If you are looking for a way to improve your listening skills that actually prepares you for the real world— look no further.
In this weeks video I discuss 7 tips that will increase your listening comprehension and therefore bring you closer to fluency using podcasts. (Which are usually FREE, so really it’s a win-win for everyone).
When it comes to language learning, I like to think listening is the cornerstone. Not only because it’s one of the 4 quadrants of a language, and you need to listen in order to communicate, but because listening is the first step to acquiring a new language.
Notice how I didn’t say ‘second’ language here?
That’s because this applies to our first languages too!
When we are babies, the first language skill we acquire is listening (Unless you’re Deaf, and then it’s observation, but that’s a totally different conversation). We listen far before we repeat and even farther before we start stringing words into sentences. So, why would we think acquiring a second language is any different?
Well, the truth is, it’s not.
I remember when I first started learning French, my teacher would teach half the class in English and half in French… which was fine, except I wasn’t listening to ANY OTHER French outside of class, and of course, I had the classic excuse for why this was so: I don’t have enough time to study outside of class. Well, let’s just say I didn’t do myself any favors when I suddenly was studying abroad in France and couldn’t understand anyone.
(I could have really used a language coach back then who knew the best strategies for efficiently learning a language… I’m just saying.)
On that note, being immersed in the language you are learning and realizing you don’t understand anyone, is not a good feeling. In fact, it kind of stinks. That is how I quickly learned the importance of listening to your target language as much as possible, and why I made this video with 7 tips to finally understand fast native speakers.
While anyway you listen to your target language will be beneficial (i.e. movies, TV shows, YouTube videos, etc.) Podcasts are exceptionally great because they give you no context and really push you to strengthen just your listening skills.
You can think of listening to podcasts like an isolation exercise at the gym. For those of you who don’t know what I’m referring to, an isolation exercise is a movement that uses 1 muscle group and typically involves movement at only 1 joint (i.e. a bicep curl). While there are plenty of other compound exercises that work the bicep along with other muscle groups, isolation exercises can be great for reducing risk of injury, increasing blood volume to the muscle to initiate growth, correct imbalances, increase size/volume of the muscle and provide the beautiful shape a lot of people are looking for.
This applies directly to language learning as well.
Let me break this down so you can see what I mean:
- Reducing risk of injury – When you form bad habits early on in your language learning, of not listening to native speakers frequently, it can be a lot harder once you reach intermediate or advanced levels to change those habits after you realize that your listening is behind.
- Initiating growth – I always say, the hardest part is getting started. Listening can feel daunting, but starting with simple isolation exercises like listening to simple podcasts for a few minutes a day, can really make the biggest difference in initiating growth with your listening.
- Correct Imbalances – This part adds on to what I mentioned above in regard to reducing risk of injury. If you do find yourself in the middle of your language learning journey, and you notice a significant difference between your writing ability and your listening ability… this is a clear sign of imbalance and need for more isolation exercises.
- Increase size/volume – Anything you can do to focus on growing each of the 4 quadrants of language will help you improve in your weakest areas and build on your strengths.
- Achieving shape – This one is my favorite, because everyone’s goal in fitness is to get into shape, but it’s also the same with language. We all want to be fluent. In order to achieve fluency, it takes time and consistency of doing the small things. Each exercise (like listening to podcasts using the tips provided in the video below) are all adding up to help you reach your desired result.