We believe that developing good listening skills is the single most important thing that a language learner can do in order to become an efficient and effective second-language user. There are four main reasons for this:
Listening skills are important in their own right
Spoken language is very different from written language, and unless language learners master the spoken form of the language, they will never be able to participate in normal conversation.
Listening forces automatic learning
Complex cognitive skills, such as language processing, must be practiced until they are completely automatic; comprehension must be immediate. Because normal spoken language is fast—about 3 words per second—and because listeners must process the language at such normal speeds, listeners are forced to develop automatic processing skills.
This not only leads to fast and efficient listening, but also fast and efficient speaking, reading and writing.
Listening comprehension leads to general language acquisition
Language is a means of communication, and many scholars argue that using the language to acquire information, any information, is the best way to learn the language. Listening to interesting passages does just that.
Listening provides optimal conditions for acquisition
Almost all natural language will present some new challenge for the listener. But if that is embedded in a context, the listener will often be able to understand. By understanding new language, they are actually learning new language.
In other words, extensive listening provides lots of input at the optimal i +1 level.
Despite these excellent reasons for extensive listening practice, listening comprehension is often the neglected skill. The reason is fairly obvious—teaching listening is a lot more complex, and a lot more challenging, than teaching other language skills.
- Firstly, spoken language is different from written language, and of course, listening is very different from reading. Many teachers are not trained to teach listening.
- Secondly, listening requires technical resources—recorders, players, speakers and so forth. Not all teachers have access to these, and many do not have the technical know how to use them.
- Thirdly, finding suitable authentic listening passages that fit established curricula is difficult and time consuming. Most teachers are just too busy to create suitable materials.
What English Listening can do for you
The aim of the English Listening site is to solve all these problems.
- We understand listening, and we know how to teach it. On our site students will learn how to listen in ways that are interesting and lead to learning success.
- No technical know how is required, just a computer with an internet connection, or a language lab for a whole class.
- We have hundreds of authentic passages, at all difficulty levels, on many topics, suitable for all listeners.
We can even develop specialized curricula for your language programs, if you wish.