How to speak Canadian English
Listening
How to speak Canadian English

After my posts on Kiwi, Australian, British and American English, this post is all about the English you may see, hear and need to use in Canada. So if you’re planning to live, work or study in Canada, check out the examples of Canadian English below and, if you don’t like the cold, plan to go in summer or pack a ‘toque’ (a beanie or woolly hat) pronounced /təʊk/. Weather When I visited Canada, it was early summer so I didn’t experience how hot or cold it can get. I have heard from Canadian friends though how the extremes in temperature in some parts of Canada mean that some unique vocabulary is needed to describe it. Canadians may say the temperature is plus or minus even when it’s obvious which one it is. If it’s 30° Celsius on a summer’s day, you may hear someone say it’s ‘plus 30’ even though the difference between 30° Celsius (hot) and -30° Celsius (freezing cold) is several layers of clothing! To help you decide what to wear, listen to what the ‘wind chill’ is when you watch the weather forecast. The wind chill is how much colder the temperature will feel due to the wind, e.g. “It’s minus 20, but minus 25 with the wind chill”. If it’s too cold, you can always use the elevated or underground ‘pedways’ (covered walkways) between buildings if you’re in one of the cities with them. Money Some words that you’ll definitely need to know if you visit Canada are the names for coins because they are different to those in other English-speaking countries. A ‘loonie’ is the Canadian word for a one-dollar coin because it has a type of bird called a loon on one side. A ‘Toonie’ is the word for a two-dollar coin.  So, if you need to change a two-dollar for two one-dollar coins (or vice versa), you’ll need to ask... Do you have two loonies for a toonie? Do you have a toonie for two loonies? It’s also important to know that the name Canadians often use for a ‘cash machine’, ‘cashpoint’ or ‘ATM’ is ‘bank machine’ or ‘ABM’. So now you know the names for coins, let’s see how you might spend them! Free time If you decide to watch Canada’s most popular spectator sport, ice hockey, you’ll find that it’s simply called ‘hockey’ in Canada.  To see all the action, you need to be at the game by ‘puck drop’, the time when the puck hits the ice and the game starts.   If you like coffee, you’ll no doubt hear someone ordering a ‘double-double’ (a coffee with double sugar and double cream) and may want to try one yourself. A favourite memory from my visit, and something I’m happy to recommend, is eating ‘Timbits’, the bits cut out from the middle of doughnuts from the Canadian-based franchise Tim Horton’s (more often called ‘Timmies’ or ‘Tims’ by Canadians). I can’t remember how many I ate but it was more than was good for me! Spelling You’ll find examples of both British and American English spelling used in Canada. To give you a few examples, Canadians tend to use the British English spellings of colour, centre, and theatre (not the American spellings of color, center and theater) but tend to use the American spellings of favorite, program and tire (not the British spellings of favourite, programme and tyre). While you may find this difficult to remember, the good news is that both American and British spellings are accepted in IELTS. English and French With both English and French being official languages in Canada, don’t forget that you’ll see and possibly hear French while there. You’ll see French on signage at airports, government offices and national parks and hear some French words used by English speakers if you visit Quebec, a mostly French-speaking province. Bonne chance (Good luck) with your IELTS test! Pete

Pete Jones

22 July, 2020

How to speak Canadian English

How to speak Canadian English

After my posts on Kiwi, Australian, British and American English, this post is all about the English you may see, hear and need to use in Canada.

So if you’re planning to live, work or study in Canada, check out the examples of Canadian English below and, if you don’t like the cold, plan to go in summer or pack a ‘toque’ (a beanie or woolly hat) pronounced /təʊk/.

Toque Canadian English

Weather

When I visited Canada, it was early summer so I didn’t experience how hot or cold it can get. I have heard from Canadian friends though how the extremes in temperature in some parts of Canada mean that some unique vocabulary is needed to describe it.

Canadians may say the temperature is plus or minus even when it’s obvious which one it is. If it’s 30° Celsius on a summer’s day, you may hear someone say it’s ‘plus 30’ even though the difference between 30° Celsius (hot) and -30° Celsius (freezing cold) is several layers of clothing!

To help you decide what to wear, listen to what the ‘wind chill’ is when you watch the weather forecast. The wind chill is how much colder the temperature will feel due to the wind, e.g. “It’s minus 20, but minus 25 with the wind chill”.

If it’s too cold, you can always use the elevated or underground ‘pedways’ (covered walkways) between buildings if you’re in one of the cities with them.

Money

Some words that you’ll definitely need to know if you visit Canada are the names for coins because they are different to those in other English-speaking countries.

A ‘loonie’ is the Canadian word for a one-dollar coin because it has a type of bird called a loon on one side. A ‘Toonie’ is the word for a two-dollar coin. 

So, if you need to change a two-dollar for two one-dollar coins (or vice versa), you’ll need to ask...

  • Do you have two loonies for a toonie?
  • Do you have a toonie for two loonies?
Loonie and Toonie

It’s also important to know that the name Canadians often use for a ‘cash machine’, ‘cashpoint’ or ‘ATM’ is ‘bank machine’ or ‘ABM’.

So now you know the names for coins, let’s see how you might spend them!

Free time

If you decide to watch Canada’s most popular spectator sport, ice hockey, you’ll find that it’s simply called ‘hockey’ in Canada. 

To see all the action, you need to be at the game by ‘puck drop’, the time when the puck hits the ice and the game starts.

Hockey

 

If you like coffee, you’ll no doubt hear someone ordering a ‘double-double’ (a coffee with double sugar and double cream) and may want to try one yourself.

A favourite memory from my visit, and something I’m happy to recommend, is eating ‘Timbits’, the bits cut out from the middle of doughnuts from the Canadian-based franchise Tim Horton’s (more often called ‘Timmies’ or ‘Tims’ by Canadians). I can’t remember how many I ate but it was more than was good for me!

Spelling

You’ll find examples of both British and American English spelling used in Canada.

To give you a few examples, Canadians tend to use the British English spellings of colour, centre, and theatre (not the American spellings of color, center and theater) but tend to use the American spellings of favorite, program and tire (not the British spellings of favourite, programme and tyre).

While you may find this difficult to remember, the good news is that both American and British spellings are accepted in IELTS.

English and French

With both English and French being official languages in Canada, don’t forget that you’ll see and possibly hear French while there.

