The second largest problem that a Spanish language student faces is to develop his or her listening comprehension. If you are like most people studying Spanish, you can probably comprehend a good portion of what you read and are able to write at least a little bit in Spanish. But you get totally lost when it comes to understanding what a native Spanish speaker is saying during a regular conversation.
So, if that sounds like you, here is an easy five step exercise that you can use to practice and develop your listening ability.
For this exercise you will need a recording of a short text that you can have a native Spanish speaker create for you. Or, you can just record one yourself from a Spanish movie or Spanish speaking TV or radio station.
Step One - Now that you have your recorded Spanish text, go find a nice quiet place where you won't be disturbed for the next forty-five or so minutes. Once you are there listen to your Spanish recording three to five times straight through without stopping. Each time you go through it, write down how much you felt you understood on a scale of one to ten.
Step Two - Listen to the Spanish recording a couple more times. But this time, pause about every fifteen seconds. At each pause think about what you heard...the sounds, pronunciations, intonations, and make note of those parts that seem to give you the most trouble so you can come back to them later. Then move on. Don't waste a lot of time here with what you don't know yet. It will only frustrate you.
Step Three - This time you will listen to the Spanish recording again, but do so with a transcription of the recording in front of you as you follow along. This means that however you obtained your recording, you need to have it in written too. So, think about it before you make the recording. While listening it, pause every fifteen seconds or so, and underline the sections that you noted earlier. See if you can understand the text now that you have seen it written out. Note the sections where the Spanish speaker seems to jumble words together so you can later ask if that is really how those words are pronounced...or if the person who spoke was just a sloppy speaker and slurred his or her words together.
Step Four - Listen to the whole text a few more times while following along with the transcription. This time, however, do not pause the recording. Just let the recording roll, and keep up with it as best you can. Keep doing this until you feel comfortable listening to the recording and following along with the transcription at the normal rate.
Step Five - Once you feel comfortable with the text, and have a good grasp of what the Spanish speaker is saying...put away your transcription. Now listen to the recording several more times and make note of how much you now understand each time on a scale of one to ten.
Finally, to wrap things up...ask several people that you know speak Spanish well to read the text out loud to you. This will develop your listening skill as each one person's voice is different. They may even have different accents, pronunciations, intonations, etc.
Do this everyday...or as often as you can. You will soon notice a large improvement in your Spanish listening skills.
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