English listeningfor improving TOEIC scores


Although my ability has improved significantly compared to when I started learning English, such as "TOEIC score does not increase any more" and "Listening score does not increase", the growth speed has increased when I reached the intermediate level. In fact, many people are weakened.

What points should we keep in order to overcome such a stagnation? In this article, we will introduce solutions to the holes and sluggish listening learning that intermediate English speakers tend to fall into.

Table of contents
  • What causes intermediate English speakers to struggle with listening comprehension?
  • What are the methods and tips to overcome the sluggish growth of English listening?
  • How much study time is required to break through the sluggish wall?
  • Conclusion

What causes intermediate English speakers to struggle with listening comprehension?

First of all, I will explain point by point why intermediate English speakers often encounter sluggish listening comprehension.

Let's look back on our learning situation once.

It's a habit to listen

One of the things that tends to fall into as listening learning progresses is the pattern of "listening is a habit".

Even if you listen carefully at the beginning and try to improve your understanding, as you become more habitually listening to English, are you satisfied with just a rough grasp of the content?

You miss the opportunity to learn new words and phrases because you only get the phrases you know in your head.

Furthermore, this habit has a negative effect not only on learning English but also on using English at work. Even if you have reached a certain level of English, if you do not understand the other person's story, your credibility may decrease.

During your listening training, think again about whether you have somehow overheard English.

Not enough to hear

It is possible that the amount of English you can hear is not enough.

It is important to listen to a lot of English on a daily basis, especially if you live in Japan. However, as you become an intermediate person with good English proficiency, this basic mindset may diminish.

If your goal is higher than you are now, you must be alert. Let's go back to the beginning and listen to English a lot.

If you want to improve your listening skills, it is important to listen for 30 minutes to 1 hour a day. It will be more effective if you keep a record of the amount of learning per day. However, as I mentioned earlier, please be aware that listening is a cause of sluggish growth.

Insufficient vocabulary and grammar

Lack of vocabulary and grammar is also a factor in poor listening comprehension.

While it's good to have a better understanding of English content and English conversation and gain confidence, it often diminishes your greed for learning new words and phrases.

Also, the meaning of English can change significantly with slight differences in auxiliary verbs. If you're not careful because it's a word you know, you may think that the English sentence has a different meaning. These small mistakes are common among intermediate listeners who are struggling to listen.

Keep in mind that there are nuances that change with just one word, so let's not neglect the quest for knowledge.

I don't understand the pronunciation of words correctly

Poor accuracy and comprehension of word pronunciation is also cited as a cause. For example, if you remember English by reading katakana or by reading romaji, of course, you will not be able to listen accurately.

Even if you can read and write, if your speaking and listening skills are low, not only practical English conversation but also test scores such as TOEFL and TOEIC will be sluggish.

Basic pronunciation practice and listening skills are inextricably linked. Especially when you say "I'm good at reading English but I often don't understand it when I hear it" or "I can't write the English I listened to", double-check that you have learned the pronunciation of the word properly.

I am studying only with the CD attached to the reference books and problem books

The fact that only the CDs that come with English learning reference books and problem books are used as listening materials can actually cause a slowdown in listening comprehension.

The sound source attached to the English teaching materials is very well-arranged English. Although such English is a good example of pronunciation, it is not sufficient for practical listening studies.

The same is true for Japanese, but not all English speakers speak English with uniform pronunciation. There are individual differences and regional differences, such as the pronunciation being connected or omitted, and the rhythm being slightly different.

In order to be able to hear English accurately including such "unevenness", it is recommended to add English-speaking news programs and overseas dramas to the teaching materials.

What are the methods and tips to overcome the sluggish growth of English listening?

In order to overcome the sluggishness of listening, it is important to create an "English brain" that has a circuit dedicated to English while building on basic knowledge.

Let's take a closer look at specific methods and tips from the following.

Thoroughly solidify basic skills such as vocabulary and grammar

First and foremost, it is important to thoroughly solidify basic skills such as vocabulary and grammar. If you are aiming for intermediate or higher listening skills, master at least the college entrance exam level.

