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English learners can improve their listening skills by transcribing spoken English.

That advice comes from Pascal Hamon, the Academic Director for the English Language Institute at Missouri State University.

Students often study listening comprehension in less than interesting, even boring ways, he adds. Transcription, however, provides a fun way to improve one's listening skills.

At VOA Learning English, we often receive questions from English learners about how they can improve their listening skills.

Some learners want to build up general English skills, while others want to take exams that involve listening skills.

Take the TOEFL exam, for example. International students who want to attend an American college or university are often required to pass TOEFL, short for the Test of English as a Foreign Language.

This test has a listening section. It asks students to show their ability to understand short and long conversations in English. Those discussions are designed to test one's understanding of common vocabulary, idiomatic expressions, and special grammatical constructions used in speech.

Whether you want to build general English skills or prepare for a test, being able to understand spoken English is a necessary skill. And you will not get better at this skill unless you practice!

Pascal Hamon says that listening exercises should force English learners to focus on turning the sounds that they hear into words. Then, learners must use their brains to turn these words into a message.

Many students try to learn listening skills by performing listening comprehension activities. Hamon believes that such exercises have value but do not force the student to decode individual sounds.

Worse, some English learners listen to television or radio programs in English, but do not actively try to study how native speakers say words and sentences.

Building listening skills does not have to be boring, says Hamon. There are fun, game-like activities that build listening skills.

One such activity, Hamon says, is to make transcriptions.

Transcribing is the act of writing down the words that have been spoken.

English learners should start working with transcriptions by finding audio or video material that has a transcript with it, Hamon says.

Then, he adds, English learners can start practicing.

They listen to a segment as many times as they need, and they try to write everything they hear without subtitles, without, just focusing on what they hear. And then they can check with the actual transcript to see what they got right, what they did not get right, if there are areas where they thought they heard two words but there is actually only one, or they missed a verb ending or plural or something.

Students should not stop the transcription exercise there, however. Hamon says that students should always try to learn from their mistakes. Students should think, Hamon adds, about what they could do better. By identifying problems, and repeating the exercise, English learners will improve their listening skills.

You can start practicing transcription on your own by following these steps. First, find audio that has a printed transcript, but do not look at the words. You should choose audio that is right for your level. One way you could do this on our website is to open a story and start listening to the audio before reading the story. All of our stories have audio below the headline of the story.

Second, listen to a short section of the audio many times. After you have listened many times, try to write down what you hear.

Third, compare what you wrote against the story.

Finally, think about, as Hamon suggested, where you had problems. Ask yourself the following questions. What do I need to improve? What words or sounds did I not hear?

Remember, when you transcribe something, you do not always have to choose a news story. You could choose a song or part of a movie that you like. Just be sure that you are able to find a transcript for it to check your work.

To get you started, let me give you something to transcribe. Listen to part of a song at the end of this story. The song is called, How Deep is the Ocean, and the singer is American Billie Holiday.
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  |  10137 learners#Education #Speeches

During the past several decades, there have been major changes within most Western countries in people's attitudes toward sex, and in sexual behaviour. For people who have lived throughout this period, the changes have seemed quite remarkable. Until the early twentieth century, people in most Western countries did not have permissive attitudes regarding sexuality.

For the most part, young people were expected to wait until marriage before having sexual intercourse. Of course, some premarital sex did occur, and prostitution was not rare. However, sexual behaviour was relatively restricted. As the twentieth century progressed, there was a gradual trend toward liberalization of attitudes toward sex. However, this trend was greatly speeded after 1960, when the first birth control pills became available. These contraceptive pills made it possible for women to engage in sexual intercourse without much risk of an unwanted pregnancy. As a result, many women were more willing to have premarital sex than was previously the case.

Also during the 1960s, Western countries were reaching high levels of wealth and education. A new and very large generation of young people was approaching adulthood, and there was a mood of rebellion against traditional norms. There was an increase in the number of people who engaged in sex before marriage, and also a greater openness about such behaviour. By the 1970s, sexual attitudes had become quite liberal, and many young people were quite promiscuous in their sexual behaviour. However, this pattern reversed somewhat during the 1980s. There was increased concern about sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS, moreover, many young women had been uncomfortable with the idea of unrestricted sexual behaviour. As a result, sexual attitudes became slightly more conservative during the 1980s and 1990s, although they remained much more liberal than in previous decades.

