For improving listening capability, which method is better? First, intensive listening: to listen to a sentence or two with dictations. Second, extensive listening: to listen to long range of audios.: I want to know if there are studies about this.

(* My case: I’ve adopted first one for around over two years with BBC’s children’s news, BBC’s Learning English stuffs, and recently with Aussie ABC’s short news, which are consisted of two or three sentences for an event.
But the sounds and structures of English are far different from my mother tongue, Korean, it’s not content at all. But I do not want to change my way yet. For without good partial tactics, I think, a soccer team could not get a good result. Likewise without being good at catching partial fragment, how can I get the long range of things? Would you let me know consulting my experience?)

  • 2
    ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2846316 has some discussion of acquiring non-native phoneme distinctions "naturally" (as you would with extensive listening) versus with focus and possibly explicit tutoring (as with intensive listening). It's possible that the latter is a better way of acquiring the ability to distinguish L2 phoneme pairs.
    – user230
    Commented Feb 20, 2013 at 23:58
  • There have been arguments that subliminal learning techniques have made theoretical language learning a possibility, especially in acquiring competency in listening new words.
    – user114
    Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 0:15
  • What @snailplane said. I know native speakers acquire their language skills at an age where their brain is very different to that of the average adult learner, but I'm still inclined to think extensive (even, casual) listening is the best way of becoming familiar with a wide range of possible articulations (of what to native speakers are "the same" sounds). I don't know what "L2 phonemes" are, but I do know that minimal pairs are important, and you probably need to hear them from many different speakers to recognise them as easily as natives do! Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 0:40
  • 8
    Incidentally, I think the real answer is "both". You need intensive listening to learn to recognize the building blocks of the language, and you need extensive listening to train yourself to recognize larger units.
    – user230
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 0:44
  • I just saw this question of yours, and would like to know how well you can progress since the last Feb. (I'm trying to develop a new way to learn English deeper and faster.) Actually I am thinking about us talking together in a chatroom. (It's perfectly fine if you don't want to.) What do you think? Commented Dec 4, 2013 at 16:05

1 Answer 1


For the purpose of improving your listening skills, my answer is that none of them is more efficient than shadowing, which is say what you hear as soon as you hear it.

A long definition and useful description could be found here.

Also, there are couple of papers related with shadowing, but this study is recommended.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .