How 1 Student Discovered A New World With My Listening Lessons

Aug 26, 2016 | Interview

…I was blocked at one place and a door is open and I can see behind the door.


Meet Martine.

An English teacher friend of mine referred her to me almost a year ago. I was a beginning online teacher and needed clients. Even though Martine and I live in the same city, she agreed to classes on Skype, with monthly face-to-face meetings.

She came to me for conversational classes and to discuss the books she reads in English. I thought – great! That’ll work on Skype.

Towards the end of the year, I met my friend and mentor, Janine Bray-Mueller. Right when I needed help with my business.

She told me that to make my online teaching business stand out, I needed to find out the one, main learning problem of my favourite student. I chose Martine and interviewed her in French

Remember that originally she came to me for conversation practice?

Well, in the interview, she revealed her true struggle in English. She wanted to understand spoken English without translating in her head.

10 online listening lessons later, she talks about her experiences.

You can listen to the interview below or read the transcript if you prefer. Don’t miss the links at the end of the article to tools that make learning English “not boring” (Martine’s words, not mine). You’ll also discover a special opportunity to work with me to discover “a world of the ears”, just like Martine did.

It’s a new way of learning…it’s new way of learning a new language. It’s a new world because it’s a world of the ears.

Listen to Martine's Story

What is a listening lesson?

Or Read The Full Transcript Of Our Interview Below

CL: Hello. Today, I’m with a very special guest, or one of my students, Martine, who is going to talk to us about what the lessons with me involve, what a listening lesson actually is, and how you can learn how to listen. So sit back, relax, while she explains everything to us. So, Martine, can you tell us a bit about yourself and why you’re taking online listening lessons with me?

MV: Hello, Cara. I am 60 years old. I’m a dermatologist, I am almost retired but I have to do some international conferences, and I have to improve my comprehension of English accents.

CL: And a little bit about the lessons for people who don’t know what they involve.

MV: I am in links with European colleagues. Some of them are English, from London, but some of them are from Copenhagen or from Find…


Finland. And sometimes, it’s very difficult for me to understand Danish people or Finnish people.

CL: Okay, so, could you explain for someone who doesn’t know about these lessons, what we work on in a listening lesson?

MV: Well, we’re working on listening from YouTube or from some recordings by Cara, by you, about special topics. For example, we worked on a record about a book I lent to you, ‘The Girl on the Train’. It was very interesting because we can listen to the recording, and we can stop and you can have the transcript, and it is very precise work, very precise and very interesting work.

CL: Okay, why do you say that it’s precise?

MV: Because sometimes, we are working only on one minute but very difficult minute for me. [chuckle] It’s very interesting to catch each word of this minute.

CL: Okay, yeah, you’re right. Sometimes it’s even really short, it can be just 10 seconds, 10 difficult seconds…

MV: Yes, you’d be… Before, I screened this kind of sequences and it wasn’t precise, so I didn’t improve. I was at one level and I remained at the zero level.

CL: And now do you feel that you are going up a little in your listening?

MV: I hope. I hope.

CL: I think so. I think you’re on the right track. Well, I suppose you’ve answered the third question here but maybe you can develop a bit more about what difference the lessons have made for you and your listening.

MV: I am a very old learner of English and I have a long path. I had collective courses and I have face-to-face lessons. And it was very interesting but I have to climb the step. I have to improve…I have to…How can I say that? I have to leave… A way…of mind…

CL: Yeah, a mindset, or develop a new mindset.

MV: Yes. I have to develop a new mindset, yes. So, it’s a new tool and it’s very… It’s a new step for me.

CL: Okay, great. Do you have any specific experiences that you can refer to? I’m thinking maybe a moment where you understood something that you couldn’t understand before or…

MV: Yes, with this tool I have this kind of experience. The moment I understood the speaker, can stop his conversation in the middle of a sentence and go in another way, it was very interesting for me. It was a special moment. Because in the past, I was waiting (for) a sentence in one go.

CL: Okay, yes. And now, you’ve seen that a person can express their idea… They can start their idea, change their mind, start again. Okay, so that’s something you’ve become aware of from the way we work, so working on short sections and writing the sections and working with the transcript.

MV: Yes.

CL: Okay. All right. Great. And how do you feel now that we’ve done 10 listening lessons?

MV: I am very interested by listening (to) podcasts and looking for the transcript. For me, it’s a new world.


A real new world.

CL: Why do you say that it’s a new world?

MV: Because I was blocked at one place and a door is open and I can see behind the door.

CL: Okay into a… A new way of…

MV: It’s a new way of learning, but it’s new way of learning a new language. It’s a new world because it’s a world of the ears.

CL: Okay. And what three benefits do you believe would interest future learners about these listening lessons with me?

MV: Yes. I believe I…

CL: If you had to recommend…

MV: I have lot of benefits. The first benefit is to learn a lot about the way to communicate and to use the internet to learn English. I’m not really fluent in the internet and I don’t have a Facebook page, I don’t communicate by social network. And in this course, I find, found, I have found a real interest in the internet.

CL: Okay. So have you got any specific websites or tools that you discovered?

MV: Yes. And I got SoundCloud, wordclouds and how to hear YouTube with a CC and…

CL: Ah yes, with the closed captions and the…

MV: Closed captions, etcetera. It’s a very, very precise work about the internet, very interesting.

CL: Okay. And what about the second benefit?

MV: The second benefit could be, I have improved my understanding of the different accents. I have to try now with my real colleagues.

CL: I hear the test will be in September, right? When you go to Manchester for your next conference.

MV: Yes. I have to go to Geneva…

CL: Ah yes.

MV: next week.So I can tell you how it works.

CL: How it goes, yeah.

MV: How it goes.

CL: Okay. And one final benefit from these lessons?

MV: And the final benefit is to have a lot of tools to learn English, so it’s not boring. I can use SoundCloud, I can use wordclouds…I can use Classmill, I can use YouTube, I can use only listening or transcript or mixed. It’s really interesting to have a lot of tools because it’s not boring to learn English in by these ways.

CL: Okay. Great. Alright, well thank you for answering all these questions. Anything else to add before we go?

MV: No…I believe we have talked about everything. Maybe not everything but sufficient.

CL: Yeah, the most important things.

MV: The most important, yes.

CL: Okay, well thank you very much Martine for this interview. And yeah, I think we have to go now we’re in your office which is very, very hot and we had to switch the fan off to do this interview. So thank you all for listening and I’ll see you again very soon. Thanks, bye.

Tools That Make Learning English Not Boring

As Martine said, “It’s really interesting to have a lot of tools because it’s not boring to learn English in by these ways.” So what are some of these tools? And what is the “very precise work” she did online with me?

Well, one of these tools or techniques is simply listening to short sections, writing what you hear and then comparing that with a transcript. These are dictation exercises. You can try some for yourself in this article. The examples and explanations come from a lesson with Martine!

Martine also mentioned podcasts. How can you use them to improve your listening? Take a look at my guest post on (you’ll also find out what a wordcloud is in that post) or try this post about making the most of my podcast.

Thanks to our lessons, Martine discovered that “the speaker can stop his conversation in the middle of a sentence and go in another way…”. This is called a false start. There is an example in my reply to Martine when I say “Okay, yes. And now, you’ve seen that a person can express their idea… They can start their idea, change their mind, start again.” Learn more about false starts and other features over conversational English.

Finally, another tool Martine talked about was YouTube. Where can you find transcripts on YouTube? I’ve created a 5-minute video guide, plus a cheat sheet. There’s also a blog post if you prefer to reading to videos.

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