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Verb to be

I am / you are / he is / she is / it is / we are / you

are / they are
I am 28 years old, not I have 18 years old.

Past/Present Simple. (I, she, he, it was; you, we, they were/ you, they, we are; he, she, it is)
Past/Present Continuous. (was being; were being/ is being; are being)
Past/Present Perfect (I, he, she, it, they, we, you had/ she, he, it has; I, we, they ,you have)
Future with will (I, he, she, it, we, they, you will)
Future Continuous (going to) I am going to; she is going to, etc
Future Perfect (I, he, she, it you, we, they will have)
Modals verbs (I, he, she, it, we, they, you could/should/would)

Possesive adjectives
My her his its your their our

Possessive pronouns
Mine his hers its ours yours theirs

Superlative/Comparative adjectives
Superlative: Big- bigger- the biggest. Tall- taller- the tallest. Easy- easier- the easiest. etc
Comparative: More intense- the most intense. Less intense- the least intense. etc

Active Voice/Passive Voice

Active: I have been drinking all day long. Passive: All day long he has been drinking.

Gerunds and Infinitives (check more functions on the web)

Infinitive with to/ bare infinitive: to talk, to play, to drink, etcc/ talk, play, drink, etcc
Gerunds: talking, playing, drinking, etcccc
List of Prepositions
Single words
 abaft  circa, abbreviated  plus
 aboard as "c." or "ca."  pro
 about  concerning  qua
 above  despite  regarding
 absent  down  round
 across  during  sans
 afore  except  save
 after  excluding  since
 against  failing  than
 along  following  through, thru
 alongside  for (informal)
 amid  from  throughout,
 amidst  given thruout (informal)
 among  in  till
 amongst  including  times
 an (see "a" for  inside  to
usage in front of  into  toward
consonants.)  like  towards
 apropos ("apropos  mid (from "amid".  under
of" is a common Usually used  underneath
derived term.) poetically.)  unlike
 around  midst (from  until
 as (also an adverb "amidst". Usually  up
and a conjunction) used poetically.)  upon
 aside  minus  versus, commonly
 astride  near abbreviated as
 at  next "vs.", or
 athwart  notwithstanding (principally in law
 atop (also used post or sports) as "v."
 barring positionally)  via
 before  of  vice, meaning "in
 behind  off place of"[1]
 below  on  with, sometimes
 beneath  onto written as "w/"
 beside  opposite  within
 besides  out  without,
 between  outside sometimes written
 betwixt  over as "w/o"
 beyond  pace  worth
 but  past
 by  per
Multiple words
Two words
 according to  in to (contracted as  out of
 ahead of into)  outside of
 apart from  inside of (note that  owing to
 as for inside out is an  prior to
 as of adverb, not a  pursuant to
 as per preposition)  regardless of
 as regards  instead of  right of
 aside from  left of  subsequent to
 because of  near to  thanks to
 close to  next to  that of
 due to  on to (contracted as  where as
 except for onto)
 far from  out from

[edit] Three words

 as far as  in front of  on behalf of
 as well as  in lieu of  on top of
 by means of  in place of  with regard to
 in accordance with  in point of  with respect to
 in addition to  in spite of
 in case of  on account of

Archaic or infrequently used

 anent  gainst or 'gainst  'twixt (from
 anti (loan word) (from against) betwixt)
 behither  neath or 'neath  unto (largely
 betwixt (from beneath) supplanted by to;
 chez  outwith used in some
 cum (Latin loan  pro (loan word) formal, religious,
word)  qua (loan word) or archaic
 ere  re (loan word) contexts)
 fornenst[2]  sans (loan word)  vis-à-vis (loan
 fornent[2] word)

Not fully grammaticized

 concerning
 considering
 regarding
 worth
Preposition-like modifiers of quantified noun phrases

 apart from
 but
 except
 plus
 save


 ago as in "five years ago", sometimes considered an adverb rather than a postposition
 apart as in "this apart", also used prepositionally ("apart from this")
 aside as in "such examples aside", also used prepositionally ("aside from such examples")
 away as in "five light years away", sometimes considered an adverb or an adjective rather
than a postposition
 hence as in "five years hence", sometimes considered an adverb rather than a postposition
 notwithstanding also used prepositionally
 on as in "five years on", also used prepositionally
 through as in "the whole night through", also used prepositionally
 withal archaic as a postposition meaning with



for and nor but or yet so

An easy way to remember these six conjunctions is to think of the word FANBOYS. Each
of the letters in this somewhat unlikely word is the first letter of one of the coordinating
conjunctions. Remember, when using a conjunction to join two sentences, use a comma
before the conjunction.