You’ll see French on signage at airports, government offices and national parks and hear some French words used by English speakers if you visit Quebec, a mostly French-speaking province.

Bonne chance (Good luck) with your IELTS test!

Pete

Pete Jones

Pete has been helping IELTS test takers and teachers for many years and really enjoys helping people improve their English and their IELTS band score.

More about the author

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Top Tips for IELTS Academic

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What is American English
Listening
What is American English?

Whether you're living in the USA or not, you'll no doubt be familiar with American English through movies and TV shows or perhaps through watching or reading the news on an American channel. I was too when I visited the USA a few years ago but unfortunately this wasn't enough to make all routine tasks easy, which was quite a surprise given that I'm from an English-speaking country! So, to help you avoid the problems I had, here are some features of American English that will be useful if you're taking IELTS to study, work or live in the USA. They’re also important if you’re taking IELTS for another reason as the IELTS test includes texts/accents from around the English-speaking world, including the USA.  Pronunciation I thought it would be easy to order a sandwich when I visited America but it wasn’t. The American pronunciation of ‘tomato’ /təˈmeɪtəʊ/ is different from the British English pronunciation /təˈmɑːtəʊ/, and no one understood me when I asked for tomato on my sandwich. I had to resort to pointing! ‘Tomato’ is one of many English words that are pronounced differently in American and British English.   Other common words that are pronounced differently in American and British English are ‘herbs’, ‘vitamins’, ‘yoghurt’, ‘leisure’, ‘advertisement’, ‘mobile’ and ‘garage’. You can check the differences by listening to the British and American pronunciation of these words in the Cambridge Dictionary. Vocabulary  Keeping to the theme of routine tasks, there are also many differences between American and British English vocabulary. Learning these differences could prevent you from asking for the wrong food, clothes and shops or even knocking on the wrong door! (Click to enlarge) Spelling I know that you may be worried about spelling for your IELTS test but the good news is that both American and British spellings are accepted in IELTS.  If the answer to an IELTS Listening question was color, for example, both the American spelling ‘color’ and the British spelling ‘colour’ would be marked as correct. Having said that, if you’re planning on studying or working in the USA, it would be a good idea to learn the American spellings now. Some of the most common differences are: ‘centre’, ‘litre’, ‘metre’ and ‘theatre’ in British English are spelled ‘center’, ‘liter’, ‘meter’ and ‘theater’ in American English. most words with two or more syllables ending in ‘our’ in British English end in ‘or’ in American English (e.g. color, behavior, labor, neighbor). verbs that can end in ‘ise’ or ‘ize’ in British English end with ‘ize’ in American English (e.g. ‘organize’, ‘realize’ and ‘recognize’). the verbs ‘practise’ and ‘license’ in British English are spelled ‘licence’ and ‘practice’ in American English (like the nouns in British and American English) As with all rules though, there are always exceptions! The American spelling of ‘advertise’, for example, is the same as the British English ‘advertise’. Grammar  While there aren’t as many differences between American and British grammar, there’s one very important one. American English speakers often use the past simple form of verbs (e.g. didn’t + verb) in situations where British English speakers use the present perfect (e.g. haven’t + verb-ed), especially with words such as ‘already’, ‘just’ and ‘yet’. So, if you’re asked about the date of your IELTS test, you could use the past simple (American English) or the present perfect (British English) to answer it: Question: When is your IELTS test? Answer (in American English): I didn’t book it yet. Answer (in British English): I haven’t booked it yet. You can read about more grammar differences and test your understanding in this lesson from the British Council. Have a good one (a way of saying ‘Goodbye’ in American English). Pete  

Pete Jones

28 May, 2020

What is American English?

What is American English

Whether you're living in the USA or not, you'll no doubt be familiar with American English through movies and TV shows or perhaps through watching or reading the news on an American channel.
I was too when I visited the USA a few years ago but unfortunately this wasn't enough to make all routine tasks easy, which was quite a surprise given that I'm from an English-speaking country!

So, to help you avoid the problems I had, here are some features of American English that will be useful if you're taking IELTS to study, work or live in the USA.

They’re also important if you’re taking IELTS for another reason as the IELTS test includes texts/accents from around the English-speaking world, including the USA. 

Pronunciation

I thought it would be easy to order a sandwich when I visited America but it wasn’t. The American pronunciation of ‘tomato’ /təˈmeɪtəʊ/ is different from the British English pronunciation /təˈmɑːtəʊ/, and no one understood me when I asked for tomato on my sandwich. I had to resort to pointing!

‘Tomato’ is one of many English words that are pronounced differently in American and British English.
 

TOMATO

Other common words that are pronounced differently in American and British English are ‘herbs’, ‘vitamins’, ‘yoghurt’, ‘leisure’, ‘advertisement’, ‘mobile’ and ‘garage’.

You can check the differences by listening to the British and American pronunciation of these words in the Cambridge Dictionary.

Vocabulary 

Keeping to the theme of routine tasks, there are also many differences between American and British English vocabulary.

Learning these differences could prevent you from asking for the wrong food, clothes and shops or even knocking on the wrong door!

American and British Vocabulary

(Click to enlarge)

Spelling

I know that you may be worried about spelling for your IELTS test but the good news is that both American and British spellings are accepted in IELTS. 

If the answer to an IELTS Listening question was color, for example, both the American spelling ‘color’ and the British spelling ‘colour’ would be marked as correct.

Having said that, if you’re planning on studying or working in the USA, it would be a good idea to learn the American spellings now.

Some of the most common differences are:

  • ‘centre’, ‘litre’, ‘metre’ and ‘theatre’ in British English are spelled ‘center’, ‘liter’, ‘meter’ and ‘theater’ in American English.
  • most words with two or more syllables ending in ‘our’ in British English end in ‘or’ in American English (e.g. color, behavior, labor, neighbor).
  • verbs that can end in ‘ise’ or ‘ize’ in British English end with ‘ize’ in American English (e.g. ‘organize’, ‘realize’ and ‘recognize’).
  • the verbs ‘practise’ and ‘license’ in British English are spelled ‘licence’ and ‘practice’ in American English (like the nouns in British and American English)

As with all rules though, there are always exceptions! The American spelling of ‘advertise’, for example, is the same as the British English ‘advertise’.

Grammar 

While there aren’t as many differences between American and British grammar, there’s one very important one.

