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Learning to Listen

I just can’t hear the difference…..

I don’t notice a difference…..

What do you mean? I said that…..

One of the things I frequently am told by clients is that they don’t notice that what they say and what I say are different. It’s an interesting phenomenon that occurs as we develop. At first, when we are babies and children, we are hardwired for language acquisition. It’s exactly why your child picks up English so much quicker and is able to proficiently use the language more adeptly.

As you age and as your exposure to specific languages narrows, your brain commits to a ‘neural narrowing’. Basically, it no longer needs to tell the slight difference between 2 sounds that are not distinguished differently in your language. For example, it’s easy in English to tell the difference between ‘sh’ and ’s’ because ‘shine’ and ‘sign’ mean two completely different things. But, in English there isn’t a difference between a nasal sounding ‘sign’ and a non-nasal ‘sign’ because that nasality doesn’t make a meaningful difference.

So, for people learning English, it’s important to spend a lot of time listening. Listening to sounds that in your native language either (1) don’t exist or (2) aren’t differentiated. It’s also important to hear these sounds in different settings in different words by different speakers.


This site was made exactly for this purpose.

1) Click “play”

2) Explore the website. I’d suggest “Take the EAC tour”first to learn how to use the program. Then try to “Learn Consonants”. Consonants are easier to distinguish than vowels. Once that’s done and you feel comfortable, use the “Play Vowels” to really challenge yourself.

3) It’s a work in progress. Start easy, then increase the duration. The goal is steady, consistent progress. You may have a really hard time at first but that’s to be expected. Keep track of your accuracy and aim to improve slightly. Don’t aim for 100% accuracy straight from the beginning!


#educational #Practice

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