Problems with listening


I have this awful problem and I don’t know what to do with it. I have been learning English for about a year. I use audiobooks. I read books every day, listen to tapes and repeat after the tapes. I have been doing it for 6 months, and there is no progress. When I listen to a radio I can catch some words but it’s still little to understand what they want to convey.
When I watch some films and listen to people from the USA or UK there is the problem. Sometimes when I watch films I can’t make some words out though I have subtitles. People talk too fast for me. There are some basic words, for example to turn, wood, to fight etc. and I have read these words thousend times but when I listen to the words I can’t recognize them.
I learn English for 2, 3 hours every day and I’m very accurate. So if you know, tell me where I make mistakes? What wrong do I do? or how long does it take to understand what people say?

Best regards,

Dear Simon, judging by the way you are able to write in English you have made great progress within a year! So you should concentrate on what you have achieved and then you will be able to learn even more. You say that when you are listing to the radio you can make out some words. Now, why don’t you start with these words? You can write down the words you understand and or even better phrases you pick up and then google them. This way you can learn how the words are used correctly. How long did it take you until you were able to understand every word in Polish? What you to understand means two things:

  1. to understand the word phonetically (this means you can make out the sound and maybe even repeat the word)
  2. to understand the meaning of the word (this obviously means you have heard the word several time before)

So what you can do is this: Get your hands on audio materials that are not too complicated and come with the tape script. Listen to the audio and read the script. Repeat this several times. There are lots of people who are facing the same situation - they say that when they are listening to native speakers it is too hard for them to keep up with the speed. What about your mother tongue? Are you aware that if somebody is learning Polish they might have the same problem like you. They think that they cannot follow a native speaker’s speech. Now, why cannot you understand everything when somebody is speaking Polish? (actually, I doubt that even in Polish you can always understand everything, that’s impossible!). The only way for you to improve your listening comprehension is to listen even more and to pick your materials more carefully.
Let me know what you think.

I agree. The problem may be on the way you think the words should be pronounced. You should get an audiobook and listen to it while reading the text in hand. Try imitating the words, too.

Hi Simon ,
I may tell you in advance, everything is just fine
this is the next step in entire process ,
everybody learning a foreign languages from different family
of languages have experienced almost the same.
The problem with English is that it has been said a lot of things ( how easy it is)which may misguide you and later disappoint you, even break you trust in ability to master English.
No native speakers of English mostly make silly mistakes they entire life (when they don’t practice regularly).

Listen to tapes:
they are two ways of listening for me
1)active when I master entire text and I can repeat everything
2)passive when I can not take care to much because I am not 100% sure about vocabulary
(I haven’t seen the text in written form and some words could be new for me)

Passive listening helps to get used to the sound , and helps to switch the brain on just where the most important message of spoken tongue may be.

Expose yourself for total immersion in language.
sounds a bit stupid but it is unfortunately right you need a period in your life for total immersion of knowledge

I think, it was really good choice to study with audio books.

Don’t trust yourself in conversation check the speaker many times and different ways, I hope you will find good people around you and they will start to take care in their way of talking.
Your level of language will increase and it will not be necessary for long.
I am afraid it is only one way to go forward - by practice
It may also not help, but at least you will have clear conscience"