American English speakers often use the past simple form of verbs (e.g. didn’t + verb) in situations where British English speakers use the present perfect (e.g. haven’t + verb-ed), especially with words such as ‘already’, ‘just’ and ‘yet’.

So, if you’re asked about the date of your IELTS test, you could use the past simple (American English) or the present perfect (British English) to answer it:

Question: When is your IELTS test?
Answer (in American English): I didn’t book it yet.
Answer (in British English): I haven’t booked it yet.

You can read about more grammar differences and test your understanding in this lesson from the British Council.

Have a good one (a way of saying ‘Goodbye’ in American English).

Pete
 

Pete Jones

Pete has been helping IELTS test takers and teachers for many years and really enjoys helping people improve their English and their IELTS band score.

More about the author

filter tags

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Cambridge Vocabulary for IELTS Advanced

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Using Audio Scripts to improve your IELTS listening
Listening
Using Audio Scripts to improve your IELTS listening

In my career, I have often heard teachers say, "listening cannot be taught only tested". It's true that when you do a listening exercise, it's often in the format of 'listen and answer the questions', and while practice does help improve your performance, there are a few exercises you can do to accelerate the rate at which you improve.  As Jishan pointed out in his blog recently, there are really good ways to get hold of transcripts to practise your listening. In addition, you could use some of the Official Cambridge IELTS materials, many of which contain transcripts to the Listening test. Many students use transcripts/audio scripts to check their answers and see where they went wrong. This is a great way to identify your weaknesses and to discover certain patterns in the listening test, but there is a lot more you can do.   So, here are a few of the exercises I like to use: Read before you listen Yes, you read that right. You could read the transcript before you look at the listening questions for the test. This technique helps you build your vocabulary for listening, get used to different accents, allows you to see the relationship between the question and the answer and takes the pressure off the listening experience.  Record the transcript yourself When we study new vocabulary, we often have an idea of what the words sound like in our head and it often does not correspond to what other (native) speakers sound like. So if you record the transcript yourself, using your phone or computer, and then compare it to the test recording, your subconscious will be able to make connections between the written and spoken word much more easily.  Listen & read at the same time To do this exercise right, you should listen at least twice. The first time, simply read the transcript and listen for the meaning of the words, trying to absorb as much as you can. The second time, prepare by reading through the questions, and try to find the answers as you go along. This technique allows you to practise listening for the meaning of the text rather than focusing entirely on trying to identify the answers to questions. If you really want to make the most of this opportunity, you could prepare some difficult vocabulary before listening a third time.  Use the transcript for spelling practice  Getting the spelling right is really important in the IELTS Listening test, as otherwise you may lose vital points despite having found the right answer. There are two ways in which you can use transcripts for spelling practice: Select 10 key words from the transcript (or more if you feel ambitious) and record yourself saying them. Then have a cup of tea or spend a few minutes distracting yourself on the internet. After the break, play the recording to yourself MS: and write down the words. Finally, check the spelling against the transcript.  Alternatively, you could place the transcript at one end of the room and a pen and paper at the other end. Read a sentence that contains an answer from the transcript, move across the room and write down the whole sentence. You’re allowed to go back as many times as you like. When you have done one set of questions, compare your sentences carefully to the original and study any words you got wrong. This exercise is also great for training your subconscious in using grammatically correct sentences.  Blank out the difficult words (Please don’t do this if you’re using a library book! ☺) Take a thick black marker or some correction fluid and go over the transcript deleting all of the words of expressions you don’t know. Then do the listening test as normal and try to answer as many of the questions as you can. The exercise helps you relax and accept that you are unlikely to know all the vocabulary used in the Listening test. It should train you to follow the listening as it goes on rather than fall behind because you worry about what you missed.  Make your own questions In this exercise, you simply read a passage of the transcript and write your own question(s). This helps you think like an examiner and shows you what kind of information to listen out for. Then, compare your questions to the actual test questions and see where they differ. This will teach you a lot about the different types of questions and how examiners design the test.  By using the exercises above, you can work on your listening while reducing the pressure of getting answers wrong. However, don’t forget to practise regularly under test conditions so you can measure your progress.  Sophie 

Sophie Hodgson

19 May, 2020

Using Audio Scripts to improve your IELTS listening

Using Audio Scripts to improve your IELTS listening

In my career, I have often heard teachers say, "listening cannot be taught only tested". It's true that when you do a listening exercise, it's often in the format of 'listen and answer the questions', and while practice does help improve your performance, there are a few exercises you can do to accelerate the rate at which you improve. 

As Jishan pointed out in his blog recently, there are really good ways to get hold of transcripts to practise your listening. In addition, you could use some of the Official Cambridge IELTS materials, many of which contain transcripts to the Listening test.

Many students use transcripts/audio scripts to check their answers and see where they went wrong. This is a great way to identify your weaknesses and to discover certain patterns in the listening test, but there is a lot more you can do.  

So, here are a few of the exercises I like to use:

Read before you listen
Yes, you read that right. You could read the transcript before you look at the listening questions for the test. This technique helps you build your vocabulary for listening, get used to different accents, allows you to see the relationship between the question and the answer and takes the pressure off the listening experience. 

Record the transcript yourself
When we study new vocabulary, we often have an idea of what the words sound like in our head and it often does not correspond to what other (native) speakers sound like. So if you record the transcript yourself, using your phone or computer, and then compare it to the test recording, your subconscious will be able to make connections between the written and spoken word much more easily. 

Listen & read at the same time
To do this exercise right, you should listen at least twice. The first time, simply read the transcript and listen for the meaning of the words, trying to absorb as much as you can. The second time, prepare by reading through the questions, and try to find the answers as you go along. This technique allows you to practise listening for the meaning of the text rather than focusing entirely on trying to identify the answers to questions. If you really want to make the most of this opportunity, you could prepare some difficult vocabulary before listening a third time. 

Use the transcript for spelling practice 
Getting the spelling right is really important in the IELTS Listening test, as otherwise you may lose vital points despite having found the right answer. There are two ways in which you can use transcripts for spelling practice:

Select 10 key words from the transcript (or more if you feel ambitious) and record yourself saying them. Then have a cup of tea or spend a few minutes distracting yourself on the internet. After the break, play the recording to yourself MS: and write down the words. Finally, check the spelling against the transcript. 

Alternatively, you could place the transcript at one end of the room and a pen and paper at the other end. Read a sentence that contains an answer from the transcript, move across the room and write down the whole sentence. You’re allowed to go back as many times as you like. When you have done one set of questions, compare your sentences carefully to the original and study any words you got wrong. This exercise is also great for training your subconscious in using grammatically correct sentences. 

Blank out the difficult words (Please don’t do this if you’re using a library book! ☺)
Take a thick black marker or some correction fluid and go over the transcript deleting all of the words of expressions you don’t know. Then do the listening test as normal and try to answer as many of the questions as you can. The exercise helps you relax and accept that you are unlikely to know all the vocabulary used in the Listening test. It should train you to follow the listening as it goes on rather than fall behind because you worry about what you missed. 

Make your own questions
In this exercise, you simply read a passage of the transcript and write your own question(s). This helps you think like an examiner and shows you what kind of information to listen out for. Then, compare your questions to the actual test questions and see where they differ. This will teach you a lot about the different types of questions and how examiners design the test. 

By using the exercises above, you can work on your listening while reducing the pressure of getting answers wrong. However, don’t forget to practise regularly under test conditions so you can measure your progress. 

Sophie 

Sophie Hodgson

Sophie has been supporting students on their IELTS journey since 2003 and feels privileged to have watched them succeed. While most people probably do not like taking tests, Sophie believes that preparing for the IELTS exam can be both interesting and fun. She loves language and structure and enjoys exploring both with her students to help them achieve their aims.

More about the author

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What is British English
Listening
What is British English?

Which of the following are examples of British English? A) I'm a little bit worried about… B) I'm a wee bit worried about... C) I'm really happy with… D) I'm made up with... You might be surprised to know that the answer is all of them!  ‘Wee’ is used in parts of Scotland to mean ‘little’, and ‘made up’ is used in some regions in the north of England to mean you’re really happy about something good that has happened. So, if you’re planning to live, work or study in Britain after taking your IELTS test, here are some differences in British English you might notice. Pronunciation If you travel from one city to another (or in some cases one town to another), you’ll probably notice that people have different accents. When living in England, I was always fascinated by how different people sound depending on where they come from, and now as an English language teacher, I understand how difficult it must be for people learning English. While you won’t hear people with strong regional accents in the IELTS Listening test, you certainly will if you visit Britain or work with British people. For a quick accent tour of the UK and Ireland, check out this video recorded by the BBC.  (Received Pronunciation, or BBC English as it’s sometimes known, is probably the British English accent you’re most familiar with). {"preview_thumbnail":"/sites/default/files/styles/video_embed_wysiwyg_preview/public/video_thumbnails/-8mzWkuOxz8.jpg?itok=TBdAkVIv","video_url":"https://youtu.be/-8mzWkuOxz8","settings":{"responsive":1,"width":"854","height":"480","autoplay":1},"settings_summary":["Embedded Video (Responsive, autoplaying)."]} If you need to understand a regional accent, one way to practise is to listen to the news from a local broadcaster. If you’re planning to visit or study in Wales, for example, you could watch the ITV Wales news.  Grammar One of the most noticeable differences in grammar is how the pronoun ‘our’ is or isn’t used depending on where you are.  If you’re living or travelling in the north of England, you’re very likely to hear ‘our’ used with the names of family members, e.g. Where’s our John? You’re much less likely to hear this in the south of England, and I’m pretty sure you won’t have seen it in any grammar books! A difference that you’ll notice if you go to certain parts of Wales is the addition of ‘to’ after ‘where’ in questions like ‘Where to is the bank?’. While these examples may sound wrong to you, they are all examples of British English. I wouldn’t recommend using them in your IELTS Speaking test though as they’ll probably sound wrong to the examiner if you use them without other features of English from the same region. Vocabulary As the examples of ‘wee’ and ‘made up’ above show, the words and phrases that British people use can be different depending on where they are from. If you’re in Liverpool, for example, you might well hear a conversation like this: Man 1: You alright, lad? Man 2: I’m sound.  Or this: Man: Our John’s just passed his driving test. Woman: That’s boss that. In these examples, ‘lad’ is an adult man, ‘sound’ means ‘okay’, and ‘boss’ means ‘great’. So, if you take your IELTS test in Liverpool, what are you going to say when you get the score you need? That’s boss that! Best of luck with your IELTS test. Pete

Pete Jones

12 May, 2020

What is British English?

What is British English

Which of the following are examples of British English?
A) I'm a little bit worried about…
B) I'm a wee bit worried about...
C) I'm really happy with…
D) I'm made up with...

You might be surprised to know that the answer is all of them!  ‘Wee’ is used in parts of Scotland to mean ‘little’, and ‘made up’ is used in some regions in the north of England to mean you’re really happy about something good that has happened.

So, if you’re planning to live, work or study in Britain after taking your IELTS test, here are some differences in British English you might notice.

Pronunciation

If you travel from one city to another (or in some cases one town to another), you’ll probably notice that people have different accents.

When living in England, I was always fascinated by how different people sound depending on where they come from, and now as an English language teacher, I understand how difficult it must be for people learning English.

While you won’t hear people with strong regional accents in the IELTS Listening test, you certainly will if you visit Britain or work with British people.

For a quick accent tour of the UK and Ireland, check out this video recorded by the BBC.  (Received Pronunciation, or BBC English as it’s sometimes known, is probably the British English accent you’re most familiar with).


If you need to understand a regional accent, one way to practise is to listen to the news from a local broadcaster. If you’re planning to visit or study in Wales, for example, you could watch the ITV Wales news

Grammar

One of the most noticeable differences in grammar is how the pronoun ‘our’ is or isn’t used depending on where you are. 

If you’re living or travelling in the north of England, you’re very likely to hear ‘our’ used with the names of family members, e.g. Where’s our John?

You’re much less likely to hear this in the south of England, and I’m pretty sure you won’t have seen it in any grammar books!

A difference that you’ll notice if you go to certain parts of Wales is the addition of ‘to’ after ‘where’ in questions like ‘Where to is the bank?’.

While these examples may sound wrong to you, they are all examples of British English. I wouldn’t recommend using them in your IELTS Speaking test though as they’ll probably sound wrong to the examiner if you use them without other features of English from the same region.

Vocabulary

As the examples of ‘wee’ and ‘made up’ above show, the words and phrases that British people use can be different depending on where they are from.

If you’re in Liverpool, for example, you might well hear a conversation like this:

Man 1: You alright, lad?
Man 2: I’m sound. 

Or this:

Man: Our John’s just passed his driving test.
Woman: That’s boss that.

In these examples, ‘lad’ is an adult man, ‘sound’ means ‘okay’, and ‘boss’ means ‘great’.

So, if you take your IELTS test in Liverpool, what are you going to say when you get the score you need?

That’s boss that!

Best of luck with your IELTS test.

Pete

Pete Jones

Pete has been helping IELTS test takers and teachers for many years and really enjoys helping people improve their English and their IELTS band score.

More about the author

filter tags

Recommended For You

recommended book image
Cambridge Vocabulary for IELTS

Learn all the vocabulary you need to achieve up to band 6 in IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. It includes useful tips on how to learn vocabulary and covers tricky areas such as the language needed to describe data and processes. This book also includes practice exercises for each skill, regular progress checks and tips on how to avoid typical errors. *Book Depository is an online bookstore which offers free worldwide delivery. Alternatively, you can find it at your local bookstore or online shop.

5 ways to better prepare for IELTS Listening part 4
Listening
5 ways to better prepare for IELTS Listening part 4

Which of the four parts of the listening exam do you think is most difficult? When students, teachers and examiners are asked this, many would probably say part 4. Why? Well, it's about an academic subject for a start – something we may not hear about if your listening tends to be from TV shows and films.  Secondly, it's something we call a monologue – that means it's one person speaking – so there aren't the same clues to help you in a natural conversation between two or more people. This talk lasts for around five minutes and while that may not sound long, there's no real break, and so it really tests your levels of concentration. So, with all of this in mind, here’s my top tips for how you can prepare effectively:    1. Choose the right type of listening Part 4 of the Listening test isn’t the usual dialogue that you may hear when you stream your favourite TV shows and films. To make things easier, start by choosing a topic you’re interested in.   The key here is that the subject is an academic topic – something you may hear at university or school. There are many good sources for this, both video and audio. Podcasts, audio only, as well as video from sites such as YouTube can work well here. TED.com is particularly good for many reasons, and I’ll say more about this later, as the topics are always monologues and generally similar to the themes you may encounter in part 4 of the exam. 2. Build up your listening stamina Choose something that is roughly the same length if possible. As i’ve said before, five minutes may not seem like a long time but this will test your ability to stay focused. If you need to build this up, start with shorter ones and move onto longer ones. It’s a good idea to be used to listening to longer recordings to make the listening exam not feel too long. 3. Add or reduce difficulty by changing the speed of the listening In many cases, you can download podcasts and videos using a free online tool – there are a number available but please remember that there are copyright issues if it’s not just for your own use. Once downloaded, play it through VLC player – a free playback resource. Under the option of ‘playback’, you can vary the speed to make it faster or slower. There are other software options here too and if we look again at TED.com, there is an in-built function to change the speed.   4. Check your understanding by creating and using an audioscript How do you know if you’ve understood what has been said? If there aren’t questions and answers provided as you find with specific IELTS practice activities, one great way to see how well you’ve done is to take notes of the main points and compare them with a script.  Many videos and podcasts may already have transcripts – TED.com does for example have a great interactive transcript. YouTube videos have automatically generated subtitles and this makes listening easier but doesn’t really help here. One effective solution is to do the following: Find the video or audio you want to listen to and have it ready to play on your phone.  Take your phone and place it near your computer.  Open Microsoft Word and press ‘Dictate’ in the top right corner – Google docs has a similar function.  Once the record button is showing, play the recording from your phone. You should see words appear on your Word document. It’s important to remember that this won’t be 100% perfect for every word but should still be accurate enough.  Compare this script with your notes – this also gives you reading practice.  5. Find resources which already have questions or make your own with friends Apart from IELTS resources, you may not be able to find questions to use with your listening practice. Interestingly, TED-Ed – the site dedicated to specifically educational purposes – does have questions for you to test yourself with. Alternatively, why not generate your own questions and share these with the answers to test your friends. You can find or generate a script and then create similar questions to ones you find in part 4 of the IELTS Listening exam. Ask your friends to do the same and then swap. Either check your answers by using the answers your friends provide or check by using the script. Follow the above steps and you’ll hopefully be ready to do well in the final part of the IELTS Listening exam.  Good luck! Jishan  

Jishan Uddin

24 April, 2020

5 ways to better prepare for IELTS Listening part 4

5 ways to better prepare for IELTS Listening part 4

Which of the four parts of the listening exam do you think is most difficult? When students, teachers and examiners are asked this, many would probably say part 4. Why? Well, it's about an academic subject for a start – something we may not hear about if your listening tends to be from TV shows and films. 
Secondly, it's something we call a monologue – that means it's one person speaking – so there aren't the same clues to help you in a natural conversation between two or more people. This talk lasts for around five minutes and while that may not sound long, there's no real break, and so it really tests your levels of concentration.
So, with all of this in mind, here’s my top tips for how you can prepare effectively: 

 

1. Choose the right type of listening
Part 4 of the Listening test isn’t the usual dialogue that you may hear when you stream your favourite TV shows and films. To make things easier, start by choosing a topic you’re interested in.

Listening Top Tip

 

The key here is that the subject is an academic topic – something you may hear at university or school. There are many good sources for this, both video and audio. Podcasts, audio only, as well as video from sites such as YouTube can work well here. TED.com is particularly good for many reasons, and I’ll say more about this later, as the topics are always monologues and generally similar to the themes you may encounter in part 4 of the exam.

2. Build up your listening stamina
Choose something that is roughly the same length if possible. As i’ve said before, five minutes may not seem like a long time but this will test your ability to stay focused. If you need to build this up, start with shorter ones and move onto longer ones. It’s a good idea to be used to listening to longer recordings to make the listening exam not feel too long.

3. Add or reduce difficulty by changing the speed of the listening
In many cases, you can download podcasts and videos using a free online tool – there are a number available but please remember that there are copyright issues if it’s not just for your own use. Once downloaded, play it through VLC player – a free playback resource. Under the option of ‘playback’, you can vary the speed to make it faster or slower. There are other software options here too and if we look again at TED.com, there is an in-built function to change the speed.  

