Playaway is a device that is pre-loaded with one audiobook. Listen to the Playaway book while you read the printed book to improve your comprehension, vocabulary and fluency. You can borrowPlayawayfor free at most public libraries.
StoryCorps is an organization that records short stories (~3 minutes) that people tell about their lives. They post them on their website. For each, you can listen to the story, and you can also read the words (transcript) while you listen.
Dictation is listening to someone speaking and then trying to write what you hear.
Practicing dictation can help improve your:
English listening skills
Writing and Punctuation
Speaking and pronunciation (if you speak the words you hear – out loud – while you’re writing it)
The EnglishClub website has a good collection of dictation exercises, at 3 different levels of difficulty. Here’s an example:
1. Listen to the dictation at normal speed (just listen; don’t try to write it).
2. Listen again at slow speed and try to write/type what your hear (with a smartphone, you need to use paper).
Include capitalization and punctuation.
3. Listen again at slow speed if you need to.
4. Listen at normal speed for a last check.
5. When you’re ready, click/press Show Answer and compare the answer to your writing. (The mailbox is just behind the big water fountain.)
When you watch a video in English (TV show, movie, YouTube, etc), you can often choose to display the English words at the bottom of your screen – as they are being spoken. This is called closed captioning. Many times you will see “CC” to show where you need to turn it on.
This is different from subtitles which are also used to show the spoken words, but in your own native language. When you are beginning to learn English, using subtitles in your native language can be helpful. It lets you listen to the spoken English pronunciation while you read the translation. This can be especially good for learning English slang and idiom expressions.
But as your English improves, closed captioning – reading the English words while you listen to those words being spoken – can help you more, in many ways including:
Better understanding and remembering of what you read (reading comprehension)
Better understanding and remembering of what you hear (listening comprehension)
Many times, you can stop the video, to listen to something again – a great way to practice.
For example, one new TV show, called Planet Earth, is on the cable station BBC America. They talk slowly and clearly so you really have time to listen and read the closed captions.
A website with many, short, interesting videos is TED.com. For many of the videos, you can display the words in either your own language, or English. Here’s one of their most popular videos. It’s on body language, and how just changing the way you stand can give you more confidence…
News In Levels is a website that contains lots of short news stories – told in three levels (1, 2, 3) and many include videos. You can choose the level of difficulty you want. There are one or two new articles posted every day.