There are plenty of online resources for you to practise your listening. Find a talk or video that you are interested in and listen to it. Don't play it in the background, actively listen to it. Here are some things you can do to help you develop your listening skills:
Try to predict what the speaker is going to talk about. Look at the title, the pictures, the blurb and any other information you have.
What would you like to learn from the talk? Write down some questions you hope the talk will answer.
Use English subtitles if you're finding the talk really difficult. Then try again without the subtitles.
Don't worry about understanding every word. Focus on understanding the main ideas first.
Make a list of key words from the talk. When it's finished, use those key words to write a summary of the talk in your own words.
Use your notes from the talk to explain the main ideas to a friend.
Study Skills Success is an online resource which can help you to develop the academic study skills you will need to be successful at university. This resource is designed for non-native English speakers and can help you not only with a range of study skills, but also with the academic English that underpins them. To improve your listening, try the Listening section in Study Skills Success.
In these activities you will practise predicting the content of an extract from a presentation given by a business entrepreneur. You will also practise listening for specific information and vocabulary, and listening to understand the main points made in the presentation.
In these activities you will explore the kinds of clues there might be in a listening context and practise using such clues to aid your understanding.
In these activities you will explore some typical examples of signposting language. You will listen to two different lecture extracts in order to identify examples of signposting language and learn to recognise what such language is used for.
In these activities you will listen to extracts from three lectures in different subject areas and practise using clues to help answer some comprehension questions about them. The topics are scientific but even if you are unfamiliar with the subject area, you can still answer the questions by listening out particularly for the signposting language that the presenters use.
In these activities you will practise listening to a lecture extract to recognise the possible meanings of some specialist vocabulary from the field of computer science. You will then check your understanding of the meaning of the specialist terminology.
In these activities you will use an extract from an economics lecture to practise your listening skills and focus on semi- specialist, specialist and attitudinal language used by the lecturer.
In these activities you will practise listening to identify some of the key themes at the start of a new module and also use the lecturer's examples as an aid to understanding what these themes involve.
In these activities you will practise focusing on understanding two kinds of challenging language used in spoken academic contexts: specialist language and idiomatic language.
In these activities you will practise listening closely to two extracts from business presentations and use them to test your understanding of the precise points that the speakers make.
In these activities you will consider what makes a good set of lecture notes. You will also explore commonly used techniques for taking notes while listening, and consider one particular technique more closely.
The BBC Learning English website has a series of 10 minute podcasts for international students studying in the UK. You can also download the transcript to help you understand.
The TED website has hundreds of talks on every subject. Use the search box to find a topic you're interested in, or choose one of the most popular talks. You can turn the subtitles on and off and read the transcript if you're finding it difficult.
The CrashCourse YouTube channel has tons of awesome video courses. You can learn about subjects such as philosophy, physics, economics, games, astronomy, psychology or history. Each course is made up of a series of short 10 minute videos. The videos are fun, easy to watch and have lots of animations.
For something a bit more academic, why not try the UCL lunchtime lecture series? This YouTube channel has hundreds of recorded lectures from subject specialists and topics range from the environment, science, politics, law and education. Watching recorded lectures is excellent listening practice, and if you don't understand, you can just go back and watch it again!
If you're a bit of a couch potato, make sure that you are watching TV in English. Both the BBC and Channel 4 allow you to watch TV online, on demand, where you want, when you want! Watching British TV will also help you to understand the culture, and you might even learn some British slang!
Spotlight workshops are short interactive sessions on a range of topics which run repeatedly throughout the year. Workshops are free, fun and can help you develop your academic language and skills, enabling you to succeed on your course. The following Spotlight workshops can help you with your listening:
Improving your English
Speak up: Chat with Confidence
A number of our Spotlight workshops are available as Spotlight Video Workshops. This means you can access the workshop at a time convenient to you, and work through it at your own pace. If you have already attended a Spotlight workshop and would like to review the content, the Spotlight Video Workshop below can help.
If you need to improve your listening, the following resources are available in the library for self-study:
You can click on the images above to access the books through Locate, the Library catalogue, or use the reference list below.
Lynch, T. (2004) Study Listening: A Course in Listening to Lectures and Note Taking, Cambridge: CUP
Thorn, S. (2013) Real Lives Real Listening Advanced B2-C1, London: Collins
Aish, F. and Tomlinson, J. (2013) Lectures: Learn Listening and Note-taking Skills, London: Collins