How to Improve your Listening Comprehension

So, you’re learning a new language. You’re starting to learn more and more words. But for some reason, you still can’t understand when people talk to you. This is a problem because it really ruins the conversation. How can you improve your listening comprehension so that you can have better conversations and learn even more through listening? Let’s walk through some small action steps you can take to improve your listening comprehension.


First, you want to decide what your goal is in the area of listening. I’m sure you want to understand native speakers, but from where? A certain region or many different dialects/accents? Do you want to understand people on the phone, in person, or in TV shows?

Knowing exactly what you want to use this skill for is very important because it can change the method you use to get there. Take these examples:

  • Let’s say you want to understand speakers of a specific dialect or accent. In this case, you’re going to want to be sure to listen to content with that accent.

  • If you want to be able to hear people on the phone, you may want to consider practicing with audio that has a background static or music.

  • If your goal is to understand speakers in conversation, prepare to have more conversations in person or take lessons with a real live person.

man listening to the phone, looking at the computer

Get more practice with the type of material you actually want to be able to listen to and understand. So, if you want to understand TV shows, listen to more TV shows, etc. Your ear will get used to this type of material. If you want to be able to understand a variety, then it’s important to include a variety in your learning routine.