and noun phrase+noun We have tickets for the symphony and the opera.
but sentence+sentence The orchestra rehearses on Tuesday, but the
chorus rehearses on Wednesday.
or verb+verb Have you seen or heard the opera by Scott
so sentence+sentence I wanted to sit in the front of the balcony, so I
ordered my tickets early.


both...and not only...but also either...or neither...nor whether...or

Remember, correlative conjunctions are always used in pairs. They join similar elements.
When joining singular and plural subjects, the subject closest to the verb determines
whether the verb is singular or plural.


both...and subject+subject Both my sister and my brother play the piano.
either...or noun+noun Tonight's program is either Mozart or Beethoven.
neither...nor subject+subject Neither the orchestra nor the chorus was able to
overcome the terrible acoustics in the church
not only...but also sentence+sentence Not only does Sue raise money for the symphony,
but she also ushers at all of their concerts.



after because although if
before since though unless
when now that even though only if
while as whereas whether or not
since in order that while even if
until so in case (that)

Subordinating conjunctions, (subordinators) are most important in creating subordinating

clauses. These adverbs that act like conjunctions are placed at the front of the clause. The
adverbial clause can come either before or after the main clause. Subordinators are usually
a single word, but there are also a number of multi-word subordinators that function like a
single subordinating conjunction. They can be classified according to their use in regard to
time, cause and effect, opposition, or condition. Remember, put a comma at the end of the
adverbial phrase when it precedes the main clause.


after We are going out to eat after we finish taking the test.
since Since we have lived in Atlanta, we have gone to every exhibit at the
High Musuem.
while While I was waiting in line for the Matisse Exhibit, I ate my lunch.
although Although the line was long and the wait over two hours, the exhibit was
well worth it
even if Even if you have already bought your ticket, you will still need to wait in
because I love Matisse's works because he uses color so brilliantly.

Countable Nouns
Countable nouns are easy to recognize. They are things that we can count. For example:
"pen". We can count pens. We can have one, two, three or more pens. Here are some more
countable nouns:

 dog, cat, animal, man, person

 bottle, box, litre
 coin, note, dollar
 cup, plate, fork
 table, chair, suitcase, bag

Countable nouns can be singular or plural:

 My dog is playing.
 My dogs are hungry.

We can use the indefinite article a/an with countable nouns:

 A dog is an animal.
When a countable noun is singular, we must use a word like a/the/my/this with it:

 I want an orange. (not I want orange.)

 Where is my bottle? (not Where is bottle?)

When a countable noun is plural, we can use it alone:

 I like oranges.
 Bottles can break.

We can use some and any with countable nouns:

 I've got some dollars.

 Have you got any pens?

We can use a few and many with countable nouns:

 I've got a few dollars.

 I haven't got many pens.

"People" is countable. "People" is the plural of "person". We can count people:

 There is one person here.

 There are three people here.

Uncountable Nouns
Uncountable nouns are substances, concepts etc that we cannot divide into separate
elements. We cannot "count" them. For example, we cannot count "milk". We can count
"bottles of milk" or "litres of milk", but we cannot count "milk" itself. Here are some more
uncountable nouns:

 music, art, love, happiness

 advice, information, news
 furniture, luggage
 rice, sugar, butter, water
 electricity, gas, power
 money, currency

We usually treat uncountable nouns as singular. We use a singular verb. For example:

 This news is very important.

 Your luggage looks heavy.
We do not usually use the indefinite article a/an with uncountable nouns. We cannot say
"an information" or "a music". But we can say a something of:

 a piece of news
 a bottle of water
 a grain of rice

We can use some and any with uncountable nouns:

 I've got some money.

 Have you got any rice?

We can use a little and much with uncountable nouns:

 I've got a little money.

 I haven't got much rice.

Uncountable nouns are also called "mass nouns".

