How are you practising and improving your listening skills?
Are you one of those people who are always plugged into their headphones? It’s not something I’m very keen on but I do have friends who pass their commuting hours listening to a wide variety of content.
To improve your skills you need to ensure you practise them little and often. Listening while you travel to work, walk to the shops or cook dinner are all good examples of times when you can get some listening practice in.
What should you listen to?
A good place to start is with things you already listen to and/ or enjoy – as long as it’s in English! This could be as simple as listening to music with English lyrics. Try to focus on the words the singer is singing. It can be quite hard to pick out some individual words because of how they are pronounced in the song. Even if you can’t pick out every word, can you understand the main point? This is a really good listening skill to develop for OET as, in the test, there are likely to be words and phrases you don’t understand. You will need to develop confidence to make a guess at the meaning of these words or ignore them so you do not miss the audio that is continuing while you worry about them.
Podcasts have become really popular in the last few years and there are podcasts for almost every topic now. Some are available for free and some require a subscription. Many are available on the topic of health and these will provide very good practice material for Listening Part C.
Some examples of these are:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p002vsyw/episodes/downloads [Health Check]
While you listen to podcasts, don’t just listen for the meaning of the words the speaker uses but the point and opinion the presenter or speaker is giving you. You can ask yourself these questions:
- How does the speaker feel about the topic they are presenting? Are they for or against?
- Do you agree with the speaker’s opinion?
- How is the general public likely to respond to this opinion?
OET Listening skills
Of course, for OET, there are a couple of other skills for you to practise. Part A requires you to listen to a consultation and Par B to conversations between professionals or a professional and a patient. The best way to practise this, if you have access to native speakers, is to take off your headphones and listen in to other people’s conversations. You want to hear the way English speakers maintain a conversation: how they respond to each other, how they change topic, how they agree or disagree with each other’s views. You also want to listen to the expressions lay people use: the idioms and phrases they use to discuss sensitive subjects for example. These will all provide you with good practice for the content of Part A.
Finally, you need to build up your ability to write as you listen. Doing the two skills at once will take practice. It is especially important that you don’t stop listening as you write so you don’t miss key details that are part of the answer. This will be practice you need to do when you are not moving around and you can access pen and paper.
Listen often for the best results
In summary, listening often, listening to a variety of audio and listening in a variety of ways is going to be the best way to ensure success on test day.