Practice and Become a Better Listener

HSE Academic Writing Center
3 min readAug 20, 2020

By Olga Tambovtseva, Ph.D., Associate Professor at HSE University & Tatiana Vorotnikova, M.Ed., Manager at AWC.

According to Graham (2006), listening is an area in which most EFL learners feel the least successful compared to other language skills. Even scholars, who do research and write articles in English, may find it challenging to follow conference presentations or interact with other speakers because they lack listening skills. Yet, listening is vital for communication. Speakers listen almost half of the time (40–50%) in conversation both in everyday and academic contexts (Graham, 2017).

Only by listening can we become better listeners

Academic and general listening share many common features (Goh, 2008). To improve them, you need to apply certain strategies (see our blog on effective listening) and listen, listen, and listen.

In this blog, we have collected some helpful resources that you can use to develop your listening skills in everyday and academic contexts.

By whoalice-moore

Self-study lessons

If you don’t feel confident in your listening, and you don’t know where to start, check out the following self-study lessons by The British Council listening. The lessons are short, suitable for all levels. They cover a variety of situations, as well as offer exercises and online comprehension checks.


If you like listening on the go, have a look at the following podcasts. They are 5 to 20 minutes long, suitable for intermediate to advanced levels. They offer engaging and thought-provoking content on a variety of topics.


  • Academic Writing Podcasts has been created by the AWC with a focus on academic vocabulary.
  • The English We Speak is a topic-focused podcast, in which native speakers explain the meaning of different English expressions and words.
  • BBC six-minute English covers a variety of topics and has explanations of key vocabulary and transcripts.
  • Linguamania is a podcast, in which researchers from Oxford University share fascinating perspectives on languages.


  • BBC one-minute world news offers a short summary of current events; it is repeated during the day and has captions to facilitate understanding.





Ted talks

If you want to get inspired and listen to incredible speakers, try Ted talks. The talks are short (5 -25 minute long) and cover pertinent and striking topics. Our top picks are the following playlists:


If you want to immerse yourself in a more academic content or revise your knowledge of the field, see these lectures from world renowned universities. Grouped by department, the lectures introduce new findings in many fields.

Enjoy listening! Share your favorite resources with us.


Graham, S. (2006). Listening Comprehension: The students’ perspective. System, 34, 165–182. doi: 10.1016/j.system.2005.11.001

Goh, C. (2008). Metacognitive Instruction for second language listening development: Theory, practice and research implications. RELC Journal, 39, 188–213. doi: 10.1177/0033688208092184



HSE Academic Writing Center

The Academic Writing Center at the Higher School of Economics, Moscow, provides writing support to everyone involved in research.