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Should I listen to BBC?

Question: Hello Teacher Joe. I am a second year student of Hohai University. Although English is not my specialty, I like it very much . In the coming days, I will take a national English test. I have taken this test before but I was not satisfied with my score. The biggest problem with the test is that I am not able to keep up with BBC English. I hope you can give advice on how to improve my listening skills. Also, please recommend some good listening materials to me. I'm looking forward to your answer. From Crystal.

Answser: Hi Crystal. Thanks for your question. Most students usually don't realize how important listening skills are until they have some trouble. Some students realize it when they try to communicate with native speakers and fail to understand them. Other students, like you, only realize their weakness when they have trouble on a test. Now you know that you have to do more listening, so that's a good first step. In fact, the best way to improve your listening is to just listen. However, I do have some tips for you:

1) First, listen to a variety of things. Don't just listen to news or serious topics. Listen to fun topics too. There are many DVDs you can listen to. Just find something you enjoy and listen often. If possible, don't buy a very cheap DVD, because the subtitles are not of very good quality.

2) Sometimes, you must do "extensive" listening. That means you should listen to things that native English speakers listen to, such as movies, songs, or TV programs. When you do extensive listening, you should NOT try to understand 100%. The goal is just to improve over time, step by step. So, if you understand only 10% at first, that's okay. With practice, try to get to where you can understand 11% or 12% or 15%. If you understand 80% at first, try to move up to 85% or 90%.

3) At other times, you must try "intensive" listening. This means should listen very carefully to things made for students. When you do intensive listening, you SHOULD try to understand 100% after you finish studying it carefully. For some examples, you can go to www.teacherjoe.us/Listen.html and try the dictations, quizzes and jokes. At first, you might only understand half, but with practice you can reach 100% or very close. Of course, if you have cassette tapes or CDs at home, you can listen to those too. It may be a bit boring, but repeat until you can understand perfectly, or almost. If you do this kind of intensive practice often, you will find it easier to do extensive listening too. Then, you will have no problem with English tests!

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