3 Big Mistakes In Your English Listening Skills

3 Big Mistakes In Your English Listening Skills

As English learners, you’re probably making 3 big mistakes in your English listening skills, and even though these mistakes are common (especially if you’re new to English), they can prevent you from achieving fluency. What we’re going to talk about is learning what these three big mistakes are, and what you can do to correct them.

So what are the 3 biggest listening skills mistakes you might be making?

#1 – Listening Is Not Reading

A popular myth with English-language students is that if you can listen and understand spoken English, then you can read written English as well. In many high school English-language courses, there’s a lot of focus in reading English, so perhaps you didn’t practice your listening, or perhaps you weren’t sure how to start practicing.

English is a language, and its words are not exactly pronounced as they’re written. We’re visual learners, we like to learn from seeing a process. We try to put meaning with each letter of that word. However, when you listen to English, that process becomes entirely different; instead of putting meanings to letters, we need to put meanings to sounds.

Remember that English is not a very phonetic language — not every word is pronounced exactly how it’s written. Here are three examples words that are spelled differently than how they are pronounced:

  1. Enough /ɪˈnʌf/ (pronounced: e-naf)
  2. Dough /doʊ/ (pronounced: dou)
  3. Through /θɹuː/ (pronounced: thru)

#2 – Translating To Your Native Language

We’re tempted to directly translate from English to our native language. Why is translating a mistake?

  • It takes effort to translate – When you translate something into your native language, you’re also translating your thoughts or opinions from your native language back to English. This is hard for your brain to do quickly.
  • There are too many words to translate –  While you are translating, you’re not listening to all the other words the other person is saying to you.

Here’s a test for you: How long would it take you to translate the sentence below to your native language?

I started work at this multinational company that provides humanitarian relief services to refugees from different regions of the world, such as Asia, South America, the Middle East, and Africa. It’s a fulfilling job because I’m given the privilege to provide assistance to others who cannot help themselves, and I work with a great team and with a great boss. After this, I hope to work at the United Nations.

  • English contains idioms, expressions, and cultural ideas that only exist in English – This is true for all languages. Expressions and idioms are very difficult to translate to your native language correctly.
    • How would you translate this idiom below to your native language? Does it make sense in your language?
      • It’s raining cats and dogs! 

#3 – Expecting 100% From Yourself

Let’s be honest: it is impossible to expect to understand 100% of a conversation if you’re still learning English. Native speakers don’t always understand 100% of the words in a conversation, which is normal. Plus, trying to be perfect is extremely tiring and perfection isn’t, and shouldn’t, be expected from anyone.

Here’s a goal:

  • Try to understand 60% – 80% of the conversation. The secret is to stay cool and relaxed. It gets easier the more you practice speaking and listening.

If you’re curious to know more about these 3 mistakes, as well as other strategies to improve your listening, then I recommend checking out the 17 Secrets to Improving Your English Listening Skills. These secrets are awesome to read about, and they can help you to develop your listening skills and grow your confidence.

Watch the videos below!

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