The Listening to Understand
Of the four skills of learning the language of English, listening is the most important skill.
It involves hearing the sounds of English and developing listening skill to understand spoken English to respond appropriately to the speaker.
This is how a toddler “learns” by merely hearing and responding to the speaker. This is how we all learned the mother tongue, first by hearing and then when we were two or three years old we were speaking with understanding.
Lot of INPUT of vocabulary, sounds, facial expressions and gestures are taken in. After some time, having heard the spoken language often enough, you are able to produce the same words, sounds and even expressions, and this is OUTPUT. Logically, no input would result no output.
Speakers and learners of mother tongue have difficulty to learn a new language because of social-cultural pressures. For example, parents want to teach their children the mother tongue and reinforce learning at home with watching movies, listening to songs, watching news and even talk to people around them in the language dialect their comfortable with. When they are taught English as a second language, they are hearing a new category of sounds and vocabulary which they have not heard before. They are often translating the words in their mind to understand and to respond. As a result you have learners of English speaking with direct translation from mother tongue. Sometimes to facilitate understanding, English and mother tongue is mixed when they speak.
A strong motivation is needed to learn a new language. With enough exposure or “hearing” the English language one can easily pick it up.
How do you input?
1.Listen to English songs
English songs are found everywhere. You can get CDs or download from internet songs with lyrics. You can enjoy the songs and at the same time learn vocabulary and the sounds of English. You can install Media Player or RealPlayer to watch videos with songs with lyrics.
2.Watch movies, documentaries and news items in English.
Avoid movies with mother tongue translations. While watching pick up vocabulary, pronunciation, phrases, intonations, pauses and stresses in the real spoken English.
3.Watch and practice listening by watching video clips of spoken English from internet youtube.
4.Reading aloud and singing to practice pronunciation can be very helpful, especially with a tape recorder.
Listening is learnt even before reading and writing, and this is why learning the listening skill is the most important skill to learn