Listening Comprehension

Step 1: Preparations

  • Take notes if the teacher provides you with further information about the text!
  • Identify the type of exercise! (Multiple choice, True-False, answering questions?)
  • Look at the title of the text! Does it give you further information?
  • Read the instructions carefully!
  • Check for additional vocabulary provided with the text!
  • Figure out whether the items come in the same order as the information in the text – they usually do!
  • After reading the headline, try to anticipate what could possibly be said about this topic!
  • Think of vocabulary you might need for this topic!
  • If you are supposed to answer questions, prepare an extra sheet for collecting important information, ideally with suitable headings or categories!
  • Use a pen that will work under exam conditions – you need to be able to write fast. Get all the other materials ready as well.

Step 2: First listening

  • First, relax. Take a deep breath.
  • Get rid of the idea that you need to understand every single word.
  • Make sure you’re focusing from the very beginning.
  • Don’t panic if the recording seems too fast or the accents seem to thick. It will usually take some time to adjust to the accent and speaking rate. Keep in mind that spoken English may differ a lot from its written form!
  • Keep in mind that intonation patterns may help you to identify the speaker’s intentions and attitude.
  • The way the speaker stresses or repeats certain words may help you to spot important facts.
  • Sometimes, speakers might emphasize certain aspects. Look for phrases which indicate something is important (“I’d like to emphasize...”, “We mustn’t forget that...”).
  • Leave some space between your notes to allow for additions! Another way to structure your information would be mind-mapping.
  • Write down key words, names, dates, places, times and numbers!
  • If possible, make preliminary notes or tick boxes. However, make sure don’t drop out of the recording.

Step 3: Break

  • Read the tasks again. Fill in the information that is still missing.
  • Mark all the gaps and the things you are not sure about!

Step 4: Second Listening: Listening for further details

  • Take down information that is still missing!
  • Look for connecting phrases – they may help you to work out the overall structure of the text!
  • Check the information you already have! Does it still seem valid and logical?

Step 5: Additional time

  • Complete the text / exercise.
  • In closed test formats, don’t leave anything unanswered.
  • If it’s about answering question, write your complete answers.
  • If necessary, you need to restructure your findings or connect them to other contexts.