Building Listening Skills for English

One of the most common questions that I receive as an English Teacher, is “How can I improve my listening?” This skill is, in my opinion, the single most underrated skill in Language learning. It is also a very complicated skill to teach. You might be asking why it is so complicated. Well, the answer is simple; Time Management! There are obviously activities that we can do in class to improve listening, but the amount of time it takes to really improve this skill is astronomical compared to, for example, teaching phrasal verbs, Especially if you are preparing a student for a particular international exam.

So how do I answer that question when I receive it? That answer is equally simple. Practice, Practice, Practice. Not just any type of practice but practice that includes comprehension quizzes.

There are obviously other ways to practice listening like listening to music and watching TV in English, but these methods rarely , if ever, test your comprehension.

So I will list below places to practice listening on the Internet.

  • ELLLO – English Listening Lab Online.
  • Randall’s Lab – Great Main Ideas and cloze exercises
  • Lyrics Training – Learn English through songs. Check out my full review HERE.
  • ESL Video – Learn English through TV and movie clips.
  • Vocabulary and Spelling City – Listening/Spelling Practice and more!
  • Many Things – Great for pronunciation and listening for vowels and consonants.
  • Movie Segments for Warm Ups Follow Ups – Great classroom listening for a group.
  • Movie Segments for Assessing Grammar Goals – Listening for grammar points in a classroom.
  • Listen and Write – Full and Partial Cloze Exercises based on interviews, music, movies, etc.
  • VOA Special English – Modified English Listening for different levels based on interesting news stories.
  • BBC Learning English – A great resource with listening, grammar, pronunciation, and classroom exercises. Great for teachers and students alike.
  • ESL Commando – If I do say so myself. Many grammar, writing, and pronunciation tutorials for all ESL students. Check out my new resource, English Video Discussions for great short videos that students and teachers can use to create discussions.
  • British Council – A lot of interesting activities and video clips to help learn British English.
  • Breaking News English – Very good listening activities for the classroom. Entire lesson plans, guides, and student packets available.
  • English Central – Practice with pronunciation and listening to TV clips.
  • VoScreen – Great practice to translate English listening to your native language. Not all native language are supported, but most Indo-European languages and Arabic are.
  • PBS Video – Excellent listening practice to learn how Americans (and some British) speak for both teachers and students. Many videos on FRONTLINE have teaching lessons associated with them and transcripts (written words) for the videos. Best of all, it is all free!
  • Engvid – Great English instructional videos, quizzes, and practice!
  • Rachel’s English – a very popular and helpful listening and pronunciation site for ESL learners with great tips and information.
  • Iowa State Pronunciation Guide – Practice listening to how all of the vowels and consonants sound in English.
  • Duolingo – Start in your native language and play games, get points, increase your vocabulary and improve your pronunciation too!
  • Memrise – Similar to Duolingo, but has some different features you may like!
  • Learning Chocolate – A basic, but fun English learning website that lets you practice listening with vocabulary.

Listening for TOEFL

Listening Sites for Teens and Adults

  • English Central has several Youtube videos at different English levels in which students are asked to listen to then try pronouncing the words correctly. Play against others.
  • Dictation Exercises from English Club has different dictation exercises at various levels for students. Students can choose their listening speed and check their answers.
  • Listen and Write is another site to find dictation exercises. Choose your audio level and take a test.
  • AudioPuzzler is a game where students choose to listen to famous movie clips then type what they hear.
  • PlayPhrase is a platform where students get to hear English phrases from over 300 movie clips and repeat what they hear.
  • Lyrics Training and Tune into English help students to learn English by listening to popular songs then singing and playing games with others.
  • LingoRank has over 400 selected talks to improve your English listening and vocabulary skills.
  • Lit2Go is a free online collection of stories and poems in Mp3 (audiobook) format. An abstract, citation, playing time, and word count are given for each of the passages.
  • ELLLO, the English Language Listening Library Online, has videos and audio recordings with listening quizzes and transcripts.
  • Listen-A-Minute is a Sean Banville site with a listening and various class and online activities. Each listening comes with a pdf teachers can download of these activities.
  • ManyThings is a site which lists various listening exercises and games for language learners.
  • Podcasts in English is a site to find podcasts and activities for English language learners on various topics. Find some for adults, business English, traveling and more. Students choose the level.
  • VOA News is a site where each current event comes with an audio recording.

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