IELTS Listening Test: How to Improve your IELTS Listening Skills

The IELTS Listening test will require you to use your excellent listening skills that you already have in your own language. By doing so, you will be able to improve your listening comprehension for the IELTS Listening test.

IELTS Listening Test

In this post, we will look at some easy activities to help you hone four essential listening skills – each one important for doing well on the IELTS Listening test. The great thing is that you already use these skills every day in real life when speaking your own language(s). There are four crucial listening skills for success: ‘anticipation’, ‘active, targeted listening’, ‘thinking/preparing’, and ‘noticing’. Let’s take a closer look at all four of these skills:

  • Anticipation

In the IELTS Listening test, you have 30 seconds before each of the four parts of the test to look at the questions before the audio starts. Use this time to anticipate/predict topics that might arise and the type of information you need to answer the question. In addition, you have a further 20-30 seconds in the middle of Parts 1, 2, and 3 to review your answers and make changes if necessary.

  •  Active, targeted listening

Many questions in both Parts 1 and 2 will require numeric responses such as dates, prices, phone numbers, and zip codes. In order to properly understand and respond to these questions, it’s important to become familiar with the rhythm of how numbers are read aloud in English. 

This way, you can more easily catch on to the numbers being said in an audio clip. To practice this, try listening to a 5-minute news broadcast and writing down all of the numbers you hear (along with what they refer to).      

  • Thinking/preparing

Part 3 of the exam includes a conversation between 2 and 4 people in an educational context. For example, two students may be discussing a project or research, or a student and a tutor may be discussing the student’s work. Because different people will have different questions to ask and different information to give depending on their role, it’s important to actively think about an individual’s role while looking at the questions. This will help you prepare for which speaker to listen to for different questions.

  • Noticing

Part 4 of the IELTS test involves listening to an academic monologue, such as a lecture. These lectures don’t require any specialist knowledge, but they can be dense and information-rich. That’s why it’s essential to practice picking out as many “clues” to the direction and flow of the speech as possible.

Here’s a tip: use test transcripts to look for the cohesive devices that signpost the organization of the lecture. Then try categorizing the different functions. This will help you understand how lectures are typically organized and what you should be listening to when you take the test.

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