The University Timesで好評連載中の「IELTSテストのコツ」。こちらはBritish Councilの人気講師が毎回執筆しています。「英語版で読んでみたい!」という声にお応えして、英語版をシリーズで公開します。
今回はThe University TimesのVol.33で掲載された、「Listening」に関して【Tips for IELTS】です。
In the listening section of the IELTS exam you will hear four recordings including monologues and conversations and answer a range of different types of question. Some questions will test your ability to catch individual pieces of information such as a telephone number or an address while other questions will be more challenging and test your ability to understand the feelings and opinions of the speakers or follow a detailed explanation or the development of an idea or a discussion. Each listening is played only once so it is very important to always look ahead at the next set of questions before you listen and try to circle keywords in order to focus your attention before you hear the recording.
Students often find it more difficult to prepare for the listening section of the IELTS test than the speaking or writing sections. There are lots of listening practice books available but it is often a lack of sufficient vocabulary that makes the more challenging listening questions difficult to answer. In this article I will therefore focus on vocabulary and the importance of being more aware of ‘parallel expressions’ and ‘paraphrasing’ in the listening test. I will also consider some longer term strategies to build up the amount of vocabulary needed to answer all the listening questions.
The first step towards more effective listening is to be more aware of ‘parallel expressions’. It is essential to look ahead at the questions before you listen. By circling the keywords in each question you will be better able to focus on the details necessary to answer each question. A lot of the information you will hear will not be directly relevant to the question you have to answer. It will be more helpful not to try to remember all the details you hear, but instead to focus only on the limited information you need to answer each individual question. You can only do this effectively if you have already looked ahead at the questions before you listen. There will be time to do this in the test but it is a skill you will need to practise in order to build up your confidence. However, you must be aware that the keywords or phrases you have circled or underlined before you listen may not always be the same words or expressions that you will hear in the listening text itself.For example, in a listening about the environment the question might ask
‘What kind of environmentally-friendly technology is being developed?’
but in the listening the adjective ‘environmentally-friendly’ might not be used.Other adjectives such as ‘green’ or ‘renewable’ might be heard instead.
The language is different but is it still being used to talk about the same topic. This is what IELTS textbooks mean when they talk about ‘parallel expressions’.
For other listening questions you may have to choose the correct answers from a list of options or fill in a space using no more than three words. Being able to recognise information that is ‘paraphrased’ – the same idea expressed in different language is an essential skill. This is the reason why it is important to spend time reading through the scripts of practice listening tests and making sure you can recognise ‘parallel expressions’ such as synonyms (individual words of similar meaning) or paraphrases (shorter, clearer versions of longer statements).
Try not to worry too much about your score after a practice test, focus on the language that was unfamiliar and make lists of new vocabulary or phrases in your notebook. Remembering new vocabulary takes time and different students have different ways of remembering, but it could be a good idea to think more about using the student graded readers available from a variety of publishers these days.
Graded readers are books specially written for students, graded at a variety of levels from easy to difficult. These books are now often sold with a CD or MP3 file to listen to as you read or before or after reading. This kind of listening can be a good way to move a lot of the new grammar and vocabulary that you need from your short term to your long term memory while sitting on the train. It is not a substitute for the more focussed and intensive study of listening tests with an IELTS textbook, but regular listening (and reading) at a more comfortable level is often quite enjoyable and can help to maintain your motivation.
Graded readers are available for all kinds of topics these days, including non-fiction and biographies as well as books based on popular films. If you want to be able to remember more vocabulary then more exposure to English, in a way that can fit into a typically busy day, through listening to graded readers, can help.
This is a longer term strategy to remembering more words and phrases. Having a good memory is often about activating ‘schemata’ – quickly recalling all the words and phrases in English that you associate with a particular topic such as talking about the environment. There are many specialised vocabulary textbooks designed for the IELTS test which present useful language for describing a variety of topics.Examples of popular memorisation techniques such as ‘mind-mapping’ can be also found on the web. But remembering is a process that requires time and effort. You need to be organised, use a notebook or word cards and a variety of colours to make your notes more memorable or help the grammar to stand out more clearly. Do not try to memorise large amounts of new language too quickly, a little every day will always be better for developing long term memory than cramming shortly before the test. A bigger vocabulary will definitely help to make the listening test a lot less daunting.
By David Parry