The Advantages of Securing a Pass the IELTS Exam
You may have experienced moments like this at an IELTS Listening module test – “OMG! What did she say? . . . I didn’t understand a word!” This is the common reaction of non-native English speakers listening to English spoken naturally by a person whose first language is English.
The main dilemma here is that your ear is not tuned to grasp the accent of such a person even though you may have a commanding knowledge of academic English. The Listening module in IELTS is designed to use this standard to judge how well you will comprehend the spoken word in English, once you are in an environment of native English speakers. This can be interpreted as a daunting task for the visitor from a foreign country. But in reality, the art of understanding the natural English accent can be acquired with some simple techniques and of course, a lot of diligence.
Here are some useful hacks to develop your listening skills to ace the IELTS Listening Module.
Listen – Listen with written text – Listen without text
This is a method devised by an ingenious learner trying to master the IELTS Listening module herself. Find a short audio clip of English spoken by a native, (about 3 minutes long), along with the written text of what is being said.
The convenience of this method is that you can pause the clip every time you have trouble understanding and replay that part as many times as you need. If the meaning of a word isn’t clear, again pause and look it up in a dictionary
A very good source for listening clips is a youtube channel called BBC – Learning English. They have a list of ‘3 Minute News’ sound clips. The text is written on the screen very conveniently for learners.
Listen to Sound Clips of Native Speakers Speaking at a Slower or Faster Playback Speed
Most video playback apps (like youtube), have a convenient feature that allows you to playback the clip at a rate of speed that is slower or faster than normal. This is very useful for a learner trying to understand the English accent. The technique is simple. In youtube, take a clip and find the settings icon. You will find different speeds to choose to playback the clip. First, choose a slower speed like, .75 or .5 of the normal speed. The speech becomes drawn out but still intelligible as the individual words are much more distinct now. Now play the clip again at normal speed. You will find that sounds that seemed indistinguishable as distinct words are much more discernible to your ear. Now increase the speed to 1.25 of normal speed. They speech will playback extremely fast, but you will be amazed to find that you can STILL grasp what is being said.
This is how you attune your listening to master the accents of the English language!
Train yourself to Listen to and Understand Random Conversations of Native English Speakers
If you are not living in an environment of native-English speakers you might find it difficult to find people with fluency in English. But in today’s world of hi-tech gadgetry you can always find sources like audio-books, Hollywood movies, British TV News programs, Documentaries, etc.
Familiarize Yourself with the IELTS Listening Test Structure
IELTS Listening Tests follow the same format every time. It extends for half an hour. The standard pattern is a four part test:
As can be seen, the first two sections deal with social needs. The best way to practice for this is find material relating to subjects like – discussing travel arrangements, booking accommodation, or weighing options about how to spend the evening with a friend. The next two sections deal with educational or training situations. For practice you need to simulate a group discussion on any topic with say, a teacher and 4 -5 students. For academic monologue , get familiar with the oral delivery of literary works in English.
Remember: No Pause and Replay During the Actual Test
Earlier we spoke about the convenience of using pause and replay to playback the speech in English to listen to it as much as you liked. By the time you are ready to take the test, you will realize that no such luxury will be extended. You listen ONCE and respond!
So, as you progress through the learning, you must be accomplished enough to listen just once to your 3 minute clips and yet understand clearly what was said.
Your Practice Listening Material must Engross you
The only way to persist in the process of listening skill development is to be find conversations on topics that engross you. If you are a sports enthusiast, tune into to channels with live sports commentary or discussions of high profile tournaments, etc. Similarly, a wild life enthusiast can listen to Discovery channel voiceovers, or History buffs to the History Channel narration.
Persist in Building your Vocabulary
Last, but probably the most important tip is diligent study and practice of Grammar and Vocabulary. No matter how much you may progress along the other routes to learning English, a sound basic knowledge of the grammar is the only way you can achieve your desired scores. Equally important is a steadily growing vocabulary to both express your own thoughts, and to understand words that may be spoken to you.
Anticipate the Gist of the Subject from Keywords in the Question
The purpose of taking practice tests is to familiarize yourself with the tone and tenor of test objectives. You must recognize how the examiner is assessing your understanding by identifying keywords that will give you a hint of what is required of you.
Be Mindful of Diversion Tactics in the Question
Multiple choice questions are not going to make life any easier for you. Sometimes the options can vary from the right answer by only the slightest shade. So be very careful before jumping to what you think is the obvious right answer.