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CONTENTS TRANSCRIBING ....................................................................................................................................... 3 IELTS LISTENING ................................................................................................................................... 6 Basic Information ................................................................................................................................... 6 Test overview .......................................................................................................................................... 6 Advice from Simon ................................................................................................................................. 7 3 useful websites for IELTS listening practice ....................................................................................... 8 Are you doing these things? .................................................................................................................. 8 4 techniques when practising IELTS listening tests from the Cambridge books: .................................... 9 How to use practice tests ....................................................................................................................... 9 No special techniques for the listening test .......................................................................................... 10 Mastering part 1.................................................................................................................................. 10 Advice for section 4 ............................................................................................................................ 10 Section 4............................................................................................................................................. 11 How to use the breaks ......................................................................................................................... 11 Tips to improve your spelling ............................................................................................................. 12 Spelling .............................................................................................................................................. 12 Spelling and capital letters .................................................................................................................. 13 Spelling (noticing and learning) .......................................................................................................... 13 'clubhouse' or 'club house'? ................................................................................................................. 14 One word or two? "bookshop" or "book shop" .................................................................................... 14 Capital letters and plurals .................................................................................................................... 14 How to do multiple choice questions ................................................................................................... 15 IELTS listening toolkit from Dcielts .................................................................................................... 16 Numbers and addresses and dates listening ......................................................................................... 16 How to listen for key words ................................................................................................................ 18 Ielts listening and spelling ................................................................................................................... 19 IELTS listening and taking notes ........................................................................................................ 20 Multiple choice listening – Avoiding distractors.................................................................................. 21 Listening to directions on a map – Compass points ............................................................................. 23 IELTS part 4 listening – signposts words ............................................................................................ 26 GIỚI THIỆU Mọi người đang cầm trên tay cuốn "Tổng hợp kỹ năng làm bài IELTS Listening" do mình tổng hợp. Thực ra, đây là kỹ năng mà mình nghĩ là mẹo làm bài sẽ không giúp được gì nhiều, nhưng cũng cố gắng tổng hợp các tips hồi trước mình áp dụng để mọi người tham khảo. Nội dung gồm 2 phần: phần 1 là luyện lên trình nghe bằng phương pháp nghe chép chính tả (phương pháp luyện nghe mình thấy hiệu quả nhất) + phần 2 là TIPS làm bài từ Simon (tất cả bài post trong 5 năm) và Dominic Cole Cách học của mọi người đó là: + Bước 1: Chưa luyện nghe IELTS. Luyện để lên trình nghe tiếng Anh nói chung bằng phương pháp nghe chép chính tả + Bước 2: Đọc hết các mẹo, phương pháp áp dụng cho kỳ thi IELTS + Bước 3: Làm đề nghe ở các nguồn sau. Lưu ý chỉ làm ở đây là đủ. Làm xong thì làm lại (Xem hướng dẫn cách học lại ở phần advice from Simon) 1) Bộ đề huyền thoại Cambridge 1-9 (phiên bản scan chất lượng cao) Torrent: http://www.torrents.net/down/5413621.torrent http://www.mediafire.com/download/yqyspew3m5bhl0e/IELTS+1 -9.rar Pass: http://bbc.edu.vn/ hoặc: http://bbc.edu.vn (không có gạch ở cuối) 2) The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS [FULL] DVD & PDF bản đẹp https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_SZnHS0AHuxT3d2eUF1ZUpUYW8/edit?usp=sharing 3) Bộ actual reading (đề thi thật) http://www.mediafire.com/download/az1l72jozmyhk4q/ielts-reading-2007-2011.rar pass giai nen: