“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 “he said,” “she wants to,” “they might go,” “if it rains, we will probably …,” 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.

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