Here are some more examples of countable and uncountable nouns:

Countable Uncountable

dollar money

song music

suitcase luggage

table furniture

battery electricity

bottle wine

report information

tip advice

journey travel

job work

view scenery

When you learn a new word, it's a good idea to learn whether it's countable or uncountable.
Nouns that can be Countable and Uncountable
Sometimes, the same noun can be countable and uncountable, often with a change of

Countable Uncountable
There are two hairs in my coffee! hair I don't have much hair.
There are two lights in our bedroom. light Close the curtain. There's too much light!
It's difficult to work when there is too
Shhhhh! I thought I heard a noise. noise
much noise.
Have you got a paper to read? (= I want to draw a picture. Have you got
newspaper) some paper?
Our house has seven rooms. room Is there room for me to sit here?
We had a great time at the party. time Have you got time for a coffee?
Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's
work I have no money. I need work!
greatest works.

Drinks (coffee, water, orange juice) are usually uncountable. But if we are thinking of a cup
or a glass, we can say (in a restaurant, for example):

 Two teas and one coffee please.

Irregular verbs list

Base Form/ Past Simple/ Past Participle

Awake /awoke/ awoken Break/broke/broken Come/came/come

be/ was, were/ been Bring/brought/brought Cost/cost/cost
Beat/beat/beaten Broadcast/broadcast/broadcas Cut/cut/cut
Become/became/become t
Begin/began/begun Dig/dug/dug
Bend/bent/bent Build/built/built Do/did/done
Bet/bet/bet burn/(burned/burnt)/(burne Draw/drew/drawn
Bid/bid/bid Dream/(dreamed/dreamt)/dre
Buy/bought/bought amed/dreamt
Bite/bit/bitten Catch/caught/caught drive/drove/driven
Blow/blew/blown Choose/chose/chosen
Drink/drank/drunk lead/led/led send/sent/sent
eat/ate/eaten learn/(learned/learnt)/(learne show/showed/(showed/show
fall/fell/fallen d/learnt ) n)
leave/left/left shut/shut/shut
Fight/fought/fought lend/lent/lent sing/sang/sung
find/found/found sit/sat/sat
fly/flew/flown let/let/let sleep/slept/slept

Forget/forgot/forgotten lie/lay/lain speak/spoke/spoken

forgive/forgave/forgiven spend/spent/spent
freeze/froze/frozen stand/stood/stood
give/gave/given take/took/taken
go/went/gone teach/taught/taught
grow/grew/grown tear/tore/torn
hang/hung/hung tell/told/told
have/had/had think/thought/thought
hear/heard/heard ride/rode/ridden
hide/hid/hidden throw/threw/thrown
hit/hit/hit stood
hurt/hurt/hurt wake/woke/woken
keep/kept/kept wear/wore/worn
see/saw/seen win/won/won
know/knew/known sell/sold/sold write/wrote/written

Regular Verbs
English regular verbs change their form very little (unlike irregular verbs). The past tense
and past participle of regular verbs end in -ed, for example:

work, worked, worked

But you should note the following points:

1. Some verbs can be both regular and irregular, for example:

learn, learned, learned

learn, learnt, learnt
2. Some verbs change their meaning depending on whether they are regular or irregular, for
example "to hang":

hang, hanged,
regular to kill or die, by dropping with a rope around the neck

to fix something (for example, a picture) at the top so that the

irregular hang, hung, hung
lower part is free

3. The present tense of some regular verbs is the same as the past tense of some irregular

regular found, founded, founded

irregular find, found, found

Regular Verbs List

There are thousands of regular verbs in English. This is a list of 600 of the more common
regular verbs. Note that there are some spelling variations in American English (for
example, "practise" becomes "practice" in American English).

