There is one thing you can do, both your listening skills and speaking skills in English. I'm going to tell you what it is and how to do it.
I'll give you a bonus of the best TV series you can watch to improve your listening and speaking skills. Oh, and a nice place where you can find lots of listening materials, nicely organized, easy-to-access.
Let's dive into the top-down listening strategy. So, the top-down approach is a bit like the overall picture. You are not trying to pick up and understand every word while listening; the object is to get the gist.
The gist is a general idea. It's important because so many students try to understand every word, and when they can't, they get frustrated; they see the wood for the trees. That's a good expression, meaning they're looking at so many details, they don't see the bigger picture. They don't understand what's happening.
The first top-down strategy is to listen for the main idea using some keywords that you heard. I think using this strategy is crucial at the beginning of listening and whenever the scene changes. So, when there's a new scene, you want to float up high, look down, listen for the bigger picture.
The other thing you can do, the second top-down strategy, is using the context to give you clues to get a bigger picture? It may be the title of the listening or some images or scenes that can help you. For example, if we're going to watch a clip and we see this scene, right? Have a look at this. It looks like a hospital, possibly a place of surgery, people in white coats, probably doctors.
So, this context is giving us some clues about what is perhaps happening. What could they be talking about? So, this context is top-down. We're looking to see how this can help us understand the main idea., if you can get the main idea. I was hoping you could use the context, your knowledge of hospitals, and any keywords that pop up—all three top-down strategies.
The bottom-up strategies are almost the opposite of top-down. They are about listening for detail, not necessarily every word, but getting the details you need. So, this is important if you're watching a series or a film. When do you use this? With some new characters in the story, you may need details. If there's a change in plot or a new idea, you need the many unknown facts and numbers that have come up, and you need to get the details to, be able to understand the whole.
And there are three things you can do here for these bottom-up strategies.
So, first, noticing stressed words.
Second, noticing intonation patterns.
Third, seeing chunks.
First of all, seeing stressed words.
Now you may know that in English, words are not equally the same when pronouncing them. Take this sentence. We don't say: "Caffeine was an amazing aid to the rise of capitalism."
That's not how we speak.
"Caffeine was a great aid to the rise of capitalism."
The adjectives, the verbs, the adverbs get reduced or swallowed. They almost disappear. But you only need the stressed words. "amazing aid," "rise," detail that you need.
Let's move on.
Number two, noticing intonation patterns is challenging. No, no, no, no, no, is exciting, it's changeable. It's fascinating to use intonation. No fixed laws about it, patterns that we often use that it's worth knowing. Those intonation patterns you can be looking out for. Open questions. a yes/no question. Do you like it? Do you live here? Do you often go jogging? (speaks syllables with intonation) when you have open questions. Another one, two-clause sentences.
I would do that.
If I ate less, I wouldn't be so fat.
I would buy a house.
That's another typical pattern of rising and falling intonation.
Before I go to work, I have breakfast.
Let me show you another clip—caffeine and the coffee video. People started work stopped when it went down. - Can you see that? (speaks syllables with intonation) Can you see that pattern? Excuse me, can you hear? Another common one is lists, something, and it often goes, (speaks syllables with intonation) I like coffee, tea, and butter. Butter? No, I like coffee, tea, and beer.
The last one, it comes down. Very common. Again, let's have a look at an example. - [Narrator] Spreading slowly from Africa, East, and into the West. - Interesting, right? Patterns you can be noticing. Number three was to see chunks. And I talk a lot about chunks. Chunks are a few words together that sound almost like one word. saying, "Did you like it?" We would say, "Didjelaikit?" "Didjelaikit?" It's a chunk. "Didjefindit?" "Didjew enjoy it?" it almoe sound.
This is something you can do when you're watching videos is listen to just one sentence and try and repeat it where there are chunks, these sounds, right? Then go and look at the subtitles and see if you can see the words making up the chunk, and then practice repeating.
Let's take an example.
How did you end up opening up food spots?
- "How did you end up?"
id jew wen dup?
That's the chunk: How didjewendup?
It's, "How did you end up?" write out the letters like this:
"How didjewendup opening up food spots?" one chunk and practicing it is handy for your speaking skills, as well as your listening skills.
If you want to repeat a phrase or a chunk, you can put it on automatic repeat, and it just goes around repeating it. So, you've got the transcript for every video. And what's more, it gets better.
You can learn new words and can practice your listening skills and your speaking skills as well. I think over 300,000 videos, all of them with transcripts. It's brilliant! What a great way to be learning English.
Now, let's move on.
Now, next, as promised, this bonus is me suggesting some of the best TV series you can watch and listen to. I've chosen these partly because I think they're suitable for learners and they were outstanding. What I do suggest is try not to watch. Instead, you can watch and listen to though you love action movies, don't just watch action movies.
You need to watch different kinds of clips, videos, films, series, to different accents, contexts, and genres, giving you a much more comprehensive range of language, which you're going to need to become a better speaker of English. So, as a first suggestion, start with action series.
Action series is excellent because it's often simple language support to help you learn. For example, like Iron Fist, which is good and very American, others like "Killing Eve," with suspense, drama, and unexpected twists in the plot, a fantasy drama based on the books by Philip Pullman.
Next, we've got two sitcoms, and sitcoms, or situational comedies, are great, natural everyday English, cultural references, and you get to learn the sense of humor of English. I recommend "Ted Lasso." coach who comes to the UK English football club adventures from the culture clash and British culture. Then there's "Mythic Quest." adventures of a company's staff that creates the biggest multi-player video game in the world got the news, which I think is good. Finally, you have lots of rich vocabulary as well idiomatic expressions.
I would recommend "Good Morning Britain," look at the daily news, like investigative journalism, that's for you. Next, a couple of drama series, the natural conversation, language you may get, and lots of slang as well.
First of all, "Little Fires Everywhere." Reese Witherspoon is the head of a picture-perfect family upside down by the arrival of an enigmatic mother and her daughter. Second, Handmaid's Tale," which is, end of the drama spectrum, is a brilliant Reese Witherspoon down. And finally, do not forget about the documentaries because they cover a wide range of topics and a vast range of vocabulary for your IELTS speaking.
I would recommend "The Social Dilemma." media works. And also "Cowspiracy," which tells you about the real culprit of climate change that nobody's talking about or giving the proper importance.
I would recommend "The Ellen Show." What more can I say? Pure genius. And "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert." And I think the Late Show is pleasant, and there are very candid conversations with celebrities and elegant wit and humor.
You can use all strategies, including the bottom-up method, to develop your listening and speaking skills. So, I hope all of this helps and also have fun with the suggestions around the TV series.
Go and explore something new, like programs to improve listening and speaking skills. And finally, remember Woodpecker Learning. What a great app, easy-to-access videos, playlists that you can go and study with, and it's fun and exciting. Built-in tools to help you practice repeating chunks, access Netflix, come on.