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How to Practice Listening
How can you improve your listening abilities before you take the IELTS exam? In this lesson we’ll look at some ways to focus your practice so that you can improve your listening skills as much as possible before exam day. So in general I recommend when you find a listening passage you wanna use for practice, plan on listen to it three times. The first time through just listen.
Don’t read along if you have a transcript to the passage. Because that’s more of a reading exercise than it is a listening exercise. You need practice listening and training your ear to hear different sounds, different accents and different speakers and trying to understand what they are saying. The second time you listen, that’s when you should read along if you have a transcript to go along with the passage.
Read along and try to figure out new vocabulary and new phrases that you didn’t understand. But this is also a really good listening activity because let’s say you listen to a lecture and it was a very difficult one. Maybe you only understood 75%, 80% and you went back and read through the second time after you listened, and you discover that maybe, okay, maybe you didn’t know some of the vocabulary, but maybe you did understand the vocabulary.
You just didn’t understand the way that the speaker said it. Going through and reading along as you listen is a wonderful way to figure out why you didn’t understand something that you were listening to and to practice that more. The third time you listen this is where you’re gonna do something that might be new for you.
So the third time you should play the recording and stop it every sentence or two, and try to repeat exactly what you heard the speaker say. Not only do you wanna repeat what they said, you want to try to repeat it, how they said it. Try to get their intonation the tone of their voice the emotion.
When you repeat things the way you hear them, it’s really a good pronunciation and speaking exercise. But it’s also a good listening exercise because when you do that, you train yourself to listen very closely to what you hear. When you retry to repeat it, you have to repeat it, a having listened very closely. So it’s a good listening activity for you to practice as well.
All right, so when you practice your listening, what should you use for practice? Well, the IELTS exam uses different formats for the listening passages you’ll have a lecture. Sometimes, you’ll have a speaker, like a guide, who gives you details or gives you directions about how to get somewhere.
Or details about maybe a historical object, or a location. You’ll also hear conversations, so you need to practice listening to things that are similar to those kinds of scenarios. I really recommend, for the lecture-style passages, listening to documentaries, documentary videos or podcasts. Also TED Talks are really great for IELTS practice.
I like TED Talks because there are many speakers included from around the world and you’re going to hear different accents. And so that’s a nice way to practice listening to different people Giving lecture style presentations. For conversations between two people or among groups for everyday language it’s good to watch TV, watch videos, movies, that’s good listening practice too.
Especially if the things you can find that have subtitles or transcripts that you can read for our 3x method that we discussed before. When you’re on the road or commuting, you probably don’t wanna do the for 3x method, right? You may not wanna repeat what you hear in public. I understand that but you should still listen to things as you have time.
Can you download podcasts or listen to talk radio or download of lectures that you find online?? Many universities post lectures that you can download. Really good materials to use for your practice. Okay, now what about when you’re practicing official IELTS material or practice questions?
What should you do for that? Well, when you do that kind of practice you should try to imitate the test as closely as you can. You want to answer questions as you’re listening to them so, you wanna do that the way you’re going to do it on exam day. On the IELTS, you don’t have time to listen, and take notes, and then take your time on the questions.
You answer questions as you go On the IELTS exam. So that’s what you need to do when you practice listening. You also need to practice looking ahead to upcoming questions. So on the IELTS exam, you have between each section about 30 seconds or so, to look ahead and read the questions before you listen. It’s really an important strategy for success on the IELTS listening passages.
So, do that when you practice. Look at your questions. Don’t give yourself too long, a few seconds to look and then listen and try to find specific information as you listen. Similarly, you wanna look for those keywords in your questions. You wanna find the words that are most important that are gonna signal to you that the speaker is giving you the answer that you’re listening for as you practice your listening passages.
Okay, so after you’ve done this practice, you’ve imitated the test as closely as you can, that’s when you wanna listen again. And you should use the 3x method that we started off with in this lesson. So use your IELST listening passages to listen a second time and this time, read along. Try to figure out what you didn’t understand.
The third time through, practice repeating, repeating what you hear and listening closely so that you can repeat it as closely as you can. Listen, listen then read, and listen and repeat. The three times method is a great way to develop your general listening skills so that you can do as well as you can on the IELTS exam.
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