Strategies to listen /watch TV to learn another language

By Denise Doty

Before beginning to talk about strategies in listening/watching TV, first and foremost, realize that you are not going to understand everything you hear and that’s ok. Listening is a skill that needs to be learned, practiced and used, so listen as often as possible. Before you sit down to immerse yourself in TV, remove any distractions: friends, family, that good book you want to read, anything that will take your focus away from the TV. Next, prepare yourself to listen by reading about the program and look up possible vocabulary. Preparing is essential to understanding what you watch. Once you have done your research, make a list of goals. You can listen for pronunciation, accent, or meaning; or that list of vocabulary words you came up with. Finally, don’t translate. Your goal is to focus on the target language, not the translation of.


Techniques for listening                listening

There are many ways to use TV to practice your listening skills. Use these techniques individually or together.

  • Listen for the gist of it. Without dissecting the show, see how much can you understand. Begin by listening to small chunks of it.
  • Close your eyes and listen to the rhythm of the language.
  • Try to read the actor’s lips. This will teach you how to form your mouth when you speak.
  • Listen for specific words. Choose a word then every time you hear it, give yourself a point, make a game of it.
  • Pay attention to non-verbal cues. This will help you understand without having to look up the words. It will also assist you in memorizing the words, as this is a very natural way to learn a language.
  • Predict what is going to happen next.
  • Listen to the flow of the language and separate it by clapping or tapping your finger on each word.
  • Listen to a recording repeatedly. At first, just for the gist of it then tear it apart to analyze it then again, when you are all done, relax and see how much you understand now. You’ll be amazed.
  • Alter the speed of the show, slow it down or speed it up. Slow it down so that you can understand it, once you got it then increase it, even accelerate it so the actors are speaking even fast for native speakers. Push yourself. For this purpose use Audacityor AllPlayer.
  • Take notes. Jot down words you don’t know to be looked up later.



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