It’s difficult to catch the words in the Voice of America sports report. Do you have some skills?
One of the most difficult skills to acquire in a foreign language is the ability to understand the natural language spoken by native speakers at a normal speed. Additionally, with sports reports, the language is often delivered at speed. Listen to a commentary on a horse race or a car rally and you will find that the commentator can hardly keep up with himself as he tries to keep pace with the events he is witnessing. You can train yourself to cope with native speaker delivery in a number of ways. One way is to use ‘talking books’. These are published on audio tape, compact disc, or on video. They consist mainly of novels or biographies read by famous actors and are aimed at native speakers who like to listen to someone telling them a story, rather than reading one themselves. This is what you could do:
Buy the book and the recorded version (in British or American English according to your preference).
Play a small part of the audio version and concentrate on listening. Confine yourself to about two minutes at a time. Try to understand as much as you can. You will probably find it’s hard to‘keep up with the reader’.
Play the taped version again while reading the text at the same time. Guess the meaning from the context, looking up only those words which seem to you to be essential to the meaning.
Play the same part of the tape again without looking at the book. Contentrate only on listening. This time you will find that you can‘keep up with the reader’much more easily.
Keep doing this until you feel able to cope with native delivery. Of course, it’s not a sports commentary. But following this routine will provide you with the kind of practice you need to cope with English delivered at normal native-speaker speed.