Are you feeling stressed about not being able to understand everything you hear in the IELTS listening exam? Do you feel helpless when you hear speakers saying something in a very unique accent? Most students have the false belief that in order to pass their IELTS listening, they must understand every single word said by the speaker(s). In addition, students often think that in order to improve their listening skills for the exam, they CAN ONLY and MUST listen to IELTS-only materials. Yes, using IELTS exam materials for listening practice is extremely important, however, this shouldn’t be the only thing for students to listen to. There are many different things students can do to improve their listening skills when preparing for the IELTS exam, and trust me, it can be fun! Today, I will share some fun and practical tips with you all.

For movie lovers, try switching off the Chinese subtitles when you watch your next movie on DVD. Force yourself to listen more actively. Instead of reading what the speakers are saying, LISTEN! Over time, you’d be amazed at how much language you pick up. Another way of utilizing movies is that you can have the English subtitles on, and I’m sure you will come across new words as you see the movie. Write the words down in your vocabulary notebook, and look up the meanings in a dictionary. You can then go back and watch the same section again, but this time without the English subtitles. Because you’ve previously come across all the new words when you watched it the first time, you should be able to understand more of the conversation the second time.

For song lovers, why not learn the lyrics and sing along the next time you step into the shower? Listen to as many English songs as you like, and it is ok if you don’t understand every word in the song. Over time, you will again be amazed at how you’ve come to understand what the lyrics mean. Alternatively, look up the song on Youtube as this will give you the lyrics. You can then look up any new words that puzzled you in the first place and learn them.

The last tip is to subconsciously immerse you in an English environment. Don’t assume that this is mission impossible in Taiwan. It IS possible! Turn the TV on and leave it on an English-speaking channel, such as HBO for movies or BBC/CNN for newsfeeds, even the TLC channel, which is very popular in Taiwan. You don’t need to listen to it actively, instead, just leave the TV on and go do your things in the house. Vacuum the floor, do your washing etc. 

Give these tips a try!