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5 Common Mistakes Made by English Learners

Updated on October 27, 2017

Trying to understand every single word

  • Trying to understand every single word. If you try to catch every word, you might miss the overall gist of what the speakers is saying. Unless your English is perfect, in which case even the most advanced English listening will be easy for you, try to listen for overall meaning. Listen out for the words which are emphasised in a sentence, as these carry the meaning.

Trying to translate in your head

  • Trying to translate in your head. If you do this, your brain is working overtime as it is doing two things at once. While you are listening, you are simultaneously translating it into your own language and then, of course, getting left behind. One way to avoid this is to practise English listening online and in person as often as possible. If you want to learn advanced English listening online, sign up to a podcast, or watch a movie with a script, or take some advanced online English listening lessons. If your English is at a lower level, then online listening lessons that are graded at a certain level will be better for you.

Try to speak in speed

  • Expecting English to be spoken at a speed you can easily follow. Everyone speaks at different speeds, but in most cases native speakers talk quickly. Therefore it is important to reach an advanced level in order to understand a real conversation. If you do not have the opportunity to speak English often, the best way improve your English listening skills is to take online English listening lessons that are designed to train you to speak and understand at the same speed as native speakers actually talk. Once you can do this, you will find that you can also understand English at natural speed. Try it - it really works!

Expecting English speakers to have similar accents

  • Unfortunately for English learners, there is a vast variety of accents in English. In the UK and North America there are 56 main accents, and in other countries people speak English as a first or second language. Sometimes it’s difficult even for native speakers to understand other English speakers. So, if you don’t understand, always ask the speaker to repeat or clarify what was said. Don’t be embarrassed if you do not understand. Even the most advanced English speakers sometimes find English listening a challenge.

Learning in a way that does not stimulate you

  • When learning English, make sure you find a subject that interests you. There are many ways to listen to English online. You can find a podcast, news channel or online English lesson on any topic, and this kind of advanced English listening online, although it tends to be at a high level, will keep your attention and have you coming back for more.


So, prepare yourself and don’t worry if you don’t understand everything. Have fun learning English because then you will enjoy listening to and speaking the English language.

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