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Listening
5 ways to improve your IELTS Listening skills every day

What do you think when you practise for the IELTS Listening test? Do you think - oh no, how many practice tests do I need to do to get the band score I need? The best way to improve your listening skills is not by doing lots of Listening tests. You won’t be improving your listening ability, you’re just practising the question types. The very best way to make your listening better is to make listening in English a part of your everyday life. Here are five ways to improve your listening skills every single day; Turn on your radio or TV while you brush your teeth Wake up, turn on your radio/phone/computer and choose an English-speaking radio/tv/music channel. Don’t sit down and watch or listen – go and make a cup of coffee, have a shower or make breakfast. Don’t focus too much on really listening. If you do this every day, after a while, you’ll begin to notice that you’re ‘catching’ more and more words. You may find that although you don’t understand every detail, you’ll begin to get a general idea of the topic that’s being talked about. And in the evenings, why not choose something in English on Netflix and have it on in the background while you’re cooking or eating dinner, or when you’re in bed before going to sleep? Just five minutes of your time - that’s all it takes. Friends – Big Bang Theory – Game of Thrones (Image Source:https://turbologo.com/articles/friends-logo/) Take your favourite English-speaking series and watch them again but this time have the audio in English and the subtitles* in English too. That way you’re listening but also reading in English at the same time. This helps you to ‘catch’/understand more words and also notice how words are pronounced. If you watch a programme you’ve already seen in your own language, you don’t have to worry about understanding the story – you’ve already seen it before so you know what’s going on! Instead, you can focus on actually listening to the words that are spoken. You don’t have to watch the whole episode - start with 5 minutes. The next time, try 10 minutes. Keep doing this and one day you’ll be able to watch a whole episode in English! *Subtitles – the words that the people are speaking are written along the bottom of the screen. Podcasts Discover the joys of listening to podcasts. What are you interested in? Choose a topic you love and there will probably be an English-speaking podcast on that topic. You can listen to podcasts through Apple podcasts, Google Podcasts app, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you find yours. You can find some popular podcasts here to help get you started on your podcasting journey. The great thing about podcasts is you can listen to them anywhere – while you’re walking to the train station or waiting for the bus. You can download them and listen offline. If you find it too difficult to understand anything at all, start by focusing only on nouns – words that refer to places, people, things. Focus your listening on those keywords only, then slowly build up to different key words like adjectives and then verbs. Read Do you love reading? Yes? Great! But you may be asking, what does reading have to do with making my listening better? The more you read, the more words and expressions you pick up. Your vocabulary improves and when you know more words, you’ll be able to recognise those words when you’re listening. And the more you listen, the more words you learn which will then help you with your reading skills. It’s a win-win situation. News Watching or listening to the news is a great way to improve your listening skills while also giving you different points of view on various topics. This will also help you with your Writing and Speaking tests. When you watch or listen to the news, focus on trying to answer these basic questions: Who? Names What? What is the topic? Listen for key nouns When? Listen for references of time – yesterday, this morning, 2015, etc. Where? Listen for names of places Why? Keywords here will be verbs, adjectives How? Keywords here verbs and adverbs The Voice of America website has lots of news items for English language learners. They have written articles and you can also listen to the news item too. Here’s one to get you started: Learning English Choose one of these tips and try it every day for a week. Let us know how you get on through our social channels. Happy listening! Liz

Liz Marqueiro

26 January, 2020

5 ways to improve your IELTS Listening skills every day

liz header

What do you think when you practise for the IELTS Listening test? Do you think - oh no, how many practice tests do I need to do to get the band score I need? The best way to improve your listening skills is not by doing lots of Listening tests. You won’t be improving your listening ability, you’re just practising the question types. The very best way to make your listening better is to make listening in English a part of your everyday life.

Here are five ways to improve your listening skills every single day;

  1. Turn on your radio or TV while you brush your teeth

Wake up, turn on your radio/phone/computer and choose an English-speaking radio/tv/music channel. Don’t sit down and watch or listen – go and make a cup of coffee, have a shower or make breakfast. Don’t focus too much on really listening. If you do this every day, after a while, you’ll begin to notice that you’re ‘catching’ more and more words. You may find that although you don’t understand every detail, you’ll begin to get a general idea of the topic that’s being talked about. And in the evenings, why not choose something in English on Netflix and have it on in the background while you’re cooking or eating dinner, or when you’re in bed before going to sleep? Just five minutes of your time - that’s all it takes.

  1. Friends – Big Bang Theory – Game of Thrones
friends_logo

(Image Source:https://turbologo.com/articles/friends-logo/)

Take your favourite English-speaking series and watch them again but this time have the audio in English and the subtitles* in English too. That way you’re listening but also reading in English at the same time. This helps you to ‘catch’/understand more words and also notice how words are pronounced. If you watch a programme you’ve already seen in your own language, you don’t have to worry about understanding the story – you’ve already seen it before so you know what’s going on! Instead, you can focus on actually listening to the words that are spoken. You don’t have to watch the whole episode - start with 5 minutes. The next time, try 10 minutes. Keep doing this and one day you’ll be able to watch a whole episode in English!

*Subtitles – the words that the people are speaking are written along the bottom of the screen.

  1. Podcasts
Podcast asset

Discover the joys of listening to podcasts. What are you interested in? Choose a topic you love and there will probably be an English-speaking podcast on that topic. You can listen to podcasts through Apple podcasts, Google Podcasts app, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you find yours. You can find some popular podcasts here to help get you started on your podcasting journey. The great thing about podcasts is you can listen to them anywhere – while you’re walking to the train station or waiting for the bus. You can download them and listen offline. If you find it too difficult to understand anything at all, start by focusing only on nouns – words that refer to places, people, things. Focus your listening on those keywords only, then slowly build up to different key words like adjectives and then verbs.

  1. Read
read-way-asse

Do you love reading? Yes? Great! But you may be asking, what does reading have to do with making my listening better? The more you read, the more words and expressions you pick up. Your vocabulary improves and when you know more words, you’ll be able to recognise those words when you’re listening. And the more you listen, the more words you learn which will then help you with your reading skills. It’s a win-win situation.

  1. News

Watching or listening to the news is a great way to improve your listening skills while also giving you different points of view on various topics. This will also help you with your Writing and Speaking tests. When you watch or listen to the news, focus on trying to answer these basic questions:

  • Who? Names
  • What? What is the topic? Listen for key nouns
  • When? Listen for references of time – yesterday, this morning, 2015, etc.
  • Where? Listen for names of places
  • Why? Keywords here will be verbs, adjectives
  • How? Keywords here verbs and adverbs

The Voice of America website has lots of news items for English language learners. They have written articles and you can also listen to the news item too. Here’s one to get you started: Learning English

Choose one of these tips and try it every day for a week. Let us know how you get on through our social channels. Happy listening!

Liz

Liz Marqueiro

Liz has been teaching IELTS around the world for over 25 years.

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