Practising Listening Comprehension can be really boring when you think you have to listen to English courses or class-related things.
Well, the good news is your level is definitely GOOD enough to listen to real things, meant for native English speakers. You don’t have to understand 100% to work on your English. It’s best to just listen and try to understand what everything is about. It teaches you to… not just translate, but instead dive into the language for real.
So here are some sources you can try to practise listening to English.
Podcasts may be just the best invention since the radio. What’s great is that you can listen to your favorite radio shows WHENEVER you want and can. You can choose the episodes you find interesting, and some of them even have transcriptions. The great thing is that there are podcasts about anything, for anybody from TV-series-addicts to beauty-tutorial-makers to geeky-videogame-players to music-lovers etc…
Here are a few examples of more or less serious podcasts:
Many teens and young adults are fans of the TED Talks podcasts. These cover a wide array of subjects and perspectives; this is a “something for everyone” site and the angle tends toward a combination of informative and inspirational. Recent topics have included “Don’t feel sorry for refugees — believe in them” and “A celebration of natural hair.”
Youth Radio is not only for teens, it’s created by teens. The mission of this site is to train future broadcast journalists. Similar in approach to many public radio broadcasts, the content is made up of stories written and produced by teens across the country.
Radiolab is a mashup of science, history, popular culture and more. Its content explores a wide range of interests, but the overall tone is one of an intellectual deep dive — a search for the satisfaction of curiosity-based questioning. In terms of shared listening, getting to the why of a subject can be both satisfying and unity-building.
For the nerds in your life, Nerdette uses popular culture and current headlines to address broader social issues, frequently through interviews with celebrities, such as the recent episode with comedian W. Kamau Bell on social awkwardness and the joys of being a blerd (black nerd). It’s on NPR.
I’m sure (almost) all of you watches TV series on a regular basis. Well guess what? It’s a great thing to do for you English; that is, if you watch in English of course! Subtitles are ok, but why not try just English and no subtitles?
Now one thing to be careful about is your accent: many series are supposed to take place in very specific areas, and most are American. When something takes place in Brooklyn or in Texas, the accent is going to be quite strong.
It could be a good idea to watch different series with different accents, so you get used to all sorts of accents. If you don’t like British series, Game of Thrones is set in a sort of medieval realm, which means people have old-fashioned accents (neutral-English-like).
Generally, series set in the past have more neutral accents and are easy to understand (Downton Abbey, Mr Selfridge, etc) and more ‘modern’ series have very specific accents depending on the people (Empire, The Walking Dead, etc).
Just choose what you like most, but don’t forget the variety in accents you are familiar with is the key to working on your accent when speaking. Listening helps you speak better.
LATE NIGHT SHOWS:
Many French TV channels now offer to watch American Late Night Shows. This is a very American thing, and every American channel has its own. It’s nice, because it’s very relaxed and usually includes American celebrities, many of them not being famous in France although they are legends in the US. So it’s good to discover new movies, series, music, and American atmosphere and attitude.
Among the easy ones to listen to:
-James Corden ‘The Late Late Show’: He is actually from Britain, so you can experience different accents and sometimes the culture shock.
-Jimmy Fallon ‘The Tonight show’: it’s a classic. I’m sure you’ve seen some of his comedy / parody clips on social networks.
-Saturday night live: it may be more difficult as this is very comedy-oriented. Different hosts, and great parodies especially about politics and what’s going on at the moment in the US and the world. Many celebrities are invited and participate in the fun.
RADIOS AND SERIOUS PROGRAMMES:
Of course, there are more serious and traditional ways to listen to English. The one I usually suggest my students are some of these:
-NPR.org : news from one of the best news radio in the world 🙂
-Time.com : a great magazine, and its website. There’s also the podcast ‘Time: The Brief’ which you can subscribe to, then you receive daily e-mail with the news recorded and written. Great to practise.
-BBC.com : The British TV and radio are a great source of news and great to practise listening to English. There are often transcriptions to help you.
-Newsy.com : more teenage-targeted news. Good to practise English without the too complicated news aspect, but still very interesting.
I hope you will find the best source for you and improve your listening skills. A good exercise for that is to try and summarize what you listened to (no need to write it, do it in your head): Who was speaking, what about, where and when did this take place, why, how, etc… If you can do it, it means you understood everything, even if you did not understand all the words.