Monday, June 28, 2010

English Conversation Listening Skills

There are certain skills that you must acquire to be a good listener. These skills can apply to learning a language or to a conversation. And if focused and practiced, you will amaze people at your great conversational skills. You see, people are mostly interested in talking. Unfortunately for those of us who are actually listening to them, they are talking about themselves most of the time.
The best advice my Dad gave me when it came to girls (and this advice applies to anyone), is "Ask questions." That was all he said to me. Now granted I was only twelve at the time but I had plenty of time to think about it. "What does he mean 'ask questions'? What do I ask them?".
Well what I hadn't realized at the time but eventually learned, was that if you ask someone questions, it is showing them that you have an interest in them. Whether it is an interest in their abilities, or political view, you are showing that you care. And when they are doing the talking, it gives them a chance to speak their mind. And when they speak their mind, you are gaining an advantage into knowing what that person cares about.
The thing that might surprise you the most is that when your conversation has ended, people will be amazed at your conversational skills. What they don't realize is that "listening" is a conversational skill. Of which they have probably not used.
Lessons to Apply
When engaged in a conversation, make the person you are aware of what they are saying by SHOWING them you are listening.
93% of communication is non-verbal. You may not be saying anything, but your body is saying more than you ever could. So focus on what you need to do to be an effective listener. Five simple things to do:
1. Give your conversation partner your undivided attention. Look your conversation partner in the eyes. Don't stare. But you need to make that connection.

2. Nod your head occasionally. This is a natural response and should not be that hard to do.

3. Ask your conversation partner relevant questions. If you aren't listening, you cannot complete this step. This is also the point in which you can steer the conversation into a direction you would like it to go.

4. Let your conversation partner know that you didn't understand them. Wait for an appropriate time to stop them and say "I'm sorry to stop you there, but I didn't quite understand what you meant by........" or simply "What did you mean when you said........?"

5. Use your body to show you are listening. This means that you should not be fidgeting or moving your body around. Lean towards your partner just slightly when they are talking. This small movement will show them you are interested in what they are talking about.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Improve your English Conversation with Active Listening

Active listening is another way to say that, not only are you listening, but you are engaged and a part of the conversation as well. There are three parts to any conversation. Whether it is on the phone, over coffee with your friend, or at a business meeting with your boss and your colleagues; Listening, Responding, and Asking.

Listening

Anywhere you go, and by this I mean anywhere you go to try and learn a language, they will tell you to listen. There are many reasons for this. For one, listening is such an important aspect in any language, that you would be at a disadvantage in life if you didn't listen. It is what makes a language. A language needs listeners. That's where you come in.

Listening is a skill. It is something that needs to be practiced a lot. If you are fluent in a language, for example your native language, then the skills you need to work on are different from the skills of someone listening in their second language. I will be speaking briefly on listening in a second language.

If you are just starting out or having a difficult time learning your second language, there is something that you can do to drastically enhance your knowledge of it. It's not studying from a book. And it's not learning how to write it. It's LISTENING to it!

Just listening to a new language can train our brain to the sounds, speech patterns and pronunciations of your new desired language. Take a minute and think about when you first learned how to speak. A baby isn't born KNOWING their language. So how does it learn the language that it eventually speaks?

You're right! It listens. And at first, that's all babies do is listen. But what eventually happens with the baby? That's right! It finally says a word. Odds are that it will say something that has been repeated to it a lot. It does take a long time for a baby to finally grasp a language.

Usually around 3-5 years the child has an understanding of the simple ways that sentences are put together. And passing through the years, eventually has a good grasp of the language around 10-12 years. Minus, of course, the vocabulary.

I am not saying it will take you that long to learn a new language. Clearly you are more sophisticated than a child. I am merely saying that if you listen, you will learn.

Responding

Responding is a very simple skill. But there is one important aspect that you must consider before applying the lessons taught here. And that is LISTEN. You must listen to know how to respond. If you were not listening to what your conversation partner had to say, how will you know what follow up questions to ask.

Responding can show your conversation partner that you are interested in what they are talking about. Not just by the way you were using your non-verbal listening skills. Responding shows that you are actively engaged in this conversation. Remember, just because you are not doing the talking, does not mean you are not a part of the conversation.

This part of the conversation may seem minor, but it is very important in keeping the two-way activity going. Because if you are only nodding and smiling, the other person might just think you are a robot. So you must use this little but important aspect in your conversations.

Responding to what someone has said can be very easy. Especially if you would rather have them keep talking or if you are sincerely interested in what they are saying. You can simply ask what they meant when they were talking about a certain point in their story.

Asking

Asking is part of the responding process. But it is also a key role. Perhaps THE key to active listening. This part of a conversation is a key role because it provides you with the knowledge and understanding of the conversation.

When you are actively engaged in a conversation, you should be getting something out of it. You're goals should be: learning from the person you are speaking with, and creating a friend or partner for the future.

