Successive Listening: Conversational

This exercise targets the following goals:

  • Increasing your ability to understand conversational English that is spoken fast
  • Understanding more and guessing less during conversational listening
  • Understanding the nuances and not just the main ideas of conversational talk
  • Understanding a wide range of English accents
  • Understanding jokes and sarcasm in English


  1. Write today’s date at the top of your notes
  2. Choose a conversational talk that interests you (To increase your English listening flexibility, choose talks from a wide range of speakers – and accents!)


Elementary everyday conversational listening
(jam-packed with very high-frequency vocabulary and grammar)


Intermediate everyday conversational listening

  • TV series: The young and the restless (Characterized by mostly direct speech acts)
  • TV series: Friends (Characterized by mostly indirect speech acts and frequently includes jokes/sarcasm/cultural references)
  • TV series: Seinfeld
  • Transcribed YouTube videos:


Interpersonal academic/professional listening


  1. Listen to the talk 3 times:
    1. Listening #1: Listen without pausing the recording, taking the best notes you can (if possible, turn off any captions/subtitles)
    2. Listening #2: Simultaneously listen and read the transcript and/or captions, pausing where necessary to look up unfamiliar vocabulary
    3. Listening #3: Listen again without pausing the recording and improve your notes
  2. Use your notes to record a brief audio report on your listening so that you’re prepared in case your English Speaking Consultant asks you to give a 1-2 minute report on today’s listening the next time you meet. Your audio report should include your answer to the following questions:
    1. “What did you listen to?” (topic, source)
    2. “What was it about?” (summary)
    3. “What did you like and dislike about it? Would you recommend it to a friend or classmate?” (evaluation) OR “What key thing(s) did you learn from the listening and how do they connect to your life?” (application)


Note: For more difficult talks, insert an additional step of reading without simultaneous listening (while looking up unfamiliar vocabulary) before the simultaneous listening/reading step described above.


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