October 23


Intensive Listening: How To Learn English Fast From Videos

Step One: Practicing English With Transcripts

When you listen to a dialogue for the first time, don't read any of the transcripts just listen to the dialogue a few times and see what you understand.


You won't get to study the dialog before you talk to native speakers in real time. The more you practice this the better prepared you will be to listen to native speakers.

After listening to the video a few times, note down what you think the video is talking about. 

It does not matter if you are right, just listen again and again until you cannot understand anything else from the video.

This video is an example from upper-intermediate and is giving work placed advice with a lot of informal English. 

You don't have to listen and understand everything in the video, but check out the examples below for what different levels would have heard when listening to this video. 

Advanced level - Write down what you hear.

Example: "I don't understand. What is the problem here? When i brought it up to them, they just made it worse and made me more of a _____. Yes, ____. You've never get ____ before? The last thing you say to a ____ is "What you're doing is really ____ _ me, just so you know." What can i do to make this situation better without getting management involved? I don't want to get them fired or anything. I just don't want to be a ____ ____ ___ anymore, thanks."

Intermediate level - Write down everything you hear even if you don't understand or think it's incorrect.

Example: " I don't understand. What is the problem here? When i ____ __ __ to them, they just made it worse and ___ __ ___ __ __ ____. Yes ___. You've never get ____ before? The last thing you say to a ___ is, "What you're doing is really ____ me, ___ __ __ ___." What can i do to make this ____ better without getting ____ ____? I don't want to get them ___ or anything. I just don't want to be a ___ __ __ anymore, thanks."

Beginner level - Listen as many times as you need to until you can't get anymore from the video

" I ___ _____. What is __ ____ ___? When I ____ __ __ __ ___, ___ __ ___ _ worse and ___ __ ___ __ __ ____. Yes, ____. ___ never __ ___ before? The last ____ you say to __ ___ __, "What ___ doing is ___ ____ me, ___ __ __ ___." What ___ __ __ to ___ ___ ___ better ____ ____ ____ ____ ? I ___ want __ __ ___ ___ __ ____. I ___ ___ want to be __ ___ __ __ ___, thanks."

Step One Summary

Do not read the transcripts yet. 

Listen to the video and write down what you hear. 

Do this as many times as you need to until you cannot get anything else from the video. 

Even if you do not understand a lot or think what you are writing is wrong, keep going, this activity is designed to build up you vocabulary and comprehension over the long term. 

Step Two: Understanding What You Don't Know

Here we are trying to understand what we are listening to.

What you need to do is to listen and read the text at the same time.

"Why do I need to listen and read the text at the same time"?

Often, students complain that they cannot understand what the speaker is saying but then they understand when they start reading. 

Important: Don't look up any new words yet, that comes later.

  • Once you start reading and listening together and you can not understand anything else, then you can start looking up new words.

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All our students get free transcripts to improve their listening speed when they study. 

Before You Look Up New Words: Write A Summary About What Is Happening

Step One: Read and listen at the same time. You can do this as many times as you like until you cannot understand anything else.

Step Two: Next, write down a summary, in your own words, about what was happening in the video. Do not copy, what was in the transcripts, use your own words.

Use this summary to practice the type of language you want to use. For example formal or informal. You can make this as serious or funny as you want.

Example Summary: Upper-Intermediate (Opinion/Summary Of The Situation)

What is going here? ALMOST verbally attacking me? So this guy phones in asking for advice because he's obviously sensitive towards the women in his office giving him a lot of attention. When he decided to confront the situation in a very soyboy way. It had escalated, well of course it would have done, he's probably a laughing stock to them. So he's asking for advice on what to do. At least he's got some amount of common sense to not go running to his boss crying. However he's obviously still clueless and confused.

Step Three: Once you have finished your summary, then you can look up the new words. 

Any words that you don't understand you can create flashcards for the vocabulary you don't understand.

If you don't know how to create flashcards or need help never forgetting vocabulary, here is our article that will help you in a step by step guide.


