Struggling to understand fast-talking native speakers? Or your favourite TV shows without subtitles?
“Même combat” or “same combat” as they say in French.
Real English speakers don’t come with subtitles. But movies and TV shows do.
I show you how to use subtitles the right way, to improve your English listening skills doing what you love. That way, you can better connect with English-speaking locals in conversation and fit in better when living abroad or on your travels.
Hi there, I’m Cara and I help intrepid travellers and adventurous expats improve their English listening skills so they can better understand and better connect with fast talking native speakers.
What does she know about this stuff anyway?
I moved abroad in 2007, at the age of 22 to improve my French. Since then I’ve worked, studied, changed careers, started a business, fallen in love, bought an apartment…You name it, I’ve done it in French!
To do that I didn’t need fluency, but proficiency in my target language. In other words, to listen and speak like a native.
How did I get there? By listening not just to understand, but to catch all the details native speakers use so I could sound just like them.
I didn’t have a great start when it comes to listening though. When I was learning French at university in the UK, my approach to listening was: practice makes perfect (I mean, what else can you do right?)
I used to
- rent out cassettes of French films (remember them?) from the library and watch them at home by myself
- watch them with subtitles
- feel frustrated at needing the subtitles
- want to give up
Just listening (like I used to do) is not enough.
Nowadays, I help my clients prepare for moving abroad or for travelling to English-speaking countries by helping them understand what they watch in English without the subtitles.
I show how different written and spoken English are. I help you master tricky sounds and connected speech so that fast, native English goes from “noise” to meaning and connection.
It’s exactly what I would have loved when I was trying to improve my French listening on my own with movies and failing.
Living abroad is one of the best things you can do with your life. It has certainly added meaning and purpose to mine. And good listening skills are the key to belonging in your new life. The better you can understand fast-speaking locals in conversation, the faster you can sound more like them and fit with them.
Why are native English speakers so hard to understand?
The problem is, the way we teach listening skills (and I include my past self here) is crap.
I’ve been figuring out how to teach listening since 2016 and teaching English since 2007. Even though I have a degree in linguistics with French and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) plus a CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), I didn’t really know what the best techniques were for teaching listening skills.
I worked with my wonderful client Martine to help her better connect with native speakers in conversation at the conferences she had to go to as a doctor. I caught the listening bug and haven’t looked back.
In the spring of 2017, Lindsay Williams from Lindsay Does Languages asked me to do a webinar for online teachers about how to teach listening. A couple of months later, in the summer of that year, I gave a listening workshop to a room packed full of language teachers at the local university where I live in Besançon, France.
I’m still learning and experimenting. But along the way, I’ve figured out how to best support my clients. Here are some things I’m pretty sure of:
- Watching films without subtitles to try to improve is making you frustrated. Because you switch them back on and then feel bad about it. Or you spend so much time rewinding and re-listening to parts of films, you need 3 hours to watch one.
- Your English is great. What you need are the right activities to improve your English listening skills so you can finally break your subtitle habit.
- You know lots of words in the written form, because you read tons of blogs and novels in English. But you don’t know how they sound.
- And even when you think you know how they sound, words are weird in fast, connected speech. They change in ways you might not expect.
Time to stop beating yourself up and start understanding fast, spoken English.
How to understand fast-talking native speakers through movies
This guide is the best introduction to my teaching methods. We’ll go through an example clip from favourite movie and you’ll do various listening exercises, including dictations, to help you understand it.
After, I’ll break down all the hard to catch sounds and words so that you understand why you missed them.
This is the added value in working with a qualified listening teacher. You can do dictations on your own. But who is going to help you understand and master the missing words and sounds?
Only a listening teacher can break down the fast English you couldn’t catch and help you understand it. And help you pronounce it the right way so you can use it in your own speech to sound more like a native speaker.
Download your copy of the Mini Movie guide by clicking here.
Useless Yet Must-Know Facts About Me
- I’m 5’8’’ or around 1m 75 cm which makes me the average height (if not taller) of a man in many countries. I also have broad shoulders and huge hands. If I was any good at team sports, I probably could have become a champion female basketball player.
I have a small immediate family (1 brother) but a huge extended family of 23 first cousins. Yes, first cousins!
I’m Scottish. People either figure it out straight away or gradually realise this is the case as they hear me speak.
I have very dark hair but very pale and freckly skin. I think this is some kind of mixture of Celtic, Roman and Viking heritage.
When I’m not working, I love to be outside (yes, despite my pale skin). You can find me walking around the hills of the obscure French city where I live. Or cycling/running along the Véloroute.
I sometimes get really nice compliments about my French from French people, including positive comments about my accent. This makes me happy.
Oh and I hate the TV series Friends. And the musical Grease. – please don’t send me hate mail.
Client Case Studies
Discover the stories of my amazing clients. Just click on an image below to find out more.
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