Lesson: The wrong way to improve your English listening skills [comprehension]

Transcript

Transcript

How do you improve your English listening skills? If you ask this question to English teachers they will tell you the same thing. They will tell you to go watch movies. They will say that watching movies is a great way to improve your listening.

But there's a problem. A lot of English learners watch movies with subtitles. Some people use English subtitles. Other people use subtitles in their native languages. Now it doesn't matter what kind of subtitles you use. Watching movies with subtitles is a really really bad way to improve your listening and in this video, I'm going to explain to you why it's such a bad idea.

But first let me share with you my personal experience. So back when I was in college I wanted to improve my English listening skills. So what did I do? Well, I started to watch movies with English subtitles. I thought that was the best way to improve my listening. I was really optimistic I thought in two or three years. I would be able to understand native speakers. Unfortunately it didn't work. After six years of doing that I still could not understand native speakers. I still needed subtitles when watching a movie. I was really disappointed. I watch a lot of movies. But I still could not understand native speakers at that point. I didn't really know why didn't work. But now I do so let's talk about that right now.

First there's one thing about listening that you need to know. Listening and hearing are not the same. If you want to improve your listening make sure that when you practice listening you are really listening and not just hearing. So what's the difference between listening and hearing? Well the difference is whether or not you are paying attention. If you're paying attention then you are listening. If you're not paying attention then that's just hearing. So let me give you an example. If you turn on the radio and pay attention to the sound from the radio then that is listening. But if you turn on the radio and that you do something else like reading a book then that's just hearing. You can hear the radio but you're not paying attention to it. You are not listening. And again, if you want to improve your listening, make sure that you are really listening and not just hearing. You need to make sure that you are paying attention.

Now let's talk about watching movies with subtitles. What's wrong with it? Why doesn't it work? As you might have guessed, it doesn't work because you're not listening. You're just hearing, so let me explain when you watch a movie. Your brain is trying to understand the movie but there isn't just one way to do that there are two ways or two options. The first option is to focus on reading the subtitles. The second option is to focus on listening to the sound.

Now I have a question for you. Which option do you think your brain will choose reading or listening? How the answer is obvious your brain is going to focus on reading the subtitles? Why because it's much easier that takes on the screen is clear? So it's very easy for your brain to process. The sounds of people talking on the other hand are not that clear, so it's much more difficult for your brain to figure out what people are saying. As a result, your brain will pay attention to the subtitles and not the sounds, so when you watch a movie with subtitles, you're not really improving your listening. You are actually improving your reading. And that's why it doesn't work. So the best way to improve your listening is to just listen. Don't read and listen at the same time. If you watch a movie in English remove the subtitles, so that your brain will have to focus on listening. If you do that, your listening will improve much faster. That said, there is still a problem. If you remove the subtitles then you won't understand the movie and if you don't understand the movie that is going to be boring so what should you do?

Well here's my suggestion. Don't try to improve your listening by watching movies just watch movies for fun. There's a better and faster way to improve your listening and that is the subject of the next video. In the next video, I'll share with you the method I personally use to improve my English listening skills. So I'll see you again in the next video, and if you don't want to miss that video, make sure you subscribe to this Engfluent channel. And if you want even more advice on how to improve your English, go to Engfluent dot com and sign up for the newsletter or just click these two boxes.

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