Read the transcripts and listen to the audio at the same time. Do this as many times as you need to, until you cannot understand anything else. 

Write a quick summary about what was happening in the video. If you don't know what is going on in the audio because you don't know a lot of vocabulary, make your best guess. 

After your summary, then you can look up the new vocabulary. If you want to remember the vocabulary then you can  turn these words or phrases into personal flashcards. 

Step Three: Processing What You Have Learned

Most people skip this stage which is why they fail to learn English. Without this stage you will not be able to learn the all stages properly.

How quickly do you think you will forget this? This practice adds what you learn to your long term memory. 


Even if you listen to this dialogue a lot on the day you study it, do you think you will be able to remember everything that you have learnt after a few days?

To remember vocabulary in the long run you need to do is to listen to the same video over and over again, but spaced out, throughout the next few months.

It's most effective if you repeat steps 1 and 2 again each time. Which over time will improve your listening comprehension and your brain will get that little bit better at recalling the information long term.

Check out our article on "When To Practice What You Learn In English" for more information on how fast we forget something new we learn.

Tip: After a few times of repeating this activity, test yourself and try and copy out what is in your head onto paper.


The most effective way of learning English is to study the same video using slightly different activities each time you study it. 

Check out our article on "How To Make Flashcards According To Neuroscience"  for more details on why this method works.


You will need to be practicing with the same video, with steps one and two on different days. 

This will build up your vocabulary and listening ability with the content and will allow you to  

Stage Four: Being Able To Use What You Have Learn In Conversation

This is the stage that will allow you to actually be able to use what you learn.

You don't have to do this stage for everything, however, it does really help  you when you need to learn specialist topics that you need to discuss.

There are a few different ways you can do this...

Use Flashcards And Spaced Repetition For The Most Common Words In The Videos:

The first thing is to create flashcards, see our article on how to put flashcards together that you won't forget here.

But since you have been reading and listening to this dialogue many times, you can quickly identify the most important words and use those.

Combine this with spaced repetition(the most effective way of practicing English vocabulary) for when to practice these words most effectively and you are onto a winner.

Do Not Practice English The Same Way Every Single Day:

However do not practiceusing same material everyday for a month .

You need to be practicing with different material (different articles/videos + same activity + same topic)

Practice different parts of the language.

  • Writing and speaking
  • Reading and listening

You can not improve one without the other, as they support each other.

  • Writing/Speaking - You are producing the language
  • Reading/Listening - You are absorbing the language

So when using this activity for the first time you could write your summary and when you are practicing the same material you can speak your summary and record it. 

Listening is one of those things you need to be practicing more than any other part of the language.

There is two ways to do this, mass exposure to the English language and studying through dialogue and transcripts.

Head to Italki.com for a free language partner. 

To make things easier and more effective you can then give your language partner the same video/transcripts/ material that you are using to study with. 

This will then allow you to practice exactly what you are studying with you partner.

How To Test Yourself At English:

The one other thing that you can do, which is the ultimate test of your level is something called reverse translation and shows you the gaps in your knowledge and how much you need to improve.

However, this technique needs it's own set of instructions, check out our article for the guide...


If you want to be able to use what you learn from the transcripts easily, you cannot study the same way using the same techniques. 

You need to be able to practice these topics in speaking, reading, writing and listening. 

However, one of the most effective things you can do is use italki.com with a language partner and send your partner the same material that you are using. 


Listening is one of the skills that you need to be practicing the most, however, simply listening to music or watching a movie is not going to work very effectively. 

Using the transcripts in your listening activities is one of the most effective activities that you can use to improve your listening. 

Since this is a lot of information, we have started to create study guides for our students that include transcripts for specific topics.

If these sound good then sign up to our email newsletter to get notified when we create new guides and vote on the next one you want to see. 

Have Any Questions About How To Study English?

Book a free trail class with us and get transcripts that are suitable for your level. 


Improve Listening, Improve vocabulary

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