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

filter tags

Recommended For You

recommended book image
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.

Skill bar

Stay up-to-date