Listening habits in English

Do you like watching movies or TV shows?  For many learners, listening is the hardest skill to master. Spoken English usually has more colloquial words and phrasal verbs. Registers -academic, slang- and accents vary a lot, so don't give up if you don't understand the first videos or audios you try out. There must be some videos that suit your level, coming with subtitles in English to help you go through your first steps.

Subtitles in English

Forget about subtitles in your own language. Improvement is slow, because focus is on the text, not the voices. However, getting subtitles in English can help you prepare for the shift to not having subtitles, provided they stick to the actual dialogue. Unfortunately, there are not many videos with subtitles in English available. Here are a few of them:

TED.com: This site is full of short videos of speeches by prominent scientists, engineers, designers and educators from all over the world. Insightful and easy to understand due to its academical speech. You can switch on subtitles in many different languages, including English. Use search filters on the menu to find a topic you are interested in. Here are some of my favourites:
- Sir Ken Robinson, an English professor speaking about the flaws of the educational system.
- Hans Rossling, a Swedish statiscian speaking about the benefits washing machines have brought about.
- Jamie Oliver, an English chef explaining how our eating habits are cutting down our life expectancy and what to do about it.

Original DVDs
: Many films on DVD include English subtitles. Many DVD rental stores have opened in the past years. You can also borrow films at your local library. In case they don't come with subtitles in English, you can try to find the English version on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

Youtube: There are plenty of videos on every topic. To get those with subtitles, just include "English subtitles" in your search.

Amara.org: The most popular videos on sites like Youtube or Vimeo with subtitles.  It's an open project, so anyone can collaborate. Some examples:
- Kony 2012, a brilliant viral marketing campaign on Ugandan army leader Joseph Kony and what lay people in developed countries can do to stop violation of Human Rights.
- Neil Gaiman's speech at the University of Arts in Philadelphia in 2012. Regarded as one of the best speeches ever, full of insights for both artists and freelancers of any kind.