Are you or your students trying to think of a New Year’s resolution related to learning English? Why not concentrate on the skill of listening?

Even though ESL-Library is mainly a subscription-based library of resources for English language teachers, many English learners rely on us for English grammar tips and listening practice. English learners visit us through our blog, Facebook page, twitter feed, and iTunes. Our team is working towards enabling student-access to our materials, but in the meantime, we hope students will take advantage of our FREE weekly podcasts!

We recently received a question from an English learner about our podcasts:

Q: How can I use ESL-Library podcasts to improve my listening skills?

The answer is so simple we only need two words.

A: Just listen.

Really? Just Listen? Please expand!
Listening to another language is one of the easiest ways to learn the language. After all, this is how babies learn a language. Babies aren’t taught about tenses, and word forms, and grammar exceptions. Babies learn the basics of the language by listening.

But Listening is so Difficult!
It’s true. Listening is often described as one of the most difficult skills to master. The key is to make it part of your day. You don’t have to take notes, look up words, pause and rewind, etc. Just listen! Listen to the rhythm of the language, and it will eventually become natural to you. Listen to the words in context, and you will begin to recognize and comprehend word you’ve never seen. If you want to have your dictionary handy, that is up to you. You can stop and start a podcast and look up words as you go. You can have the transcript in front of you and read along (ESL-Library subscribers only). Or, you can just listen. Listening to English on a daily basis is not difficult. Committing to listening is the difficult part. (Motivational tips below.)

Listening Resources
Finding listening resources has never been easier! Most English podcasts are free. That means, all you need is a computer, phone, or other mobile device with speakers. You can take English podcasts with you wherever you go! We hope you’ll subscribe to ESL-Library’s podcasts. These are short readings from our library. There are many different topics to choose from. You can search through the podcast archives to find topics that interest you. You can also find our podcast on iTunes. While you’re there, look for other English podcasts to subscribe to. You may want to find podcasts that contain English conversations, such as Culips or ESLPod.

Get Organized
When you subscribe to a podcast, your device should automatically update for you when a new episode is added. All you need to do is subscribe and listen. Choose a time to listen to English on a daily basis. If you have a mobile device, you can listen at breakfast, on your morning commute, in the bath, in the car, while you jog, or as you fall asleep.

Commit
New Year’s resolutions are easy at first. You might listen to English every day for a week or two. That’s great! After a few weeks, it is easy to “fall off the wagon”. Then what can you do? Commit again. Set a goal for yourself, and offer yourself a reward. For example:

I will listen to English every day for 10-20 minutes. I’ll listen to one podcast, one English song, and one English grammar video. After one month, I’ll buy myself a new English album or audio book. (Or reward yourself with a new pair of jeans if that works for you!)

About ESL-Library Podcasts

ESL-Library podcasts are available on our blog or on iTunes. A new podcast is added every Wednesday. We have nearly 200 episodes to choose from. Our podcast host is Tara Benwell. Tara is an experienced English language teacher and materials writer who has been recording English language resources for English learners for 10 + years. Tara has a North American English accent. Teachers can use the podcasts to preview our lesson plans, to offer students extra listening practice (listen for homework), or as part of the lesson in combination with the text from our lesson plans (subscribers only). The MP3 files are downloadable. Please direct your questions and feedback to tara[at]redriverpress[dot]com.

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Tara Benwell

Tara Benwell is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in materials and articles for the ELT industry. She is the media director and head writer for ESL-Library. Her debut novel, The Proper Order of Things is available on Amazon and in the iBookstore.   Website: http://www.tarabenwell.com   Twitter: @tarabenwell