For those who are uneasy, it is recommended to review lightly from the level learned in junior high school and rank up to high school and university level. It is important to add new knowledge while checking again for any missing knowledge or mistaken memory.

Here are two recommended English teaching materials for intermediate English learners.

Recommended word book "Target 1900"

First of all, I would like to introduce " English word target 1900 6th edition ". This is a collection of English words for university entrance exams, which Obunsha independently analyzed and prepared the university entrance exam questions.

Contains 1900 headwords with rich explanations such as word meanings, supplementary information, and example sentences.

It is also a point that it is devised so that you can work between work and school, such as a small size that is convenient to carry around, and a free application "Target Friend" (compatible with iOS / Android) linked with books. This book is recommended for people who want to learn words efficiently.

Recommended level intermediate
edit Target editorial department
publishing house Obunsha
Price (tax included) 1,210 yen

Recommended grammar book "Kiku English Grammar"

Next, I would like to introduce a book for university entrance exams. Published in 2007, " Kiku English Grammar " analyzes past major universities and center exams and narrows down the ones with a high question rate.

This is a short-term intensive grammar book that allows you to learn 212 types of English grammar, which are essential items for university entrance exams, in 7 weeks. Since the information is condensed, it is also characterized that the amount of learning per day is assumed to be 3 to 9 minutes. Efficient grammar learning is possible while keeping the main points in mind while being compact.

In addition, two CDs are included, making it suitable for enhancing listening. This book is perfect not only for university entrance exams, but also for building the foundation for learning practical English.

Recommended level intermediate
author Takeshi Ichisugi
publishing house ALC Publishing
Price (tax included) 1,760 yen

Learn English pronunciation correctly

As I mentioned earlier, whether or not you have acquired English pronunciation correctly has a great effect on your listening ability. Knowledge of pronunciation is essential for listening to English correctly.

It is also important not only to remember the correct sound, but also to be able to actually pronounce it correctly. Let's check if we can pronounce it correctly again without saying "I know it".

Useful here are vocabulary books with CDs and reference books specializing in pronunciation. As I mentioned earlier, "listening only to beautifully arranged pronunciation does not improve your listening ability", but it is suitable for you to practice correct pronunciation.

If you want to study pronunciation on the go or during your free time, we also recommend an app that specializes in pronunciation correction. When you talk to your smartphone, it will point out the mistakes in detail.

Recommended pronunciation correction book ① "Magical law 40 to learn English pronunciation"

The reputation for being able to understand the pronunciation tips in an easy-to-understand manner as if you were taking a lesson is " Sota-shiki! The magical law of learning "English pronunciation" like a native 40 ".

The author is an English teacher who is known for coaching English nationwide and actively disseminating information on YouTube and SNS. Sota's coaching in English, which specializes in coaching Japanese people, has gained great popularity regardless of generation.

There are many points that you can reach where it is itchy, such as how to pronounce sounds that Japanese people are not good at, mouth movements that Japanese people do not have, and tips on inflections and rhythms that are peculiar to English.

Recommended level Beginner to Intermediate
author English sota
publishing house Gakken Plus
Price (tax included) 1,650 yen

Recommended pronunciation correction book ② "Listening textbook"

Next, I would like to introduce " Listening Textbook-The best way to understand how to listen to English sounds and rhythms, which Japanese natives are not good at ."

This is a book that relieves the problem of "I know the spelling and meaning, but I can't connect when I actually hear the pronunciation," which is common in Japanese people.

In this book, which is characterized by the heavy use of voice, listening to the voice, checking the sound connection "linking" between words, reading the example sentence aloud, and listening to the voice repeatedly without looking at the example sentence. Polish your strength.

There are two types of audio, "listening" in English only and "repeating" in the order of English → repeat pose → English, which helps you to learn efficiently.

Recommended level Beginner to Intermediate
author static philosopher
publishing house Teyes Planning
Price (tax included) 1,980 yen

Balance listening and listening. At first, focus on listening

Another way to overcome the slowdown in listening is to "balance listening and listening".

"Multi-listening" means listening to a lot of English without worrying about the details, and "listening" means listening carefully to every detail without leaking small words. The two have contrasting meanings, but it's not good to be biased towards one or the other.