4. Check your understanding by creating and using an audioscript
How do you know if you’ve understood what has been said? If there aren’t questions and answers provided as you find with specific IELTS practice activities, one great way to see how well you’ve done is to take notes of the main points and compare them with a script. 

Many videos and podcasts may already have transcripts – TED.com does for example have a great interactive transcript. YouTube videos have automatically generated subtitles and this makes listening easier but doesn’t really help here. One effective solution is to do the following:

  • Find the video or audio you want to listen to and have it ready to play on your phone. 
  • Take your phone and place it near your computer. 
  • Open Microsoft Word and press ‘Dictate’ in the top right corner – Google docs has a similar function. 
  • Once the record button is showing, play the recording from your phone. You should see words appear on your Word document. It’s important to remember that this won’t be 100% perfect for every word but should still be accurate enough. 
  • Compare this script with your notes – this also gives you reading practice. 

5. Find resources which already have questions or make your own with friends
Apart from IELTS resources, you may not be able to find questions to use with your listening practice. Interestingly, TED-Ed – the site dedicated to specifically educational purposes – does have questions for you to test yourself with. Alternatively, why not generate your own questions and share these with the answers to test your friends. You can find or generate a script and then create similar questions to ones you find in part 4 of the IELTS Listening exam. Ask your friends to do the same and then swap. Either check your answers by using the answers your friends provide or check by using the script.

Follow the above steps and you’ll hopefully be ready to do well in the final part of the IELTS Listening exam. 

Good luck!
Jishan
 

Jishan Uddin

Jishan has been an English teacher mostly at UK universities for over fifteen years and has extensive experience in teaching, co-ordinating and leading on a range of modules and courses. He is also an author for Cambridge University Press for whom he has written students' and teachers' books for IELTS exam preparation courses.

More about the author

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Recommended For You

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Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS

This all-in-one study guide provides comprehensive preparation for IELTS Academic and General Training and is packed with activities, practice tests and tips to help you maximise your IELTS score. It covers the language and skills you need to perform with confidence. Organised by skill, you can study from start to finish or focus on areas that you need most help with. *Book Depository is an online bookstore which offers free worldwide delivery. Alternatively, you can find it at your local bookstore or online shop.

Top Tips for Academic Listening
Listening
Top tips for multiple choice questions in IELTS Listening

There are many different question types in the IELTS Listening test. These can appear in any part of the Listening test (there are 4 parts) but not all types will appear in each test.  IELTS Listening question types: Completing: notes; form; table; flow-chart; sentence; summary Short-answer questions Labelling: plan; map; diagram   Matching  Multiple choice It is this last one – multiple choice questions that I will be focussing on today.  There are two kinds of multiple-choice questions: Choose the correct letter, A, B or C. Choose TWO (THREE, FOUR, FIVE) answers from the box and write the correct letter, A–E (or A–F or A–G). (Click to enlarge) Here are my top tips for answering this question: 1. Highlight the key words in the question. How many letters do you need to choose from? Example questions: What TWO disadvantages of the new mobile phone does the speaker mention? So here you know you need to focus your attention on finding only two options and they are both disadvantages. The speaker may mention advantages – ignore those. You only want disadvantages. 2. Highlight the key words in the options.  Example options to the above question: A  it isn’t very user-friendly B  it is very expensive C  it can’t take photographs D  it has a short battery life E  it is quite big  3. In the test, you may not hear those exact same words so you need to look at those highlighted words and think of synonyms or words related to that topic. Examples: A hard to use, small screen, heavy B overpriced, beyond your budget, not worth the price C camera, lens D take a lot of power, needs recharging, doesn’t run for very long E  large, heavier, not practical  You need to listen out for these words and not the words in options A–E above.    4. Also pay attention to the adverbs in the options.  Examples: B  it is very expensive E  it is quite big  Perhaps the audio mentions that the phone is a ‘little expensive’ or ‘not too big’.  This obviously doesn’t match with it being ‘very expensive’ or ‘quite’ big. 5. Whichever multiple-choice question (choose one option A–C or two or more options A–F) remember, you will most probably hear reference to ALL the options. By following tips 1-4, you will be able to identify which is the best answer.  Here’s a quick checklist for you: (click to enlarge)   Next time you try a Listening practice test, use these tips for the multiple-choice questions. It gets easier each time you do it. I promise.  Liz 

Liz Marqueiro

10 April, 2020

Top tips for multiple choice questions in IELTS Listening

Top Tips for Academic Listening

There are many different question types in the IELTS Listening test. These can appear in any part of the Listening test (there are 4 parts) but not all types will appear in each test. 

IELTS Listening question types:

  • Completing: notes; form; table; flow-chart; sentence; summary
  • Short-answer questions
  • Labelling: plan; map; diagram  
  • Matching 
  • Multiple choice

It is this last one – multiple choice questions that I will be focussing on today. 

There are two kinds of multiple-choice questions:

  1. Choose the correct letter, A, B or C.
  2. Choose TWO (THREE, FOUR, FIVE) answers from the box and write the correct letter, A–E (or A–F or A–G).
Listening Exercise

(Click to enlarge)

Here are my top tips for answering this question:

1. Highlight the key words in the question. How many letters do you need to choose from?

Example questions:
What TWO disadvantages of the new mobile phone does the speaker mention?

So here you know you need to focus your attention on finding only two options and they are both disadvantages. The speaker may mention advantages – ignore those. You only want disadvantages.

2. Highlight the key words in the options. 

Example options to the above question:
A  it isn’t very user-friendly
B  it is very expensive
C  it can’t take photographs
D  it has a short battery life
E  it is quite big 

3. In the test, you may not hear those exact same words so you need to look at those highlighted words and think of synonyms or words related to that topic.

Examples:

A hard to use, small screen, heavy
B overpriced, beyond your budget, not worth the price
C camera, lens
D take a lot of power, needs recharging, doesn’t run for very long
E  large, heavier, not practical 

You need to listen out for these words and not the words in options A–E above. 

Listening Top Tip

 

4. Also pay attention to the adverbs in the options. 

Examples:
B  it is very expensive
E  it is quite big 

Perhaps the audio mentions that the phone is a ‘little expensive’ or ‘not too big’.  This obviously doesn’t match with it being ‘very expensive’ or ‘quite’ big.

