How To Improve Your English Listening Skills

by | English Tips

If you’re reading this article, it means you’re already taking the first step to improving your English listening skills! Lucky for you, it’s quite easy to improve English listening skills in today’s global and digital world. There are now thousands of online resources available to you for free to help with your listening skills. The hardest part will be choosing which methods and platforms are right for you, as we all have various preferences in learning styles.

Let’s take a look at 5 of the best ways to improve your English listening skills without paying a single dollar!



1. Music and Music Videos

Improve Your English Listening Skills

When it comes to music, most people all over the world are already listening to music in the English language. It’s hard not to when English language music is leading the music industry. Good news is that by doing this, you are actually strengthening your English listening skills without even realizing it! 

An additional tip is to not only listen to English language music, but watch English language music videos! By watching how artists move their mouths while singing, your brain will start to connect the English sounds and movements, making it easier to listen and understand native speakers in English! 

As a bonus, you’ll probably learn lots of new vocabulary too since English language music contains tons of slang that native speakers use daily!


2. TV Shows and Movies 

Improve Your English Listening Skills With Movies

Similar to the music tip, you are probably already watching at least one TV series in English. If not, you are definitely watching movies in the English language. Hollywood is a huge industry and a great tool for you to learn the English language. Remember, you don’t need to go out to the movies and spend money. If you have streaming platforms, you can watch tons of English language movies included in your membership. Nowadays, you can even find some movies for free on YouTube!

Additionally, if you really want to improve English listening skills and take it to the next level, try removing the subtitles. I normally recommend putting subtitles in English for my English language learners so that they are practising both reading and listening skills while watching movies however, it’s not necessarily the best option. If you are trying to focus ONLY on listening, you should not be using any subtitles, not even in your native language. By removing the subtitles, it forces you to really listen to the actors and actresses and watch their mouths for verbal cues. Your ears will automatically train harder to hear the native English accent and improve English listening skills!


3. Audiobooks

Improve Your English Listening Skills With Audiobooks

Audiobooks are growing in popularity, even among native English speakers! They are a great solution for the busy bees (an English idiom for a busy person) who would like to read books but do not necessarily have too much time for reading. Audiobooks allow you to listen to stories while simultaneously doing other activities such as cleaning, cooking, driving, working out, and more. 

Some popular audiobook platforms include Audible, Google Audiobooks, Apple audiobooks, Libby and Kobo. While there are many incredible English books to choose from, some will cost money. If you are looking for free options, be sure to select that option on the various platforms mentioned and you will surely find some to listen to. 

It is worth mentioning that some of these platforms offer promotions which will allow you to access books for free. Audible offers free audiobooks for you to listen to when you first sign up. While these may not be permanent promotions, it’s a cool way to sign up and see if you like adding audiobooks to your daily routine to improve English listening skills in an easy way.


4. Phone Conversations

Improve Your English Listening Skills With Phone Calls

Now we’ve been talking about many different online platforms but we cannot forget the most important form of communication, your own personal network! Most people know at least a handful of English speakers in their circle. Whether they are native English speakers or have learned the language on their own, chances are you know some people who can maintain a conversation in the English language. Why not use your connections and network to your benefit?

Consider making it a weekly or bi-weekly habit to call up a friend and chat with them in English. If you have met international friends while travelling abroad or know of some friends studying English in school, you should call them and catch up. If they are really your friends, they’d love to help you practice the language while also engaging in a great conversation. This is a way to kill two birds with one stone (an English idiom meaning to do two things at once). You’ll have fun talking with a friend while also practising your English listening and speaking skills in return!


5. Podcasts

Improve Your English Listening Skills With Podcasts

Alright, I’ve saved the best for last. Well, in my opinion anyways! I absolutely love love love podcasts for many reasons. I find them very easy to digest, seeing as most podcast episodes last between 15-45 minutes. I find listening to podcasts a little easier than choosing an audiobook. When it comes to audiobooks, you have to commit to an entire story. Since podcasts are so short, it’s so easy to shop around for a podcast series that you really enjoy, while listening to a variety of content.

I have learned so much from listening to podcasts, including improving my French language skills. I love the fact that I can listen to a podcast while doing virtually anything. My favourite time to listen to podcasts would definitely have to be while I’m driving to work. The way I see it, if I’m going to have to sit through terrible morning traffic, I may as well be learning something along the way!

Luckily there are a ton of English language podcasts available to you for free that will help boost and improve your English listening skills. If you enjoy content by Glish, you’ll definitely enjoy our very own English learning podcast, The English Journey Podcast, available on all streaming platforms, powered by Glish. We discuss the successes and struggles of learning languages, English specifically, while also breaking down common English mistakes, reviewing English idioms, vocabulary, grammar, conversation tips and more!

Pro tip: If a podcast episode seems too hard for you, try listening to it twice. The first time you will be adjusting and learning the vocabulary, the second time you’ll really be able to understand the meaning and content.



Have fun learning and listening! I know if you stick to some of these ideas every day, you’ll definitely improve your English listening skills.  Be sure to visit Glish’s Instagram and Facebook page for daily English vocabulary, expressions, idioms, slang and grammar tips!

If you’re a business professional and you use Linkedin regularly, you can also join our growing Glish English community there. We post English vocabulary and discussion questions in order to get professionals more comfortable sharing their own thoughts in English! 




Hi there! We’re determined to help you improve your English by giving away this free ebook!

About the author

Jasmine is a Canadian living in Toronto, with English being her native language. She’s a certified second-language teacher with the Ontario College and has multiple years of experience teaching students.

Course: English for every life situation

This course is the ultimate guide to build the necessary English vocabulary needed for multiple everyday situations.

eBook: 99 Useful English Expressions

Check out our free eBook and learn a variety of timeless English idioms and expressions to help you achieve your goal to speak like a native speaker.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This