Many students have already recognised the advantages of learning English via Skype and are benefiting from the opportunity to improve their English speaking skills with a native teacher.
However, what is often overlooked is the importance of developing strong English listening skills. Listening is an activity that is regularly taken for granted, but how many of us can honestly say that we are good listeners? Many students underestimate the difficulty of listening tests and achieve disappointing results in this section of various English exams.
Studies have shown that we spend approximately 80% of our waking hours listening. This is a considerable period for receiving information, but how much of this do we actually remember?
The surprising answer is that the average person may forget 50-75% of what they have heard. For English language learners, the need to develop good listening skills is even more important. This can be achieved through learning English online and working with an experienced native English speaking tutor.
The first thing to recognise is that, although we take it for granted, listening is a complex process. The idea that listening is a passive activity has now been dismissed by experts. In depth research has shown that in order to remember and understand what we hear, it is necessary to engage in active listening.
If you recognise that your English listening skills may not be very good, then it is possible to take action to improve them. A tutor, who focuses on this aspect of your ESL development, will be able to help you learn the process of active listening. This will not only help you to pass exams, but will also improve your future education and career prospects.
Of course, learning English is challenging, but it is even more difficult if you do not have good English listening skills. Your reason for learning English is probably connected with your future career plans. Universities and English speaking employers will expect you to be able to communicate competently and the ability to listen carefully plays a significant role in functional communication.
Not everyone in an English speaking environment will speak clear, generic English. You must be prepared to be able to understand: different dialects, idiomatic language and hesitations or laziness in speech. If you are an active listener, you will be able to overcome these problems and ask for clarification when you don’t understand the speaker.
The fact is that most people who are serious about studying or working in an English speaking organisation need to have excellent English listening skills. Imagine sitting in a lecture and only understanding and remembering 25% of what you hear or working with a team of people and constantly misunderstanding what your colleagues are saying. This could put you at a great disadvantage. Therefore, it is wise to recognise the importance of active listening and start to focus on developing your English listening skills as soon as possible.