mycheapestsource 4) Bộ actual reading quyển 2 (hiện chỉ có bản tiếng trung) https://www.mediafire.com/?bkxtexn1j47d5vt + Bước 4: Tràn đầy tự tin đi thi IELTS -> nhớ quay lại mes mình thông báo kết quả :)) Tài liệu này được soạn ra với mục đích chính là giúp cho các bạn đang học lớp IELTS Writing của mình tự ôn tập 3 kỹ năng còn lại dễ dàng hơn, và được chia sẻ miễn phí. Mọi người lưu ý KHÔNG sử dụng cho mục đích khác, kinh doanh hay bán chác gì cả nhé. Đây chỉ là bản tổng hợp đầu tiên, mình tổng kết có phần hơi vội do nhiều bạn nhắn cần sớm để ôn thi. Một số mẹo và phương pháp của bản thân mình thì vẫn đang tổng kết và chưa có ở đây. Các phiên bản hoàn thiện, đầy đủ hơn mọi người có thể join group "Hội học IELTS Writing_Ngoc Bach" để update khi có version mới nhất: https://www.facebook.com/groups/900994436637886/ Chúc mọi người học tốt ! Hà Nội, ngày 14 tháng 03 năm 2015 -Ngọc Bách- TRANSCRIBING Phương pháp luyện nghe hiệu quả nhất (đặc biệt với làm bài nghe trong kỳ thi IELTS) mà mình được biết và đã áp dụng hiệu quả đó là NGHE VÀ CHÉP CHÍNH TẢ. Bạn nghe và chép chính tả lại 100% những gì bạn nghe được. Bạn nên kết hợp luyện nghe và luyện pronounciation luôn (luyện nghe với nói bao giờ cũng nên luyện song song). Cụ thể phương pháp này như sau: + Bước 1: tìm một nguồn phát tiếng Anh chuẩn (nói về chủ đề mà bạn thấy hứng thú) và phải có phụ đề (nhất thiết phải có) Dưới đây là một số nguồn mình đã nghe. Bạn nào biết nguồn nghe khác (lưu ý là có transcript) thì comment vào đây để share cho mọi người cùng luyện tập nhé. - Nguồn nghe cho bạn mới bắt đầu http://learningenglish.voanews.com/ ( anh mỹ) -> chọn level mới bắt đầu nhé http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/general/sixminute/ (anh anh) http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/elementary-podcasts (anh anh) Spotlight radio: Website này dành cho những người mới học tập luyện nghe tiếng Anh mỗi ngày. Mỗi bài có thời lượng khoảng 15', được đọc với tốc độ chậm. Mỗi tuần có 7 bài đọc như thế được cập nhật. Truy cập: http://spotlightenglish.com/listen/ - Nguồn nghe Nâng cao: http://www.cdlponline.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=homepage (anh mỹ. phân theo chủ đề) http://learningenglish.voanews.com/ ( anh mỹ) https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/magazine (anh anh) Phiên bản trên android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gate.android.bcenglish British Council Podcasts.rar. Bộ khủng 1.58 gb (anh anh) do Kili Manjaro upload Link download: https://mega.co.nz/#!MUpRBTrZ!MSVFl1DY57qD_tLtqd17yTrlUR_w5kldzc5iG4ap9 R0 http://www.britishcouncil.org/professionals-podcast-english-listening-downloads-archive.htm(anh anh) http://breakingnewsenglish.com/ (anh anh) http://www.cnn.com/studentnews/ (anh mỹ) http://www.ted.com/ (tổng hợp) http://www.listen-and-write.com/ (tổng hợp) Lưu ý:Nếu bạn muốn luyện để thi IELTS là chính thì nên chọn nguồn nói giọng Anh –Anh để nghe. Đang nghe quen giọng Anh-Mỹ đi thi IELTS toàn giọng Anh-Anh cũng khá mệt đấy vì một số từ người Anh phát âm rất đặc trưng và rất khác với tiếng Anh Mỹ. + Bước 2 (giai đoạn đau khổ nhất ): Listen and transcribe it Bạn nghe và chép lại tất cả những gì bạn nghe được. Bạn nghe 1 câu hoặc nếu không kịp thì nghe nửa câu, pause, rồi chép lại. Có thể nghe đi nghe lại độ 3 lần rồi chuyển câu khác. Nghe được 6,7 câu thì giở transcript ra so sánh.Đương nhiên là việc này sẽ rất khó, bạn sẽ mắc phải rất nhiều lỗi sai và không nghe được nhiều từ (có thể là từ mới bạn chưa biết, hoặc từ bạn đã biết nhưng bạn lại phát âm sai -> nghe sai). Hồi đầu thử transcribe “CNN student news”, mình sai toe toét. Không sao, kinh nghiệm ở đây của mình là: cứ nghe, cứ viết ra tất cả những gì bạn nghe được (đoán được) rồi so sánh với transcript và rút kinh nghiệm dần dần. Bạn sẽ tiến bộ nhanh hơn bạn nghĩ rất nhiều. Sau này, bạn sẽ thấy do phải chép chỉnh tả 100%, những từ lúc nghe hay sót như “and” “the”, từ có số nhiều hay không…bạn nghe sẽ rất rõ. Và đến khi quay lại làm listening IELTS thì -> Easy as eating pancakes. Lưu ý: Phần mềm nghe mình khuyên các bạn nên sử dụng để luyện ở bước 2 này là GOM player thay vì trình chơi nhạc mặc định window media player. Phần mềm này bạn có thể nghe từ đoạn A đến B, tua đi hoặc tua lại trong bao nhiêu giây bằng phím tắt…và rất nhiều tính năng hữu ích khác. Phần mềm No.1 để luyện nghe t.a mà mình vote. Down tại đây: http://www.download.com.vn/timkiem/GOM+Player/index.aspx + Bước 3: Tập đọc lại theo transcript và thu âm lại so sánh Ở bước này, bạn hãy nghe thật kỹ phát thanh viên đọc, nhấn nhá, nối âm, lên xuống ở đâu. Bạn bắt chiếc giống hệt thế rồi đọc. Sau đó nghe lại phần thu âm giọng đọc của mình, xem chỗ nào chưa giống thì đọc lại. Sửa đến khi nghe lại thấy ưng ý thì thôi. Công việc này cũng khá là nản nhưng đây là cách luyện Pronunciation cực kỳ hiệu quả. Bản thân mình đã duy trì tập nói theo cách này liên tiếp trong 2,5 tháng. Kết quả rất tuyệt vời khi nói chuyện với một bác Tây, bác khen mình phát âm hay và hỏi đã ở nước ngoài ah làm mình sướng rơn. Lưu ý: + Bạn hãy mua một tai nghe có mic. Loại nào cũng ok tùy túi tiền của bạn (Nên luyện nghe bằng tai nghe cho giống với khi thi và tập trung hơn). Đi thi thật thì bạn được nghe tai ko dây xịn (mình thi IDP nên ko biết thi BC thì thế nào) nghe sướng hơn tai nghe ở nhà nhiều. + Dùng phần mềm Audacity để thu. Đây là phần mềm khá nhỏ gọn và tiện để thu âm. (bạn thu âm để luyện speaking chứ ko phải hát hay rap nên ko cần soft kiểu Cool edit pro hay Adobe audition làm gì cho nặng máy :D ).Link download: http://download.com.vn/audio+video/video+editor+studio/5346_audacity.aspx LƯU Ý: Nghe chép chính tả các phần trong bộ Cambridge cũng là một cách luyện tập tốt (dành cho các bạn trình độ khá trở lên) IELTS LISTENING Basic Information The Listening Test is the first thing you have to do when you take an IELTS exam. If your exam is at the Manchester test centre, you should arrive at 9.15am. You will be taken to an exam room and your ID documents will be checked. The Listening Test starts at 10.00am. The Listening Test has 4 sections. Each section contains 10 questions, so there are 40 questions in total. The test lasts about 30 minutes, then you have an extra 10 minutes to write your answers on an answer sheet. Here are some of the problems students have with IELTS Listening:  You only have ONE chance to listen to the recording.  