Advice for listening practice: slow it down!


Learning a language isn’t easy, and for many people the most challenging skill to master is listening. Trying to understand what people say can be difficult and even stressful sometimes, which is why it’s so important to spend time on your listening. Like any skill, the best way to improve listening comprehension is through regular practice.

However, trying to practice listening when you don’t understand everything can be very frustrating. Today I’m going to give you a small piece of advice to help you with your listening practice. I hope it will make things a little easier for you!


Websites and apps such as YouTube can be an excellent way to practice listening; you can find videos about things that interest you and watch them on the bus, while you’re eating or while you’re washing the dishes. Youtube also has a useful feature which not everyone knows about, but which can help you to understand what people are saying.

Students often complain that they can’t understand native speakers because they speak too fast. If you’re talking to someone face-to-face, you can ask them to slow down, but did you know that you can also slow down videos on YouTube? I will show you how.

First you will need to click or tap on the “Settings” button. If you’re using YouTube on your computer, it probably looks like this:
If you’re using YouTube on your phone, it might look like this:

Next, you will see a list of options. Choose the one marked “Playback speed”.

If your app is not in English, of course you will need to find the right option in your language. For example, in Polish it is “Szybkość odtwarzania”.

Finally, choose the speed from the list. I recommend 0.75 (as shown in the picture). This is slow enough to make listening easier without sounding too unnatural.

That’s it! Find an interesting video and try it. Once you’ve listened to the video at lower speed, you can listen a second time at full speed to improve your listening skill even more! Your goal should be to understand natural English at full speed.


By the way, the video I am watching in the pictures above is about why you shouldn’t watch videos in English with subtitles. It’s from “Luke’s English Podcast”, a series which a student recommended to me recently. Luke is an English teacher and standup comedian who has been helping people to learn English through his podcast since 2009. If you’re looking for something to listen to for English practice, take a look at his YouTube channel or his website.

Do you have any advice for listening practice? Or any recommendations for videos to watch? Let me know!