This article investigates the role of listening in English. The importance of ‘reading with the ear’ is discussed, as is research into the views of teachers and pupils on this topic. Practical suggestions are made for according to listening a more meaningful place in English. Originally English was conceived as listening and reading, talking and writing. It would enrich the conception of English as a subject to uncouple listening from talking and instead give it its place as a profile component in its own right.