Hello and welcome everyone. This is Minoo at Anglo-Link.
Today's video is all about listening comprehension.
I have some interesting tips for you. This is particularly for those of you
who still find it a little hard to understand native speakers
or watching television in English
or listen to the radio in English.
I'll be telling you about some specific aspects of the English sound system
and some speech patterns that native speakers use
that can make listening in English
a little bit of a challenge
by the end of this video,
you will have a really good understanding of where the difficulties that you might be facing come from
and what you can do to overcome them
and really improve your listening comprehension.
So, when you're ready, lets begin!
Today I'd like to share
3 keys with you
that will really improve your listening comprehension of native speakers.
Let's look at what these 3 keys are.
the first thing is to understand is what makes native speakers hard to understand.
The second key is improving your own pronunciation.
And the third key to improving your listening comprehension is
with your ears
rather than your eyes.
Okay, lets start with understanding what makes native speakers
hard to understand.
They're two main reasons for this.
The first one
is the great number of vowels and diphthongs in English.
And some of these are very similar to each other.
They're many words where the consonants are exactly the same.
And by changing the vowel sound
the meaning changes.
And when these vowel sounds are very similar
and especially if one or the other
doesn't exist in your own language.
This can make it
quite a challenge
to understand a native speaker.
Lets look at some examples.
These are called minimal pairs by the way.
and Bought. Mad -Mud.
Then. Bit - Bet. Live
the only difference is the vowel
or the diphthong and
they can be very very similar. So, in connected speech they're not easy
to tell apart.
This is the first reason
why listening to English native speakers can be challenging.
Now, lets look at the second reason.
The second reason is the way that native speakers shorten
and link sounds.
Let's give you a quick example. Look at this sentence:
How is it going?
You would hear from a native speaker:
There are three specific speech patterns
that all native speakers use.
And I'm going to take you through them one by one.
Speech pattern number one is contractions.
Contracted verbs and negatives.
You're pretty familiar with these.
What is important to remember
is that native speakers
always use these patterns when they speak.
Except when they want to stress a point.
That is why there's a difference in tone and meaning between
'O.K. I'll do it.'
'I will do it.'
'Nothing can stop me.'
When we use the contraction there's no stress
on the contracted form. There is no particular emotion.
The other example,
when you've used the full form,
'I will do it'.
you want to show determination.
So, as using contractions is the norm rather than the exception in spoken English.
I would recommend that you try and use them as much as possible yourself.
Firstly, you will sound more natural
you'll be able to hear them more easily when native speakers use them.
Just be careful not to use contractions
in formal writing. When you're writing a letter, or a report,
or an article.
keep it to the full form.
Keep the contractions
Moving onto speech pattern number two.
Speech pattern number two is called week forms.
Grammatical words, such as modal verbs,
are seldom fully pronounced in a sentence.
The vowel in them is reduced
to a shorter vowel
Let's look at some examples:
Here we have the modal verb 'can'.
In the sentence,
it can sound like 'kn'.
The vowel disappears.
'I kn ski.'
Let's look at another example:
in isolation, 'my'.
But in the sentence
'Here's me book.'
You can hardly hear it.
And another example:
In the sentence
the vowel is reduced to 'fa'.
'It's fa you'.
Now, you don't need to use these week forms at all when you speak.
As your message will be
even clear without using them.
you do need to be aware of them
and anticipate them
when listening to a native speaker.
Let's look at speech pattern three.
Which is phonetic links.
Generally any word that starts with a vowel
is linked to the previous word.
And this makes it
hard to hear
each word distinctively.
Let's look at some examples:
as an engineer.' You've got
three words that begin with vowel. 'as', 'an'
In connected speech
they all run into each other.
'He works sazanen gineer'.
Here you have
four words that begin with vowel.
interested, in, it
and they all run into each other.
And there's a semi vowel
at the end of 'she'
to the vowel at the beginning of 'is'. She(y)is.
And our third example:
Two words: one ending with a 't',
the next one starting with a 't',
they run into each other, and then
to words starting with a vowel.
all this section
runs into each other.
'They wentto(w)anamazing place.'
And once again you have the semi vowel (w)
that connects the vowels
'to' and 'an'
to each other.
you don't necessarily need to use these links when you speak
as your message will be perfectly clear without them.
you do need to be aware of them and anticipate them
when you listen
to native speakers.
you get at least two of these speech patterns,
sometimes even all three,
in a row in a sentence.
and that is when you can feel really challenged.
Let's look at an example:
'He won't accept it from me.'
You have the contraction 'won't', you have
two words beginning with a vowel; 'accept' and 'it',
and you have the preposition 'from'.
So, in connected speech
you will hear:
'He won'tacceptit fromme.'
At this point you are probably asking yourself; well what's the best way to
familiarize myself with the speech patterns?
I think the best way
is transcribing audio files.
