“Eavesdropping” as a way of practicing foreign language listening skills.

Recently I was asked for suggestions on how to improve foreign language skills outside the classroom.

The hardest part of learning a foreign language is not the conversations on politics, art, literature, history, etc.¬† The hardest part is the personal exchanges involving ‚Äúhe said,‚ÄĚ ‚Äúshe wants to,‚ÄĚ ‚Äúthey might go,‚ÄĚ ‚Äúif it rains, we will probably ‚Ķ,‚ÄĚ and similar conversations.

Therefore, I think eavesdropping, unobtrusively, on a conversation in a foreign language you are learning is an excellent way to improve aural skills.  I mean on the bus, in coffee shops, on line in a supermarket, at a restaurant, at a sports event; not through walls or listening to personal phone conversations.   You hear the language as it is really spoken.   Just do not jump to conclusions.

I would love the feedback.  Have you ever done that?


Some people objected to my use of the word “eavesdropping.”

Just to make sure people understand.¬† I meant to listen to the conversations and see if you could understand the conversation from the point of view of “he said, she said, they might, etc.,” vocabulary, idioms, etc.¬† Not from the point of listening to content.¬† Most people understood this, a few did not.