3 Big Mistakes In Your English Listening

Native English Speakers

As English learners, there are some challenges that you have to overcome, and you make mistakes when you learn English. Mistakes are perfectly normal, and we actually do want to make mistakes, because this is how you improve your fluency. Maybe native English speakers speak too quickly, or perhaps they use words and expressions that you are not familiar with, and it can be frustrating. What we’re going to cover here is learning what the three biggest mistakes are, and what we can do to correct them.

So what are the 3 biggest listening mistakes you might be making?

#1 – Listening Is Not The Same As Reading

A popular myth with learners of English is that if you can listen and understand spoken English, then you can read written English as well. In many high school English-language courses, there’s a lot of focus in reading English, so perhaps you didn’t receive much practice listening to it, or perhaps you weren’t sure how to start practicing your listening skills.

English is a language, and its words are not exactly pronounced as they’re written. We’re visual learners, we see written English words, we see a process. We try to put meaning with each letter of that word. However, when you listen to English, that process becomes entirely different; instead of putting meanings to letters, we need to put meanings to sounds. Now, why is this difficult in English? One of the many reasons is that English is not a very phonetic language — meaning that not every word is pronounced exactly how it’s written. To clarify this, here are three examples words that are spelled differently than their pronunciations:

Enough (e-nuff)

Dough (doe)

Through (thru)

#2 – Translating To Your Native Language

This is a big temptation for English learners. We’re tempted to directly translate from English to our native language, in order to understand it better. Why is translating a mistake?

First, it takes a lot of effort to translate. Plus, when you translate something into your native language, you’re also translating your thoughts or opinions from your native language back to English. This is something your brain can’t keep up with. As you’re busy translating one word at a time, you’re not listening to all the other words that are being said to you, which means you’re not able to pay attention to the person you’re speaking with. Oh no! If you’re curious, ask yourself how long it would take you to translate the sentence below in your head:

So, I started work at this multinational company that provides humanitarian relief services to refugees who are coming to settle in the US from different regions of the world, such as Asia, South America, the Middle East, and Africa. It’s a fulfilling job because I’m given the privilege to provide assistance to others who cannot help themselves, and I work with a great team and with a great boss. After this, I hope to work at the United Nations and continue to provide assistance to the needy.

Secondly, English contains idioms, expressions, and cultural ideas that only exist in English. This is the same concept for all other languages. These types of words are very difficult, or almost impossible, to translate to your native language correctly. Even if you did, it would absolutely make no sense in your language, so don’t do this!

#3 – Expecting 100% From Yourself

Let’s be honest: it is impossible to expect to understand 100% of a conversation if you’re still learning English. Even native speakers who have the best hearing in the galaxy can’t understand 100% of the words that are being said in a conversation. Believe it or not, this is normal. Plus, trying to be perfect is extremely tiring and perfection isn’t, and shouldn’t, be expected from anyone.

Try to understand 60% – 80% of the conversation, and the only secret to this is to stay cool and relaxed. As with everything else, it gets easier the more you practice speaking and listening. If you’re curious to know more about these 3 mistakes, as well as other strategies to improve your listening, then I seriously recommend checking out the 17 Secrets to Improving Your English Listening Skills. These secrets are awesome to read about, and they can help you to develop your listening skills and grow your confidence. Happy learning!

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