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I am a native Chinese speaker, and I have lived in Toronto for 8 years since the time I was 18 years old. But my English listening skills are pretty poor. I cannot understand the movies in the theater without subtitles. So I really want to improve my English listening skills.

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The more you talk to native speakers the better your listening skills (and not only listening). There are also a lot of different options (listen to the radio, visit speaking clubs), but when you are trying to understand what a person you are listening to means - it's the best listening practice.

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    Welcome to Language Learning Stack Exchange and thank you for your contribution. Since the person who posted the question has lived in Toronto for 8 years, don't you think that they need more specific advice instead of the very general advice you gave? – Tsundoku Jan 11 '19 at 14:58
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    Thanks a lot for your note. Ray Z asked about the most efficient way, and I believe that way I've mentioned is that one. BTW after 8 years of living there he still "cannot understand the movies in the theater without subtitles", so probably as a Chinese native speaker he mostly communicate with Chinese-speaking people. So I advised to talk more to English native speakers. – Alex Kuchin Jan 11 '19 at 15:50
  • @IkWeetHetOokNiet A native Chinese speaker here. This answer is the correct one. Many Chinese living overseas tend to live with Chinese, talk to Chinese in Chinese, are shy to talk to the local people. I was no exception until I was forced to teach a Calculus course to American students. Then my English fluency, speaking, listening, reading and writing were drastically improved. I was a graduate student then. – scaaahu Feb 4 at 11:42
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Listen to as much English content as you can cram in your day. Don't worry if you don't understand much. Just keep at it, and log in the hours. Your listening comprehension improves, but the process is very gradual and subtle, and will probably seem a bit mysterious1.

You may want to start with content spoken by those who have a clear elocution by their profession. I particularly like news shows, documentaries, and educational shows (including those for youngsters and children). When you start, it's better to stick to video, with images that accompany the spoken word. (At the beginning, you can use all the help you can get to follow what's being said.) As you get better, you can add audio-only content.

Another popular technique is to watch movies and sitcoms in English that you have already seen in Chinese. (One of the two versions would have been dubbed, of course.) For example, you could first watch a Seinfeld episode dubbed to Chinese, and then watch the same episode in English. (Netflix for example has many of such dubbed offerings.)

Colloquial, man-on-the-street English will take you the longest to master, so be prepared for that.

In my experience, doing the above will get you to the point of understanding 80-90% of news, documentaries, etc. in English. In order to get to the point of understanding 100%, you'll need to speak English daily. Speaking will feedback into your listening.


1In fact, if you find a 5-10 minute clip of recorded English that you don't understand much of now, save it, and come back to it 6 months after you have been following the suggestion I'm giving you here. Not only will you be amazed at how much better you understand it, but you will also wonder why you weren't able to understand the same text before. This is what I mean when I say the process is a bit mysterious.

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