5. Whichever multiple-choice question (choose one option A–C or two or more options A–F) remember, you will most probably hear reference to ALL the options. By following tips 1-4, you will be able to identify which is the best answer. 

Here’s a quick checklist for you: (click to enlarge)

Top Tips Checklist

 

Next time you try a Listening practice test, use these tips for the multiple-choice questions. It gets easier each time you do it. I promise. 

Liz 

Liz Marqueiro

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

More about the author

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Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS

This all-in-one study guide provides comprehensive preparation for IELTS Academic and General Training and is packed with activities, practice tests and tips to help you maximise your IELTS score. It covers the language and skills you need to perform with confidence. Organised by skill, you can study from start to finish or focus on areas that you need most help with. *Book Depository is an online bookstore which offers free worldwide delivery. Alternatively, you can find it at your local bookstore or online shop.

Sydney Opera House
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How to speak Australian English

If you live, study or work in Australia, it won’t be long before you hear some words or phrases that you’ll only hear in Australia (or from an Australian overseas). I live ‘across the ditch’ (over the Tasman sea) in New Zealand where Kiwi English is more common, but I spent a year working in Australia when I was younger and soon noticed that ‘Aussies’ (Australians) speak a little differently.  If your plans after taking IELTS are to head ‘down under’ (to Australia), here are some essential Australian English words and phrases. Greetings While you may have learned to greet someone in English with a ‘Hello’ or a ‘Hi’, in Australia you’re just as likely to be greeted with a ‘G’day’ or ‘G’day mate’.   ‘Mate’ is an informal word for ‘friend’ and is often used in Australia in greetings as well as in other situations, e.g. ‘We’ve been best mates for years’ (We’ve been best friends for years). Another common greeting is ‘How are you going, mate?’ (pronounced ‘How ya going, mate?’). If someone greets you in this way, it’s probably only a greeting not a question about your health, so an appropriate way to answer is simply ‘I’m good, thanks’. Free time Staying in one of the great Australian cities, you might prefer to spend an ‘arvo’ (afternoon) shopping, relaxing in a cafe or in your ‘togs’, ‘cossie’ or ‘bathers’ (swimwear) on the beach. If you decide to watch some football or ‘footy’ though, you may be surprised when the football match you watch is actually a game of rugby or Australian Rules. The ‘football’ of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo is called ‘soccer’ in Australia. Your trip to Australia won’t be complete unless you visit the ‘outback’ (the area of Australia a long way from towns, cities and the coast and where not many people live).    Names If you’re familiar with English names, you might be in for a few surprises in Australia as it’s really common for informal, usually shorter, forms to be used: ‘Davo’ for ‘David’ ‘Shaz’ or ‘Shazza’ for ‘Sharon’ ‘Jonno’ for ‘John’ or ‘Jonathan’ ‘Gazza’ for ‘Gary’ These diminutives (short, informal forms of words) aren’t limited to people’s names either. ‘Postie’ for ‘postman/postwoman’, ‘barbie’ for ‘barbecue’ and ‘rellies’ for ‘relatives’ are just a few other examples. Perhaps my favourite example of Australian English is the phrase ‘fair dinkum’ as it’s one I heard a lot when I was there and very different from anything I’d heard before. It may not be as common now but there’s still a good chance you’ll hear it. The uniquely Australian expression can be used to ask if something is real or true: You: “I just got the IELTS band score I need without doing any preparation.” Me: “Fair dinkum?” I’d say ‘fair dinkum’ because you really need to put in some ‘hard yakka’ (hard work) to give yourself the best chance of getting the IELTS band score you need. Good luck with your IELTS test! Pete  

Pete Jones

31 March, 2020

How to speak Australian English

Sydney Opera House

If you live, study or work in Australia, it won’t be long before you hear some words or phrases that you’ll only hear in Australia (or from an Australian overseas).
I live ‘across the ditch’ (over the Tasman sea) in New Zealand where Kiwi English is more common, but I spent a year working in Australia when I was younger and soon noticed that ‘Aussies’ (Australians) speak a little differently. 

If your plans after taking IELTS are to head ‘down under’ (to Australia), here are some essential Australian English words and phrases.

Greetings

While you may have learned to greet someone in English with a ‘Hello’ or a ‘Hi’, in Australia you’re just as likely to be greeted with a ‘G’day’ or ‘G’day mate’.

Gday Koala

 

‘Mate’ is an informal word for ‘friend’ and is often used in Australia in greetings as well as in other situations, e.g. ‘We’ve been best mates for years’ (We’ve been best friends for years).

Another common greeting is ‘How are you going, mate?’ (pronounced ‘How ya going, mate?’). If someone greets you in this way, it’s probably only a greeting not a question about your health, so an appropriate way to answer is simply ‘I’m good, thanks’.

Free time

Staying in one of the great Australian cities, you might prefer to spend an ‘arvo’ (afternoon) shopping, relaxing in a cafe or in your ‘togs’, ‘cossie’ or ‘bathers’ (swimwear) on the beach.

If you decide to watch some football or ‘footy’ though, you may be surprised when the football match you watch is actually a game of rugby or Australian Rules. The ‘football’ of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo is called ‘soccer’ in Australia.

Your trip to Australia won’t be complete unless you visit the ‘outback’ (the area of Australia a long way from towns, cities and the coast and where not many people live). 

Australian Outback

 

Names

If you’re familiar with English names, you might be in for a few surprises in Australia as it’s really common for informal, usually shorter, forms to be used:

  • ‘Davo’ for ‘David’
  • ‘Shaz’ or ‘Shazza’ for ‘Sharon’
  • ‘Jonno’ for ‘John’ or ‘Jonathan’
  • ‘Gazza’ for ‘Gary’

These diminutives (short, informal forms of words) aren’t limited to people’s names either. ‘Postie’ for ‘postman/postwoman’, ‘barbie’ for ‘barbecue’ and ‘rellies’ for ‘relatives’ are just a few other examples.

Perhaps my favourite example of Australian English is the phrase ‘fair dinkum’ as it’s one I heard a lot when I was there and very different from anything I’d heard before. It may not be as common now but there’s still a good chance you’ll hear it.

The uniquely Australian expression can be used to ask if something is real or true:

You: “I just got the IELTS band score I need without doing any preparation.”
Me: “Fair dinkum?”