In the early twenty-first century, most young people in Western countries begin having sex during their high school years, although some people wait until they are considerably older. Some young people are promiscuous, but most engage in monogamous relationships that typically last for a period of several months or a few years. When one relationship ends, another usually begins soon after. This pattern usually continues until marriage. After marriage, most people have sex exclusively with their spouse, however, some people do commit adultery. Sexuality has changed a great deal in recent decades. It will be very interesting to see how people's sexual attitudes and behaviour will change in the future.
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  |  9165 learners#Education #Lectures

Most people know that the English language is spoken by millions of people around the world. However, few people are aware of the history of the English language. Today, English is one language, but in some ways it is a mixture of many different languages.

The English language is most closely related to a group of languages called the Germanic languages. This group also includes languages such as German and Dutch. About 1500 years ago, these languages were not yet distinct from each other. Some of the people of Germany and the Netherlands then moved to England. Those people were called the Anglo-Saxons, and their language then evolved into English.

Most of the basic words of the English language are derived from these very old Anglo-Saxon languages. For example, words for the parts of the body, for numbers, and for animals are mostly Anglo-Saxon words. Some new words were brought to England over 1000 years ago by people who came from the Scandinavian countries of northern Europe. Many words that begin with the letters sk, such as skin and skill, are Scandinavian words.

A major change happened in the English language after the year 1066. In that year, England was conquered by a king from the northern part of France. He and his followers spoke French, so French became an important language in England. During the next few hundred years, the English language absorbed a very large number of French words. In fact, today's English dictionaries contain more words of French origin than of Anglo-Saxon origin. Part of the reason why the English language has so many words is that it often has two words for each idea-one word of Anglo-Saxon origin, and one word of French origin.

Many more words entered the English language a few hundred years ago, when science and technology became more widespread. Most scientific and technical words are derived from words of the ancient languages of Latin and Greek. Because there are so many of these scientific and technical words in the English language today, the influence of Latin and Greek has been quite large. Other languages have also contributed many words to the English language. Some words have come from the Celtic languages, spoken in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Many words have been added to the English language by immigrants who came to North America from various countries of Europe. Also, many more words have been adopted from the Native languages of North America, Australia, and the Pacific, and from the languages of peoples of Africa and Asia. All of these words have made English a very interesting language.
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  |  9373 learners#Education #Essays

Canada is one of the largest countries in the world. It is located in the northern half of the continent of North America, above the United States. Canada is divided into ten provinces and three territories, each of which is different from the others.

The province of British Columbia is located at the far western end of Canada. British Columbia stretches from the Pacific Ocean, at the west, to the Rocky Mountains, at the east. British Columbia contains the city of Vancouver, where two million people live. Most of the land of British Columbia is very mountainous, with vast forests covering the mountains. In British Columbia, forestry is an important industry, providing wood for people around the world.

Moving east from British Columbia, the next provinces are Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. These are known as the prairie provinces, because they are mostly made of flat, grassy land called prairie. Alberta is the province where the flat prairie meets the tall and beautiful Rocky Mountains. In Alberta, there are many fields where oil and gas are found, and there are also many farms where cattle are raised.

Saskatchewan is the province that grows the most wheat. Wheat from Saskatchewan is sent around the world to make bread and pasta for many people.

Manitoba is the other prairie province. Its largest city, Winnipeg, is about halfway between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Winnipeg has the coldest winters of any large city in the world, with temperatures sometimes reaching -40 degrees Celsius.

Moving east, the next province is Ontario. The land in the northern part of Ontario is very rocky and contains many thousands and thousands of lakes. Many mines are found in northern Ontario. In the southern part of Ontario, there is good farmland, and there are also many cities where factories produce cars and steel. Ontario contains Canada's largest city, Toronto, as well as the capital city of Canada Ottawa. In the southern part of Ontario are four of the largest lakes in the world, known as the Great Lakes.

