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Listening and speaking skills are used less than reading and writing skills in most OU courses, but you will need them in order to

  • make best use of the audio and video materials that form a valuable part of many OU courses
  • have phone conversations with your tutor, or other administrative or learning support staff at the OU
  • communicate in group tutorials, whether online or face-to-face, or at residential school.

In this activity you will

  • learn about students’ experiences of listening and speaking for their courses
  • select any suggestions that may be of particular use for you.

Watch the two video extracts and then answer the question. Press 'Save'  to save your reply before moving on to the next page.  Once you have submitted all your answers, we offer a summary of points to think about.

Download video (MP4)

Agron: It can be a bit of a daunting experience, trying to get as much as possible out of a, for example, tutorial, when you are trying to concentrate for every word.. Sometimes you might miss out on the bigger picture.

Anna: Understanding other students sometimes was a challenge for me because some of them would have a strong regional accent.

What I didn't realise is that English can come in so many different accents, which are very difficult to follow. If you're actually surprised with the fact that someone is actually not speaking this BBC kind of English, but they actually use proper English. But then still, it sounds like a completely different language to me.

Anna: I will have to be really, really focused to understand them.

Aneta: I needed some time to adjust my listening to English language.

Aneta: I actually love all my meetings with my friends because we do have to speak English. We come from different countries, so that there is one thing that unites us, which is English language.

My advice is go out, meet with your friends, don't be afraid to talk to them and use English as much as you can just to practise it.

Anna: During the lessons in a language school, I would just sit in the corner but then I decided if I really want to master the language I can't do that, so I got the job in a bar. That way you have to talk to people. You're required to. And I think that just gave me the push to start practising my language.

I knew that if I would make a mistake first time, second time but the third time I will get it right and usually people are understanding.

Alexa: When it comes to English, I suppose that the best way of learning it is through total immersion. This is the way I learnt English. I arrived in '92, not knowing a word in English and had to get on with it. So I watched TV, I read the newspaper, I had friends, English friends, which help a lot. You tend to learn a lot more when you have friends whose English is first language.

Agron: Everything that gives you access to the language you're trying to study in, would help. There would be an expression that you heard that you've never heard before. I remember things like 'the bee's knees' which meant nothing to me. You only learn them through having access to this language in every format that you can find basically.

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