- TuneIn Radio: Android OS, iOS
- 99.7 The Blitz: Android OS, iOS
Tip # 3: Music
One of the most fun ways to improve your English listening skills is by listening to music. In English of course! You can listen to music anytime. While you eat, while you exercise, while you walk, and even while you sleep.
Naturally, as with everything on this list, it will take time. I can’t promise you that you will instantly be a fluent English speaker just by listening to music, but it’s a great way of immersing yourself in the language. As we all know, the fastest way to language fluency is complete immersion. I am aware that’s not always an option for everyone so this is a good substitute.
My favorite genres to listen to are American Country music and Canadian Country music. As you can tell, I am a big country music fan. The genre is easy to listen to and understand because the singers pronounce their words more clearly than rap or some pop music – and it’s great for beginners.
If you are into pop music though, here’s a great playlist. The songs have been slowed slightly to make it easier for you to understand and sing along to the lyrics. Enjoy!
Tip # 4: Audiobooks
Naturally, it goes without saying that audiobooks are another great tool you can use to improve your listening skills. There are so many great books out there these days. You don’t have to listen to those boring grammar books either. Although grammar is very important, I can understand if you want to listen to something a little more awe-inspiring. That’s where audiobooks come in.
Most of the audiobooks I know of are paid books, and understandably so. However, this list is about things you can start doing right now to improve your listening for free. One way you can access free audiobooks is to use Youtube and search for free audiobooks or listen to audiobooks free.
You could also visit https://www.openculture.com/freeaudiobooks to access 1000 free audiobooks across different genres. If you want apps you can download on the GooglePlay Store, here are a few:
If however, you are looking for apps you can download from the Apple App Store, here are a few apps you can try out:
Tip # 5: TEDTalks
My final, and absolute favorite tip is to use TEDTalks. If you want an engaging, fun, and educational way to improve your listening skills, then you need to be using TEDTalks. The variety of topics to choose from cannot be overstated. There is almost literally a talk on every topic you can think of and even more on topics you have not thought of.
The best part is that you can listen to the talks for free. You can go directly to the website and search based on your interest or browse their extensive library. You can also go here to browse topics that interest you. One of the things I love most about using their website is that many of the talks also have transcripts and/or footnotes provided. You can download them to read along for those moments when you begin to struggle.
I hope you found these tips useful. If you did, let me know in the comments below. Also, feel free to share your tips so others can learn from them. If you have specific questions or content requests, let me know. I’ll do my best to facilitate what I can. Thanks for reading and ‘til next time, happy listening!