 accept  allow  applaud

 add  amuse  appreciate  attach
 admire  analyse  approve  attack
 admit  announce  argue  attempt
 advise  annoy  arrange  attend
 afford  answer  arrest  attract
 agree  apologise  arrive  avoid
 alert  appear  ask

 back  beg  boil  brake

 bake  behave  bolt  branch
 balance  belong  bomb  breathe
 ban  bleach  book  bruise
 bang  bless  bore  brush
 bare  blind  borrow  bubble
 bat  blink  bounce  bump
 bathe  blot  bow  burn
 battle  blush  box  bury
 beam  boast  brake  buzz

 calculate  choke  compare

 call  chop  compete  cough
 camp  claim  complain  count
 care  clap  complete  cover
 carry  clean  concentrate  crack
 carve  clear  concern  crash
 cause  clip  confess  crawl
 challenge  close  confuse  cross
 change  coach  connect  crush
 charge  coil  consider  cry
 chase  collect  consist  cure
 cheat  colour  contain  curl
 check  comb  continue  curve
 cheer  command  copy  cycle
 chew  communicate  correct

 dam  deliver  disapprove

 damage  depend  disarm
 dress
 dance  describe  discover
 drip
 dare  desert  dislike
 drop
 decay  deserve  divide
 drown
 deceive  destroy  double
 drum
 decide  detect  doubt
 dry
 decorate  develop  drag
 dust
 delay  disagree  drain
 delight  disappear  dream

 earn  end  excite

 educate  enjoy  excuse
 explain
 embarrass  enter  exercise
 explode
 employ  entertain  exist
 extend
 empty  escape  expand
 encourage  examine  expect

 face  fetch  flash  force

 fade  file  float  form
 fail  fill  flood  found
 fancy  film  flow  frame
 fasten  fire  flower  frighten
 fax  fit  fold  fry
 fear  fix  follow
 fence  flap  fool

 gather  grab  grin

 guard
 gaze  grate  grip
 guess
 glow  grease  groan
 guide
 glue  greet  guarantee

 hammer  harm  heat

 hand  hate  help  hug
 handle  haunt  hook  hum
 hang  head  hop  hunt
 happen  heal  hope  hurry
 harass  heap  hover

 identify  increase  intend

 ignore  influence  interest
 invite
 imagine  inform  interfere
 irritate
 impress  inject  interrupt
 itch
 improve  injure  introduce
 include  instruct  invent

 jail  jog  joke  juggle

 jam  join  judge  jump

 kick  kiss  knit

 knot
 kill  kneel  knock

 label  learn  lighten  load

 land  level  like  lock
 last  license  list  long
 laugh  lick  listen  look
 launch  lie  live  love
 man  matter  milk
 manage  measure  mine  move
 march  meddle  miss  muddle
 mark  melt  mix  mug
 marry  memorise  moan  multiply
 match  mend  moor  murder
 mate  mess up  mourn

 nail  need  nod  notice

 name  nest  note  number

 obey  obtain  offer  overflow

 object  occur  open  owe
 observe  offend  order  own

 pack  permit  pop  prevent

 paddle  phone  possess  prick
 paint  pick  post  print
 park  pinch  pour  produce
 part  pine  practise  program
 pass  place  pray  promise
 paste  plan  preach  protect
 pat  plant  precede  provide
 pause  play  prefer  pull
 peck  please  prepare  pump
 pedal  plug  present  punch
 peel  point  preserve  puncture
 peep  poke  press  punish
 perform  polish  pretend  push

 question  queue

 race  refuse  remove  rhyme

 radiate  regret  repair  rinse
 rain  reign  repeat  risk
 raise  reject  replace  rob
 reach  rejoice  reply  rock
 realise  relax  report  roll
 receive  release  reproduce  rot
 recognise  rely  request  rub
 record  remain  rescue  ruin
 reduce  remember  retire  rule
 reflect  remind  return  rush

 sack  shiver  soothe

 sail  shock  sound  stop
 satisfy  shop  spare  store
 save  shrug  spark  strap
 saw  sigh  sparkle  strengthen
 scare  sign  spell  stretch
 scatter  signal  spill  strip
 scold  sin  spoil  stroke
 scorch  sip  spot  stuff
 scrape  ski  spray  subtract
 scratch  skip  sprout  succeed
 scream  slap  squash  suck
 screw  slip  squeak  suffer
 scribble  slow  squeal  suggest
 scrub  smash  squeeze  suit
 seal  smell  stain  supply
 search  smile  stamp  support
 separate  smoke  stare  suppose
 serve  snatch  start  surprise
 settle  sneeze  stay  surround
 shade  sniff  steer  suspect
 share  snore  step  suspend
 shave  snow  stir  switch
 shelter  soak  stitch

 talk  thaw  trace

 trot
 tame  tick  trade
 trouble
 tap  tickle  train
 trust
 taste  tie  transport
 try
 tease  time  trap
 tug
 telephone  tip  travel
 tumble
 tempt  tire  treat
 turn
 terrify  touch  tremble
 twist
 test  tour  trick
 type
 thank  tow  trip

 use
 undress  unite  unpack
 unfasten  unlock  untidy

 vanish  visit

 wail  waste  whirl

 wait  watch  whisper  work
 walk  water  whistle  worry
 wander  wave  wink  wrap
 want  weigh  wipe  wreck
 warm  welcome  wish  wrestle
 warn  whine  wobble  wriggle
 wash  whip  wonder

 x-ray

 yawn  yell

 zip  zoom

Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

Depending on the type of object they take, verbs may be transitive, intransitive, or linking.

The meaning of a transitive verb is incomplete without a direct object, as in the following


The shelf holds.


The shelf holds three books and a vase of flowers.


The committee named.


The committee named a new chairperson.


The child broke.


The child broke the plate.

An intransitive verb, on the other hand, cannot take a direct object:

This plant has thrived on the south windowsill.

The compound verb "has thrived" is intransitive and takes no direct object in this sentence.
The prepositional phrase "on the south windowsill" acts as an adverb describing where the
plant thrives.

The sound of the choir carried through the cathedral.

The verb "carried" is used intransitively in this sentence and takes no direct object. The
prepositional phrase "through the cathedral" acts as an adverb describing where the sound

The train from Montreal arrived four hours late.

The intransitive verb "arrived" takes no direct object, and the noun phrase "four hours late"
acts as an adverb describing when the train arrived.

Since the company was pleasant and the coffee both plentiful and good, we lingered in
the restaurant for several hours.

The verb "lingered" is used intransitively and takes no direct object. The prepositional
phrase "in the restaurant for several hours" acts as an adverb modifying "lingered."

The painting was hung on the south wall of the reception room.

The compound verb "was hung" is used intransitively and the sentence has no direct object.
The prepositional phrase "on the south wall of the reception room" acts as a adverb
describing where the paint hung.

Many verbs can be either transitive or intransitive, depending on their context in the
sentence. In the following pairs of sentences, the first sentence uses the verb transitively
and the second uses the same verb intransitively:

According to the instructions, we must leave this goo in our hair for twenty minutes.

In this example, the verb "leave" takes a direct object, the noun phrase "this goo."


We would like to stay longer, but we must leave.

In this example, the verb "leave" does not take a direct object.


The audience attentively watched the latest production of The Trojan Women.

In this example, the verb "watch" is used transitively and takes the noun phrase "the latest
production of The Trojan Women" as a direct object.


The cook watched while the new dishwasher surreptitiously picked up the fragments of
the broken dish.

In this example, the verb "watched" is used intransitively and takes no direct object.


The crowd moves across the field in an attempt to see the rock star get into her

Here the verb "moves" is used as an intransitive verb and takes no direct object.


Every spring, William moves all boxes and trunks from one side of the attic to the other.

In this sentence "moves" is used as a transitive verb and takes the noun phrase "all the
boxes and trunk" as a direct object.

Written by Heather MacFadyen

Adverbs - Common List in American English -
This is a selected set of adverbs for the beginning student to have a starter set to help further
describe actions. An ADVERB modifies a verb. It helps to tell "how," "when" or "where" the action
took place. I have used it by picking a verb such as ran in a sentence such as "She ran," "She lost"
or "He spoke." Students then must pick an adverb to add to the sentence such as "She ran
yesterday" or "She ran quickly to the store" or "She runs annually in the big race." This gives the
student a chance to use them in a sentence. An adverb can also modify another adverb. Such as
"She ran very quickly to the store."

1. ably 21. admirably 41. altruistically 61.