Correct spelling is important.  Different English accents are used.  Some of the questions are designed to trick you. To solve these problems, we need to do a lot of listening and spelling practice. There are also some exam tips and techniques that I can give you. However, listening practice will help you much more than exam techniques. If you want to have "a good ear", you need to listen to as much English as possible. We'll start in next week's lesson. Test overview TEST OVERVIEW Section Context Number of Speakers 1 Social Needs Conversation between two speakers 2 Social Needs Speech by one speaker 3 Educational or Training Conversation between up to four speakers 4 Academic Subject Speech by one speaker Section One In the first section there is a conversation between two speakers. For example - a conversation about travel arrangements, booking accommodation, or decisions on a night out. Section Two The second section is a monologue (a speech by one person). It will be set in an everyday social context. For example - a speech about student services on a University campus or arrangements for meals during a conference. Section Three Section three is a conversation between up to four people. For example - a conversation between a tutor and a student about an assignment or between three students planning a research project. Section Four The final part is another monologue. It is a lecture or talk of general academic interest such as a university lecture. Advice from Simon List of advice and techniques for IELTS listening Here is my list of advice and techniques for IELTS listening: 1. Concentrate - it's really easy to miss the answers if you lose concentration, even for a moment. 2. Read ahead - it's more important to be ready for the next section than to check the questions you have already done (check them at the end when you have 10 minutes to transfer your answers). 3. Highlight key words - when reading ahead, it's a good idea to underline words that you think you will need to listen for. 4. Have the next question in mind - when you're listening for the answer to a question, be ready for the next question as well. It's easy to miss several answers if all of your focus is on one question. 5. Expect 'tricks' - the speaker may try to confuse you - click here for an example. 6. Spelling - as well as testing your understanding and vocabulary, IELTS Listening is also a spelling test. You must work on your spelling if this is a weakness. 7. Difficult questions - don't worry if some questions seem really difficult. The exam needs to have questions that separate band 8 from band 9. If you are worrying too much, you might miss the easier questions that could get you a band 7. 3 useful websites for IELTS listening practice Here are 3 useful websites for IELTS listening practice. Click on the titles.  Spelling Practice (http://www.ugru.uaeu.ac.ae/Spelling/IELTS/IELTS.htm) - If you have a problem with spelling, try this website. Choose a topic and take a spelling test. Part 3 of each test is probably the best (parts 1 and 2 might be too easy).  Listening and Reading (http://www.cdlponline.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=homepage) - This is not an IELTS website, but it's full of short texts that you can read and listen to at the same time. This could be a good way to work on your pronunciation (American English) and to extend your vocabulary.  IELTS Tests (http://www.canadavisa.com/ielts/mod/quiz/attempt.php?id=22) - A website for test practice (click login as a guest to do the free tests). Are you doing these things? Are you doing the following things in order to prepare and practise for the IELTS listening test? 1. working through as many of the tests in the official Cambridge IELTS books as possible there are 36 full tests if you have all 9 books 2. doing the listening test samples on the official IELTS website here 3. analysing any mistakes that you make when doing the above tests 4. listening to difficult parts of each test several times, until you hear and understand all of the correct answers 5. checking the written transcripts (at the back of the Cambridge books) carefully for any questions that you found difficult 6. noting new words and any spellings that you got wrong 7. listening to as much English as possible to improve your ear (not just IELTS tests, but news reports, documentaries, talks, presentations, interviews, films, TV programmes etc. that you find on the Internet) If you're doing all of these things, keep going! You might not notice it, but your listening will be improving gradually. 4 techniques when practising IELTS listening tests from the Cambridge books: Here are 4 techniques that you could experiment with when practising IELTS listening tests from the Cambridge books: 1. Work on specific sections rather than doing full tests. For example, you could focus on section 1 this week, then do lots of examples of section 2 next week. 2. Do a full test, but allow yourself to listen two or three times. See how many extra answers you get the second or third time you listen to the recording. 