Language and study skills
How to improve your English language listening skills.
Listening to English will help you to improve your vocabulary knowledge, comprehension skill and grammar awareness.
You can use the resources on this page to hear English the way it is naturally spoken. You can choose from different topics and types of listening.
How to improve your listening skills
Listen regularly, every day if you can. You only need to listen for a short time.
Do not worry about what you cannot understand. Focus on what you can, starting with identifying the topic, names or places that you hear.
Listen to different things: to the news and to topic areas that will help you build useful words and knowledge, but also to things that are just fun or entertaining.
Try including some listening exercises for English learners which ask you to answer some questions.
The daily news is always a good, short listening exercise. If your listening skill is not very good at the moment, try listening to the news in your own language first, and then listening to it later in English. It could help you to understand more information.
Finally, don't be afraid of listening. It's true that some people speak quickly, not very clearly or have strong accents. However, regular practice will help you, whether you are in the UK, listening to the language around you, or doing the same online.
Where to practise listening
The following are good options for practising your listening:
- Television and radio: news, dramas, films and documentaries or radio shows with interviews and competitions. To listen to BBC television or radio programmes you will need a UK TV licence but other channels are free to watch.
- Box of Broadcasts lets you choose and record any broadcast programme from over 60 TV and radio channels. This wonderful resource is available to you while you are in the UK and a student at York St John University.
- Regional (local) news broadcasts and local radio stations are very good for hearing different accents.
- The BBC online websites and resources are free to use, including BBC news. Look at the menu at the top of the page for different topics, such as Entertainment, Business and Tech.
- If you have a course book, listen to the CDs and DVDs. The audioscripts (the words for the listenings) are usually in the back of the book. Also, look in your course book for links to the websites for these books as they have lots of practical activities.
You can also try these online resources:
- Channel4.com - You will need to register but it is free to use.
- BBC School Radio - A lot of fun!
- BBC Learning English - 6 Minute English - An excellent online learning English resource, which is frequently updated with new recordings.
- BBC Learning English - Lingohack - Another BBC resource. This one is the news, in a short form, for English learners, with vocabulary explanations.
- BBC Learning English - The English We Speak - 3 minute conversations, teaching you the language people are using in the UK...right now!
- TED Talks - Excellent lectures and talks that make you think about our world. There is an extremely wide variety of topics and many of the talks have transcripts in different languages.
- Free audio books on Audible - E-readers at different levels. During the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown period, these are available free of charge.
- University of Reading Lectures - Lecture listening practice.
- Breaking News English - Available at all levels, with a variety of exercises and answers based on each topic.
- The Study Space - International students lectures - Helps with listening to lectures.
- iSL Collective video lessons - Video practice.
- The Ebor Lectures - If you want to listen to some lectures, these are more challenging.