2. abnormally 22. adroitly 42. always
62. appropriately
3. about 23. 43. amazingly
adventurously 63. approvingly
4. abroad 44. ambitiously
24. advisedly 64.
5. abruptly 45. amicably approximately
25. affectingly
6. absently 46. amply 65. arbitrarily
26. affectionately
7. 47. amusingly 66. ardently
absentmindedly 27. afterwards
48. analytically 67. aridly
8. absolutely 28. aggressively
49. anew 68. around
9. absurdly 29. agonizingly
50. angelically 69. arrogantly
10. abundantly 30. ahead
51. angrily 70. articulately
11. abysmally 31. aimlessly
52. annually 71. artificially
12. accidentally 32. alarmingly
53. anonymously 72. askew
13. accordingly 33. alertly
54. 73. aslant
14. accurately 34. alluringly antagonistically
74. assiduously
15. actively 35. almost 55. anxiously
75. assuredly
16. actually 36. aloud 56. anymore
76. astonishingly
17. acutely 37. already 57. apart
77. astutely
18. adamantly 38. also 58. appallingly
78. athletically
19. additionally 39. alternatively 59. apparently
79. atrociously
20. adequately 40. altogether 60. appealingly
80. attractively
81. audaciously 98. basically 116. boorishly 134. capably

82. audibly 99. before 117. bountifully 135. capriciously

83. auspiciously 100. beforehand 118. brashly 136. carefully

84. austerely 101. beguilingly 119. bravely 137. carelessly

85. authentically 102. behind 120. brazenly 138. carnally

86. 103. beneficially 121. briefly 139. casually

104. benevolently 122. brightly 140.
87. autocratically cataclysmically
105. beside 123. brilliantly
88. avidly 141. categorically
106. between 124. briskly
89. away 142. caustically
107. bitterly 125. broadly
90. awfully 143. cautiously
108. blandly 126. brusquely
91. awkwardly 144. centrally
109. blatantly 127. brutally
92. awry 145. ceremonially
110. bleakly 128. buoyantly
93. backward 146. certainly
111. blindly 129. busily
94. backwards 147. changeably
112. blithely 130. buxomly
95. badly 148. charmingly
113. bluntly 131. callously
96. barely 149. cheaply
114. boastfully 132. calmly
97. bashfully 150. cheerfully
115. boldly 133. candidly


Theory on second language listening

This page gives a theoretical explanation on how to study second language listening
comprehension. Firstly, we provide a simple overview of what scholars know about
listening comprehension, and then secondly we conclude from that how to teach, and study,
listening comprehension.

We hope both teachers and students will find this useful.


This page is very long, so it is divided into different sections. The sections are:

I. Listening is Different From Reading

A.) Speech Consists of Sounds

B.) Speech Uses Different Language
C.) Speech Takes Place in "Real Time"

II. Language Comprehension

A.) Types of Knowledge

B.) Applying Knowledge
C.) Reasonable Understanding

III. Conclusion: How to Study

IV. In Short

I. Listening is Different from Reading

There are many skills necessary to listen to spoken English. Some skills are similar to the
skills used in reading. But many important listening skills are different from reading skills.
That's why if you want to learn to listen, you must practice listening. Listening skills are
different from reading skills because speech is different from writing. Below are some of
the main ways speech is different from writing.

Speech Consists of Sounds

The biggest difference between speech and writing is that speech consists of sounds. This is
very important, because processing the sound adds a whole new set of skills that are not
necessary for reading.

 You must know the sound system; if you don't, you cannot understand the speech.
 You must also know how the sounds change in fast speech. Fast pronunciation is
very different from the dictionary form of the word.
 The English sound system varies from place to place, and from speaker to speaker.


Speech Uses Different Language

Written English consists of neat, correct sentences; speech does not. Speech usually
consists of idea units. Each idea unit is a short piece of spoken language; usually about two
seconds long, and consisting of just a few words; on average about 7 words.

Sometimes idea units are complete sentences, but sometimes they are not. The main
differences between spoken idea units and written sentences are:

 Spoken idea units are usually shorter than written sentences.

 Speech usually has simpler grammar--idea units are usually just strung together--but
writing usually has more complex grammar.
 Speech contains many mistakes, and grammatical errors; so it also has corrections
and repairs. Written language is usually more correct and polished.
 Speech contains many pauses and hesitations. There are also fillers, meaningless
words that give the speaker thinking time. Examples of fillers are um, well now, uh,
let me see. Written language has none of those.
 Spoken language is more modern and up to date; there are more slang words, swear
words, new expressions, figures of speech, and humor. Written language tends to be
more conservative and old-fashioned.
 In speech a lot of things are not actually stated. Speakers often use their tone of
voice, or stress and intonation to express important information. For example,
emotions such as pleasure and anger, attitudes such as disbelief or sarcasm, and so
on, are often not clearly stated in words.