Next to Ontario is the province of Quebec. Unlike the other provinces, where most people speak English, most of the people in Quebec speak French. The capital of Quebec is called Quebec City, and this is one of the oldest cities in North America. Quebec City contains many buildings that are hundreds of years old. Also in the province of Quebec is the city of Montreal. Of all the French speaking cities in the world, only Paris is larger than Montreal.

In the eastern part of Canada are the Atlantic provinces, which are next to the Atlantic Ocean. These provinces are New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland. In the Atlantic provinces, fishing is an important industry. Tourism is also important as many people come to see the beauty of these provinces. The people in these provinces are said to be the friendliest in Canada.

In the far north of Canada are the three territories that lie beside the Arctic Ocean: Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. Many of the people in these territories are the Native people of Canada, known as the Indians and the Inuit. The northern areas have very cold, dark winters. The summer is short, but the days are very long and bright.
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  |  8971 learners#Education #Lectures

Are you interested in the behaviour of people and animals? If you are, then you might enjoy the study of psychology. Psychology is the study of behaviour, but this is a very large area of study. There are several different branches of psychology, each of which studies a different aspect of behaviour. Social psychologists study interactions among people. For example, a social psychologist might try to learn about the situations that cause people to behave aggressively. Another question studied by social psychologists is why certain people become attracted to each other. One of the interesting problems in social psychology is conformity? what causes people to behave in the same way, and to follow what others do and say? Cognitive psychologists study thinking, memory, and language. One problem studied by cognitive psychologists is how people remember numbers. For example, what is the best way to memorize some numbers Is it better to repeat the numbers to oneself, or to try to attach some meaning to these numbers? A cognitive psychologist might also study language. For example, why can young children learn a second language so quickly and easily? Cognitive psychologists are also interested in the ways that people learn to solve problems, such as finding a new place. Clinical psychologists study mental illnesses. For example, a clinical psychologist might try to find out the causes of depression and to figure out ways of helping people who are depressed. Other clinical psychologists might study the behaviour of people who suffer from addiction to drugs, so that this problem can be prevented and treated. Another topic of interest to clinical psychologists is violent behaviour. It is very important to find ways of preventing violence and to change the behaviour of persons who act violently. Some psychologists are interested in the measurement of psychological characteristics. For example, psychologists might develop tests to assess a person's intelligence, personality traits, or interests. These tests can be used to help people make decisions about education, occupation, and clinical treatment. Psychologists who study the behaviour of animals are called ethologists. Ethologists often go into wilderness areas to watch the activity of birds, fish, or other animals. These psychologists try to figure out why it is that some animals have instincts for various behaviours such as parenting, mating, or fighting. Some ethologists have learned very much about the unusual behaviours observed in many animals. These are only a few of the many areas of psychology. Truly, psychology is one of the most interesting areas of knowledge!
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  |  9112 learners#Education #Lectures

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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  |  9336 learners#Education #Lectures

Let's talk about a problem you might have when listening to English, especially when watching a movie. You don't understand what you hear. And this is not because you don't know the vocabulary. If you read the transcript or the subtitles you will understand the material just fine. So you already know the words being used. You just don't recognize them when listening. So what should you do?

According to many research studies. In one study participants were trained to perform a task related to hearing. And there were three levels of difficulty easy normal and difficult. The participants were divided into two groups. The first group was trained to perform only the difficult version of that task. The second group however started with the easy and normal versions first before performing the difficult version. The researchers wanted to know which group would perform the difficult version better. So what was the result? Well despite having less training with the difficult version. The second group actually performed better. Practically speaking this finding suggests that if you have difficulty doing something, instead of just keep doing that it's more effective to start with something easy, and then slowly increase the difficulty as you improve.

So how can you apply this knowledge to improve your listening? I'll tell you. First you have to make it easy in the beginning. For example, if you listen to podcasts in English on your smartphone, find an app that lets you change playback speed. So that you can slow down or speed up what you're listening to. If you listen on your computer there are programs that can do that as well. Then whenever you have trouble understanding, use the app to slow down the audio like this. So now it gets easier right. You have more time to think. You have more time to make out words that aren't pronounced clearly. You have more time to guess the meanings of new words and phrases. The idea here is to make it easy in the beginning. Listen at slower speeds. Listen to speakers that are easy to understand. Listen to easy stuff like podcasts and interviews as opposed to movies. Start small but you're not done yet. Easy to hard training requires you to go from easy to difficult. So once your listening skills improve you have to gradually increase the difficulty, instead of listening at the normal speed, speed it up like this.

