Some aspects of listening comprehension are easier for the foreign language-learners than to others. Most learners need intensive practice in some skills while there are others who ought to practice a lot in order to reach an academic merit. Below are some of the main potential problems that majority of language-learners face and one of the effective methods for the improvement of listening comprehension.
Most students experience barriers in hearing some sounds in English as a particular sound may not exist in learners’ native languages. One of the confusing sound is «th» like in «think» which is in most cases mispronounced by learners. This happens because of its unclear pronunciation that is why people confuse whether to pronounce with «s» or «f». Even if they have learned the correct pronunciation of words with that kind of confusing sounds they go on repeating the same mistake again and again. Even more difficulty it carries with homophones and homonyms when some words are pronounced almost in the same way. For instance, «sheep» and «ship» or «deep» and «dip». One interesting point about these difficulties is that what they consider right may not be correct in the end, but only can be right for them. They ignore that its pronunciation may differ from the dictionary and think theirs is right.
The number of homophones in English is small whereas the number of words that are mispronounced is relatively large. They may not be learnt off by heart immediately but it takes time to fully adopt to understand and distinguish them. Therefore, it is essential for a learner to get familiar with these sounds as early as possible to prevent misunderstanding in the future if he or she wants to comprehend with ease. However, if he (learner) starts learning the sounds by himself then it would be less complicated for him to hear them right when it appears in a real conversation. Another problem of most beginners is that they fight the urge to understand everything they come across while reading or listening. They think that if they are aware of every detail they may succeed and will not have any problems with its grammar, listening or other sections. This misleads the learners because by trying hard to analyze every single word learners end up with inability to catch the main elements of a sentence. As a result, individuals who practice for effective comprehension become demotivated and give up as they do not comprehend the main idea though they have analyzed all words deeply not missing a word.
A foreign-language learner who tries to understand every single word will be handicapped as he concentrates not on a general meaning but on a word itself. On the other hand, even if he understands every single word he hears he may find this counter-productive as for effective listening it is significant to ignore or skim unimportant details. The foreign-language learners who pay too much attention to redundant phrases and words actually hamper themselves. Another effective strategy that aids people to comprehend well is to predict. If the learner tries to guess what the speaker is going to say it would be much easier to correct prediction and keep focus on the speech of a person to fully comprehend.
Understanding a variety of different accents is a key to be on the same page with the speaker. As each person has different background, language or origin there is a high chance that the accent would differ from each other which may confuse the learners. For instance, students hearing the accent of teachers get used to hearing it every time, but once they go out somewhere or meet a foreign person it may seem to them that they are speaking a totally different language, though he using English. That is why it is important to practice comprehension skills with different people of varying accents. At least, to watch videos of a person that do not only always speak in American accent, but also listening to British or Australian accents may be useful as well. This might assist learners to understand better and easily distinguish different accents that can pave the way to full comprehension.