Coolessay Blog

English Speech by Ear: 11 Useful Tips


Those who study English have already heard about the tongue barrier, and it is precisely the fear to speak. However, few people mention that there is an auditory barrier, that is, a poor understanding of speech by ear. What causes this obstacle and how to destroy it? Let us think together.

Causes of the Appearance of the Auditory Barrier

  • Features of personality type. If you are not an audial, then it may not be easy for you to understand English by ear. These are innate or acquired abilities, it is impossible to radically change them, but you can develop those qualities that you lack;
  • Neglect of listening. Some people do not know how to get down to audio recordings, where to begin their studies, so do not spend time developing this important skill in English;
  • Low level of knowledge. Remember at what level do you know the tongue (if you are at a loss with an objective assessment, different tests for determining the level of English will help), what is your speech pace. You can comprehend a speech at about the same pace, so develop all skills in complex;
  • Ignorance of reduced forms and slang in colloquial English. For example, want to is replaced with wanna, and this creates difficulties in understanding live speech. If you do not know such abbreviations, such an expression may confuse you;
  • Too complex material. There are rumors on the Internet that it is possible to "learn the tongue" from scratch "just" by watching the series "Friends"/"How I Met Your Mother"/"House, M.D.", etc. in the original language. These are wonderful series, but they are not suitable for Beginner or Elementary levels at all, people do not have necessary vocabulary and other skills at these levels, so they may be completely disappointed in their abilities.

Some Useful Tips

  1. Listen to various audio materials regularly

    It is impossible to learn how to dance, watching how couples circulate in a waltz, you need to start dancing! And how to comprehend English by ear without making an effort? Move from theory to practice, from words to deeds. Listen to audio lessons, podcasts, songs, watch movies and serials in English (focus on your level). The main thing is to choose material that is fascinating for you. Try to arouse interest in yourself, try to like listening, then it will be much easier to do.

    What resources can be used:

    • Learning English through films will give you a lot of fun and help you comprehend English by ear. Find suitable websites and watch your favorite movies;
    • There are many websites with audio recordings and podcasts, add them to your bookmarks and visit them at least a couple of times a week;
    • In order to find out how well you began to understand English by ear and check your spelling skills, visit one of the websites with online dictations in English.

    Another important point: do it regularly. If you give at least 20-30 minutes daily to listening to various audio, then in a couple of weeks you will feel a little progress. If this becomes your good habit, in a few months you can improve perception of English by ear (the term depends on your abilities and the presence of an ear for music);

  2. Remember about audiobooks

    Audiobooks themselves are an excellent resource for developing listening skills. However, if it is not easy for you to understand the speaker's speech, then listening can turn into real torment. In this case, we recommend using a wonderful technique for working with audiobooks.

    Find the text of the recording and read it to yourself in parallel with the speaker. After 15 minutes, you will get used to the speech tempo and the speaker's voice, it will be easier for you to recognize words by ear. Close the text and listen to the audio. Maybe you will not understand every word, but notice that you catch most of what the speaker says. And if you listen to the book every day, then after a while, you will calmly work without the text.

  3. Increase your vocabulary

    The more you know, the easier you will perceive speech by ear. You will not be able to understand native speakers until you have a decent "baggage" of words. Pay special attention to spoken vocabulary, all possible abbreviations, as well as interjections. Strange as it may seem, but ignorance of the simplest Eh, Uh can confuse you: you will think that this is part of an unfamiliar word and will lose the narrative thread.

    Do not forget to learn idioms and slang expressions, they are often used in spoken English. They are especially popular with young people, so if you want to watch series or listen to a song of your favorite artist, be interested not only in "classics", but also in modern vocabulary.

  4. Develop grammatical skills

    Do not be surprised, knowledge of grammar also plays an important role in removing the auditory barrier. No need to cram all rules by heart, but you need to understand certain nuances.

  5. Improve your own pronunciation

    If you yourself learn how to pronounce words correctly, then it will be easier to recognize them in someone else's speech. The principle is simple: when you learn a word, at the same time, you know how it "sounds", so you can easily recognize it in spoken language. When learning new words, open a dictionary and listen several times how to pronounce this one or another, try to copy an accent of a native speaker. Now, when you hear these words, it will not be so difficult to learn them.

  6. Speak more English

    Communicate with different people as often as possible. So you can hear "live" speech and get used to the fact that it can sound different, because every person has his or her own accent.

  7. Learn to think in English

    This is a very useful habit. It is not easy to develop it, but you will need it many times. When you are reading or listening to any text, you do not need to mentally translate it into your native tongue. Do not think about translating at all. That is why it is so important to choose interesting information for you: you will be carried away by the narrative and will not be distracted by the literal translation.

  8. Use all technical achievements

    Do not neglect "wonders of scientific progress". It happens that it is difficult for a person to understand English speech by ear, even if the record is quite clear. You will benefit from the slow-motion function, it is actually in every new video and music player. Reduce playback speed until you catch a speech of a speaker.

  9. Actively look for possibility to engage in listening
    City Road

    Busy people do not always have opportunity to watch TV shows, but you can find a couple of minutes to install a special application on your tablet or smartphone. You can download individual audio lessons or podcasts, and it is even more interesting to listen to audiobooks, the benefit of them is that they are easy to find in free access. Try listening to audio on the way to work and back, during lunch break (or while working, until no one sees it).

  10. Develop an ear for music

    The better your ear for music is, the easier it will be for you to understand a foreign speech and learn how to pronounce sounds correctly. Do not panic if you are tone deaf, good hearing is given to very few people by nature. But you can fix it. One of the most effective ways – learning songs in English, while trying not just to listen, but also to sing along to your favorite artist. If you are shy, listen to usual lyrics and try to imitate intonations and speaker's accent. And there are such websites as, where you can listen to songs.

  11. Do not be afraid to listen

    None of the types of language barrier will not bother you, if you destroy the psychological barrier. Almost all people are afraid of novelty, uncertainty. Remember, when you start to master some computer program or a new gadget, it seems that everything is very difficult, but after a few weeks you become an active "user". Becoming a "user" of English is a little more complicated, you will have to spend more time, but you can do it. The main thing is to have a desire to solve this problem, and sooner or later a way to success will be found.

    As you can see, reasons for the appearance of the auditory barrier are quite trivial, and advice on getting rid of it is simple. Choose the most suitable recommendations for you on how to learn to understand English speech by ear. Good luck in English!

Rated 4.4 | From 471 users.

Leave a comment:

ChatChat with us