It has happened to me on more than one occasion that a student arrives at my IELTS Preparation class looking despondent. When I ask why, they give me the answer that they ‘spent hours practising for the IELTS Listening Test’ and didn’t understand what they were listening to.
So, my first piece of advice is ‘Don’t try to do too much in one go’. If you were training to run a marathon, you wouldn’t run 40km on the first day, would you?!
Initially I suggest only listening to passages that are 2-3 minutes long so that you don’t get lost and become depressed. Listening to a recording is harder than having a conversation as you cannot ask for clarification/repetition and you cannot read the other person’s body language.
Once your listening improves, you can gradually extend the length of the passages. In my opinion it’s a waste of time listening to passages that are longer than 7 minutes. Think about it, the IELTS Listening Test lasts around 30 minutes and there are 4 sections so each section lasts around 6 minutes as you are given some time to read the questions and write your answers.
So what should I do? you ask. Well, here are my tips and suggested strategies.
- Listen to English language news on TV, the radio, or the internet. The most useful broadcasts are those from English speaking countries so you get used to some of the accents you will hear in the test.
News items are usually the ideal length for practising your IELTS Listening skills. It’s a good idea to record these news items.
- Don’t just listen and try to understand every word; set yourself a task. For example
- Just listen for numbers or dates.
- Then, listen for names
- Then, start listening for the general meaning (gist) of the news item.
- Finally, you’d listen for more difficult information, for example the opinions and attitudes of the people who are interviewed.
- Make your listening practice ‘little and often’; it is much better to listen to 1 or 2 short passages frequently (daily if possible) rather than long passages once every two weeks.
Of course there are many other sources of listening materials. Over the years, I have taught from many different IELTS books and I always recommend that my students purchase Adams & Austen IELTS books. These books contain so many useful practice exercises for IELTS.
Don’t forget that if you buy these books here, I will mark an IELTS Task 1 Writing and an IELTS Task 2 Writing from the book you have purchased.
Here’s to the best IELTS score possible!