Developing your listening skills when learning a foreign language is as important as developing your speaking skills but sometimes, it might prove really hard to understand common conversations when hearing native speakers.
It is important to work on your active listening (activities where you are focused and looking for meaning) rather than passive listening (activities where Spanish is in the background but you’re not really paying attention to what’s being said).
These four steps is what most language teachers do when presenting listening activities to students of foreign languages. If you do them by yourself, make sure to follow these steps and do them often as well as you increase the levels of audio after some time.
The goal is to develop accuracy without the fear of getting things wrong as you improve your listening skills.
Find a material that suits your level. If you’re a beginner, find something you about things you enjoy but, if you’re more advanced, get more elaborate audio materials.
If you know the topic that you’re going to listen to, brainstorm the words you think you could hear in the video or audio. If you don’t know the words, look for them in dictionaries, and get familiar with the pronunciation.
Play the listening twice, and see if the words you brainstormed are found in the audio.
Interact with the audio. Even if there’s nobody physically there, answer questions or give your opinion about what they’re talking about in Spanish.
As you follow these steps (hopefully on a regular basis), gradually increase the length of audio materials you hear and their level. Eventually, predict the language in your mind, without writing it down.
There are a couple more things you could do:
Listen for General Information:
When you first approach an audio text, figure out what’s the context: Is it a group of Friends hanging out? Is it a conference? How many people are there speaking, are they Friends? Family? After you figure these questions out, simply listen to the material and just try to identify words in the audio material. Write them down and figure out what the whole story is about.
Listen for Specific Information:
Say you’re listening to an audio about two people introducing each other and asking for personal information, like telephone numbers, origins or addresses. Focus on one piece of information only.
Say, the telephone number. Then, when you listen to the whole audio, you will focus on the specific information, instead of their marital status, their studies or their origins.
When you go to a café and ask for a drink, focus on the order that the person says back. Or focus on the Price they give you at the end of your purchase.
Did you find these activities useful? Try them out and let us know if your level of understanding improves or not after a couple of weeks. Let us know in the comments below your results!
Also check out: tips to improve your listening comprehension