Asking questions will also take the conversation where you want it to go. If your conversation partner is talking about something that offends you (and this can happen) be polite, wait until they finish their thought, and ask a question that directs the conversation away from the previous subject.

Remember now that you have them talking about something of interest to them, they will know if you are listening to what they are saying.

If you want to continue your studies to a university or college level in a country that speaks English then you will have to continue your online studies. During the time you are learning English online you will get the direction that you need for all the classes that you will pursue.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Daily English Conversation with David and Annie

Here is another daily English conversation. Listen to their American accent and try to repeat words after they say them. Doing that is a good way to practice your spoken English while working on listening to English as well.

The Park

David: Let's walk this off.

Annie: Do you want to walk around the lake?

David: Yeah. It's such a beautiful day. I can wear my new tennis shoes.

Annie: Look at those flowers. They've bloomed since the last time we were here.

David: What are they called again?

Annie: They're Lilacs. I'd love to plant some in my yard.

David: They sure smell good.

Annie: The only problem is that they only last about two weeks.

David: Maybe you should plant something that lasts longer.

Annie: Did you hear that?

David: Yeah, I think it's a cardinal.

Annie: There it is in that pine tree.

David: Where? I can't see it.

Annie: To the left of that broken branch.

David: Oh I see it. It's a male. I can tell because it's bright red.

Annie: Isn't he gorgeous?

David: There he goes. He must have heard us.

Annie: Look how blue the lake is.

David: You can almost see the bottom.

Annie: There's some ducks. And they have babies with them.

David: I think there's six of them.

Annie: No, I count nine of them. They're so cute.

David: You're right. There are nine.

Annie: Look at them all lined up behind their mom.

David: Why are they headed for the shore so fast?

Annie: Yeah and the other birds are flying off too.

David: Oh, there's a hawk up there.

Annie: That's why they're running away. Hurry little ducks, hurry!

David: They got to the brush in time. I don't think the hawk can get them now.

Annie: Good.

David: You're so caring, always worrying about the little animals.

Annie: I just wouldn't want anything to happen to them.

David: Hey, there's a bench up there under that oak tree. Shall we sit a while?

Annie: Yes. I love the shade and we can listen to the birds.

David: It's so peaceful. I could sit here all day.

Annie: Me too. Especially when I'm with you.

David: Oh, aren't you sweet. No wonder I love you so much.

Annie: I love you too, honey.

David: Let's get going.

Annie: Okay.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Everyday English - Going Shopping for Groceries

This is everyday English. Even though it is not a conversation, it is a good way to practice listening and speaking. Click below to hear the English audio, and read along with the paragraph below that.

Going Shopping for Groceries

Some people like to go to the grocery store in the middle of the day. But I always go in the middle of the night. I think that is the best time to go because there are almost no customers in there at that time.

The store I go to is called "Safeway". They are open 24 hours a day, so a person can go shopping anytime they want. I go in the middle of the night because there are a lot less people, and I can really take my time looking around for food I want to get.

I try to get enough food to last me at least two weeks. That way I don't have to go the store all the time. Unless of course I forget something that I wanted to get. And that happens a lot.

I spend a lot of the time looking at prices to find the best deals on all the food I buy. I don't usually care about a brand name item, and often times the grocery store's item of a food is usually less expensive.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Daily English Conversation - Ryan Goes Shopping

Listen to this daily English conversation. Their accent is an American accent. This conversation is a dialogue that you would experience in an everyday situation. So listen and follow along.

"Listening to English conversations is the key when trying to improve your English. Along with speaking and reading, listening is the most important action you can do to imrove your English." - worldenglishclub.com
Click on the link below to hear the English conversation

Ryan goes Shopping


Ryan: Excuse me. can you help me?
Sales Clerk: Yes. What do you need?
Ryan: I'm looking for some new pants but I can't seem to find much.
Sales Clerk: Well let's start by finding out what kind of pants you like.
Ryan: Well I would really like some jeans. Maybe a really dark blue.
Sales Clerk: Okay, we have those right over here. What's your size?
Ryan: I think my waist is about 34. But I don't know how long they should be.
Sales Clerk: How about these? Hold them up to your legs and see if they are long enough.
Ryan: I like these jeans. But they seem a little short.
Sales Clerk: Then it looks like you need one size longer. You can try these on in the changing room right over here.
Ryan: Okay. Thank you. I'll be just a minute.
Sales Clerk: Sure. Take your time.

After Ryan tries the jeans on, he wants to buy them.



Ryan: Sir? These jeans fit great. I want to buy them.
Sales Clerk: Okay great. Did you have anything else you would like to purchase?
Ryan: No. just this please.
Sales Clerk: Alright, your total is forty two oh five ($42.05).
Ryan: Okay, here's forty five ($45)
Sales Clerk: And here's your change. Thank you sir. Please come back again.
Ryan: Okay. Thank you.

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