Why listening is important

It should not be difficult to realise the importance of listening when we consider that it occupies about 45 per cent of the time adults spend in communication. This is significantly more than speaking, which accounts for 30 per cent, and reading and writing, which make up 16 per cent and nine per cent respectively.

Yet, for all its importance, students often fail to give listening the attention it needs. This is all the more remarkable as learners often say that listening is the most challenging of all the skills in English.


A1/A2: Are you a Beginner or Elementary level student?  

Watch our video series about Julia and Sammy and learn useful words and phrases. Each video has a variety of listening activities and tapescripts to help you practise your listening skills! Click here to begin the video series.

A2/B1: Learn everyday English by listening to podcasts!

With over 20 episodes, these podcasts are great interactive exercises to help you practise and improve your level of English. These materials are for elementary (A2) and intermediate (B1) level learners. Click here to start exercising your listening ability now!

B1: Listen and learn what it’s like living in London!

Listen to our audio fiction series about a group of young people from around the world who are living in London. Every episode is complete with audio files, transcripts, activities and support packs to guide you through. Click here to begin listening to series 1 of 3 at the intermediate level (B1).

B1/B2: Practise your listening while becoming knowledgeable about the UK!

Improve your language level and learn about the UK and its culture by watching our Word on the Street video series. These materials are for intermediate B1 and upper intermediate B2 level learners. Such topics on offer on this website include Halloween, animals, flat hunting, Oxford, Ireland and much more. Click here for more.

B2/C1: Britain is Great

Learn about what makes Britain GREAT in these videos. Do the exercises to learn about the UK and improve your language. Every episode is complete with audio files, transcripts, activities and support packs to guide you through. Topics on this site include creativity, entrepreneurs, music, shopping and much more. These materials are for upper intermediate (B2) and advanced (C1) level learners. Click here for more.

General English Listening Activities by Topic

A great way to learn English through listening is to choose topics to listen about that suit your own interests. In this section you will find a wide variety of topics to practise your listening.

I Wanna Talk About...

Test your English listening skills while listening to people talking about things that interest them. Topics found through this link in include football, beating stress, horror films, losing weight, life in the UK and much more! Check your understanding with downloadable tasks and pdf transcripts as well. Click here to start listening now.

UK Culture

Learn about UK culture by watching videos and listening to audio about a variety of topics including banking, climate and geography, currency, manners, and much more! Click here to begin. On this site, do the Preparation tasks first. Then watch the videos or listen to the audio files. Next go to Tasks and do the activities. If you need help, you can read the Transcripts at any time.

English for Social Occasions

Do you need to improve your general English skills or help with your English for social occasions? In this section you'll find extended listening and reading practise which will help you improve your level of English and give you language to use in everyday situations. Click here to begin.

Business English

Complete tasks that will help to improve your English skills for work. In the lessons in this section you can also watch videos, listen to audio and read texts with a focus on the world of business and work.

You’re Hired!

Webware, a successful IT company, is suddenly in need of a new sales director. Listen and learn job interviewing skills as you watch two candidates interview for the position. There are 10 episodes in this series. Do the Preparation tasks first. Then watch the video. Next go to Task and do the activity. If you need help, you can read the Transcript at any time. Click here to begin!

Podcasts for professionals

Listen to podcasts about the world of business and work which are designed to help you improve your business English and career. Click here and listen to professional speak on topics such as writing CVs, ethics in business, management roles in the workplace, managing conflict and much more! 

General Exams

This section gives you advice for all types of listening tests and exams. We explain what you can do before a listening exam and during the exam to get top marks.

Are you preparing to take the Aptis test?

Aptis is a modern and flexible English language proficiency test, designed to meet the diverse needs of organisations and individuals around the world. Watch this video to learn more about the Aptis listening test as well as top tips for doing well on the test.

Preparing for a tough listening exam?

Check out this BBC video for Top 4 Tips for preparing for listening in exams.  

Listening challenges for English language learners

  • There are many difficulties an individual may face in understanding a talk, lecture or conversation in a second language (and sometimes even in their first language). The speaker, the situation and the listener can all be the cause of these difficulties.
  • Contributing factors include the speaker talking quickly, background noise, a lack of visual clues (such as on the telephone), the listener’s limited vocabulary, a lack of knowledge of the topic, and an inability to distinguish individual sounds.
  • While the challenges posed by the speaker or the situation may be out of the listener’s hands, there are a few skills or 'strategies' that English learners can use to help them along. Click on this link to learn more about the five essential listening techniques. In this article you will read about the importance of predicting content, listening for gist, detecting signposts, listening for details, and inferring meaning.