I’d say ‘fair dinkum’ because you really need to put in some ‘hard yakka’ (hard work) to give yourself the best chance of getting the IELTS band score you need.

Good luck with your IELTS test!

Pete
 

Pete Jones

Pete has been helping IELTS test takers and teachers for many years and really enjoys helping people improve their English and their IELTS band score.

More about the author

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Cambridge Grammar for IELTS

Cambridge Grammar for IELTS provides clear explanations and extensive practice of all the grammar you need for IELTS. Grammar is presented through listening material, so your listening skills will also develop while you study. It includes a wide range of tasks from IELTS Academic and General Training Reading, Writing and Listening sections. *Book Depository is an online bookstore which offers free worldwide delivery. Alternatively, you can find it at your local bookstore or online shop.

speak Kiwi
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How to speak Kiwi English

I'm writing this in Auckland, New Zealand and it’s the middle of summer, so what better than a look at (and listen to) some Kiwi English words for the season? In case you don’t know, Kiwi English is the more common way of saying New Zealand English. If you're on any of the wonderful beaches in New Zealand, you'll no doubt see people in ‘jandals’ (a type of sandal), ‘togs’ (swimwear), ‘sunnies’ (sunglasses) and eating ‘hokey-pokey’ ice cream (vanilla ice cream with lumps of honeycomb toffee), although probably not all at once. Pictured: Jandals, Togs, Sunnies and hokey-pokey. If the beach is too hot, you might want to relax at a bach (a small holiday home or beach house), having a barbie (barbecue) with a cold drink from the chilly bin (cooler or coolbox). Pictured: Bach (Image source :http://www.piha.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/old-bach1.jpg) If you don’t want to stay in one place, then why not try one of these great Kiwi activities? ‘Tramping’ is the Kiwi word for ‘hiking’, i.e. going for a long walk carrying all of the food and equipment you need. There are certainly some amazing places to go tramping in New Zealand. The most famous is probably the Milford Track in the South Island.  Going on a ‘tiki tour’ is to take the long way to reach a destination so you can see more of the area. A tiki tour from Auckland to Christchurch will take you a lot longer than it would to fly between the cities, but you'll be amazed with what you see on the way. From the Hobbiton movie set in Matamata to the geothermal activity in Rotorua, the 1930s architecture in Napier to the glacier in Franz Josef. Pictured: Tiki tour (Image source: https://www.intercity.co.nz/tiki-tour-travelpass) If you’re wondering what all of this has to do with IELTS… The IELTS test isn’t a British English test as I’ve heard many people say. The test includes texts from around the English-speaking world, including New Zealand, and it uses a range of native-speaker accents.  Listen to Rachel, from New Zealand pronounce the words you have learnt in this blog:     So if you’re only reading and listening to English from one country, it would be a good idea to become familiar with the English used in others. If you usually read the news from a British news website, for example, follow the news on a North American, Australian or New Zealand website for a week instead. Better still, follow the news on a North American website for one week, an Australian website the following week, and a New Zealand website in the third week. If you want to live, work or study in New Zealand, the good news is IELTS is recognised by universities and Immigration New Zealand as evidence of your English language proficiency. Don’t forget to pack your jandals, togs and sunnies! Pete

Pete Jones

1 March, 2020

How to speak Kiwi English

speak Kiwi

I'm writing this in Auckland, New Zealand and it’s the middle of summer, so what better than a look at (and listen to) some Kiwi English words for the season? In case you don’t know, Kiwi English is the more common way of saying New Zealand English.

If you're on any of the wonderful beaches in New Zealand, you'll no doubt see people in ‘jandals’ (a type of sandal), ‘togs’ (swimwear), ‘sunnies’ (sunglasses) and eating ‘hokey-pokey’ ice cream (vanilla ice cream with lumps of honeycomb toffee), although probably not all at once.

body image 1

Pictured: Jandals, Togs, Sunnies and hokey-pokey.

If the beach is too hot, you might want to relax at a bach (a small holiday home or beach house), having a barbie (barbecue) with a cold drink from the chilly bin (cooler or coolbox).

body-2

Pictured: Bach (Image source :http://www.piha.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/old-bach1.jpg)

If you don’t want to stay in one place, then why not try one of these great Kiwi activities?

Tramping’ is the Kiwi word for ‘hiking’, i.e. going for a long walk carrying all of the food and equipment you need. There are certainly some amazing places to go tramping in New Zealand. The most famous is probably the Milford Track in the South Island. 

Going on a ‘tiki tour’ is to take the long way to reach a destination so you can see more of the area. A tiki tour from Auckland to Christchurch will take you a lot longer than it would to fly between the cities, but you'll be amazed with what you see on the way. From the Hobbiton movie set in Matamata to the geothermal activity in Rotorua, the 1930s architecture in Napier to the glacier in Franz Josef.

body-3

Pictured: Tiki tour (Image source: https://www.intercity.co.nz/tiki-tour-travelpass)

If you’re wondering what all of this has to do with IELTS…

The IELTS test isn’t a British English test as I’ve heard many people say. The test includes texts from around the English-speaking world, including New Zealand, and it uses a range of native-speaker accents. 

Listen to Rachel, from New Zealand pronounce the words you have learnt in this blog:

 

 

So if you’re only reading and listening to English from one country, it would be a good idea to become familiar with the English used in others. If you usually read the news from a British news website, for example, follow the news on a North American, Australian or New Zealand website for a week instead. Better still, follow the news on a North American website for one week, an Australian website the following week, and a New Zealand website in the third week.

If you want to live, work or study in New Zealand, the good news is IELTS is recognised by universities and Immigration New Zealand as evidence of your English language proficiency.

Don’t forget to pack your jandals, togs and sunnies!

Pete

Pete Jones

Pete has been helping IELTS test takers and teachers for many years and really enjoys helping people improve their English and their IELTS band score.

More about the author

filter tags

Recommended For You

recommended book image
Cambridge Grammar for IELTS

Cambridge Grammar for IELTS provides clear explanations and extensive practice of all the grammar you need for IELTS. Grammar is presented through listening material, so your listening skills will also develop while you study. It includes a wide range of tasks from IELTS Academic and General Training Reading, Writing and Listening sections. *Book Depository is an online bookstore which offers free worldwide delivery. Alternatively, you can find it at your local bookstore or online shop.

liz header
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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