3. Do a full test, but give yourself as much time as you want during the breaks (by stopping the recording). This takes away the problem of not having time to read the questions properly, and allows you to focus more on your listening skills. 4. Change the listening test into a reading test. Instead of listening to the recording, use the transcript at the back of the book. Did you get a higher score than usual? If you did, your listening skills need more work. If you didn't, maybe your problem is related to vocabulary. The suggestions above might help you to find where your weaknesses are. They might also make exam practice a bit more interesting! How to use practice tests It's a good idea to do practice tests (e.g. using the Cambridge IELTS books) in preparation for the listening exam. Here's some advice to help you benefit from doing practice tests: 1. Your score is not the most important thing The important thing is what you have learnt by doing the test. Were there any new words or phrases that you can learn? What did you find difficult? Did any of the questions trick you? In other words, what do you need to do to improve your score? 2. Check how accurate your answers are Be strict with yourself; every grammar or spelling mistake is important. For example, if the speaker says "The library has a collection of newspapers", you must not write "collection of newspaper". 3. Get into the habit of moving on If you missed something, forget about it and move on. Always prepare for the next question rather than worrying about a previous question. When you are given 30 seconds to check your answers, use the time to look at the next section instead. No special techniques for the listening test Recently several people have asked me to help them improve their listening scores. I think they were hoping that I would give them a new technique or some clever advice. Unfortunately, there are no special techniques for the listening test, and my normal advice to students is that they simply need to do lots of practice. The people who do well in the listening test are those who have a "good ear" for English. In other words, they are able to follow fast speech and distinguish individual words easily. How did they develop a good ear? They listened to a lot of English. If you're trying to improve your listening score, stop searching for techniques! Spend your time listening to as much English as possible. Expose your ears to the language and they will gradually become better at hearing it. Mastering part 1 Part 1 is supposed to be the easy part of the listening test. It is almost always a simple gap-fill exercise with basic information about some kind of booking or appointment. But does this mean that you don't need to practise part 1? The answer is no. I recommend doing lots of practice for part 1. You should be aiming for 10 out of 10 in this part of the listening test because it is likely that you will lose points in parts 2, 3 and 4. In fact, a good idea would be to focus exclusively on part 1 until you regularly get 10 out of 10. Get as many of the official Cambridge books as you can, and do all of the part 1 questions. Don't move on to parts 2, 3 and 4 until you master part 1. Advice for section 4 Most students find section 4 of the listening test difficult, and people often ask me for advice about it. The problem is that section 4 is supposed to be difficult: there is no break in the middle, the speaker usually talks quite quickly, and a wide range of vocabulary is used. So, it might seem like strange advice, but I tell my students not to worry too much about section 4. Instead, we do more work on the other three sections. If you get high scores in sections 1 to 3, you don't need many points from section 4. Here are the scores I tell my students to aim for:  Section 1: 10 correct answers  Section 2: 8 correct answers  Section 3: 7 correct answers  Section 4: 5 correct answers As you can see, the total is 30 (band 7), but we only need 5 correct answers for section 4. Section 4 Section 4 is the most difficult part of the listening test for the following reasons:  There is no break in the middle of the 10 questions  You hear one speaker giving a fairly long talk or lecture  The speaker will speak quite quickly  A wider range of vocabulary is used, compared to the other sections Here's my tip: Don't worry too much about this section. Try to get as many points from the other 3 sections as you can, and this will allow you to lose points in section 4. Remember that you can make 10 mistakes and still get a band 7. How to use the breaks In the listening test it's important to use the breaks well. There are breaks between the four sections of the test, and there are breaks in the middle ofsections 1, 2 and 3 (there is no break in the middle of section 4). You will hear instructions like this: 1. First you have some time to read questions 1 to 5. 2. That is the end of section 1. You now have half a minute to check your answers. 1. 'Some time' means about 20 seconds, or up to 40 seconds before section 4. It's important to use this time to read the questions, make sure you understand them, underline key words, and think about what kind of answer is needed (e.g. number, name, noun, verb, singular, plural). 2. Ignore this instruction - don't check a section that you have just finished. It's much more important to be ready for the next section. If you're not ready when the recording starts, you will find it very difficult to read the questions and listen to the answers at the same time. So use this time to read ahead. Tips to improve your spelling Many students get low scores in IELTS listening because they make spelling mistakes. Here are some tips to improve your spelling: 1. Make a spelling list Every time you make a spelling mistake, write the correct spelling of the word on a list. Hopefully the list of words that you can spell correctly will grow and grow. 2. Learn by heart The only way to make sure that your spelling improves is to learn words by heart. Learn the words on your spelling list, and test yourself once a week. 3. Rules don't help very much You could easily get lost in the labyrinth of English spelling rules. It's easier to remember the spelling of individual words than it is to remember all the rules. 