Rule 3 For Excellent English: Listen First
Hi, this is Kristin Dodds. Welcome to Rule # 3. Rule # 3 is very simple. It's very easy and it's very powerful. In fact, it's the most important rule. What is this rule? Well, Rule # 3 is the listen first rule. What do I mean by listen first? I mean learn with your ears and not with your eyes. So learn with your ears, not with your eyes. Listen, listen, listen. Ideally, you want to listen for six months or longer if possible before speaking.
Listening is the key to fluency. Now why focus on listening first? Why learn with your ears and not with your eyes? With listening you will learn grammar. You will learn vocabulary. You will understand better and you will get faster. There is a lot of research about listening first. Listening is the most important thing you can do.
If you learned English the way that I learned French, in middle school, high school and college, or university, then you probably have problems speaking English, because in school you learned with your eyes. For example, there was a focus on textbooks, on learning from textbooks. You learned how to read English. You learned how to write English. You learned how to think about English. So that you probably know a lot of grammar rules. You probably know more grammar rules than a native English speaker.
That's because native English speakers don't learn with their eyes. They learn with their ears. A baby doesn't pick up a textbook and start studying grammar rules. A baby does not learn with their eyes. A baby learns with the ears by listening. A baby learns by listening to the parents make sounds and speak to them. A baby just listens and listens and listens, for a year, a year and a half to two years, before they start speaking.
So how must you learn English? You must learn English by listening first. You must listen first if you want to speak English automatically, easily, quickly and correctly. Now, there are two important things to remember with Rule # 3. The first thing is what do you listen to. You want to make sure that you are listening to easy English. So what do I mean by easy English? I mean that you want to be able to understand 95% or more of the English you're listening to without stopping or without using a dictionary.
So, for example, you might listen to a children's program. Or you might listen to a children's audio book. Another book would be a children's movie. If these are too easy, then increase the level a little bit. You could listen to a teenager's program. Now by teenager, I mean, in American years, teenager would 13, 14, 15, up to 19 years old. So if a children's program or audio book is too easy, try listening to a teenager program or audio book, teenager movie. These are all examples of things that you can listen to for easy English.
It is okay to listen to something that's a little bit difficult if you have the text. For example, if you're listening to an English lesson, as long as you have the text, that's okay. As long as you can read along, that's okay. Another example would be an audio article. Or a speech, as long as you have the text these things would be okay.
Second, the second important thing I want you to remember is when do you listen. You want to listen all the time. So get an mp3 player or get an iPod and listen, listen, listen. Listen all the time. Listen on your way to work. Listen on your lunch break. Listen when you're exercising. Listen on your way home from work. Listen in the evenings or before you go to bed. Listen as much as you can.