We Listen, but Do We Hear?

posted in: Great Ideas | 1

Do you drive every day? Or do you walk down the road with earphones stuck in your ears? If, like most of us, you drive or walk at about the same time most days, you can use this time to really turbo-charge your English. What’s the hardest part and the best part of knowing English? No, it’s not the talking, it’s the listening.

We all have machines to pour sound into our ears day and night, so why not take advantage of it?

Sure, you say. Tell me something new, Peter. Tell me something I don’t know.

OK, what do you listen to? If it’s Yawn Radio, you can do much better. Much better. I always say, because it’s true, that you should never waste your time with listening to things designed for students. Why? Because they’re fake. They’re false. It is impossible for them to be real because even the best actor is trying to speak a little more clearly than in real life. They make their vowels rounder and their consonants squarer than in real life.

In one BBC programme years ago, They. All. Sound-ed. Like. This.

You don’t need that. You really don’t need that. No, you must only listen to real things. You need to listen to real people saying things for natives to understand. They will speak fast, some of them will mumble while others will trip over their tongues, and it will be very hard at first.

But it is the only way to learn.

Enough of the talk, Peter. What have you got for us?

Try podcasts. The great thing about so many of them is that they’re amateur. They are people who one day decided to sit in front of a microphone and talk. And they really talk. Some people talk and talk and talk. And that is exactly what you want.

Here is the king of them all bbc.co.uk/podcasts. I lost count of the categories and the huge numbers. Oh, did I mention they are all free?

And here are three others. I have no idea what they’re like, so you can tell us all about them later.


Play with them until you find something you like. Listen to the good ones again and again and again.

Another idea is audiobooks. I suggest you listen to just one, and pick a story you like. There are loads here. It is a fantastic resource. And, yes, read it carefully and you will find a galaxy of free things to listen to.


And when you find something good, tell us about it. Your friends will appreciate it.

One Response

  1. Why I understand almost everything of yawn radio? You’re right Peter, and I appreciate the way you use to suggest us tips for improving our knowledge. Thank you very much indeed.

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