How To Improve Your Listening Skills

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Table of Contents



Are You a Good Listener?


Barriers to Listening


How to Become a Better Listener


Active Listening


Listening Tips for the TOEFL® iBT Test

Copyright © 2005 ESL Pro Systems, Ltd. All rights reserved. Visit us online at 

I. Introduction
Studies reveal that most people spend as much as 90 percent of their working
life in one of the four modes of communication: speaking, reading, writing, and
listening. Of these four modes, we devote over half of our time to listening. We
spend about 30 percent of our time listening to mass communication media
(radio, TV, Internet) and about 25 percent listening to other people (in person or
on the telephone). Clearly then, listening is a critically important skill to master.
As you probably already know, listening in a foreign language is a complex
process. Learners have to be able to understand the main idea of what is said as
well as specific details. They may also need to check any predictions they have
made, and understand the speaker’s meaning, emotions, and opinions. They
may have to infer relationships between speakers, or identify the context in which
the speakers are operating. Learners may well have to use several of these skills
in the course of a single listening activity.
In order to become a good learner, you need to become a good listener. You
may be surprised to know that hearing and listening are not the same thing. You
could say that good hearing is the foundation of good listening. Listening is a
specialized form of hearing, and is the primary function of the ear (not hearing).
► Hearing is a passive process. It merely involves the detection of sounds
around us.
► Listening is an active process. It involves the conscious desire to determine the
meaning of what is heard.
Many people have excellent hearing but are poor listeners. If you think you
might be a poor listener, read on as this e-book has plenty of tips to help you
improve your skills in this area.

Copyright © 2005 ESL Pro Systems, Ltd. All rights reserved. Visit us online at 

II. Are You a Good Listener?
Students spend more time in the classroom listening than doing any other
activity. Therefore, it’s very important that you understand most of what you hear.
In order for you to become a better listener, look first at the following list. It
contains many of the variables that can make it difficult for you to understand
what you hear:
the speaker talks t...
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