Listening Exercises

   Seminole State College in Florida has a web page with many helpful listening exercises. There are three levels of difficulty.

Each activity has 10 questions.  For questions 1-5, listen to the audio and choose the sentence you hear.
Here’s an example:

  • That blue house was great!
  • That new house is great!
  • That new house isn’t great.

For questions 6-10, listen to the audio and choose the best answer that you see.
Here’s an example:

  • She pays every month.
  • He pays every month.
  • They pay every month.

To begin, try this exercise.  If you like it, here are many more.

Do You Like Rainy Days?

  Listen to 6 people say what they think about rainy days.

If you listen on the website – ELLLO.ORG – you can read the words (the “script”) while you listen, and take a quiz to see how much you understand.

They call this exercise “Mixers”, where 6 people – with different English accents – give their opinion about something.  You can see many more of them on the website.

There are also many other listening and video lessons on this website.


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.

  Here’s one story called “Tell Me About Your Childhood in Mexico“.

StoryCorps also makes podcasts (like a recorded radio show) that are 10 to 20 minutes long.  You can download these to your phone/tablet, and then play it using a podcast app on your device.

Some of the stories are animated, where you can watch and listen to the story while you read the English subtitles.  Many of these are posted on YouTube.  Here’s one called Facundo the Great…


  Dictation is listening to someone speaking and then trying to write what you hear.

Practicing dictation can help improve your:

  • English listening skills
  • Grammar
  • Writing and Punctuation
  • Spelling
  • 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.)

Closed Captioning

   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)
  • Improved vocabulary

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  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

   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. 

Here’s an example of an article posted recently:

The News In Levels Website has many other features too, such as…

  • A long book to read/listen-to in two different levels
  • Jokes
  • An option to Skype with other English learners
  • A set of beginner English videos on learning English

— Thanks to Laurie for this article —