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IELTS listening for directions

This is another practice IELTS listening exercise to help you when you get a map or plan. Part of the focus this time is thinking about directions when you hear the words “left”,”right” and “in front of you”. There other training point is that all the answers are two words long – that means you need to work on your note taking skills.

Listening for directions – starting from a fixed point

This is a simple point. The listening starts with the speaker saying that he is at the Porters Lodge. He is speaking to people standing there with him and says things like “to your right”. What you want to see that as you look at this page Wood Hall is to the right and the Cafeteria is to the left. BUT in life – for the speaker – it is the opposite way round – Wood Hall is to the left and the Cafeteria to the right.

Understanding the question

This time I haven’t formatted the questions exactly as per IELTS – the skills you need though are exactly the same. What you need to do is write down the names of places you hear.

Some problems

1. Spelling: if you spell the word wrongly, you don’t get the mark. Do not worry about this as you listen – unless it is a name spelled out for you. Rather you should spend the 10 minutes at the end to think spelling.

2. Notes – listening and writing: a tough part of the listening is that you need to listen and write and read/look at the same time – it is a multi-skills exercise. Getting this right may take practice. The general idea is that you want to give yourself as much time to keep on listening as you can. This means that when you write the answers, you may simply write notes as you listen and then complete the notes in the 10 minutes at the end.

An example: one possible (but wrong) answer here is “Recreation Centre”. It would take a time to write that down and as you write, you stop listening properly. So why not just write “Rec Cent” instead. All you need to do is write enough so that you know what you meant.

3. Concentration: the answers to the questions may not come in even time. By this I mean that the first answer may come after 15 seconds and you may need to wait for another 30 seconds before the next answer.

 The practice listening exercise

Write the name of the places on the map labelled A-F










Read the tapescript and see the answers

See the answers

Right the campus here is quite small and you shouldn’t have any difficulty in getting around. We’re here in front of the Porters Lodge. This is the place to come to if you need anything. You’ll find someone here from 8 in the morning to midnight. If you have a problem after midnight you need to ring the bell here and someone will come down to help you.

You’ll be staying in one of Halls of Residence. They’re in the block you see to the left down there. There are two Halls. Wood Hall is the first one you come to. That’s only for postgraduates, so we’ve placed you in Forest Hall – the next one down. You’ll need to get the key from here first. Please don’t lose it. If you do, you’ll need to pay a fine of £5. That’s the first time. if you lose it again the fine rises to £10.

Okay now for the a quick guided tour of the rest of the campus. As I say, the residential parts of the campus are over there towards your left. The middle block which you see directly in front of you is where all the teaching happens,. There are three main buildings here. The first one you come to is the study centre. That’s where you’ll have your tutorials and group learning sessions. The next building down is the library. Sadly, we can’t give you access to that because we are out of semester. Should you need to borrow a book though, you can ask your personal tutor and they will get it for you. You are limited to three books at any one time. I should add that you won’t be able to get any reference books out – they’re restricted. That includes dictionaries. The final building in this block is where you’ll find the lecture theatres. That’s important because you need to be there for your orientation immediately after breakfast tomorrow. Breakfast is from 8-00 to 8-45. You’re asked to be seated at the orientation lecture by 9-00. Please don’t be late.

Now what next? Ah yes. Oxford is a city of bicycles. You’ll probably want to hire one during your time here. If you do, then be sure to keep it locked at all times – there are a lot of bicycle thieves about. This applies in college too. There are bike sheds – you’ll find them in the far left hand corner of the campus – beyond the halls of residence – but even those aren’t secure. If you drive, there is a car park. That’s immediately to our left here.

The recreation centre is the other side of the cafeteria. It’s fully equipped with a swimming pool, gym and squash courts.

And that’s pretty much it. The only other place of interest for you is just here to our right. I do recommend that you go downtown to the city centre to sample some of the pubs. The Eagle and Child and The Bear are two must sees. But there will be nights when you wan to stay in and if you do, then the Student Union just here is where you will find the entertainment.

A Forest Hall

B Lecture theatre(s)/theater(s) US spelling is fine

C Bike Sheds

D Car Park

E Swimming Pool (the whole building is the recreation centre, it contains a gym, swimming pool and squash courts)

F Student Union

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8 Responses to IELTS listening for directions

  1. Simon March 28, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

    Genius. Thank you.

  2. Natalia March 28, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

    Hi, Dominic. Thank you for a wonderful lesson. I have a couple of questions, if you don’t mind:

    1. If I write “Bicycle sheds” instead of “Bike” – is this considered a mistake?

    2. Uppercase letters. What if I put Bike sheds (not Sheds) or Student union (not Student Union)? Would I get a mark for that? Or is this a wrong answer?

    • Dominic Cole March 29, 2013 at 8:25 am #

      Typically, you want to write down the words you actually hear. You will find though if you look through the Cambridge exam books that different variation are accepted. The assessors who mark the listening/reading will accept variations in mnay cases. Here I would accpet bicycle.

      • Natalia March 29, 2013 at 10:07 am #

        Thank you for your reply.

  3. Buner March 29, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    thanks very much for such a nice work,
    i really do it and enjoy .

  4. Mehran March 29, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

    Thanks a lot
    The topics are very practical 🙂

  5. Simon King July 8, 2015 at 9:29 am #

    Hi Dominic,

    Just a quick question. I recently took the listening test and one of the answers I recall was Bicycle. I wrote down on my answer sheet Bike, would this be classed as correct still?

    I know it’s only one question, but I would be kicking myself if I knew this was marked down as wrong when I knew I what I should have wrote.



    • Dominic Cole September 11, 2015 at 3:18 pm #

      I think you should probably be safe. There are often alternative answers available. But the real “rule” is if you hear bicycle you write bicycle and if you hear bike you write bike.

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