• TT

How to improve your Mandarin listening skills

Listening skills of Mandarin are another issue when learning this language. Many learners are struggling with listening even though they can speak good Chinese.

Shall we clarify whether you have the ability to listen or not? Some people, including myself, are an example - even if they understand their own native languages, they are not good listeners. A good listener has the ability to be willing to listen, to pay attention to details, to identify certain sounds, to remember, to take clear notes etc.


There is divided opinion as to whether foreign language learners should learn listening first or speaking first. For adult learners, I don’t think you can separate listening and speaking. To improve listening skills, (if you are not a child), my personal teaching experience is that students should understand writing before listening. Just imagine, if you don’t understand the writing, how could you understand when other people say it? So to improve your listening skills, you must:

  1. Be a good listener – improve your native language listening skills first especially those listening skills mentioned above.

  2. Increase your range of vocabulary and understand the sentence structures.

  3. Understand the background and context.

  4. Listen for gist or details.

  5. Train your ear to get used to a Mandarin speaker’s sound in different ways - watch videos, films and listen to the radios or different audio materials as a regular practice every day 10 - 20 minutes.

  6. When learning a new topic (not revision), not forget to completely understand the text of whatever you are listening to. Then retell what you have heard.


© T. Tian



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