Updated: Jan 14
What I am saying is that this kind of exercise is about ‘active listening’. The exercise forces you to do several things:
· Listen to authentic listening material (and, hopefully, on a topic or theme that interests you)
· Listen for sounds in short clips (of between 5-10 seconds or so)
· To write down everything you hear.
In the last part, I said it doesn’t matter if you don’t hear every sound, or word, first time. What you do then is listen to the clip again, and again. You can do this as many times as you want, but there may come a point where you say, “That’s it! I can’t understand any more of this.” What then?
6. Slow the clip down by using the ‘settings’ wheel
YouTube offers you the chance to slow the clips down to half-speed (0.5) or three-quarter speed (0.75). I suggest you use the 0.75 setting.
7. Listen again.
Now, repeat the exercise at the slower speed. This will probably help you to understand a few more of the sounds or words. But only do this once you feel you can get no more from the natural speed. Write down the sounds that you hear and try and build up what is being said on paper.
8. Now, the subtitles
If you reach a point where you cannot understand any more, even at slower speeds, now listen using the English subtitles.
Here, of course, you must be careful. Not all subtitles are accurate, for several reasons. But they should help you now understand and follow what is being said in the clip.
I guarantee you will have ‘Eureka’ moments during this exercise – those moments when you suddenly say something like, ‘Oh, that’s what he was saying. Now I get it.’ And, once you have finished with the first 5-10 second clip, you can move to the next.
What you will find is that your ear will soon ‘tune’ itself to the speaker’s voice. In other words, it will almost certainly become easier over the course of the exercise.
This exercise can be done with all kinds of listening material – including films and even music. But remember, it is a listening exercise, first of all.
Finally, what I am not saying is that this is the only kind of listening exercise you should do. Yes, keep listening to the graded study material that you need. But, as soon as you can, you should begin listening to authentic material – and have a strategy for doing this. In these posts I have tried to offer one.