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Increase Your Comprehension

16 November 2022

Do you wish to improve your listening comprehension and understand real English audio without subtitles?

Do you want to understand native speakers the way they really speak, but feel frustrated because they just talk so fast?!

If you’ve ever felt this disheartened, you’re going to love what some language coaches call the Sound Power Build Technique. This is a technique to improve your listening skills so that you can progressively understand real spoken English better, finally understand your native speaking colleagues more and never feel lost again.

When you’re watching movies or television series in English, you probably use subtitles in English to help you understand. That’s fine, but in the real world, unfortunately, your colleagues don’t come with subtitles.

I’m sure when you read those English subtitles, you understand enough of the words. This tells me that you know the vocabulary, you just don’t recognise the words and expressions when they’re spoken at normal, natural speed.

The Sound Power Build technique is going help you because it is just like lifting weights.

Do you know of anyone who started lifting 50 Kg weights? No. You start easy and work your way up to the next level in a progressive manner. Then, over time, you’ll succeed in lifting 50 Kg!

…. Or understanding native speakers. Truly!.

So, how does this work? There are a few steps:

Step one: Search the internet for some audio or video you want to train with. Download the file—audio or video onto your computer.

Step two: Open the file with VLC Media Player.

Step three: Now you can adjust the speed and make it slower.

It’s easier to understand at a slower speed because you have more time to think and try to understand. Just remember that, just like lifting weights, when it becomes easy, you have to push yourself further.

Gradually increase the difficulty by increasing the speed. When that level becomes comfortable, increase the difficulty again. Always go just beyond your comfort zone.

It’s good practice to listen to different videos and different speaking styles. English Connection BitSize posts are a perfect source for your practice! Each post has a audio version so you can listen to it without reading. Expose yourself to the kind of real speech that your native speaking colleagues use.

If you don’t have a VLC Media player you can download it from the interned to install it in your computer, it’s free. You can also watch videos straight from YouTube as it allows you to speed up and slow down any video. (See pictures below)

Use this simple technique to play with the speed of the video to adapt the speed to your level and then of course progressively increase the speed to help you get used to listening to speech at normal speed and without subtitles.

But does this technique work? you bet!

A study in the Journal of Comparative Psychology showed that people who used this technique could spend less time working on their comprehension skills, but would improve more than people who simply listened to audio that was at the same difficult level.

So, maybe it’s different from what you normally do, but it’ll save you time and you get better results.

Here’s a challenge for you: use one of my past audio blog posts just to test this technique (you’ll need the VLC in this case). I guarantee you’ll improve your listening comprehension more quickly than just by watching movies with subtitles. Then come back and share your experience in the comments section below.

If you have questions about this post, ask a question and I’ll help you out.

If you learned something from this post, then subscribe to English BiteSize right now. This is where I share exclusive resources and tools to help you improve your English and communication skills.


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