If you already have a CD of dialogues,
then listen to the dialogues
and write them out
and then compare what you have written with the transcript.
If you do not have such CD's,
I recommend Anglo-Files
104 and 108
from Anglo-Link's selection of audio files that you can access
on our website.
These are selections of daily dialogues
and business dialogues
which you can listen to and transcribe, and then
check what you've written against the transcripts
on the site.
This will really improve your listening comprehension of native speakers
and at the same time
will help you to activate
loads of useful functional expressions.
Now, if you have never studied the English sound system, if you've never
studied pronunciation on its own,
I strongly recommend our Anglo-File
In this Anglo-File,
you will have a complete list of all the vowels, of all the diphthongs,
all the consonants in English that you can practice.
It also has loads of minimal pair exercises
that will help you to
vowel sounds that are similar from each other.
It also has a section
on the speech patterns we've looked at. You can listen to weak forms, contractions
and phonetic links, and transcribe them.
This will be really really helpfull if you have not familiarised yourself
with the English sound system yet.
Now if you want,
you can do a transcription exercise now
by clicking on this image.
If you prefer to continue listening to the presentation,
you will have the chance at the end of the presentation
to do it then.
So, once you've familiarised yourself with the English sound system
and also know how native speakers shorten
and link sounds.
The next step is to improve
your own pronunciation.
if you're mispronouncing a word because you learnt it by reading,
and guessed how it was pronounced,
Then it is likely that you will not catch it when you hear it.
There're two common traps,
if you have guessed
the pronunciation of a word
by by reading it.
The first common pronunciation trap
believing that two words with the same spelling
will have the same sound.
Let's give you an example:
If you think that the combination letters
'e' and 'a'
always sound like:
then you will miss pronounce
the following words:
This is the best example of the same combination of letters
Another tricky letter is the letter 'u'.
If you imagine that the letter 'u' always sounds like /u/
as in 'put'.
You will mispronounce
the two following words:
because that the letter 'u' is sometimes /u/
many times ...
and occasionally ...
Okay, let's look at the second comment pronunciation trap.
In many languages
the strength of your voice is spread equally among the syllables in a word.
In English however,
if you have more than one syllable in your word, you have to decide
which syllable or syllables
take the stress of your voice. And which ones are
Let's look at an example:
Here's a word
with four syllables. Now, let's decide
takes the stress.
Is it the first one:
Is it the second one:
The third one:
Or the last syllable:
In this case
it's the second syllable
Now, you couldn't know that unless you have heard the word
many many times.
Let's look at the second example:
Let's look at these two words.
They seem very similar in their spelling. So, you would expect them to have the
same rythms, the same music, the same word stress.
However, in the first one,
it's the second syllable that's stressed.
And in the second one
it's the first syllable.
And that changes the pronunciation
The first word is:
And the second word is:
So, what is the conclusion of the examples we've looked at?
At the pronunciation traps we've looked at?
Well the conclusion is that you have to avoid guessing how a word is pronounced.
Always check the pronunciation of the words that your learning.
Either ask someone
or use a talking dictionary.
Talking dictionaries are now widely available on the internet
and you can listen to the word several times and with some of them you can even
record your own voice, and compare your pronunciation
with a model, which is an excellent exercise.
Again, you don't need to be a hundred percent correct in your own
pronunciation to be understood.
But if you have not heard
the correct pronunciation of a word enough times
your risk not catching it
when it is spoken by a native speaker,
in a stream of other words,
with phonetic links and weak forms surrounding it.
So, do work on your own pronunciation. It's an important key
your listening comprehension.
And finally to the third key,
improving you're listening comprehension.
Learn primarily with your ears
rather than your eyes.
Now you have a better understanding of why native speakers
are not always easy to understand.
Especially if you have learnt your English
out of a book.
It's for the simple reason
that what you see
is not what they say.
Therefore, the best way to learn new words and expressions is by first
then seeing them in writing.
So, here are some final hints
on how to use
instead of your eyes.
Listen to audio books
rather than read the printed version of the book.
Listen to the radio
and watch programs and films
in English as much as possible.
Even if at first your understand very little,
this is a great exercise to tune your ears into the sounds rhythm and
music of the language.
You will be surprised how quickly you will start to hear and understand more
If you're using a course-book,
work more with the accompanying CD
than the book itself.
if you're using a word you have learnt by reading
and have never
heard it before,
make sure you check the pronunciation.
To give you more tools to improve your listening comprehension and pronunciation,
we have recorded all the grammar exercises that you have access to
These are available as audio files.
And they ensure that you also learn the correct pronunciation and intonation
of the important structures
and the useful expressions
that we have included in our
If you didn't do the transcription exercise ealier on, this is your chance to do
Well, I hope you've enjoyed this
video on how to improve your listening comprehension
and found all the tips useful.
thank you for watching, I look forward to seeing you in our next video.