I haven't shared a video from ted.com for a while, so here's a short talk that you might find interesting. The presenter speaks very clearly and uses some useful vocabulary to explain his ideas.
Listen to the following interview with a doctor about the risks of too much sitting, and fill the gaps in the sentences below.
Many people lose easy marks in the IELTS listening test because they make spelling mistakes. The only way to improve your spelling is by noticing and learning - you need to notice which words cause you problems, and learn the correct spellings by heart.
If you want to do some spelling practice, try the tests on this website.
Here are two common questions about the IELTS listening test:
Here are my answers:
As well as doing IELTS listening test practice, anything else that you listen to in English will help to improve your 'ear'. I recommend using websites like YouTube for daily listening practice: choose a topic that you find interesting, and search for videos about it.
For example, I'm interested in language learning (of course!). Here's a YouTube video that I found and watched yesterday:
If you found this video interesting, watch it a second time and note any new or useful phrases that you hear. If you didn't find it interesting, search for something different. As the speaker says at the start of the film, the key is to expose yourself to as much "comprehensible input" as possible!
Listen to the information about a university visiting day.
Fill the gaps below using a maximum of three words and/or numbers.
1. The minimum notice period to arrange a visit is ______.
2. You may send your booking form by post, fax or ______.
3. If there are no places for your first choice, you will be offered an ______.
4. On arrival, you should go to the ______ between 9 and 9.15.
5. The maximum number of guests is ______.
Here's the full transcript for last week's exercise about train tickets. Listen to the recording again, then fill the gaps in the transcript below.
The first thing any regular train user should do is to book their tickets in advance, _____ exactly 12 weeks in advance. Those £300 tickets to Manchester, you can get them for just £25 return if you go online. You go to a website called thetrainline.com, you fill in their ticket _____ system, and you’ll get an email telling you when those tickets are available. Because they often _____ _____ very quickly, so when you get that email, act straight away.
But, and I know this sounds a bit sneaky, don’t actually buy them on thetrainline.com, because you’ll have to pay a £1.50 booking fee, and if you’re using your credit card another £1.50. Instead, _____ over to the East Coast website - you’d think that’s only trains down the East coast from London up to Edinburgh - it’s not; they will sell tickets for any trains anywhere in the UK, and they don’t charge a booking fee, and they don’t charge for credit card. So that’s another two or three _____ saved.
If you haven’t been able to buy a ticket a long _____ in advance, it is still worth remembering that up until 6 o’clock on the night before, you can still get Advance tickets. They won’t be as cheap as the Super-Advance ones, 12 weeks in advance, but it’s still _____ trying to buy them the night before.
Listen to the following advice about buying train tickets in the UK, and answer the questions below.
1. If you book 12 weeks in advance, you can get a return ticket to Manchester for £ ______.
2. Which website are you advised to use when paying for your ticket?
A) the East Coast website
C) the Ticket Alert website
3. Which TWO statements are true of the East Coast website?
A) You pay a £1.50 booking fee.
B) It can only be used for booking trains from London to Edinburgh.
C) You can use it to buy train tickets for anywhere in the UK.
D) You will not be charged for using a credit card.
E) You can buy a “Super Advance” ticket the night before your trip.
As well as doing IELTS listening tests, it's important to do as much general listening practice as you can. My advice is to listen to things that you find interesting. The Internet is the best place to look for videos, radio broadcasts, podcasts, films and TV programmes.
Here's a suggestion for people following the World Cup:
If you're a football fan, why not listen to match commentary in English on an Internet radio station like this one? If you're watching a match on TV, turn the volume down and listen to the commentary in English (warning: commentators speak quickly!).
It's important to practise real IELTS listening tests (use the Cambridge books for this), but that isn't the only type of listening practice you can do. I advise my students to watch TV, films and online videos - the more listening you do, the faster your 'ear' will improve!
If you find a good video on the Internet, please share it in the "comments" below.
Here's a listening exercise on the same topic as yesterday's reading lesson.
Answer the following questions:
1. When does the speaker say we will reach peak world population?
2. What number does he give for the current world population?
3. What does he say about organic farming?
4. What other solution does he suggest?
5. Which three cereal crops does he say are the most important?
Listen to the recording and fill the gaps in the summary below.
How to save money and stop spending
It's impossible to stop spending completely, but you can stop ______ spending, or ______ it. You really need to set up a ______; just take a look at how much money you bring home in your ______, and write down everything you spend on a piece of paper. The aim is to get a ______ on how much money you are bringing in and where it is going. Whether you use plastic or ______, record what you bought, where you bought it, and how much you ______. At the end of the month it's a real ______. You'll see a whole lot of ______ you can do.
The table below shows 'keywords' from section 2 of listening test 3 in Cambridge IELTS book 5.
I think this table demonstrates that you need to be listening for 'similar words'. Also, I think the table shows how important it is to analyse the vocabulary in every practice test that you do. There are some great vocabulary items here: hold-up, the norm, demand exceeds supply, deal with, on your behalf.
Listen to the following recording and answer the questions below.
