English-medium lectures can be the source of much frustration for students at universities where most learners and lecturers use English as an additional language. Developing listening strategy awareness can help students traverse the difficulties they encounter in lectures. This study reports on the most challenging listening strategies for first-year undergraduates at an English-medium university in Hong Kong. Student reflections, an Academic Listening Strategy Inventory, and interviews were used as data gathering tools. Within a framework of perceptive, cognitive, metacognitive and socio-affective strategies, the most challenging items were technical vocabulary, inferencing and focus. In addition, some less commonly reported challenges were identified which highlight the complexities of academic listening in non-Anglophone English-medium contexts. Copyright © 2020 Asian ESP Journal. All rights reserved.