When you are preparing for the IELTS* exam, one of the first things your teacher is going to recommend to you is that you listen to the news in English every day.
Your teacher will explain that this is a great way to expand your vocabulary. It will help enormously with your IELTS listening exam. It will also help with your IELTS speaking exam. And, most importantly of all, being aware of current events will give you topics of conversation that will help you create the opportunity to have interesting conversations with other people in English.
Over the years, I have worked with students who were preparing for the IELTS exam and who listened faithfully to the news each day, but who struggled to make any real progress. Why was it that they achieved so little from so much effort? The problem seems to be that they tried to take on too much and ended up achieving very little. A simple, focused approach will have better results.
Here is a simple 8-step strategy for success in listening to the news:
1. Record today’s news bulletin. You can record the television news or a radio bulletin. The television news will be easier to work with, because you will have visual clues about the subject of each item. But choose a radio bulletin if you are ready for more of a challenge. Our teachers recommend established news bulletins such as the BBC news rather than broadcasts with a strong local accent or a regional focus. https://capetownacupuncture.com/
2. Choose a single item from the bulletin. You may like to choose a subject you are particularly interested in such as your favourite sport or hobby. You may choose an item of news from your home country. The advantage of doing this is that you will be aware of the background facts and vocabulary related to this kind of item.
3. Go through the news item sentence by sentence, jotting down any vocabulary words that you are hearing for the first time. Jot them down in your vocabulary notebook, not on a piece of paper that you may lose later. If possible, discover the meaning of these words using your English-English dictionary. Resort to translating the new vocabulary to your native language only if you cannot work out the meaning from your English-English dictionary.
4. Write the item out. You can hand-write it or type it.
5. Once you have the meaning of the words, check to see that you have the real meaning of each sentence. This is where your “IELTS best friend” will be useful. You will need someone with strong English, a friend, or a teacher or a co-worker to discuss the item with to make sure that you have grasped the true meaning of the item. Your friend will also check your spelling, and let you know if you have misinterpreted any of the words.
6. Listen to the item a few more times, until it is quite familiar to you.
7. Now try reading the item aloud. If you have time, record yourself reading the item and compare your reading to the original item.
8. Lastly – and this is the BIG CHALLENGE – you must pluck up the courage to talk to people about the item you have worked on. It is no use sitting back quietly and hoping someone will bring up the topic. It is entirely up to you to introduce it. You may find this hard at first, but with a bit of practice, you will find that it will become easier and easier.
Here are a few typical topic-based conversation openers:
· Hi, Chris! What do think of the way the Red Sox played yesterday?
· Hey, Jean, did you hear about the flooding in northern China? Did you know that’s not far from where my family live?
· What do you make of that election result in France, Marc? Do you think the best candidate has won?
Can you see how these openers will give you access to some great conversations – and practice for your IELTS speaking exam?
*IELTS – International English Language Teaching System is the world’s leading test of English for higher education, immigration and employment.