4. Get a dictionary 'app' for your phone Do you look up words in a dictionary at least once a day? Having a dictionary application on your phone makes it easy. The Merriam-Webster dictionary app for the iPhone is a good one (and it's free). Spelling A good way to improve your spelling is by keeping a "mistakes and corrections" list. Here's an example with some real mistakes that one of my students made: Every time you make a spelling mistake, write the word on your list, and learn the correct spellings by heart. Spelling and capital letters People often ask me about spelling and capital letters. Here's my advice: 1. Correct spelling is very important. I know students who have lost up to 10 points in their IELTS listening tests because of spelling mistakes. 2. Capital letters, on the other hand, are not important. You can write all of your answers in capitals or in lower case - it won't affect your score. 3. Plurals are very important. e.g. If the question asks you to fill the gap "There are many ______", the answer could be "reasons" but not "reason". Note: I don't recommend learning spelling rules. It's better to keep a list of your mistakes, and learn correct spellings by heart. Spelling (noticing and learning) Many people lose easy marks in the IELTS listening test because they make spelling mistakes. The only way to improve your spelling is by noticing andlearning - you need to notice which words cause you problems, and learn the correct spellings by heart. If you want to do some spelling practice, try the tests on this website. (http://homepage.ntlworld.com/vivian.c/TestsFrame.htm) 'clubhouse' or 'club house'? A lot of people have asked me the same question recently: If the answer in the book is "clubhouse", would "club house" be accepted? The answer is yes. As long as the question instruction doesn't say that answers must be one word only, the answer "club house" would be fine. Click here to see a big list of compound words (but don't try to learn them all). (http://www.enchantedlearning.com/grammar/compoundwords/) One word or two? "bookshop" or "book shop" People often ask me the following question: Is it acceptable to write words like "bookshop" or "seafood" as two words (book shop, sea food)? To answer this question, you need to look at the question instructions.  If the instruction says that you can use more than one word, "book shop" and "sea food" would be accepted.  However, if the instruction tells you to use only one word, you must write "bookshop" or "seafood". If you write two words, it's wrong! Note: When doing practice tests, use a dictionary to find out whether we normally write one word or two. Capital letters and plurals Here are two common questions about the IELTS listening test: 1. Is it acceptable to use lower case instead of upper case e.g. "central station" when the answer is "Central Station"? 2. Will you lose marks if you miss the "s" when the answer should be plural? Here are my answers: 1. Using lower case is fine, so "central station" would be correct. You can even write everything in capital letters if you want. 2. Missing the "s" is sometimes acceptable and sometimes not. It's notacceptable when the grammar requires a plural e.g. "the journey takes three hour" would be wrong. Some answers can be singular or plural. Check the context of the question and the sentence grammar carefully. How to do multiple choice questions Multiple choice questions are difficult because there is more to read, and the speaker often mentions more than one of the choices (to trick you). Here are a few tips: 1. Try to read the questions and choices before the listening starts. 2. Don't check your answers to the previous section; use the breaks to read ahead. 3. Underline key words in each choice. The key words are those that make the difference in meaning between choices. 4. When listening, only look at the words you underlined. Don't read everything again. 5. Expect the trick! They often mention more than one choice, so be careful. 6. If you're not sure, make a good guess, then move on to the next question. 7. If you don't have time to read everything (tip 1), don't worry. Prepare as many questions as you can, then do your best on the others. Remember that the best tip is this: do lots of practice! IELTS listening toolkit from Dcielts Numbers and addresses and dates listening The focus of this lesson is on avoiding “silly” mistakes in part 1 listening. If you require a band score 7 or above, you should really aim to get 10 out of 10 here – as the questions only get harder. However, it can be surprisingly easy to make mistakes in this part if you are unprepared. To help you out, I describe some of more problems and explain how to listen more effectively for numbers, names, addresses and dates – the questions everyone should get right. There is a full part one listening practice at the end. Telephone numbers    There are one or two points to consider when you are listening to a telephone number in English. 