Listening is a neglected skill and many students fail to study this enough to get a good grade in the IELTS listening test. While reading, writing, and speaking are always studied, students often think that if they hear well then they must be able to listen well. This is often not true. One reason for this is that hearing is a passive activity where we do not have to do anything to hear things but if we want our listening skills to develop we need to listen actively.
What is an active listener?
To be an active listener you must begin to look for meaning in what you hear. This then starts to turn simply hearing something – a passive action – into an active one. To start becoming an active listener, you need to know that when we listen to someone for information we use far more than just our ears.
So, when listening, it is important to listen FOR something rather than TO something.
While listening to English programs on the radio or television is a very good way of improving your listening skills, you can not simply listen to hundreds of hours of BBC or CNN and expect your listening to be perfect.
Before we look at how to improve our listening skills, let’s look at what can be lowering our ability to get all the answers we need to get a good grade in the IELTS test.
A poor listening performance can result from you:
1. Not paying full attention
It can be quite difficult to focus for the whole listening test. An estimated 80% of students and 25% of adults admit to being chronic procrastinators – they find it difficult to make decisions – , and with the Internet and smart phones offering an endless number of distractions from what we should be doing, it may be getting worse. This is a result of a modern hectic hi-tech lifestyle.
This lack of opportunity to really focus for periods of time without being distracted makes the IELTS listening test harder than it should be. You need to learn to focus again.
2. Hearing what you expect to hear not what is being said
We have a tendency to guess what someone is going to say or how they are going to finish a sentence. This has the effect of stopping us from listening properly to what the person or people are saying.
Have you ever noticed that people use the expression, ‘He/She is a very good listener.’ as if it is a very special gift? It is! Not many people are good listeners.
And so, if you are not concentrating 100%, you will probably make silly mistakes and lose valuable points. You have to work to avoid this.