Improving the listening ability

April has already begun and so has the Japanese academic year.
We have two test dates set for April. Hope you will do your best. 
Since you are (if you are a Japanese citizen) at the beginning of the entire academic year, I am sure you feel refreshed and well motivated to achieve your goal, whatever score it may be.
For learners of English as a foreign language, listening always poses a threat. Yes, it is a psychological threat. You may feel virtually petrified in front of the computer screen while you are hearing. You ARE hearing, because you can tell the lecture is being given in English. However, those sounds do not mean anything to your ears. If you are not good at listening, you must have gone through this all the time. As soon as you read the script, however, your tension eases.
What does this all mean?
Those learners depend on the visual stimuli too much to remember that there is another means of communication: sound. When they listen as they read, they are not practicing listening. That is a type of reading practice. Then, why do they do it? Because they find it easier and more relaxing if they listen always with the help of visual aids.
What they have to do is to focus on their acoustic sense. It should be strengthened and reinforced. Their visual ability has already been augmented more than enough.
To tell the truth, listening is much easier than reading. If you think about learning how to use an electric gadget, will you read the instruction yourself or will you get someone else to read it so that you can focus on the machine itself? Latter, right? This is something you will go through when you have reached a critical point. 
This sense of achievement cannot be shared by native speakers, who, obviously, are able to listen without effort. If so, this is what second language learning is all about. Those learners who have read all the time may have done a good deal of reading, which is good, per se. However, if that’s what they do only because it’s more comfortable and easier, they are not learning hard enough. 

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