Listening to a conversation

This lesson shows you the skills you need in IELTS listening when you are hear two people having a conversation in part 3

The questions

You will hear two students speaking about their work at university. The male voice is Matt and the female voice in Julie.

Fill in the gaps with UP TO THREE WORDS or a NUMBER

  1. Matt needs to ____________ next week on the theme of Professor’s Jones’ lecture
  2. Last week’s lecture had _____________ as its topic
  3.  One idea in the lecture was that towns are becoming increasingly _______ in nature.
  4.  Julie’s password is ________.
  5.  Julie has to submit a _______ by the end of the semester.
  6.  Julie teaches ________ in her spare time to earn more money.

Test yourself

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Don’t check your answers yet. Listen again.

Learn the skills – it’s not just about key words

Prediction may not be a new skill for you. It is though often a skill that goes wrong – particularly if you only focus on key words. That is my point 1. below, but it is I believe also important to use that skill with the other skills

1. Key words in listening

Part of the skill in this type of listening is knowing when the answer is about to come.  This means that you want to read the questions quite carefully before you listen (you have 30 seconds for this in the exam) to identify the words that will show you when the answer is coming. Look at this example:

1.Matt needs to ____________ next week on the theme of Professor’s Jones’ lecture

  • You should note it is the male voice Matt that you are listening for
  • It is next week, not this week, not last week.

When you hear Next week you should start really concentrating. You want to ignore the details about last week.

2. Note the form of the word

Another skill is to make sure that you are listening for the right type of word: verb/noun etc. In our example, we can tell we need a verb because of “needs to_____”.

3. Don’t just focus on key words – think synonyms – think meaning

One way this can go wrong is that you do focus on the key word in the question, but you only listen for that word. In part 3 of the test, it is not always that easy. The “key word” in the question may not be used exactly in that way in the listening. You may, for example, decide that “needs to” is a key word: the problem is that in the listening you hear “have got to” – something that means the same but sounds very different!

Test yourself again

Now listen again. It is the same two people talking Matt and Julie. The questions are the same. The answers though are different!!!

You will hear two students speaking about their work at university. The male voice is Matt and the female voice in Julie.

Fill in the gaps with UP TO THREE WORDS or a NUMBER

  1. Matt needs to ____________ next week on the theme of Professor’s Jones’ lecture
  2. Last week’s lecture had _____________ as its topic
  3.  One idea in the lecture was that towns are becoming increasingly _______ in nature.
  4.  Julie’s password is ________.
  5.  Julie has to submit a _______ by the end of the semester.
  6.  Julie teaches ________ in her spare time to earn more money.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The answers

See the answers

1, Give a presentation/lead a seminar

2. Town planning/business developments

3. Residential/commercial

4. JE14/JA40

5. a paper/an assignment

6. dancing/painting

An exercise

This is an exercise you can do at home with any listening from a book. The idea is not to find the answers, but to find the questions.

  • Download the tapescript
  • Underline/highlight the words in the tape script that match the questions (both sets of them)

The idea is simple: to show you how question words match the meaning of the listening words, but are not always exactly the same.

Download the tapescript

Listening transcript - Julie and Matt (1402)

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2 Responses to Listening to a conversation

  1. Fatemah March 7, 2013 at 4:56 am #

    Hi Dominic,

    I really appreciate your work and effort that you put in this site. Thanks a lot.
    mm.. this article is very nice too . Thank you again. Personaly, I feel part 3 is more difficult than part 4. S It is easy for me to get all right answer in part 4 but not in other parts. And part 3 will be the worst. But sometimes if part 2 have a confusing map it will be as worse as part 3  heh

    • Avatar of Dominic Cole
      Dominic Cole March 7, 2013 at 11:16 am #

      Interesting comment. The first thing I will say is that I plan to post quite a number of listening exercises in the next two months and a proper listening guide. The exercises will mostly follow exam format, but the idea is not so much practice as teaching of listening skills. Very often people just practise listening and do not think about how to listen – a mistake in my view.

      If you find part 3 difficult it may be for this reason – it is a dialogue. I know from my own experience in learning foreign languages that it can be easier to listen to one person talking (as in the part 4 lecture), than when you have two people speaking.

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