Why is listening as a skill necessary to learn English?

Why is listening as a skill necessary to learn English?

Which is the most common form of communication- speaking, listening, reading or writing? Well, you might think it is speaking, but it isn’t- it is LISTENING. From birth, listening plays a key role in developing language comprehension. Babies listen to words spoken by their parents before mimicking sounds and speaking their first words. Listening is, therefore, one of the major skills required to develop a complete understanding of the English language.

As an online English speaking course in India, we have noticed one crucial factor that affects English proficiency amongst most learners. Most people in India speak English as a second language. Thus, their pronunciations and accents are culturally influenced. There is no harm in having an accent, we have covered a detailed blog on this topic. Pronunciations if not sharp should be correct.

And this is where online spoken English classes will come to your rescue. Regular practice with certified English tutors goes a long way in building consistency in your English speaking practice. You can learn more about our methods here.

Listening- The primary skill in language learning

To learn English online, listening is one of the four major skills in language acquisition. Although the three other skills, namely- reading, speaking and writing are crucial to develop language proficiency, listening contributes chiefly for language expertise. The sound, stress, and intonation of the language can only be adapted through listening.

Language ability can be improved when listening to the target language properly. One needs to focus and listen to understand the nuances in a particular language. Listening is the most significant part of communication as it is essential in providing a clear and a meaningful response. It is not only the primary form of communication, but also helps the learners to understand the beauty of the language.

Various studies show that listening occupies about 45 percent of the time adults spend in communication. On the other hand, they gain 30% language competence from speaking, 15 percent from reading and 10 percent from writing. Owing to the results, we are clear that listening is the skill that will be used the most in English, or any other language you learn.

Why is listening as a skill necessary to learn English?

In order to speak English, everyone needs to employ active listening skills. Do you know the reason? It is because the skill of listening has a tremendous influence on learning any language. Our brain gathers the information and starts “segmenting” it into small chunks to store in our short-term memory when we listen to someone talking with each other. Subsequently, it splits them up based on our knowledge of the “grammatical rules” for how the language is spoken. Instead of storing the actual words, our brain might convert and store those words into an image form.

Since we are not familiar with the foreign language or how it is spoken, our short-term memory tends to store all the words individually. Therefore, listening is of great importance in a foreign language as it acquaints us with those grammatical rules. The process not only can boost understanding but also improve our speaking skills.

But let’s not forget about the challenges! Studies also state that most of us are inefficient listeners. Numerous tests have shown that the average listener only retains 50 percent after listening to a 10-minute presentation. Within 48 hours, that reduces to a final level of 25 percent efficiency. Thus, we usually retain only one fourth of what we hear.

Consequently, inefficient hearing may cause many problems for the learners and others. Another major issue is poor concentration. We fail to make an effort to listen carefully and then, we soon find that our minds have turned to other things, focusing on trivial issues. Eventually, you become physically and mentally tired after a long period of concentration. Therefore, it is vital to choose diverse listening materials.

Exploring different areas of entertainment will build your vocabulary and challenge your memory and comprehension. It is very important to pay attention to what you’re hearing around you. Try to ponder on what might come next in the conversation based on your experience. Anticipating certain responses will prepare you for what you hear.

Tips from an online English tutor:

I teach English as a foreign language myself via an online spoken English course module, and I certainly see the value and importance of ‘listening’ in communication. Hence, I motivate students to use a variety of ways and methods to help them improve their English. When learning a new language, as an online English tutor I recommend

  • 1) the learner can watch movies in the particular target language,
  • 2) listen to audio versions of their favorite book,
  • 3) watch videos online,
  • 4) listen to radio shows or podcasts and many more.

These interesting activities will give them ample opportunities to practice their listening skills.

But being a novice, how will you get the most out of these listening activities? Well, the best way is to process the information consciously.

To use listening activities more actively, transcribe what you are hearing as you hear it. Then try saying whatever you have heard.

  • 1) You may create vocabulary flashcards for the words that you learn every day and write summaries about the things that you have heard. Having a conversation with someone about what you heard can always be fruitful.
  • 2) You should pay attention to the ‘keywords’ in a spoken sentence while listening. Understanding these keywords will enable you to get the gist of what the speaker is saying.
  • 3) Repetitive listening to the same sentence will help you to understand the rest of the words in a sentence.

Doing these things with the listening activities will actively engage the learners in listening and develop a strong vocabulary. These tasks will enhance their ability to comprehend language, which will in turn improve their listening skill. This will serve as a stepping stone to improve their spoken skill and the overall learning of the target language.

We all know that listening is a prerequisite for speaking. When you are good at listening, you’ll be able to have successful conversations. Listening not only helps in building your vocabulary but also in improving your English speaking skills. So, when you focus on your listening, you’ll get better at the other skills too. Thus, listening skill forms the concrete basis for complete language proficiency.

The key is to practice and to never feel embarrassed or fear failure. It is imperative to accept that one is not going to achieve everything right from the beginning. It might take time. The more you practice, the better you will get. Keep listening, Keep learning!


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