* to hear: to receive sound with the ears
* to listen: to try to hear
You are very good at languages. That's obvious, because you already speak one language very well - your own! And if you can learn and speak one language well, then you can certainly learn and speak one or more other languages.
But did you ever ask yourself: "How did I learn my own language?" In fact, you never really "learned" it at all - you just started speaking it. One day, when you were about two or three years old, you started speaking your language. A few words at first, not full sentences. But you spoke. And very soon you made progress without even thinking about it. It was like magic!
But it wasn't magic. It was the result of hearing. For two to three years before you spoke, you heard people speaking your language all day, and maybe all night. You heard people speaking your language. Maybe you listened to people, but more importantly you heard them. Then, as if by magic, you started to speak. All that hearing was necessary for you to start speaking. For two to three years words went IN to your head. Then words came OUT of your head! That is why hearing (and listening to) English as much as possible is so important to you now. The more English you put in, the more you'll get out!
So how can you hear a lot of English when you're not in an English-speaking country or family? Fortunately, there are many ways of hearing English in almost all countries of the world.
You can receive English language radio in most countries. Two of the best international networks are the BBC World Service and Voice of America. Both of them have special programmes for learners of English. You can find information about times and frequencies for your country on their web sites. Click here for links to radio stations.
TV is an excellent resource for hearing and listening to English. The pictures help you understand what is being said. If you don't have access to English-language TV, you may be able to watch TV on Internet.
Outside the English-speaking world, many large cities have cinemas that show films in English, usually with sub-titles. Make it a habit to go to these films. If you need to read the sub-titles, at least you'll be hearing English even if you don't understand it.
Try to make friends with English-speaking people so that you can practise your English through conversation. Of course, this will practise your speaking as well as your listening. And if you don't have a lot of time to go out and meet people, at least you can chat a little by telephone.
Finally, don't worry if you don't understand everything you hear. Hearing comes first! Understanding comes next!
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