0 is pronounced “oh” and you are most unlikely to hear “zero” if there is a double number, we say “double 7″ we don’t say the numbers one by one, rather we read them in groups of 2 or 3. So 13554684616 would be said “13-double 5 – 468-46-16″ Addresses + House numbers When you are listening for an address, you should expect a number and a street name. Typically, the number comes before the name of the street, for example "13, Fairfax Street" + Types of different roads If you have to write down the name of a road, the name will either be spelled out for you or be a common English word that you should be able to spell, eg "34, Bishop Street" or "48, Ormondroyd Street, that’s O-R-M-O-N-D-R-O-Y-D" You should also make certain that you can spell the different words that we use for roads, these are:     Road Lane Street Avenue You should also be prepared to write down letters and numbers for the postcode (what Americans call ZIP code). In the British system, these come at the end of addresses and combine a series of letters and numbers, eg "14, Fairhill Road York YO1 7AH" The spelling of names      If you see you need to write out a name, you can expect that the family name will be spelled out letter by letter. This can sometimes cause problems for candidates (even high-level ones) who cannot automatically recognise the names of the letters in English – perhaps because they missed out on learning English at the very elementary level and their sounds do not match their names. The ones which most frequently cause trouble are: a as in say e as in teeth i as in eye x as in ex-wife y as in why Dates There are a number of different ways in which say and write down dates. The most common system is: “the 25th of October ” – speaking “25 October/25th October” – writing If you have to write down a date and there is a word limit of one word/two words, you should not write down “the” and “of”. It does not matter if you put the month before the date. A common trap Quite often you will hear more than date/time/number and the one you need is not the first one you hear. To make it harder, sometimes the speaker gives one piece of information and then goes back and corrects it. In this case, make sure you write down the second correct version. Predict the type of answer Part of the skill in this exercise is predicting what type of answer you are listening for. In this example, you should see that 3 requires a date, 5 the spelling of a name, 6 the spelling of an address, 7 a telephone number and 10 a longer number for a credit card. 1. Type of van required _____________ 2. Preferred make of van ______________ 3. Date of collection ________________ 4. Length of hire ________________ 5. Name: Justin ________________ 6. Address ________________ St, Toronto 7. Telephone number: _________________ 8. Driving convictions: ________________ 9. Identification to be provided: _____________ 10. Card number: 10. ______________________ How to listen for key words This lesson looks at how you can improve your listening score by thinking about how to listen for key words. This is an area where many candidates make a basic mistake. To help you understand this mistake, there is a short interactive listening practice. Read before you listen What do you do in the listening exam before you listen? You read the questions. Of course. And as you read the questions you underline the key words. Of course. Well, actually maybe not. I would like to make you think again about this common strategy. I suggest that it can cause mistakes and needs to be thought about very carefully. I’m not saying “don’t do it”, just think carefully first. How can you identify key words? One problem is how can you identify what the key words in the question are. It may seem obvious what the key words in the question are. Let’s take an example I have adapted from a book: "For the speaker, what is the most impressive aspect of a solar eclipse?" What words would you underline here? My guess would be most people would choose “eclipse”: it’s an unusual word and it’s a noun and that might seem like a a good starting point. If you thought that, however, you might be making a bad mistake. Ielts listening and spelling This lesson is an IELTS listening and spelling and note-taking practice exercise. You will find a practise listening below, but my real aim is to help improve these key listening skills  spelling  note-taking Practice may be good but it isn’t enough. You want to work on your skills too. Listening is a skill in exactly the same way writing is, so you need to practise it in the same way. The top tip For better listening skills and band scores you need to practise writing in two ways:  quickly as you listen – forget spelling – it’s about speed  slowly when you fill out the answer sheet – remember spelling – it’s about accuracy IELTS listening and spelling Point one is that any spelling mistake in listening means will lose you a mark. This may seem unfair but that is the way the system works. It is vital that you learn to spell the most common words in English. Point two is to see that there are different types of question in IELTS listening. Two of the hardest are:  short answer questions  sentence completion questions These are difficult because you need to do three things at the same time.  read the question to see what you are listening for  listen and hear the answer  write the answer down Other questions have their own problems, but they don’t involve writing too. This means you meed to think of special skills here. Know the problem – work on your spelling One part of the solution is to know the problem. The words you need to write down are common words – the sort of words you should be able to spell. The problem is that English spelling can be very tricky. You need to focus your energy on the common words that you need to be able to write. Read, listen, then write Another part of the solution is that you want to try and concentrate on one skill at a time in the test – doing 3 skills (reading/listening/writing) all at the same time is tough. Much better is this:  read the questions before  listen as you go  write down the answers afterwards The problem with this is that you will forget the answers quite quickly. This means that you need to develop the skill of taking notes. You need to write just enough as you listen so that you can remember the answer. IELTS listening and taking notes Note-taking is quite a precise skill which I will write about another day. Here, for now, are some quick tips:  make sure you can read your notes!  