“Be a good listener”- we all have been given this piece of advice since our childhood so that we can understand things better. The same rule applies to improve our score in the listening section of the IELTS test. If you are not a good listener then you are not ready enough for the IELTS listening module and you seriously need to work on that. Good listening skills are required in order to get used to the way native English speakers communicate- that’s what the IELTS listening module demands. You have to make yourself prepared for hearing different accents because the recordings contain accents from the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.
Understanding the IELTS test format
The IELTS has two test formats:
- Academic module- For students pursuing higher education
- General training module- For those who are going to English speaking countries for secondary education, work experience or training program.
The listening test remains the same for IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training and also both are scored in the same way. There are no breaks between the Listening, Reading and Writing modules.
You will listen to 4 recordings of native English speakers and then answer 10 written questions for each (40 questions in total). Each question is worth 1 mark and the recordings are heard only once. The questions are to be completed within 30 minutes, and a 10 minute transfer time (Pen and Paper Based IELTS). In the case of Computer Based IELTS, you will get 2 minutes to check your answers.
So, now when you have understood the listening test format, let’s discuss the methods to help you enhance your IELTS listening skills. The various methods are discussed below:
- Search online for sample test questions and exams: The first and the foremost thing is to get familiarize with the exact exam format (discussed above). Search online for sample questions, it will help to understand the test format very well. The best way to improve your listening skills is to, first of all, get comfortable with the type of recordings and questions you will face. You can also enroll yourself in a good IELTS preparation and coaching center where you will be able to understand the basics better.
- Create the real test environment while practising: Time management plays a very important role in the IELTS listening sections you cannot afford to miss even the smallest detail. Make sure when you practice, nothing interrupts you for at least an hour. Keep a timer to ensure that you don’t cross the 30 minutes mark for the recordings. This will improve your focus, strengthen your attention and concentration for better listening.
- Listen to podcasts and audiobooks: Lookup for podcasts and audiobooks about the topics you like. This will tempt you to listen to them more and more. Download them on your phone or tablet and listen to them everywhere and anywhere you get time- while commuting, while walking or even when you are out for shopping. Listen to the audio clips multiple times to improve your comprehension.
- Watch English TV series and listen to English music: When you prepare for the exam, apart from reading articles, hearing news online, there is one more thing that works wonders- it’s watching English TV series (no subtitles). As compared to movies, Tv series have more dialogues hence more opportunities to improve your listening skills. If you want to challenge yourself more, listen to English music. Double-check your comprehension by going through the song lyrics.
- Watch videos on YouTube at a different rate of speech: Start watching videos of native English speakers on YouTube. You can increase the rate of speech by clicking on to the settings button and then selecting the desired speed of the audio. This will also help you in understanding different accents.
As you prepare for the IELTS listening exam, it is very important to practice the test as much as you can. Follow the above methods along with a little bit of hard work and you are definitely going to score well.