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Three Ways to Push Your English Comprehension to the Next Level

We've got three fun ways to improve your English listening comprehension, including one way that you won't find other schools recommending you.

1. Watch a TV show with subtitles

You can improve your listening comprehension by watching the TV show "Pam and Tommy." Use the subtitles to follow along.

It's a crazy but true story of how Pam and Tommy Lee's sex tape became public. You'll be hooked from the very first episode.

The character of Pamela Anderson speaks slowly and clearly, she's the easiest to understand.

The Tommy Lee character has a faster way of speaking and he uses a lot of slang, which makes it fun for you to learn some natural American expressions.

Plus the storyline and characters make this a fun show to watch!

2. Download a news app

If you like to listen to the news, then you'll love the Washington Post app. They share a lot of interesting news stories. And they're great if you're looking to go from intermediate to advanced English.

I've been following them regularly since the pandemic started. That's because they seemed to offer the best coverage without trying to scare me. (You remember those days!)

They cover everything from Washington, DC to across the U.S. and international news. In fact, their coverage of Ukraine has been substantial.

The Washington Post is most for intermediate-level English learners. They use a wide variety of American English vocabulary and expressions.

Plus the journalists speak clearly and not too rapidly. I highly suggest downloading and listening to their news app regularly so you can improve your listening skills while learning about all the news in the world today.

Personally, I find that Washington Post, the New York Times, and the LA Times are the three top newspapers in the U.S. today. (However, just a head's up that the New York Times is for more advanced English learners.)

Here are the links to download the Washington Post app: Google Play | Apple Store. They also have terrific podcast, too.

3. Listen to a comedian

Listening and understanding humor from another country is key to being able to speak like a native.

Understanding jokes is honestly one of the hardest things an English learner can do.

But once you get the jokes, you start laughing along with everyone else.

This is a non-traditional approach to learning English, so you won't hear other English schools or teachers talking about it. But it's quite effective.

I have two favorite comedians who I follow for two very different reasons.

The first is Dave Chappelle. He takes difficult and controversial subjects and turns them into another perspective.

One of the funniest bits he ever did was on Jussie Smollett. Remember him?

He uses a lot of slang when he speaks, which makes him sometimes a challenge for English learners. That's where subtitles come in handy to help you out.

You may not always agree with him, but he's definitely worth listening to.

The second comedian I love is Conan O'Brien. He always makes me laugh.

He keeps things pretty light, and he's goofy with his gawky body. He uses his intelligence, compassion, and genuine interest in his guests to make for a fun show.

One of the funniest skits he ever did was with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube.

Believe me when I say you won't stop laughing watching this. But if you don't get the joke, that's ok. You will as your English comprehension improves.

If you like these tips, then join my private Facebook group Business English All-Stars to practice with fellow English learners and native English speakers.


Jackie Donaldson is the founder and director of Amidon Studios Language Studies. She started Amidon Studios in 2017 after managing a language institute in Lima, Peru for six years. She's taught students from all over the world while living in Peru, Mexico, and the U.S. When she's not working or studying, you'll find her gardening, playing with her cat Frankie, swimming, baking, and exploring the globe.


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