Recently I'm preparing for the TOEFL test. I think I have a great difficulty in English listening. I'm listening to different materials everyday, but I have some questions confusing me.

  • What to do if I can't clearly hear some words? Do I have to look at the transcription?
  • Do I need to hear exactly every word in the material?
  • Is it better everyday to listen as many as I can or listen to one material many times until I understand it completely?
  • What is the appropriate length of one listening material? Five minutes or twenty minutes?

Thank you!

1 Answer 1


You don't need to understand every single word, as long as you understand the message.

At my university, we are asked to listen to a 15-minute news broadcast every week to practice listening (in French, but you can do the same in English).

If you didn't understand what was being said, just listen again and again and again. There's an English proverb that perfectly describes this: Practice makes perfect.

Of course, if it is an important word in a sentence that you did not understand even after listening several times, you can always try looking at the transcription. And if it is a new word, there is nothing wrong with expanding your vocabulary and looking it up. It will help you understand that word in the future.

Another tip I would loke to give you is: watch English TV shows and films. I've been doing this since I was a kid. I've never done this in French and now have more difficulties with that language than with English.

So you can't just open a book and study in one day how you should listen to English. The more you do it, the better you will become. It is all about persistence and dedication.

I hope this helps! :)

  • Awesome answer! Speaking of watching English TV shows, I have another question about details to ask you, Should I watch with English subtitles, I often get stuck without seeing the sbutitles because I think they speak a little fast? And again should I watch every episodes again and again and again until I get what it is talking about? Thanks!
    – Jeff Ava
    May 29, 2015 at 6:19
  • If you're having a lot of difficulty understanding the words, you can watch it with subtitles to understand their meaning. However, subtitles are not usually word-for-word translations and may not always help. I prefer watching without, because I focus on them too much instead of on the language in the show. And I would definitely not watch the same episode over and over again, you will get better the more shows listen/watch. It is normal if you don't understand certain words and you can always look them up, but it is quite boring and not worth it to watch an episode multiple times.
    – Vlammuh
    May 29, 2015 at 6:27
  • Just focus on watching the show and try to enjoy it, your progress in English will come along as you watch :)
    – Vlammuh
    May 29, 2015 at 6:28
  • Thank you very much!! I'm most encouraged by your wonderful answer and I will try my best to practice my English listening skill!
    – Jeff Ava
    May 29, 2015 at 6:42

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