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Listening: A good way to learn English

Weena Kanadpon

Everyone knows that there are four skills in learning a language, namely listening, speaking, reading and writing. They are always related in terms of usage, and speaking is viewed by learners as the most desirable skill in face-to-face communication in the globalization era. However, what is the answer to the following questions?

  • What do you have to do before you can speak?
  • What does a child learn before he talks?
  • What do we do before chatting?

Listen, of course!

Naturally, children begin listening to their parents when they are babies. They are often greeted, spoken to and admired without any response expected. Though nobody knows if the baby understands the spoken words, the process continues. Children automatically acquire such language over some time, and later on gradually produce it through actual experience. The production may be incomplete at first, but successful at last. That leads to speaking skill which is quite applicable to daily conversation.

In learning English, listening can help improve speaking considerably. Although it is the first of all skills, it is neither the easiest nor the most meaningless. We need to hear various types of English repeatedly and continuously if we want to communicate properly, meaningfully and naturally.

Why is listening good?

  1. When listening, we are reviewing a lot of English usage such as vocabulary, grammatical structures, intonation, accent and our own interpretation.
  2. We can learn new words and expressions by hearing them frequently.
  3. Besides the English revision, general knowledge from news, features, or even advertising spots is certainly beneficial for regular listeners.
  4. We can imitate what we hear and apply it with great confidence.
  5. Listening can be a good "hobby" while we do other things such as cooking, ironing, exercising, relaxing etc. In other words, we have no wasted time at all.
  6. Listening is also a great way to train our attention.

How can we listen to English?

Nowadays, radio cassette recorders are household appliances, but we often overlook their radio function. We can experience English language radio programmes almost anywhere in the world. They are usually picked up on FM bands and aired particularly for foreigners. Short wave radio programmes are another option. Two of the most easily found English language broadcasters are the BBC and Voice of America. Today, you can even access them by internet. You'll find some useful links for listening to the radio by internet, including "News in Easy English", here.

© 2002 Weena Kanadpon

Weena Kanadpon is a Thai teacher of English. She teaches at Thap Put Witthaya School in Phagnga, southern Thailand. She discovered for herself the value of listening to the radio, and how to find English language radio programmes in Thailand.

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