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Develop your listening skills

This is one skill that you can work on extensively and independently.

Listening to lectures

One aspect of listening which many students find challenging is listening and taking notes at the same time. This website has lectures on many different topics, with differing degrees of difficulty.

35 lectures have been recorded at the University of Reading, with topic areas across a wide range of fields. There are three key levels of lectures and also tasks and transcripts. The lectures are divided into 5-minute sections. This means you can focus on intense listening to one section, or listen to the whole lecture.

It is essential that you listen before reading the transcript.


Some useful strategies for listening to lectures

Strategy 1

Before you listen to a lecture, it is very helpful to do some preparation; think about what you already know about the topic, and read about it if you can. You may be given a recommendation by the lecturer about what to read. You can also try and predict what you think the lecture might cover. If you are given a lecture reading, this can be very helpful in setting the context of the lecture.

Strategy 2

Focus very carefully on the introduction to the lecture. In this part the lecturer will often outline the content of the lecture. It may include background information about the person who is giving the lecture, or background information about the topic area. It can also give you the opportunity to get used to the accent of the lecturer and how they speak, as they often give information about themselves.

Strategy 3

Listen for signposting language; these are key phrases or words which help guide you through different sections of the lecture. They will help you identify which parts of the lecture are important.

Some example of signposting:

  • In this lecture I will..............
  • First of all,.............
  • ....... and then..............
  • Finally,..............
  • Now I will look at...............

To listen to lectures, please click on lectures on the left-hand side.

Useful links for listening

  • KANOPY from UoR library provides access to films, documentaries in all subjects and different languages. Follow this link to the library page. You will need your Reading University username and password to login.
  • Use the following website to help with listening to lectures Introduction to Listening to lectures.
  • TED is an organisation devoted to spreading ideas in the form of short talks (18 minutes or less). TED Talks cover almost all topics - from science to business to global issues - in more than 100 languages. Multilingual subtitles and transcripts of the talks are available.
  • Box of Broadcasts allows you to record and view TV and radio programmes, for research purposes, from over 60 free-to-air channels and access an archive of over 2 million programmes from the 1990s to the present day. It includes content from most UK broadcasters (including BBC TV and Radio, ITV, Channel 4 and More4) and several foreign language channels (including Arte, ZDF, Rai News 24).
  • BBC Radio 4 Podcasts Download and listen anywhere. News, arts, comedy, politics, readings, discussion, documentaries, drama, history, money, and science.
  • Dramas from BBC Learning English All dramas on this page have a downloadable transcript and audio, so that learners can listen and read at the same time. They also contain lots of useful English phrases.
  • Improve listening skills with News Report - BBC English language teaching series that uses authentic audio news stories from the BBC.
See Also

Visit the International Study and Language Institute (ISLI) website for information on EAP courses.

Things to do now

Listen to a lecture - visit the University of Reading Lectures page.