I'm all ears!

How to teach listening - for teachers; 5 secrets to improve your listening skills - for students; Personal experience - Katherine Belugina.


Each lesson involves practice of several skills and although there are still debates as to how many should be included in one lesson, listening is definitely one of them. Both listening and reading are receptive skills which are considered easier than productive skills such as speaking and writing, but tell that to an Elementary level student and you will see a stupefied stare.

So what constitutes teaching Listening and how to do it in the most effective way? Let’s find out.


Listen through the recording in advance and note what may pose difficulty to your students. Do the speakers have an unfamiliar accent? Do they speak too fast? Is there any background noise? All these factors may affect how you approach the task and teaching it. Pay attention to the purpose of the dialogue, the context and the relationship between the speakers.
The next step is to look through the script and highlight difficult vocabulary your students are sure to mishear or misunderstand. Also, select the target vocabulary you will focus on.


Show a picture of a situation similar to the one on the recording. Ask them to describe the picture, the emotions of speakers, the context and their possible relationship. Ask them to guess what the people might be talking about. If the recording is of one person talking, show them a picture related to the topic of the talk and discuss what they think it is about.


Introduce the difficult words and phrases you singled out at the preparation stage. After that teach the target vocabulary - matching, gap-filling or any exercise of your choice. Ask the students questions, do pairwork and generally make them use the target vocabulary a little before they hear it themselves.

Listening for gist

Before you listen for the first time, give a task for general understanding. It can be a question about the context, purpose or the relationship, or several questions. Remind the students that they do not need to understand all the details or remember everything, just focus on the task at hand. Then play the recording once and do a class feedback. Discuss what parts of the recording were most difficult for the students.

Listening for detail

Give a more specific task at this stage - gap-filling again, writing numbers, figures or names. It is also a good idea to draw their attention to the target vocabulary again, completing the collocations and phrases. Ask more questions and discuss the context as a class or in groups/pairs.

Listening for the third time

Many teachers skip this part, but we recommend giving out the script of the recording and listening to it for the last time. Let the students read along and underline the parts they didn’t hear at first, find the target words and phrases, or some other collocations they like and would like to learn. In the next lesson you could use the script again, removing some words and asking the students to reconstruct the text by memory. This will raise their awareness of the vocabulary and help them revise.


As a follow up task you can continue discussing the topic, share ideas or debate, exchange similar experiences and such. An all time favourite task is to role-play the dialogue, but from the perspective of other people, or as a dialogue by the same people on a different occasion, or introduce new characters. Encourage the use of target vocabulary here, and do an all-class feedback and mistakes correction.

5 Secrets to Improve Your English Listening Skills


Listening in English is hard! Let me share five tips for making it much easier. When it comes to speaking English, you have to be your own biggest supporter. If you can get excited about your future success, making progress will be so much easier. Your improvement starts with your mindset. Start by believing in yourself and your ability to speak and understand fluent English. Even if it’s difficult at first, this “can-do” mindset will help you to keep learning as you go.


Try and find different ways to practice your English skills. Don’t just read English; speak it! Listen to it! These actions will keep you on your toes and open your mind to many different ways of studying the English language. It’s important to spend time developing each skill so that you can be comfortable in a variety of situations.


It is possible to learn about other topics while also learning English. Branching out to different areas of entertainment will build your vocabulary and challenge your memory and comprehension. Choose English materials that you are interested in. Also, choose English materials on topics that you are not familiar with so that you can expand your vocabulary more.


Pay attention to what you’re hearing and the situations around you. Always ask yourself what you think might come next in the conversation based on your experience and logically what would make sense. Take a chance and guess what you might hear next. Learn to anticipate certain responses and vocabulary that you might need to use. This will help prepare you for what you hear.


A big part of speaking English is using the correct sentence structure. In the English language, we put stress on different syllables and raise our voices at specific places in our sentences.

Focus on stressed keywords to understand the most important information in a conversation. Let go of trying to understand every single word, because it’s more important to keep up with the conversation and comprehend the main idea. Once you can step back and make general understanding your goal, you’ll be able to fill in the details and solve any doubts later by asking questions.

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Traditionally, it is believed that the skill of listening is the most popular skill of a person in everyday life. However, based on my experience, listening often causes difficulties even for students with a fairly high level. I think this is due to the fact that there is still a rather inefficient approach to the study and practice of listening in schools. Taking into consideration the availability and convenience of various multimedia resources, such as Youtube, online cinemas, and TV services, as well as online educational platforms, I most often use video clips for teaching listening. In my opinion, this makes it easier to perceive information, as well as enriches the audiovisual perception of students. I’m convinced that studying the specific features of listening nowadays is impossible without taking into account visual aspects.

When teaching listening, I usually adhere to a classic method of dividing it into three stages: pre-listening, while-listening, and post-listening. At the first stage, the student and I are trying to tune in to the right topic and assume what we will hear. When using a video, I use a screenshot, if the audio is taken from the book, I search for a picture there or select the image myself.

With the help of a picture or screenshot, I ask the students questions about it, which will help them try to predict what the audio or video is about. We write out all the answers and suggestions in the chat or on paper, along with the vocabulary that may be useful for the intended context. If during the preliminary listening I find some vocabulary that may be difficult for the student, we also analyze it, although I choose only those words that will actually help to understand the text, not all unknown words.

I think this stage is the most important when teaching listening, as it helps to provoke interest in students in the topic and motivate them to listen, as well as give them the confidence to continue the task. In addition, this type of activity involves a lot of speaking on the part of the student which makes the process more communicative and engaging.

In addition to the classic listening exercise consisting of various comprehension questions, one of my favorite exercises is related to interactive communication. It is most suitable for videos related to real-life situations like going to the bank or the doctor. I stop the video after each line, and the student has to repeat it to consolidate the vocabulary and memorize speech cliches for certain situations. Sometimes I add a task where the student needs to come up with his own answer to a certain line using the studied cliches and words that are different from those in the video.

Another effective exercise involves combining listening and speaking, although it’s not suitable for all videos, but to those where there is a complete and understandable plot. First, the student watches a video with sound, and then the sound turns off, and the student tries to "voice" the video himself, conveying the essence of what is happening. Even though such a task may seem quite difficult, students usually cope well with it, and are happy that they can show creativity. After performing any listening exercises, I always advise students to review and analyze the script, and listen again while following the text, and preferably speaking it out loud.

Of course, in addition to exercises and listening in the classroom, I advise students to listen to various content suitable for their level in order to passively develop listening skills, and most importantly, get used to different sounds, rhythms, intonations, and accents. There is a huge amount of material on the web, but I usually recommend some bloggers (especially for understanding and studying modern colloquial vocabulary), informative educational channels, as well as short podcasts or videos, like TED Talks, BBC, Listen A Minute, as well as evening shows, and, of course, movies and TV series according to the preferences of students.

That’s all for now!
Stay amazing ❤