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How to improve listening skills for IELTS

In: IELTS By: Archana Sabharwal

“The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen.  Just listen.  Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.” Rachel Naomi Remen
Following are the essential elements of the  Listening Module:
1. Time Allowed: 30 minutes + 10 minutes as transfer time 
2. There are 4 sections, each carrying 10 questions making total 40 questions
3. The first 2 sections are related to social needs. There is conversation between two speakers and then a monologue.
4. The last 2 sections are about situations related to educational or training context. There is a conversation between up to four people and then a monologue.
  • Candidates hear the recording only once and answer the question as they listen. Ten minutes are allowed at the end to transfer their answers to the answer-sheet.
  • Listening is not the same as hearing.  Hearing refers to the sounds that you hear, whereas listening requires more than that as it requires focus.  Listening means paying attention not only to what is being spoken but also how it is told, the use of language and voice, tone  and what the speaker is trying to convey.
  • The most common problem with IELTS students seems to be that they try to take too much and end up achieving very little. A simple, focused approach will have better results.
In order to improve listening skills:
  • You should listen to the ideas carefully, and apply them where they need to be written.
  • You need to be extremely attentive while listening as the recording is played only once. Therefore the answers too need to be noted immediately.
  • You should familiarize yourself with spoken English so as to improve the listening skills.
  • You should also be able to understand the accent of English spoken by native speakers. 
  • Listen to news as it will help in comprehending various accents. The more you practice by listening to correct pronunciation and accent of native speakers, the more you get familiarized with spoken English thereby improving your listening skills.
  • Learning the correct pronunciation is of prime importance. Even within India we have regional accents but English should be spoken the way the natives speak. The recording which is played in the test has a Standard English pronunciation so you should know the correct pronunciation of a particular word, or else you will not be able to recognize the same word when you listen to it.
  • Use a dictionary to improve pronunciation. It is better if you use “talking dictionary” for learning correct pronunciation because you learn better if you listen to correct pronunciation instead of reading its pronunciation by symbols in the “text dictionary”
  • Building a fairly big vocabulary is also helpful in improving your listening skills as you may come across some difficult words while listening to the recording in the test. If you are ignorant of the meaning of a word you will find it difficult to answer correctly.
  • Listen to English songs, English news, watch English movies, Documentaries and if you get an opportunity talk to native speakers, do not hesitate in doing so.
  • Listening to News channels should be a part of your daily routine. This has a dual advantage, as it will not only improve your listening skills but will also give you a wide perspective on various topics which will help while writing the two tasks. Listening to news will refine your listening skills. Initially you may find it difficult to understand some words but do not get disheartened because with the passage of time you will be able to  gain command on it which is a sign of improvement in your listening skills.
  • If you can listen to English songs it will greatly improve your listening skills. Read the lyrics while listening to songs as this will improve your acquaintance with spoken English too thereby improving your listening skills.
  • Try to participate in discussions with family and friends as this will greatly help in improving speaking as well as listening skills. This will give you a chance to express your ideas and help in the listening as well as the writing sections.
  • The biggest challenge is that you must be brave to talk to people about any topic in English. This will help you in speaking as well as in writing and listening sections as it will build confidence, but with a bit of practice, you will find that it will become easier and easier.While attempting to answer the questions of the listening module, keep the following things in mind.
  • Scan through the directions carefully.
  • Look for key words.
  • Get a fair idea of what to expect from the answer.
  • You have to do multi tasking. That is, listening reading and thinking at the same time.
  • How you manage your time is of utmost importance
  • In case you miss out on an answer, do not leave it blank. Instead, write whatever answer you think is correct. For all you know your answer may be the right answer. Besides, if you write the next answer in the blank space al the subsequent answers will be incorrect.
  • You have to make sure that your spellings are correct as this is a test for English.
  • Use the time given between tasks to prepare the next section – don’t go over questions you have missed!
  • During your practice don’t make everything a timed exercise. If you are good at spotting the correct answers you can easily practice speeding up the process. The important thing is to make sure your listening skills are good
  • use both common sense and instinct in selecting the answers – don’t spend too long making your choice.
  • Remove distractions.
Good listening skills can lead to: better customer satisfaction, greater productivity with fewer mistakes, increased sharing of information that in turn can lead to more creative and innovative work.

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MPhil, MA English (Delhi University), BA(Gold Medalist, Pune University) & B Ed. Teaching experience of almost 12 years from Under graduate to Post graduate level, Corporate Trainer for Spoken English, Communication Skills & Personality Development. English Language Reviewer with an e-learning company, Editor and Translator with Sakal publishers.

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