Top Tips for IELTS

Listening to directions: maps and plans

This lesson is designed to give you some practice in answering questions listening to directions on a map or plan in IELTS. You will also find some advice on how to listen and answer more effectively. Most of the skills you need are general listening skills, but there are some skills and items of language that are particular to this type of question. I suggest you read through these tips first before trying the practice.

Applying general listening skills and strategies

This type of question is not so different from other listening tasks. What I do here is highlight in red possible ways of applying those general skills to a map question.

1. Read the question before you listen  to understand the topic you are going to listen to.  If you see words like “plan” and “street” in the questions, then you should at least understand that the listening will be about streets and plans – that knowledge helps you listen more effectively. Don’t forget to look at the map or plan as well – there may well be words on that that help you – they are not normally just pictures.

2.If it is a task where you need to write words down, then at least try and guess/predict what type of words you need to write down. In real life, you may not have enough time to predict all the answers, but you can often guess if it is a name of place or type of building. A tip here is to look at the other words on the map – these often give you a clue about the type of words you need to write in.

3. It is not really a problem to get one answer wrong – the problem is if you get several wrong. The tip here is to look at two questions at once.If you hear the answer to question 4, you have missed the answer to question 3. Forget it – make sure you get the answer to question 5. You can only do this of course if you are looking at questions 3 and 4 at the same time. With maps and plans it can be harder because you may be looking at a map, also looking at a question and listening at the same time – lots of information.

  1. One practical suggestion is simply to underline/ring words or places on the map that relate to the questions. This will help you find your place on the map immediately.
  2. You MUST find ALL the places on the map that are answers. Sometimes for example you may miss question 4 because it is at the bottom of the map, not next to question 3 at the top of the map.
  3. Another idea is to move your finger on the map to point to the place being talked about – this physically helps you keep your place. This works best when the listening is a tour and there is a specific route being followed.

4. Listen carefully to the beginning of the talk. Very often you will hear the speaker tell you generally what they are about to say. This general information helps you understand the detail that comes later. With maps you should try and understand:

  1. whether it is a tour that follows a route around the map – in which case find the place where the tour starts before you listen. This is normally marked on the map..
  2. the speaker may be organisng his/her talk in another way.

5. Listen for “signpost words” – these often tell you that the speaker is moving onto another point and tell you what you are listening for. These are not necessarily key words in the question, they may be something simple like  “My next point is”. In maps, you should be listening for phrases such as “The place you are going to visit is.

6. Don’t forget to listen for meaning. It is possible to write the answer too quickly. Sometimes you hear a word that could be the answer, but a better answer comes later. With maps you are likely to need to write place names as answers, so a possible problem may come with “We could put a football pitch there but a much better idea would be a golf course”, where “golf course” is a better answer to the question “Proposed sports facility ________”.

Language to listen for in maps and plans

One way this type of question can go wrong is that you may be confused by some direction language – these are the words that very often give you the answer. Typical words to pay attention to include:

in front of

next to

opposite

beside

behind

to the left of

in between

Sometimes though you also need to be able to recognise the meaning of  language such as:

clockwise/anti-clockwise

a little beyond

just past

before you get to

A special case is when you see a compass (North, East, South, West) on the diagram: in this case you can expect to hear directions in the form of compass points:

a little to the north

In the south west corner

Try the practice

This listening is designed to help you practice some of the skills above. I strongly suggest you don’t just test yourself here, but you also look through the transcript. It often helps to listen a second time while looking at the script. I have not followed IELTS format 100% – you will not find the start point marked for example and I have included information designed to mislead you slightly. listen to the meaning of what is said and you should do okay

 

See the questions

Identify these places on the map. Write no more than 3 words.

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

[APOLOGIES FOR THE ARTWORK – NEW VERSION ON ITS WAY]

 


[audio:http://www.dcielts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/TOUR.mp3|titles=tour -1]

 

 

See the answers and text

 

Answers

A = (the) museum

B = (the) monument

C = (the) club house/clubhouse

D =(the) indoor zoo

E = soft play area

F = first aid centre

G = an outdoor playground

Text

Welcome everyone as you can see we are now standing here at the main entrance to the park and I’d like to give you all a few directions so that you don’t get lost and you know where to find some of the main attractions and facilities.

It’s actually quite simple – there’s one main path the winds it way in a circle around the site – though you should be warned that you once you get to the museum (A) which is at the end of the path you’ll need to trace your steps back.

So on our right is the golf course. You might like to play a round there – if you do you’ll need to go the club house first to pay the green fees. The club house(C) is the first building you’ll see on your left as you go down the path – it’s more or less opposite the café and just before the ornamental lake.

If you see the first aid centre (F) on the other side of the lake you’ve gone too far – hopefully you won’t need to use it but they do have qualified medical staff who can help you with any minor injuries.

As it’s such a nice day today you might fancy eating outside. There is a designated picnic area just the other side of (B) the monument – which is directly opposite the lake. Please do think of other people though and don’t leave any litter behind and also the park authorities have adopted policy of not allowing any alcohol to be consumed. You’ve been warned.

Okay – continuing the tour. Once you get to the picnic area you will see a fork in the road and there is a gift shop to get your souvenirs a little down the left hand turning. I do suggest you look in there because they have some excellent gifts to take the folks back home – the Eccles cake is particularly recommended.

If you have kids with you though you may want to take the right hand turn as there are plenty of attractions down there to keep the youngsters happy and well-occupied. The first building you’ll see on your left is (E) a soft play area for the little ones and next to it just before the swimming pool is (D) the indoor zoo that just has to be seen to be believed. Then past the pool is an (G) outdoor playground with climbing frames, swings and, well, just about anything you could wish for.

And then right at the end of the path is the museum (A) – which sadly is closed for renovation.

Some notes

This is a tour and the description of the different buildings more or less follows the route of the path. You should note this from the start of the listening;

Welcome everyone as you can see we are now standing here at the main entrance to the park and I’d like to give you all a few directions so that you don’t get lost and you know where to find some of the main attractions and facilities.

The tour starts at the main entrance. I didn’t mark this on the map – I wanted you to listen carefully so you could orientate yourself.

Make sure you recognise the difference between “the other side” and “opposite” :

If you see the first aid centre (F) on the other side of the lake [NOT OPPOSITE IT] you’ve gone too far

Answers D,E and G come very quickly one after the other – be prepared for this:

If you have kids with you though you may want to take the right hand turn as there are plenty of attractions down there to keep the youngsters happy and well-occupied. The first building you’ll see on your left is (D) a soft play area for the little ones and next to it just before the swimming pool is (E) the indoor zoo that just has to be seen to be believed. Then past the pool is an (G) outdoor playground with climbing frames, swings and, well, just about anything you could wish for.

Further practice and lessons

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