By Iordanka Yvancheva
Do you wish to speak English fluently and confidently?
Do you wish to truly enjoy communicating in English?
Do you wish to have fun while learning the language naturally?
Do you want to know how you can achieve all this (almost) by yourself?
And for free? I can tell you that.
But first, let me introduce myself. My name is Iordanka, I live in Sofia, Bulgaria and I am a Suggestopedia teacher of English as well as the founder of The Butterfly Wings Suggestopedia Center of English. I help people learn English as a foreign language. Most of my students are adults. I also love learning languages myself. And as I am rather busy, I rarely have a chance to take language courses, so instead I learn by myself. My native language is Bulgarian, I am fluent in English, intermediate in Italian and French, and I speak some Russian and Spanish.
So, what is the *Number 1 factor* in improving your ability to speak?
Do you know?
You know, children usually start talking when they are about 2 years old. That is, they have listened to the language for about 2 years before they start talking. Some listen a bit longer and then they speak better.
So massive listening means massive exposure to the language. Massive listening helps you immerse in the language. The higher the exposure, the better the results, such as understanding the language and, subsequently, speaking.
Here are some tips on what to listen to and how to practice listening comprehension:
Listen to original content that you’re interested in. It is best to listen to audio or video material created by native speakers of English. Give preference to materials that are slightly above your level and ideally you would listen to each material multiple times over a few days (that is, 10-15 times for content of up to 10 minutes, for longer pieces – minimum 3 times).
You can find many interesting videos on youtube these days and here’s how to use them:
First, choose materials that are of interest to you personally. They can be videos related to the language itself (expanding the vocabulary on a certain topic or explaining pronunciation or grammar) or dialogues, lectures, presentations, podcasts on interesting topics, or materials related to the English or American culture, society, differences,or travel videos and so on. Don’t worry if you don’t understand everything at first. That’s normal. You need to understand about 50-60% initially, so select materials at the appropriate level.
At first, watch the videos with English subtitles, but not the automatically generated ones, rather the subtitles specifically created for the video. If you think that people speak too fast, you can play the video at a lower speed, for example 75% (0.75). After watching the video several times and understanding it well, you can go back to normal speed. When you understand it well enough, you can turn off the subtitles. (If you’re listening to audio materials, it is good to have the transcript available, so you follow the text while listening for the first time, and then you can just listen to the recording without looking at the text.) You can listen to the material while doing some routine activities, such as driving or cleaning your place. Remember, the more you listen to the same material, the better you will be able to understand it.
And when you understand it well enough, when you stop straining to get the individual words, but rather, when you focus on the message, when the message itself draws you, at that time you are acquiring the language, you are absorbing the language. And that’s exactly what you need. As you listen this way, you learn words, expressions, pronunciation, intonation, grammatical structures, without even thinking about them all.
While watching videos, you can also observe the way the speaker actually produces the sounds, the way the mouth moves, which will help you imitate him, to improve your pronunciation.
If your English level is elementary or pre-intermediate, focus on 1 speaker (1 channel). That way, you will be able to get used to that particular voice and after watching multiple videos repeatedly, you will be better able to understand new content from the same speaker. This will help you develop the confidence that you are doing well, which will increase your motivation to work on the language. Choose videos of about 4-5 minutes or shorter.
If you have an intermediate level of English, then you can listen to different speakers and longer content – 5-15-30 minutes long. But even in that case, it is a good idea to have one main speaker that you listen to most often.
Listening to interesting content, preferably created by native speakers, will improve your understanding of the language, which will in turn help you speak better. So the goal is to improve your comprehension through massive listening.
To conclude, I would like to tell you that I have personally used this strategy to activate and improve my Italian and later on my French, and I am very pleased with the results. The key is to listen for at least 20-30 minutes a day – 1 hour is even better. So listen to original English every day.
Your persistence will be rewarded.
Your understanding of the language will literally take off, it will fly, it will increase tremendously. And what will happen as a result of that is that you will start thinking in English and you will feel like speaking English more and more. And that’s important for the next steps you are going to take.
Now, to help you further in the process, I invite you to join our Facebook group
There you will get tips on channels that you can follow, or specific videos to see, links to other resources as well as further advice on how to maintain and improve your Spoken English by yourself.
If you find this article useful, please like it and share it, to help other people, too.
Thank you. I appreciate it.