Speech is Fast

Speakers decide how fast they will speak, and most speakers speak very fast. So listeners
have to listen fast. When reading, the reader can choose a comfortable reading speed, but
the listener cannot choose the listening speed. Listeners must listen at the speaker's speed.

 The speed of the speech is called the "speech rate". It is very an important for
second language listeners: usually, as the speech rate increases, comprehension
decreases. If the speech rate is too fast, comprehension stops.
 Because speech is generally fast, the listener must get the meaning very quickly and
very efficiently. There is no time to stop and wonder about the language used (e.g.
the vocabulary or grammar). That means that listening must be automatic.


II. Language Comprehension

Listening and reading also have many things in common. Both listening and reading are a
form of language comprehension. In both cases we are trying to get some meaning from the
language. It is important to understand how comprehension works.


Types of Knowledge

To understand the meaning, listeners use their knowledge. They use not only knowledge of
the language but other types of knowledge too. The 4 most important types of knowledge
used in comprehension are:

 knowledge of the language. This includes knowledge of the vocabulary, the

grammar, and the way longer discourse is structured. Also knowledge of the sound
system for listening, and the writing system for reading.
 Knowledge about what has already been said. This is important because we usually
understand things based on what we have already understood of what came earlier.
 Knowledge about the situation in which the speech is taking place. This is
important, because it gives us expectations about what might come next.
 Knowledge about the world. We use our background knowledge about the world
and how it works to help us understand everything.

Applying Knowledge

Not only do we use different types of knowledge in comprehension, but this is applied in
complex ways.

 There is no fixed way in which this knowledge is applied. Listeners have

expectations about what they are hearing, and they use whatever knowledge seems
relevant. Any relevant information might be used.
 Comprehension is basically a guessing game. Not all the necessary information is
clearly stated. We use our knowledge to make inferences about the meaning. We
don't always listen to every word, but make inferences based on the 4 types of
 Comprehension is not understanding what words mean, but is understanding what
speakers mean. Even after getting the meaning of the words, the listener (or reader)
must still try to understand what the speaker means by that. Not everything is
clearly stated, and it is often necessary to figure out the real meaning. Again. this
means making inferences. Inferences are the core of comprehension.
 Many people assume that the meaning is contained in the passage, and the listeners
job is to get the meaning out of the message. That is not true! The meaning is not in
the passage, but is constructed by the listener.


Reasonable Understanding

Because meaning is constructed by the listener (or reader) by making inferences based on
knowledge, different people might make different inferences, and get different
understanding of the same passage. This happens because listeners vary.

 Different people have different knowledge and different ideas about the world. A
person with more knowledge about something may understand more than a person
with less knowledge.
 Different people have different purposes for listening. Some people may want all
the details, and others may only want to get the general idea. And so they will get a
different understanding.
 Different people have different interests. If something is interesting, people pay
more attention and will understand more.
 So different listeners, who hear the same thing, may have different ideas about what
he speaker means. And that is ok, because these different ideas about the speaker's
meaning may all be reasonable. Now here's the important thing: there is often no
single correct understanding of a piece of language, but a number of possible
understandings. The purpose of listening is to get a reasonable understanding of
what the speaker said, not the 'correct' understanding.

III. Summary: How to Study

So what does all this theory mean for how we study listening. We think it means that:

 Listening ability can only be developed by practicing listening, to get all the
necessary skills.
 The listener needs a lot of practice, so the skills become over-learned and
completely automatic.
 The listener needs to listen to realistic spoken language, with all the characteristics
of natral language use.
 New listeners need to pay special attention to the sound system. Listening to lots of
easy passages (even if they know a lot of English) is a good idea to help them learn
the sound system well.
 Intermediate listeners need to listen to a wide variety of speakers and accents, to get
familiar with the wide range of English pronunciation.
 All listeners need to listen to a wide variety of different passages.
 When listening the listener should concentrate on trying to understand what the
speaker means, and not think about the language too much.
 And most important of all, just relax and enjoy listening. If you can do that, all the
rest will just follow naturally.


IV. In Short

Listen to lots of realistic passages, with different speakers, different accents, and different
topics, and try to understand what the speaker means.

Happy Listening!