use abbreviations – don’t try to spell words out completely – just enough that you can recognise the words  use symbols if that helps you – you can develop your own code  make sure you know which note belongs to which question How do you learn this skill? Practice really. You need to find your way – note taking tends to be personal. Remember that you can practise taking notes on any type of listening. It doesn’t have to be an IELTS task. Multiple choice listening – Avoiding distractors This lesson is about the skills you need for multiple choice listening questions in IELTS. While the format of the listening is part 2, the same skills apply to the rest of the listening test too. There is a multiple choice listening practice exercise at the end of the lesson. Multiple Choice questions – easy or difficult? In some ways, the multiple choice listening questions look much easier than other types of question. You do not need to write any words down and there is no problem with spelling – all you need to do is circle the correct letter/option and in parts one and two there are only 3 options. Easy peasy? Not always. The problem with these types of question is that very often there will be two answers that sound as if they could be correct – especially if you use a “key word” strategy where you concentrate on a few words in the question. If you don’t read, understand and concentrate on the whole question, it can be easy to go wrong. Understanding distractors To get this type of question right, it may help to understand how the questions work. This means thinking about “distractors”. Put simply, a distractor is the “trick answer” – the one you think that may be right if you don’t read the whole question. Here’s an example: Question "The Japanese army planted cherry trees: A as a sign of goodwill between China and Japan B to make Wuhan a special site C to help their soldiers get better" Text/listening "These trees, well over a thousand of them by now, are by no means native to these parts. Wuhan was occupied by the Japanese during the war and the university complex was used by the Japanese army as a centre for convalescent soldiers. To make the wounded feel more at home, the army planted several orchards of cherry trees to remind the soldiers of Japan. In more recent times, the Japanese government gifted more cherry trees to China as a sign of friendship between the two the nations and many of these trees were subsequently planted here in Wuhan." Understanding the distractor Answer A looks as it it might be right. It isn’t. It is a distractor. Why? The Japanese government gave the trees to China as a sign of friendship does not match The Japanese army planted the trees as a sign of goodwill between China and Japan. The two may look similar but there is a difference between an army and a government and giving and planting. Getting the skill right To get this right, the first step is to know the “distractor” problem – don’t focus on single words like “goodwill”. Know that you may hear things that are close, but not close enough. The next step is simply to focus on the whole question – all the words in the question. Until you listen, you can’t tell which the key words are! A practical note Another difficulty go these question is that there is quite a lot to read in the thirty seconds before you listen. You have the stem of the question and all the options. My suggestion? Before you listen, focus on the stem of the question (the “The Japanese army planted cherry trees:” bit) – this tells you where/when the answer is coming. As you listen, focus on the options – this is tough as it means reading and listening as you go (two skills at once) Leave your options open as you listen. What I mean by this si that you may hear something that is close to true but you are not sure about. Just mark that option with ?, and keep listening. If yo hear a better answer later, mark it with a tick. If you don’t, go back to your first choice. The problems with multiple choice question 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. A little as in the reading, multiple choice can be surprisingly tricky. Here are a few pointers: You are likely to hear language from all 3 variations: don’t stop listening just because you’ve heard language from one variation. There may be a better answer soon Very frequently the answers come through listening for synonyms: so don’t just listen for words, listen for the meanings of words Before you listen focus on the stem of the question, not the variations. If you look at the variations too much, you can get confused. Pay attention to discourse language like “Well” “However” etc. Words like this can show you there’s a change in meaning coming up. Pay very close attention to the exact wording of the question. It’s a not just a listening task, but a listening AND reading task. Listening to directions on a map – Compass points This is another practice lesson for listening to directions on a map. In it I briefly talk you through problems when you get a map with a compass point and the directions you are given do not follow a path. One suggestion is to identify landmarks and the other is to be ready to listen out for directions such as “to the North”. Reading the map – looking