Essential Skills For The IELTS Listening test       

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Exam tests your English language proficiency. It has four parts that include reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

Many students from Singapore assume that the Listening component of the test is the easiest. However, it’s often difficult for second language learners, as they have to listen carefully to recordings of speakers with unfamiliar accents and answer at the same time. In order to do this, you need to greatly improve your listening skills This article aims to educate you about the valuable IELTS Listening skills that you need to know in order to pass your IELTS Listening test with flying colours. These include:

  • Identifying synonyms and paraphrase
  • Recognizing Distractors
  • Identifying Connected speech

Although there are many other types of listening skills, we will focus on the ones needed to solve questions from the IELTS test.

Identifying Synonyms and Paraphrase

This skill is one of the most important, as it’s vital in order to understand the recording. The recording will often contain synonyms and paraphrases of keywords and phrases within the questions.

This means that you will not hear the same vocabulary in the recording as is written within the questions. You need to think about ways in which certain keywords might be paraphrased in the audio. Paraphrased words are words that mean roughly the same thing.

For example,

Personal information” might be called personal data.

Occupation” might be mentioned as a job, work etc.

You can improve your ability to identify paraphrases and synonyms by changing the way you learn new vocabulary. Each time you learn a new word, make sure that you note down the possible synonyms of this word as well.

You could also try listening to English videos, news reports and podcasts, and then try to summarize the content using paraphrases and synonyms.

Recognising Distractors

The IELTS listening test sets out to differentiate between those candidates who can listen effectively and comprehend the subject matter and those who cannot.

One way of doing this is to set traps or distractors. A distractor is anything that sounds like the correct answer but is actually incorrect. There are many forms of distractors present within the listening test. For example, a speaker could mention a piece of information and then correct themselves or be corrected by someone else. Additionally, similar pieces of information might be mentioned, which makes the candidate doubt the correct answer. You need to know about these traps and how to avoid them. being able to do so can significantly improve your score

In order to avoid these traps you should consider the following:

  • It’s important to make sure you listen carefully until the end and be prepared to change your answers if necessary.
  • You shouldn’t follow strategies like keyword identification blindly without any understanding.
  • You should answer as you would normally, in rough on your question paper but also continue to listen carefully just in case you’ve actually chosen a distractor instead of the correct option.
  • Pay attention to words which are repeated or emphasized during the recording, as these are usually the answers.

Identifying Connected Speech

Connected speech is when the words in a sentence sound like they run into each other. This can be quite confusing for second language learners as it hinders their understanding of what is being said during a discussion or talk.

For example, a person saying ‘I want to go to the cinema’ might sound like ‘I wanna go to the cinema’ 

This can be especially difficult during the IELTS Listening test recordings, as test takers have the added difficulty of trying to understand an unfamiliar accent as well. During the test, you might hear a range of different accents, including Australian, British, New Zealand and North American.

A useful way to overcome this issue is to acclimatize yourself to the way native English speakers speak by exposing yourself to the English Language for short amounts of time

It’s not difficult to find radio stations or podcasts online that enable you to do this. Find ones that are about topics that interest you or are relevant to the IELTS exam. Also, make sure that you are doing so using the test’s most common dialects.  You’ll be guaranteed to see a huge improvement in your understanding of the material if you include this as part of your daily routine.

It’s important to find a free practice test which is based on actual Cambridge IELTS Tests. Use full-length exams in which you’ll find questions that reflect what you’ll see on the test day and that gives you all the necessary help and information needed to guide you through the test before you start. You can use these practice tests to get a better idea of what the IELTS listening test is actually like.

Jonathan has been teaching students to prepare for the IELTS and PTE Exams for more than 10+ years. He's taught English to students in various countries in the world including Singapore, China, Australia, Canada and Colombia.