Cara's fast, natural English podcast
About This Show
Cara's fast, natural English podcast helps you master conversational English.
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Most Recent Episode
Blogcast 3: The Feel Good Guide to Texts and Transcripts
7 days ago
Do you remember those times at school where you were allowed to listen to a recording in English and read along with the transcript at the same time?
If you answered no, then I’m not surprised.
I don’t remember doing that when I was learning French at school. The goal of listening back then was to sit their terrified hoping to catch a few words and answer the multiple choice questions.
That’s because nobody taught us how to listen.
We didn’t learn the pronunciation rules that would have helped us not only sound better, but also hear better.
We didn’t learn strategies for dealing with fast, spoken French. Well, apart from learning to say “Pouvez-vous répéter s’il vous plaît ?”
We didn’t learn any techniques for improving our listening apart from:
- listen a lot or
- answer these comprehension questions.
The unspoken rule was that having a transcript is bad. It’s cheating. You should just listen and deal with it. If you listen with a text, then you’ll never improve your listening skills. And besides you can just guess from context if you don’t understand. And it’s okay to not catch every word.
But what good is just listening when
You don’t know how the language sounds, how words join together or how sounds disappear.
You don’t have effective strategies for your listening
You’re relying on multiple choice or true or false questions to tell you if you’re any good. But the reality is you can guess the answers to these questions. And even if you do get the answer right, you don’t know why you’re right.
You need to do more than just guess from context. What if you guess wrong? You could misinterpret an entire conversation. You could misunderstand important instructions from a boss or colleague. You could miss your train or your flight because you misheard the announcement (they just mentioned our flight number - but are they telling us it’s delayed or cancelled? It makes a big difference).
What good is it to not worry about every word? The words that are hard to catch in English are precisely the words that ARE important!
Take the difference between affirmative and negative sentences for instance:
You should come and
You shouldn’t come
The first one could be a friendly invitation to a party or some other event. The second is a warning telling you not to attend. Pretty different meanings right?
The problem in English is that we squeeze all these little grammatical words into the same space.