Hello. In recent lessons I have been emphasising the great importance of regular listening practice.
We do a certain amount of listening in class. There are listening exercises incorporated in the course book. But they are not enough. It's very important to practise listening in your spare time.
An obvious method is to watch a DVD, perhaps of a film you have already seen in Italian. Set the language to English, and set the subtitles to English as well.
The magazine "Speak Up", on sale at many newsagents, is a valuable resource for learners, from intermediate level upwards, and contains many listening exercises.
Internet - BBC
On Internet, there is an enormous number of sites. Look down the right-hand column of this Blog for examples, under 'Listening Practice'. One of the best for Intermediate levels and above is the BBC's 'Learning English' site.
Look at "Words In The News". This week there is the story of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra's first-ever visit to North Korea. But if you prefer a different story, look at the list of 'Latest Stories' on the right. You might like to choose 'Obesity Epidemic' or 'EU faces up to Kosovo challenge'.
In "Words In The News", you listen to the story and read the transcript at the same time. Some of the expressions in the transcipt are shown in bold (very black) text. These expressions are listed after the transcript, with an explanation. Sometimes they include useful phrasal verbs.
Internet for Elementary levels
What is there for level 1 and level 2 students? Here is a site from a university in France: Real English Video Dictations, aimed at beginner levels. Try "What Time Is It?" and do the exercise.
Another good site is Randall's Cyber-Listening Lab which has exercises graded "Easy", "Medium" and "Difficult". If you're in Level 1 or Level 2, then try the Easy exercises.
Randall's exercises are in American English. No problem: it is very important to listen to different accents in English becuase in this way, listening will gradually become easier.
How to practise listening
"Gradually". This is the key word. Listening to a foreign language is never easy to begin with. Therefore it is very important to listen a little, but often. I suggest you do a listening exercise at least three times a week, spending ten to fifteen minutes each time.
A community of learners
And when you have finished an exercise, please help other students by leaving a comment to say how useful, or not, you found the exercise. This is very important, as this Blog is interactive and forms a community.
More soon. - Mike