1. Which 3 things is the speaker going to talk about?
A) how to achieve your goals
B) how to waste time
C) how to deal with your boss
D) how to deal with your advisor
E) how to delegate
F) how to cope with stress
2. According to the speaker, Americans are good at ______ management, but bad at ______ management.
3. Almost nobody starts with the core ______ of "why am I doing this?"
If you would like to watch the rest of this presentation, click here.
Here's an interesting TED talk that I've just watched. The presenter speaks clearly, but you can turn the subtitles on if you need them.
Here's the first sentence of the talk. Fill the gaps!
A computer is an incredibly powerful _____ of creative expression, but for the _____ part, that expression is _____ to the screens of our laptops and mobile phones.
People often ask me about spelling and capital letters. Here's my advice:
Note: I don't recommend learning spelling rules. It's better to keep a list of your mistakes, and learn correct spellings by heart.
Listen to the following tips about how to write a cover letter when applying for a job. Fill the gaps in the summary using no more than THREE words.
Address the cover letter to a ______ person, generally the person in charge of the department you’re applying to or the ______ in charge of the interview.
Avoid simply repeating the information in your résumé. Instead, use your cover letter to introduce and highlight your ______, curiosity, and your ______ in the field you’re applying to work in.
Keep it short, simple and ______, definitely no more than one page, and probably closer to half a page; three paragraphs should do the trick. Resist the ______ to ramble on, and instead ______ right into the interesting parts.
'Teleworking' means using telecommunications to enable people to work from outside the office (usually from home). Listen to the following recording, and note the benefits of teleworking from both a business and a personal perspective.
We'll look at the same topic in tomorrow's writing lesson.
My students found the following question quite difficult. It comes from Cambridge IELTS 6, page 14.
You will hear a conversation between Brian and his tutor.
What is Brian going to do before the course starts?
A) attend a class
B) write a report
C) read a book
In the recording I am reading both parts of the conversation (Brian / Tutor). In the real test, you will hear two different voices.
In the IELTS listening test you need to be ready for 'tricks'. Sometimes more than one possible answer is mentioned, or the speaker gives an answer and then changes it.
Look at these questions (from Cambridge IELTS 5) then listen to the recording.
Can you hear the tricks? What are the correct answers?
Here's another interesting TED video. Please remember that this type of listening is more difficult than IELTS, so don't worry if you need to turn the subtitles on. Try to understand the overall message, and pick up some new phrases if you can.
Listen to the recording, then fill the gaps in the summary below.
Community service is the practice of ______ or ______ unpaid work. Examples of projects include cleaning a park, collecting items for ______ or cleaning ______ verges. Other examples include ______ children with learning disabilities or ______ money for the local area. Some students must do community service in order to receive their ______ ______ ______. 'Service learning' means that students have to show how their work has ______ to their education.
Listen to the recording and answer the questions below.
1. Which 3D printed product can already be bought?
C) mobile phones
2. Which THREE materials can be used in 3D printers?
3. Fill the gaps below with no more than TWO words.
Advantages of 3D printing:
As the technology develops, it will allow many products to be ______. Items will be delivered digitally, therefore reducing ______ and permitting more local manufacturing. The process will also lead to a reduction in ______ and a rise in ______.
Listen to the following recording on the subject of multitasking.
1. How does the first speaker describe multitasking? Choose ONE answer.
A) it is a myth
B) it is efficient but distracting
C) it reduces the time that tasks take
2. Which TWO statements are true according to the second speaker?
A) people who can multitask are more effective
B) people should always focus on one thing only
C) we need permission to get things done
D) the brain is less productive when we are distracted
E) organisations are unproductive if they are constantly on-line
When you hear the 'keywords' from the question, you can usually expect to hear the answer just after them. However, sometimes the speaker has already said the answer before you hear the 'keywords'. Here's an example to show you what I mean:
Question (from Cambridge IELTS 7):
Undiscovered material may be damaged by ______.
When listening to the recording, you are waiting to hear the keywords "undiscovered material" and "damaged by", and you are hoping to hear the answer after hearing those keywords.
This is what you hear:
Don't make fires, however romantic it may seem. It's really dangerous in dry areas, and you can easily burn priceless undiscovered material by doing so.
Can you see that the answer came before the keywords "undiscovered material"? What is the correct answer?
There isn't a special technique to help you with this type of question; you just need to be aware that you might have heard the answer before you hear the 'keywords'.
Listen to the following interview about the problem of litter on a beach in England.
Fill the gaps in the summary below:
Over the _____ of the last weekend, the local authority collected 20 tonnes of rubbish from one beach. It costs the authority a great _____ of money to collect the rubbish, but they take _____ in their beach, and they want to _____ visitors. The leader of the local council would like people to take _____ for their rubbish and take it home.
He believes that there is an _____ of personal responsibility, but that suppliers should also think about how they _____ their goods. He says that the council needs to attack the problem at both _____.
Listen to two students talking about lectures and seminars at university, and fill the gaps in the summaries below.
University lectures involve everyone on a course ______ up and receiving information from one of the ______ about a particular topic. Seminars, on the other hand, are ______ group meetings in which students discuss in detail the ______ of ideas that they heard about in a lecture.
A university timetable will consist of a ______ of lectures and seminars. The number of people in lectures can ______ depending on the course. For my course we have about 400 people in a big lecture ______. The number of people attending a small-group seminar ______ between 10 and 20.