Now after you speed it up you must still be able to understand the content, but you should feel a little uncomfortable. This will help you become more familiar with listening to fast speakers. The idea here is to keep pushing yourself. If you keep listening to something easy your listening skills will stop improving. So you have to keep challenging yourself. So listen at faster speeds. Also don't keep listening to the same person. Listen to different people with different speaking styles. And then start watching movies without subtitles. If it's still difficult you can slow down the movie by five percent or ten percent or you can slow it down even more if you don't mind the slowness. Once you get used to it you can then start watching movies at normal speed.
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  |  8963 learners#Education #Lectures

Hi everybody, I have a quick question for you. What do you think about your spoken English? Do you think your English is bad? A lot of people who want to speak English think this way because when they speak they have trouble coming up with words. They make a lot of mistakes and their sentence structures is just wrong, and they believe that they're just bad at speaking English and there's nothing they can do about it.

Now, if you are one of those people if you think that there's no way for you to improve your English, then I have something to tell you. You are wrong. You are just plain wrong and in this video I'm going to tell you why. Now, I want you to think about experts and top performers in any field, think about world-class athletes like Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan now here's my question for you. How good do you think they were in the beginning? Do you think they were excellent right from the start? No, of course not, they were terrible in the beginning. Tiger Woods was bad at golf when he began. Michael Jordan was bad at basketball when he began. The bottom line is this when you start out something new. You are going to suck really suck. You are going to make mistakes. You are going to look stupid, and the only way to get better is to keep doing it, and you will get better over time, and this is the truth and it applies to everybody.

But here's the more important question if everybody sucks in the beginning, then what separates successful people from unsuccessful people. How it is possible that they can be English learners? Who are similar to each others? I mean they have the same level of intelligence they have the same resources. But some of them managed to become good at spoken English while others cannot speak English at all. What's the difference the answer is one word action successful people suck in the beginning? Just like anybody else but they keep taking action they keep learning they keep practicing, because they know that even though they're not good at speaking today. They are going to get better if they keep learning if they keep practicing, so they take massive action unsuccessful people on the other hand don't take action very much. They tried to speak English a little bit they try to practice a little bit, but they quit very quickly. I mean they start speaking and they start having trouble it's not making mistakes, and then they say oh English is just not for me, it's too difficult. I'm just not good at language, and then they quit. They just give up immediately.

So here's my challenge to you. After you watch this video, I want you to talk about anything in English, and you just do it by yourself you don't need to find someone to do it with you. You can talk about anything you want you can talk about yourself. You can talk about what happened yesterday, or maybe you can talk about what you've learned from this video. It doesn't matter what to talk about what matters is that you take action and when you do that. I want you to keep two things in mind number one you are going to suck. Just keep in mind that you are going to make mistakes. You are going to say something confusing, or maybe you won't be able to speak at all but be okay with that that's normal everybody has to go through that. I mean this is my first Youtube video and as you can see my drawing sucks is terrible, but I'm okay with that I accepted and you should be okay with your speaking as well.

Second thing I want you to keep in mind is to keep taking action. Just keep learning just keep practicing because it doesn't matter if you suck today, the present does not equal the future, just because you're bad at speaking now doesn't mean that you're always be bad at speaking. If you keep taking action I guarantee that you will improve you will get better. I mean the same is true for my drawing is Saturday. But if they keep drawing if I keep practicing, I'm going to get better. Okay, so that's my challenge to you, and we've come to the end of this video now one last thing. If you want to receive free training videos on how to improve your spoken English, then click the link in the description below, to go to Engfluent dot com and subscribe to my newsletter. I'll be releasing an exclusive training videos on how to improve your spoken English soon and you don't want to miss that. So go to Engfluent dot com, subscribe and I'll see you soon.
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  |  8986 learners#Education #Lectures
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