Extensive and repeated listening


The benefits of listening to stories for English students are very much like the benefits of reading them. If we listen to stories that are easy for us to understand, we build up the speed with which we recognise words as they are spoken. We notice more examples of grammatical forms that we have learnt but have not yet fully mastered.

But listening is not just a way of consolidating vocabulary and grammar. When we understand the linguistic elements of what we are reading, we can really devote all our attention to the content. This is of course the point. We listen to things in order to grasp their meaning, whether they are songs, films, news broadcasts, whatever. We want to understand why someone has bothered to say or sing something. We can only really do that when we turn our attention away from the words and how they are arranged in sentences towards their meaning. It's hard to do that when we listen to rehearse a grammar point.

There are two ways that you can improve your listening. One is called 'extensive listening' by experts and the other is 'repeated listening'. Extensive listening means that you listen to three or more versions of the same story and repeated listening means listening to the same story or article until you are fed up with it.

It seems from the evidence that repeated listening brings into play more cognitive skills than extensive listening, whereas extensive listening has more variety for the student. The problem is that there isn't much material available has more than one version except for things like the news so it's hard to practise in this way.

The good news is that our stories are ideal for repeated listening, so if you're interested give it a try!