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How To Improve Your Listening Comprehension for Chinese?

Chinese, Malay, and Tamil are the major languages in Singapore, and of course, who can forget about English.

The PSLE for Chinese is not as easy to pass as you may think, and each year thousands of students are under pressure to perform well in the listening comprehension part of this test. Mastering listening skill is one of the integral parts of mastering any language, and Chinese is no exception.

Fortunately, there are a number of tried and true methods that will help your child perform better and score high marks in this section of the test.

So, without further ado, let’s find out what you need to do to improve your child’s chances of passing this exam with flying colors.


Daily exposure is the key!

Learning a language requires a somewhat similar approach to being on a diet. If you are consistent and you put in effort on a daily basis, you will have much better results.

Being exposed to Chinese speech on a daily basis will not just improve the listening skills; it will also enrich the vocabulary and even help the child improve their pronunciation.

And it could not be easier to do! Everyone has a smartphone that is connected to the internet nowadays, even the 10-year-olds, and there are more Chinese entertaining children’s programs on the web than there are stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

Lying on the couch and watching cartoons will not help your child prepare for any other part of the test, but when it comes to developing listening skills, YouTube is a godsend.  


Watching videos with subtitles on.

Ideally, the child would just watch the video without needing to read the subtitles; but if they mishear many words, it is better to turn them on, at least at the beginning. Subtitles may help improve not only listening but reading skills as well.



There are many other beloved children’s books can be downloaded for an affordable price from audiobook apps and websites in almost any language (and some classic books may even be free!)

Your child will improve their listening skill, and they will get familiar with the famous pieces of literature as well. Two birds, one stone!


Expanding the vocabulary.

Words are the cornerstone of any language. Some students tend to get picky when they are learning new words, especially with synonyms. They think since they already know the word which denotes a certain thing or a concept, they can skip learning the words that “mean the same thing.” 

The thing is, no two words truly ever mean exactly the same. Even if one of the meanings of two words coincides, in different contexts, they will mean something different or will have different connotations. So, do not let the child be lazy and tell them to study all of the new words they encounter, even if they seem similar to the ones they already know at first glance.

Flashcards are one of the useful tools for teaching new vocabulary. You can buy pre-made ones, make them yourself, or even create virtual ones (I’m sure there is an app for that; there is one for everything nowadays).

Related post: Should You Take Normal Chinese or Higher Chinese?


Identifying different types of questions.

There are several different types of questions used in every listening comprehension exam. This difference in question types ensures that the child’s listening comprehension is tested from every possible angle. The questions can be factual, inferential, or ask the child to summarize something.

With factual questions, as the name suggests, the child has to identify a fact in the text that is being read out loud. Inferential questions ask the child to infer/deduce and make logical conclusions based on what they have heard. As for the summary questions; the students will be asked to pinpoint the main ideas in the passage that was read out.

To gain a better understanding of these types of questions, you need to do some practice tests from previous years, which you can find online.


Write it down.

Of course, the listening part of the test doesn’t just consist of listening; the child also has to write down the information they have heard.

This is yet another area where previous years’ tests can be immensely useful. Alternatively, you can ask the child some questions about a video clip that they just saw and tell them to write down the answers.


Speak Chinese at home.

You can never have too much practice. If you have a chance to speak Chinese at home, why not do it? The child will improve their listening skills, speaking skills, and they may even pick up some new words they didn’t know before.

Mastering some parts of a language (such as linking words, for instance) requires constant repetition, so if you constantly speak to your child in Chinese, they will internalize the language much faster, and using Chinese language patterns will become second nature to them.

Speaking Chinese at home is also useful because the conversation always happens in an appropriate context. The context, the body language, the intonation, and the props (the objects, places, or people you are speaking about) help the child find a link between the lexical units and the real-world situations, objects, places, etc. So, they learn the language on a more nuanced level.


Each child is an individual.

Children are different from one another, so you will need to observe which method is best for your child and tweak your approach. Focus more attention on the areas that your child struggles with, and remember the importance of positive reinforcement. Motivation is crucial when learning anything, especially a language, so if a child is praised for their progress, they are more likely to put in more effort into self-improvement.


To conclude, scoring high marks in the listening comprehension for Chinese isn’t rocket science. The most important element here is consistency; doing several exercises twice a week will not do you any good here. Daily exposure (even if it is just for 20 minutes a day) will yield much better results.

And you have a trusted ally in the form of internet resources. They are free, so feel free to use them. Or you can engage an experienced Chinese tutor to give your child a helping hand.

Read also:
Ultimate guide to Chinese tuition in Singapore
Need someone to guide you for Higher Chinese at primary/secondary level?

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About Author

Tutor City's blog focuses on balancing informative and relevant content, never at the expense of providing an enriching read. 

We want our readers to expand their horizons by learning more and find meaning to what they learn.

Resident author - Mr Wee Ben Sen, has a wealth of experience in crafting articles to provide valuable insights in the field of private education.

Ben Sen has also been running Tutor City, a leading home tuition agency in Singapore since 2010.