When learning a new language, a lot of people (including me!) have a natural desire to want to understand every single word they hear.
You can get away with wanting to understand every word you read. After all, you have as much time as you want to look up a word. The next sentence will wait for you.
Listening, however, is another story. While you’re busy wondering what that word was, you missed to next two sentences.
So, what do you do?
You give up immediately on any word you didn’t catch and keep listening. If you can get the gist of the sentence, that word didn’t matter. Whether you realize it or not, you probably don’t always understand every word anyone says in your native language. It’s just that your brain is very skilled at filling in the gaps in your own language.
I was thinking about this while listening to some audio today. I got hung up on a word and, as a consequence, had to rewind the audio and listen to the whole paragraph again because I missed too much. The second time, I let the missed word go flying by and I understood enough of the rest of the words to get the meaning.
If you have the time and can relisten and relisten and slow the audio down and listen again or check a script after you listened, then do those things by all means and figure out what you missed, but get used to the fact that, in conversation, you’re going to miss words here and there. Don’t let it bother you. If you can basically understand the meaning of what is said, you’re doing great, no matter how many individual words you missed.
In real time, we can’t be perfect, and that’s okay. Just hang in there.