As you listen to movies, television shows and lectures:

  • Think about what each speaker hopes to accomplish. What is the purpose of the lecture or conversation? For example, is the speaker apologizing, complaining, inviting or  making suggestions?
  • Notice each speaker’s style. Is the language formal or casual? How certain does each speaker sound? Is the speaker’s voice calm or emotional? What does the speaker’s tone of voice tell you?
  • Notice the speaker’s degree of certainty. How sure is the speaker about the information? Does the speaker’s tone of voice indicate something about his/her degree of  certainty?
  • Pay attention to the way stress and intonation patterns are used to convey meaning. Replay segments multiple times, listening for shades of meaning. This will help you understand a speaker’s point of view.
  • Listen for changes in topic. What transitions are used?
  • Listen for repetitions of ideas and paraphrases. How do speakers reinforce their points?


Vocabulary tip: Don’t memorize low-frequency technical vocabulary. These words are usually defined within a text or listening passage. Focus on learning high-frequency language that crosses all disciplines.