GINA’S LISTENING LINKS PAGE
Unless you are able to take a lot of lessons it is likely you will need to do a lot of Listening practice on your own.
Students are often shocked by how difficult exam level Listening Tests really are and don’t take into account how much time they need to devote to this.
Cambridge FCE, CAE and CPE give you the advantage of allowing you to hear the passage twice. Michigan ECCE and the IELTS exams are almost as much a memory test as they are about comprehension. You only hear the passage once and you have to remember both detail and general gist and meaning from that one time. You really have to concentrate hard.
The answer, as always, is practise. You need to develop your own methods of taking notes on what you hear and work to improve that so that you are not distracted by only one part of the meaning and therefore miss the important part. You can get good at it if you practise and learn to recognise the kind of distractions and confusions that play a part in testing whether you REALLY understand what is being said and are not just guessing. Once you understand that that is what the exam is about you will start to notice negatives and qualifying words that change the meaning of a sentence.
On a positive note, although there are always one or two really confusing questions to give top candidates a chance to really gain an excellent mark most of the questions are quite possible to do if you remain focused and calm and listen carefully.
The following links are to pages where you can practise right from the most simple level through to much more complex tasks. However, it is very difficult to find real pre-exam practice free online. I strongly recommend that students purchase exam practice materials in order to gain real experience for their exam. There are some links to sites where you can buy them at the bottom of the page.
I have also included some links to pages which give excellent guidance on developing key skills (things like times, numbers, amounts of money) to help you improve your listening score.
When studying listening you are also gaining experience for other parts of your exam which is very valuable so the time is well spent. Some of the simpler exercises are perfect for getting a good idea of how to respond to questions in your Speaking exam (the first site below especially). You can also improve your vocabulary and comprehension for reading and writing so don’t hold back on the time you spend on this – is valuable work. There is also a lot of potential to improve your knowledge of key topics and develop your ideas and opinions.
Listening pieces are often quite interesting to listen to and as a bonus they will really help you improve your ability to enjoy radio, tv, movies and conversation. Never forget that learning English is not all about taking an exam to get a job. It’s a skill which can and will enhance your whole life and open up the huge cultural and entertainment resources of the amazingly varied English-speaking world for you.
When you find a piece you have difficulty with try it again until it becomes clear and use any additional materials to get the best possible value from your time.
Are you Listening? I said PRACTICE!
This site is the place to start for everyone whatever their level.
There are hundreds of different recordings and they are perfect for giving you a good idea of how to give good answers in your Speaking test as well as developing your listening skills. There are transcripts for all the exercises which are great for using after you have tried the exercises (not before!).
I recommend looking at the Search page and trying out some of the suggestions there. You can type in a word or topic and find something that relates to it. A very nice way to study and a great way to learn better pronunciation too. Highly Recommended!
Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab is one of the most famous ESL sites on the Internet.
There are lots of interesting recordings with good quality comprehension questions. This site has some more advanced exercises to push you further. There are plenty of them so you can try some advanced exercises and replay them until you understand. There are also some topic vocabulary development recordings which are very useful.
“I should point out that the main objective isn’t to test listening, but to help students how to learn to improve their listening, and this goal can be accomplished in part by doing all of the activities in each conversation.”
I think that is a very important thing to understand.
If you click on the link on the left hand menu to his “Self-Study Guide” you will find he has created a very nice program for you to follow. And it’s all free!!
Developing Key Skills
This page has an exercise on numbers which is a very important skill for all listening exams:
Here are some other pages on number, time and date skills which are very important to practice for your listening test:
Of course the reason these things are in the Listening Test is because not only are there different ways to write down numbers, dates and times but the way they are written varies also.
Once you have done some practice using the sites above you are ready to move onto some more academic listening tests:
Go to this page:
And you will find Open Forum Listening Activities 1, 2, and 3. thre is plenty for you to do here.
When you have done a few to get the idea of the problems involved you will find it useful to look at some of the excellent advice for IELTS candidates on this page:
(By the way, this is the also the best place to buy the full IELTS practice tests. There isn’t a cheaper way to do it – I’ve searched everywhere!)
UPDATE! There’s a great little shop on ebay that has excellent IELTS Listening Tests at a very reasonable price. I’ve bought them and used them and they are great. Left click on this link and open it in a new tab or window if you don’t want to lose this page
The following page also has very important advice on specific skills. Unfortunately not all the tasks include audio files (you would think it might have been a good idea!) but it is some of the best advice you will find anywhere and the recordings given will probably be enough for you to learn all the skills. Go to each Task Type and explore the Example and then do the Sample. This work is also suitable for Michigan and other Cambridge exam candidates – in fact you might be amazed as it is unusual to find such clear guidance in the books used by language schools.
After all this you should then get started on using real practice tests for your exam:
These are full tests so you will also be able to practise all your other skills as well.
There’s a free listening (plus other tests) here for FCE:
For CAE here:
Unfortunately it is extremely difficult to find good UP-TO-DATE resources or practice materials for Michigan ECCE but there is one listening test here:
NB: It is very important to check the publication date of any Michigan ECCE materials. Even the official Hellenic American Union website is selling stuff that is very out of date and therefore does not prepare students adequately for the tests.
I am currently looking into some options and will update here. At the moment it appears that it is impossible to do ECCE without spending a great deal of money on books. I am not a very big fan of this organisation to be honest!!