Extensive Listening

Extensive listening is similar to extensive reading (see: What is Extensive Reading?), except with audio or video materials instead of written texts

  • Instead of listening carefully to a small amount of material, you choose easy material and listen to a lot of it
  • The material should be easy enough that you can understand most of it comfortably, without having to go back and listen multiple times or look up new words in a dictionary, and without subtitles. 

You can find more information about extensive listening here.

Choosing Materials for Extensive Listening

As with extensive reading (see: Choosing Materials for Extensive Reading), there are two main criteria when choosing materials for extensive listening:

  • The material should be easy enough that you can understand most of it comfortably (without subtitles).
  • The material should be interesting and enjoyable for you to listen to or watch.

If you start listening to something and find that it is either too difficult or too boring, then stop and find something else to listen to.  You do not need to finish something just because you started it.  In fact, you will probably gain much more by switching to easier or more interesting material than by forcing yourself to struggle through something that is frustrating or boring.

Types of Materials

As for the type of material, there are many possibilities, such as:

Your selections will depend on what materials are available in the language you are studying, as well as your personal interests and your level in the language.  But as long as you listen to or watch something that is easy and interesting for you, you should get something out of it.

NOTE: When you first begin, video may be easier than just audio, because body language and other visual clues will help you understand what is happening:

  • It is helpful to start with something familiar, such as a TV series or movie where you know the story. 
  • If you don’t know the story already, you may be able to find a synopsis of it to read before watching. 
  • For something that’s not a story, choose a topic that you know a lot about.  (If you have a copy of Gabriel Wyner’s book Fluent Forever, he gives some tips about choosing listening materials in Chapter 6.)