In particular, the point that intermediate English speakers tend to fall into is that they "miss it". It is a state in which "listening" is neglected because it is too biased toward "listening".

Now let's look at the important points in practicing the two things of "heavy listening" and "listening".

What are the key points in listening to a lot?

In "multi-listening", the basic method is to repeatedly listen to the voice of the native speaker. At first, the range that can be heard is narrow, and it may be difficult to understand or do, but as you repeatedly listen to the same voice, the range that you can recognize increases.

We recommend overseas movies, dramas, and radio that have a certain degree of understanding of the content and teaching materials that are used for "multi-listening." It is OK if you understand about 60 to 70% of the contents.

Don't worry too much about the details, listen to the intonation and rhythm of the conversation repeatedly to familiarize yourself with the feeling.

Also, if you are confident in your knowledge of English words, grammar, and phrases, we recommend English speeches, presentations, and news. If it's a genre that you're interested in, it's easy to maintain motivation, so choose your favorite content.

What are the key points for listening carefully?

Next is "listening". Contrary to "multi-listening", you can understand the meaning of listening to the English sentences you hear without leaking a single word. In order to improve listening, it is said that learning centered on "listening" is effective until you reach a certain level of ability.

We recommend that you use content and teaching materials for "listening" that match your English level. In order to hear the details accurately, it is best to feel that it is "easy".

For content where you can see text, such as English subtitles for overseas dramas, try "overlapping" and "dictation". "Overlapping" is the pronunciation of a memorized phrase along with the voice. It will be training for native rhythm and intonation.

"Dictation" is a training method to transcribe the English sentences you hear on paper. First, transcribe it by yourself as far as you can understand, and then match the answers while looking at the correct text.

Once you understand all the meanings and pronunciations of English sentences, you can improve the learning effect by reading aloud yourself at the end of "listening".

Continue to use the same material until you can hear it perfectly

There was a difference in the level of understanding of English sentences required for "listening" and "listening", but basically it is important to continue using the same teaching materials until you can hear them perfectly.

Even if you move on to the next step without reviewing the teaching materials that you have completed, the learning accuracy remains low. Leaving weaknesses and lack of knowledge as they are will not lead to improvement. On the contrary, if you master the same material perfectly, you will improve your understanding of the next material.

Careful digestion of each teaching material is an important factor in terms of improving motivation. Especially for beginners, focus on "listening" and train repeatedly until you fully understand it.

Incorporate raw English voice into your studies

Incorporating raw English voice into your studies is also effective in relieving your listening stagnation.

As I mentioned earlier, most of the audio such as CDs that come with English teaching materials are arranged so that they are easy to hear. However, it is often different from the English of native speakers who actually hear it.

Therefore, if you listen only to the audio of the teaching materials, you will not be able to hear the native English, and you may end up with an unexpected frustration experience. If you want to improve your listening level, listen to raw English as well.

For example, we recommend the program "TED" presented by specialists of all genres, interview programs of entertainers, overseas news programs and documentaries.

Also, in recent years, apps that allow you to learn raw English using YouTube etc. have appeared. If you're dealing with content that interests you, one way is to take advantage of these apps.

How much study time do you need to break through the sluggish wall?

It is also important to secure a certain amount of study time in order to break through the wall of sluggish growth. There are various theories, but a general guideline is 2-3 hours a day.

Although there are ways to improve learning efficiency, listening to and speaking a lot of English is essential for improving. In particular, it is said that improvement can be seen in learning a foreign language by continuously securing a certain amount of time.

There are various reasons why you can't devote your time to studying, such as "The results of learning did not improve as expected and my motivation dropped ..." "I am busy with work and cannot take the time to study as I expected ..."

However, if you continue to learn the necessary quality and quantity, you will surely improve your level. Take the sluggish growth as an opportunity for growth and try positively.


In this article, we have introduced the causes of sluggish listening skills, how to deal with them, and recommended teaching materials.

Although "continuation is power", sometimes you may feel frustrated that learning does not go as planned.

However, if the cause is analyzed and appropriate measures are taken, the sluggish growth will be resolved. Based on what I explained this time, please be patient.