Good Listenership in English

When you are learning a new language, understanding and speaking correctly might seem more important than listening in a way that shows the speaker that you are really present. How can you be a good listener in English? If you want to feel that you are joining in a discussion but don’t feel ready to launch into expressing your opinion with a long speech, you can make your contribution by expressing a reaction to what you hear and by showing interest and enthusiasm or by giving your undivided attention.

There are several ways you can do this in English. Firstly, with eye contact and positive body language that is engaged and open. Secondly, by using some common expressions.

Reacting to the content of what another person says:

  • I know what you mean!
  • That’s so true!
  • I couldn’t agree more!
  • Absolutely!
  • That’s so interesting!
  • How fascinating!
  • That’s so funny!
  • Really?
  • That’s brilliant!
  • That’s really useful!

Or by acknowledging the communication skills of the speaker and thanking them.

  • You express yourself really clearly. Thank you.
  • You really tell a good story! Thank you!
  • Your ideas are really interesting! Thank you for sharing them.

By using a modal verb and an emotion word:

  • You must be exhausted.
  • It must be very difficult for you.
  • You must be relieved.
  • You must be delighted.

Here is a short video explaining some of the cultural features of responding in English, with tips on intonation and phrases that native speakers commonly use.

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