How to Teach English Listening Skills

Written by philippa jones
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How to Teach English Listening Skills
Teach listening skills by watching English-language films with your students. (TV image by Ilija Mitrevski from

Teaching English listening skills successfully requires using a combination of different resources to expose your students to spoken English. The lessons can be stimulating, as you can use films, music, radio and language-learning CDs to improve their skills. Translating spoken English is challenging as the words cannot be read, and there are no accompanying pictures or gestures to help the students understand. Therefore, it is important to keep encouraging them and build up their confidence with easier exercises in the beginning.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Speakers
  • English-language films

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  1. 1

    Use dictation exercises to teach your students how to focus on understanding the context of a conversation. Play an audio clip of news from the BBC World Service website and ask the students to write down what was heard. Then, get the students to listen to one another's ideas while discussing the topic in English.

  2. 2

    Play a language-learning CD such as Rosetta Stone or English for Dummies, and work through the listening exercises with the students. Teach the students to focus on how sentences are structured by writing down the subject, object and noun heard during different clips, or answer the questions to puzzles.

  3. 3

    Write down a set of questions relating to an English-speaking film. Give them to the students to answer while watching the film together. Review the answers after the film has finished to assess their understanding of the plot.

  4. 4

    Allocate 10 minutes to listening to music with English lyrics. Use the music as a dictation exercise -- ask the students to write down the lyrics. This will engage the students and expose them to rhyming, slang and different accents.

  5. 5

    Teach your students to listen to one another by encouraging them to make English conversation or English-speaking friends. Use a website, such as, to link up with English speakers, for example. Keep each conversation topic specific, such as hobbies, family or hometown, to focus the students' attention, and to use vocabulary particular to that subject.

  6. 6

    Listen to English-speaking radio stations and teach the students about English culture, current affairs, music and listening simultaneously. Check out Radio Tower to access a number of different stations available in English.

Tips and warnings

  • Keep your educational tools varied to stimulate the students and retain their interest in listening to English.
  • Ensure your students write down new English words in a vocabulary book so they extend their knowledge base.

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