Developing your listening skill in English: The beginning
From Fokus magazine (M) 'Living English with Teech Airil'
by Airil Haimi Adnan @ Teech, June 2008
Ramai pelajar sekolah rendah dan menengah menghadapi masalah untuk memahami apa yang mereka dengar dalam Bahasa Inggeris. Mungkin hal ini berbunyi remeh, tetapi realitinya tanpa kemahiran mendengar yang baik adalah agak sukar untuk anda mula bercakap dengan fasih dan menjadi seorang GELL. Maka bulan ini saya ingin anda mula melatih kemahiran mendengar anda pula…
For many international students of English, listening is the most difficult skill to acquire and to master. Basically, nobody can teach you how to listen well, so you must try to work hard to make this skill a part of your life.
Let me share with you a secret, even though it is hard to practice your listening skill in English – the more you persevere the more you will start to enjoy listening, because you will REALLY understand what is being said by people who are using English.
Imagine you are watching ‘Spongebob Squarepants’ in the original English language version. You think that Patrick, Spongebob’s friend has just cracked a joke. But, you are not laughing. In fact, you cannot laugh because you really do not understand what Spongebob and Patrick had said to each other!
Listening is actually a skill that becomes better with practice, but the thing is, you must practise listening seriously and you must really work hard to understand every sound that you hear.
If your first language is Malay, Cantonese or Tamil, chances are the sounds of English are not the same as your own mother tongue. However, you must not let this stop you from practising your English listening skill.
To make sure that you will be successful, you must start by ‘tuning’ your ears to the sounds of English. You can do this easily by listening to your favourite English songs as often as possible, because the lyrics are repeated and will eventually become easier for you to understand.
The main point here is that you do not just listen, but you listen TO UNDERSTAND what the song is really about. When you do this, your listening skill should improve.
If you get bored with listening to English songs, why not try to record programmes from the radio or television or watch your favourite English movie on VCD or DVD until you can recognise most of the words and understand the meaning of what the singers or actors are saying?
This activity is actually fun to do and you can enjoy your favourite television programme or English movie, whilst you continue to practise your listening ability.To go further and increase your listening ability, you can access self learning tapes or borrow them from your school library. If your school library does not have them, it is time for you to ask your English teacher or librarian to buy them for the school!
There are story books with accompanying cassette tapes or audio compact discs that you and your school can buy, and these will help you to learn to read and listen at the same time.
Save some money and the next time you visit a large bookshop, try to find a story book with an accompanying audio recording to help you practice your English.
To conclude this month’s article, remember that it is so easy to practise the skill which needs the least practice. Therefore, do not practise the skill which you find easy all the time, practise the ones that are most difficult for you.
It could be listening or reading, speaking or reading – whatever it is, I believe that you already have the internal motivation to learn English on your own.
Do not give up easily, especially when you are trying to increase specific English language skills like listening or speaking. The harder you try and the more time you take, slowly but surely you are on the road to become a Good English Language Learner!
This is the original unedited version of the article that appeared in the magazine, please refer to the JUNE edition of FOKUS SPM for the updated copy - Teech