Learning English Online: Tips to Develop Listening Skills

Learning English Online: Tips to Develop Listening Skills

Many ESL learners typically do not pay much attention to listening skills when learning English online. However, improving our listening skills is an essential part of learning a language. Listening comprises 45 per cent of adult communication, while speaking just accounts for 30 per cent. 

We often believe that we will simply develop impeccable listening skills, so we fail to give it the proper attention it deserves in online learning or in a more practical sense. However, ESL students usually struggle to grasp auditory texts for several reasons. Limited vocabulary, speech rate, speaker’s accent, or even background noise can make listening in English difficult for those learning the language online or otherwise.

So here are some easy steps to help you become a more proficient listener.

1. Get the gist

Getting the gist of a text is looking at the big picture. When we listen, it is essential to look at the big picture to understand better what was spoken. To do this, we need to be on the lookout for content words – those are nouns, adjectives, and verbs. These words and their sequence in the text would help us piece the details together to form the gist.

When you hear the words ‘class’, ‘teacher’, ‘students’, ‘Monday’, you will be able to gather that the message is about a typical school day. 

2. Use context clues

Context plays a significant role in any form of communication. When listening, context can also help in better understanding the text. 

Context can help listeners predict the content. When listeners have an idea of what the text would be about, they will listen and comprehend better. Visual cues such as pictures, symbols, and the speaker’s body language are considered part of the context. They support content words that would enable listeners to decipher the text better.

Online English courses pay special attention to teaching context clues as these are vital in many aspects of learning a language.

3. Lookout for verbal signposts

Earlier, we talked about how nouns, adjectives, and verbs or content words can help listeners get the gist of the message. However, other parts of speech can also aid in arriving at a better understanding of the text.

Discourse markers are words or phrases that help in structuring a text. These verbal signposts provide structure to spoken or written texts. They also serve as guides to listeners (or readers) to better understand texts, especially those learning English online.

Common discourse markers include:

  • First, second, third… (Showing order)
  • However but, as opposed to (Contrasting)
  • Like, similar to (Comparing)
  • In other words, to put it simply (Clarifying)
  • To illustrate this, for example (Giving examples)

4. Make inferences

Good listeners make intelligent guesses or inferences as they listen and correct or affirm those guesses along the way. Making inferences would require the use of our prior knowledge combined with the context clues from the text. These guesses could help us work out what is being said and arrive at a better understanding of the text. 

5. Pay attention to details

Listening for details would require taking a closer inspection of the parts of the text. Most of the time, those bits of information are crucial to the speaker’s message and would require us to be able to recall it at a later time.

Important details such as dates, numbers, and addresses are easy to miss, but these could be vital to the overall text. Several online English courses have made listening to details an essential aspect of their curriculum, as many listening tests would require listeners to pay attention to the critical information from the spoken text.

Hone Your Listening Skills with Anglia Education Online

Hone your listening skills with Anglia Education. Choose from Anglia Education’s different A.I.-powered courses that would better fit your needs. We offer online classes that would sharpen your listening and other reading, writing, and speaking skills.

Want to test out your knowledge and skills of the English language? Anglia Education also offers online English exams that could help you open more opportunities and advancements in your career.

The world needs more good listeners. Be a better English communicator with Anglia Education.   


Read our other blog posts to know more about learning English online with Anglia Education.



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