Welcome to The Listening Business!  

My name is Sheila Thorn and I am the founder of The Listening Business. The name reflects my fascination with listening, both in terms of English language teaching and testing and in qualitative research in social care settings.

I founded The Listening Business in 1998. As a linguist and a teacher specialising in ELT (English Language Teaching), I knew from my own experience how quickly students can make progress when exposed to recordings of authentic speech accompanied by suitable tasks. I was also aware that most teachers are simply too busy to prepare labour-intensive authentic listening materials.

At first I specialised in writing intensive listening practice exercises to accompany BBC radio programmes. These were used by language schools, FE colleges and universities throughout the UK and Europe until 2012. In 2004 I began working on my unique Real Lives, Real Listening series, published by Collins in the UK and Klett in Germany. The focus of these books is on listening training and decoding authentic spoken English rather than traditional listening comprehension, that is the process of listening rather than the product of listening.

Since 2012 I have been working as a writer and copyeditor of ELT teaching and testing materials, specialising in listening skills. I also regularly make audio recordings and provide transcripts of interviews with native and non-native English speakers.

In addition, I am closely involved with Barts Health NHS Trust, carrying out qualitative research and inspections, as well as editing patient information leaflets. I also work as a research consultant and editor for Healthwatch Waltham Forest. In addition I regularly write profiles of world-leading neurologists for The Lancet Neurology.

Further information about my books and my services is available on this website If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch. I would genuinely be delighted to hear from you.

Sheila Thorn, BA (Hons), PGCE, RSA Dip TEFL, MSc

  Richard Cauldwell of SpeechInAction shares my enthusiasm for using recordings of authentic speech:
  Meanwhile my good friends
Mark Hancock and Annie McDonald specialise in training students to analyse short segments of authentic speech: