9 IELTS listening test tips for non-native English speakers

The IELTS listening test can be a challenging and intimidating experience for non-native English speakers. With its fast-paced lectures, conversations, and news reports, the test requires strong listening skills and the ability to understand a wide range of accents and vocabulary. However, with some preparation and the right strategies, it is possible to succeed on the IELTS listening test even if English is not your first language. In this article, we will provide some tips and strategies to help you improve your listening skills and do your best on the test.

Practice listening to a variety of accents

To optimize your performance on the IELTS listening test, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with various accents. To prepare effectively, make it a priority to practice listening to a variety of accents, including British, American, Australian, and Canadian. This exposure will enhance your ability to understand different accents during the test. Prior to the exam, engaging in English listening exercises can prove invaluable. Consider listening to news broadcasts, podcasts, or lectures to grasp the language’s nuances. You can also challenge yourself by watching English-language movies or TV shows without subtitles. Exposure to English in various contexts will greatly improve your comprehension skills. Additionally, supplement your preparation by taking online listening comprehension tests or utilizing IELTS listening practice materials. This will familiarize you with the question formats and tasks you’ll encounter on the actual test, ensuring you’re well-equipped for success.

Focus on keywords and phrases

Pay close attention to key terms and phrases while taking the test. These serve as vital cues for grasping the main ideas and accurately answering questions. Make a habit of noting them down during the test to aid comprehension and retention. Remember, it’s okay not to grasp every single word instantly; instead, prioritize capturing the essence of the conversation. If you encounter difficulties with specific words or phrases, consider moving forward and revisiting them later if time allows. Stay engaged, aim for comprehension of the primary points, and maintain focus throughout the test.

Take notes

Consider taking brief notes while listening to audio recordings to enhance comprehension and retention. This practice aids in organizing thoughts and recalling crucial details. Jotting down keywords and phrases provides a written reference of essential points, making review post-test easier. Focus on capturing main ideas and significant details rather than writing down every word. Employ abbreviations and symbols for efficiency, ensuring your notes are concise and easily understandable later on. Establish a note-taking system that suits your preferences and enhances your understanding.

Use context clues

Seek context clues in the text or audio to grasp the meaning of unfamiliar words or phrases. Getting a sense of the general topic of the conversation helps in following along and comprehending the content. Consider examining the passage title or any accompanying visual materials to assess the context. Making predictions about the speaker’s topic based on this context can also aid in comprehension. For instance, if the passage discusses a new technology, anticipate discussions on its functionality and applications. This preparation enables you to understand and recall specific details mentioned in the passage.

Practice predicting

As you listen, try to guess what might come next based on the context. This keeps you focused and engaged. Predicting helps you understand the material better. Predictions can be based on both the context and the primary topic of the conversation or lecture. For example, if the speaker talks about the benefits of a new product, you might expect them to mention its drawbacks next. Making predictions like this helps you stay focused and remember what you’re hearing.

Don’t worry about small mistakes

Making a few errors on the IELTS listening test is normal, especially for non-native English speakers. The test is deliberately challenging, and even native English speakers commonly make mistakes. As a non-native English speaker, it’s natural to find some parts more difficult. Don’t dwell on minor mistakes; instead, concentrate on giving your best effort and grasping the main points. Maintaining a positive and focused attitude increases your chances of success on the test.

Don’t get too hung up on specific words that you don’t understand

If you encounter an unfamiliar word, try to grasp its general meaning from the surrounding context. It’s common to stumble over specific words, especially for non-native English speakers, but it’s crucial not to let frustration overwhelm you. Instead, concentrate on understanding the overall gist of the conversation. You can deduce the meaning of unknown words by considering the words preceding and following them, or by analyzing how the word is utilized in the sentence. If you’re still struggling to comprehend a word despite employing these strategies, don’t hesitate to move forward and revisit it later when time permits.

Stay calm

Feeling nervous before or during the IELTS listening test is normal, especially if English isn’t your first language. However, it’s important to try to remain calm and focused throughout the test. If you start to feel overwhelmed or anxious, try taking a few deep breaths to relax. Additionally, staying positive by reminding yourself of your preparation and capabilities can help. It’s also beneficial to remember that the test is just one component of your overall application, and there are numerous other factors that are considered.

Review your answers

Once you’ve finished the test, take time to review your answers meticulously to ensure accuracy. This provides an opportunity to double-check for any careless errors and confirm that you’ve addressed all questions accurately. If you are uncertain about any answers, make an educated guess based on provided information. Utilize context and clues to narrow down options and make informed decisions. 

I hope these tips are helpful! Remember, the key to success on the IELTS listening test is practice and preparation. By following these tips and continuing to practice your listening skills, you can improve your performance on the test.

This post is also available in: English

Leave a Comment