Listening – a skill, not a gift!

Often Listening can be your biggest problem. I know it because almost all my IELTS-taking friends had trouble there. Your Listening ability in many cases is not developed enough. But the good news is that Listening is a skill, not a gift, which means anyone can learn how to listen and understand (almost :)) every word. My friends and I came up with this technique that worked for us.

What usually happens:

You listen and hear a “Blablablablabla”, which you can’t to break into words, and for that reason it makes no sense to you. There is a big difference between seeing a word printed on paper when you read and hearing it. If you saw a word, it doesn’t mean you will recognize it when you hear it. Every word you have read, you need to hear at least once.

What can be done about it:

You need to teach yourself the words

How do you do it:

When training, take a recording of the news, a lecture, a television program, a movie or an actual IELTS Listening test and work with it.

Listening Tip # 1 – use a transcript.

Use an IELTS Listening test – just choose from all the links in the right sidebar. You need a test that has a transcript, so I suggest Listening test # 1 (be patient, their site is slow).
First try just listening, to get used to the accent. Then start working with a recording and a transcript: go over the recording, stop it after every sentence and use the transcript to make sure you understand every word.

Listening Tip # 2 – repeat phrases

You can use any recording. First, listen, remember what you heard and stop the recording after each phrase. Even if you didn’t understand the phrase, play it in your head a couple of times, like a broken record “Tonight we have a special guest”, “Tonight we have a special guest”, “Tonight we have a special guest”.
Then say it out loud. If you understood that phrase at first, this exercise will improve your pronunciation. If you didn’t understand the phrase for the first time, this repetition will give you more time to hear it better, break it into words and make sense out of them. And if it is still difficult, you can always rewind and hear the phrase again.

How to prepare for IELTS

Isn’t it nice to learn from the mistakes of someone else :)? Well, another mistake I made in my preparation for IELTS was concentrating on just one sub-test out of four. I started to study for Writing and neglected all the other parts – Listening, Reading and Speaking.

There are reasons why a person would do what I did. Usually, people like doing things they are good at and avoid doing things they are not so good at. I was good at writing, so it was very natural for me to write essays and letters and set aside all the other difficult and “scary” subjects. Or the opposite might happen – people assume they are good in Writing and concentrate on something else that needs improvement.

There are many reasons not to do what I did. Firstly, in many cases you are required to get a nice band score in every sub-test, or at least in two sub-tests. That means you can not be satisfied with a good average, because you need a Band Score 7 in two sub-tests no matter what.

Secondly, when you hope for a good average while concentrating on one or two sub-tests, your chances don’t look good. All the sub-tests in IELTS have the same weight, so if you score 8 in Reading, 4 in Listening, 8 in Writing and 4 in Speaking, the average score will be 6 (simple math). If you think about it, it is quite difficult to score 8 in Reading or Writing, no matter how hard you try. That’s why studying a little bit harder for all four sub-tests makes much more sense and eventually pays off.

Finally, some real advice – divide your time into four equal (or almost equal) parts and practice in IELTS Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking without making exceptions.

You can mix 2 subjects in one day, for example, practice in Reading for one hour and then in Writing for one hour. This way of studying helped me and my friends – I hope it will help you, too.



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