This week, my guest on the podcast is Cara Leopold, an English teacher who focuses on helping her students enjoy TV and films in English by improving their listening skills.
Some of Cara's top tips:
- Don’t mess around with TV and films initially. They're more challenging than many of us like to admit, and it can be disheartening even at B levels to miss big chunks of action because we insist on switching off the subtitles.
- Instead, stick to curated materials for learners
- Look for natural speech over scripted speech, actors with a naturalistic delivery who don't mumble in order to sound authentic
- Try podcasts and interviews, because they deliver natural speech and structured content.
- If a show comes out regularly and follows a strict formula with set segments, it’s going to be easier to understand
The biggest mistakes Cara sees language learners make is to treat tv and films like you would in your native language, expecting to kick back and relax for 2 hours. If it's passive consumption you are after, your listening skills will not improve - think quality over quantity.
And here is a piece of Cara's philosophy that stood out to me:
“Everything works in language learning."
Step By Step to Subtitle Freedom
Here are the steps Cara recommends so you can improve listening skills and hit that subtitle freedom:
- Get hold of a text, for example search youtube by subtitles
- Open the transcript below your YouTube video so you can read it as you move along
- Find trailers or selected clips of films and TV shows, or choose to watch a show or film in scenes
- Practice dictation
- Switch the subtitles on and off as required
- Repeat things as closely as possible to how the actor is saying them
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