for landmarks This first time you see a map you should look for major landnarks as these will very likely be used in the description of the map. In this case, the three landmarks are:  the lake  the river  the golf course You may also look for other details that may help you find your way. Here you see  various labelled buildings  roads  some trees Reading the map -seeing the compass If you see a compass on the map, then you can reasonably expect that the listening will use points of the compass (North, South, East and West) in the description. Forewarned is forearmed. You should be ready for slightly more advanced compass point phrases such as: “to the north of” “slightly west of” “n the south west” It is also quite possible if you see a compass that the directions you are given will not be given in the form of a tour – where you need to trace a route – rather the directions will move from one part of the map to another. IELTS listening for directions This is another practice IELTS listening exercise to help you when you get a map or plan. Part of the focus this time is thinking about directions when you hear the words “left”,”right” and “in front of you”. There other training point is that all the answers are two words long – that means you need to work on your note taking skills. Listening for directions – starting from a fixed point This is a simple point. The listening starts with the speaker saying that he is at the Porters Lodge. He is speaking to people standing there with him and says things like “to your right”. What you want to see that as you look at this page Wood Hall is to the right and the Cafeteria is to the left. BUT in life – for the speaker – it is the opposite way round – Wood Hall is to the left and the Cafeteria to the right. Understanding the question This time I haven’t formatted the questions exactly as per IELTS – the skills you need though are exactly the same. What you need to do is write down the names of places you hear. Some problems 1. Spelling: if you spell the word wrongly, you don’t get the mark. Do not worry about this as you listen – unless it is a name spelled out for you. Rather you should spend the 10 minutes at the end to think spelling. 2. Notes – listening and writing: a tough part of the listening is that you need to listen and write and read/look at the same time – it is a multi-skills exercise. Getting this right may take practice. The general idea is that you want to give yourself as much time to keep on listening as you can. This means that when you write the answers, you may simply write notes as you listen and then complete the notes in the 10 minutes at the end. An example: one possible (but wrong) answer here is “Recreation Centre”. It would take a time to write that down and as you write, you stop listening properly. So why not just write “Rec Cent” instead. All you need to do is write enough so that you know what you meant. 3. Concentration: the answers to the questions may not come in even time. By this I mean that the first answer may come after 15 seconds and you may need to wait for another 30 seconds before the next answer. IELTS part 4 listening – signposts words One of the problems of part 4 speaking is that it is much longer than the other parts of the listening test. As a result it can be possible to lose track of what is being said. This lesson shows you one way you can learn to keep pace with the listening – by noting signpost words. First, I briefly talk you through the skill, then I give you a part 4 listening to test your skills. What are signpost words? These are the words that the speaker uses to show where they are in their argument. If you note these words then you should be able to understand where the speaker is. How does it work? In at least two different ways. Look at these examples: “There are going to be three sections to my lecture” This tells you that what you hear is broken into three parts and is similar to the language we use when we write. But sometimes you need to listen to pauses and how the words are said. For example “So” can show a major break in the argument if it is said with emphasis and a pause. Learn the skills – it’s not just about key words Prediction may not be a new skill for you. It is though often a skill that goes wrong – particularly if you only focus on key words. That is my point 1. below, but it is I believe also important to use that skill with the other skills 1. Key words in listening Part of the skill in this type of listening is knowing when the answer is about to come. This means that you want to read the questions quite carefully before you listen (you have 30 seconds for this in the exam) to identify the words that will show you when the answer is coming. Look at this example:   1.Matt needs to ____________ next week on the theme of Professor’s Jones’ lecture You should note it is the male voice Matt that you are listening for It is next week, not this week, not last week. When you hear Next week you should start really concentrating. You want to ignore the details about last week. 2. Note the form of the word Another skill is to make sure that you are listening for the right type of word: verb/noun etc. In our example, we can tell we need a verb because of “needs to_____”. 3. Don’t just focus on key words – think synonyms – think meaning One way this can go wrong is that you do focus on the key word in the question, but you only listen for that word. In part 3 of the test, it is not always that easy. The “key word” in the question may not be used exactly in that way in the listening. You may, for example, decide that “needs to” is a key word: the problem is that in the listening you hear “have got to” – something that means the same but sounds very different!