The fact that listening is one of the most difficult skills in a foreign language acquisition is undeniable. To me, at least it is. And I draw this conclusion after observing most of my students´ constant complaints when they have to face transcriptions or simply long or fast listening activities. So what can you do to overcome this obstacle? First of all, be aware that you´ll hardly understand a regular conversation 100%. An example of this is our own language. There´s always a couple of words we miss when we have a conversation with someone, isn´t there? So, relax and try to bear these hints in mind:
- Try to stick to your level most of the times. If your level is basic, don´t try to understand activities fit for intermediate students, but you can do so in an informal and entertaining way, I mean, you should watch all sorts of TV programs, movies (with the subtitles in the language you´re studying on), radio programs, podcasts, music (following the lyrics), audiobooks, etc. You can always find very useful stuff online, including exercises. This is a very good site: http://www.voanews.com/learningenglish/home/.
- Make an effort and try to speak to your teacher and classmates using the foreign language all the time. And, of course, listen to them! But it´s very important that you expand your horizons and look for foreign speakers as well, even if it´s not a personal conversation, but the one on TV, for instance.
- Try to understand the main idea of the topic. The others will be a consequence of the main ones and also a consequence of your vocabulary, so...
- Try to read a lot, about everything, from books to comics to increase your vocabulary.
- Have you come across a new word? Look it up and add it to your vocabulary! Be organized and have a notebook handy.
- Include the language in your everyday life: from your videogame to your favorite TV Show. There´s always a pleasant option.
- Watch your pronunciation! Try to repeat after the CD to memorize the right pronunciation, even if you have to write the proper spelling. By doing this, you´ll never mispronounce it and it will be a lot easier to recognize the word when you come across it.
- The CD that comes with your textbook is not a decorative item, so use it and abuse it!
Well, that´s all I have to say for now. Hope these hints can be helpful to all students of a foreign language. That´s what I try to do (and it´s been working all right so far), after all, even though I´m a teacher of a FL, I´m not a native speaker, so I must keep training so I can give my best in class.