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English Listening and Reading Tips

by Chetna Vasishth

English Listening and Reading Tips to Improve your English Today

In this article, we will give you some scientific and researched techniques to improve the Two Language Skills – listening and reading. We have another article on the language skills of Speaking and Writing


Listening Techniques

  1. Imitation Technique

Watch English movies on Netflix with subtitles or even YouTube videos with subtitles, you can watch ChetChat videos if you like. Watch, read, pause and imitate

Now here are somethings I want you to pay special attention to, over and above the difficult words which will catch your attention at first

  1. Notice which words the person links together in a sentence, or when they say words like ‘primarily’, ‘specifically’ or ‘incidentally’, ‘however’. Try to remember these details the next time you speak, and your English will begin to sound more natural.
  2. Look for emphasis, in English, emphasis changes the meanings of the sentences – e.g. ‘I never said she stole the money’
  3. Notice the pronunciation of each word – sometimes the same word, with the same spelling has two completely different meanings – like the bandage was ‘wound’ around the ‘wound’ OR ‘dove’ and ‘dove’ OR ‘produce’ and ‘produce’ OR I did not object to the object, OR ‘They were too close to the door to close it’ and the list could go on.

And talking of pronunciation – people often confuse it to be pronunciation – but if you look carefully at the spellings of the two words, you will notice the difference, in pronounce – there is an ‘ou’ after the n and in pronunciation there is a ‘u’ after the n

  1. Notice the differing usage of the same word – e.g. A doctor treats a patient, a puppy loves a treat and a teenager says ‘don’t treat me like a child’
  2. Also notice the slang, idioms, phrasal verbs and other conversational, spoken English expressions, in order to build fluency like a native speaker


  1. The ‘cheat code’ Remember the Answer Is in the Question – English questions are like mirrors:
  • Does he…..?                       Yes, he does.
  • Can she….?                         Yes, she can.
  • Is it….?                                  Yes, it is.

If someone asks you a question and you’re not sure how to answer, start by thinking about the words used in the question.  The person has already said most of the words you need to make your answer.

  1. Listen to podcasts on you phone. Use apps like google playlist, itunes, spotify or stitcher. Some channels which you would find useful are –BBC World Service has quite a few podcasts e.g. ‘The English We speak’ and ‘6 minute English’ , ‘Learn English Podcasts’ by the British council, ‘Podcasts in English’, ‘Splendid speaking’, ‘Better at English’. Some American Podcasts are like – ‘This American Life’, ‘Scientific American’, ‘Freakonomics Radio’.
  2. Slowly get the differences between say American English and British English – autumn vs fall, apartment vs flat.


Reading Techniques

  1. Read graded readers for children. These books are especially written for your level.
  2. Read often and read widely and read interesting material
  3. Read for the general meaning first. Don’t worry about understanding every word, then go back and look up new words. Don’t let very big words scare you – e.g. when you see something like this – “You see, the whole country of the system is juxtaposition by the haemoglobin in the atmosphere because you are a sophisticated rhetorician intoxicated by the exuberance of your own verbosity…”
  4. Read out loud – pay attention to the sentence construction. Here’s a short exercise – Take this sentence – She told him that she loved him – now insert the word ‘only’ anywhere in the sentence. It’s interesting how the meaning changes each time.
  5. Learn root words. They’ll help you guess the meaning of words. For example: scrib = write, min = small
  6. Learn words in groups e.g. ingest, digest, egest and also multiple uses for the similar
  7. Learn phrases and short sentences – You’ll find that English is more useful in your everyday life if you study whole phrases, rather than just vocabulary and verbs. Start by thinking about phrases that you use frequently in your native language, and then learn how to say them in English.
  8. If I say the word Ill what comes to mind – I’ll, aisle or isle?? All three totally different words are pronounced the exact same way. Only reading will help you figure the differences
  9. Just a few minutes every day will be enough for you to practice in any way you choose: reading, listening to music or doing exercises. Try to make it an everyday habit.


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