This post is based on my CAE: Reading – tips (1) post, because both reading and listening are passive skills.
What you listen to in English could be roughly divided into six categories:
- What you listen to at/for work
- What you listen to for fun
- What you listen to to prepare for the exam listening paper
- The exam listening tasks you do at home/school under exam conditions (=fast!)
- The exam listening tasks you do at home/school but more rewinding etc., analysing things
Now, let me explain the points above.
Some think that everything we listen to in English prepares us for the Advanced exam, but it’s not really the case.
If at work you only listen to informal conversations OR business negotiations OR very technical lectures full of specialist vocabulary – it’s not really exam preparation.
If for fun you only listen to rock songs OR sports events OR (sadly and surprisingly) series – it’s not really exam preparation.
Also, if to prepare for the exam you only do listening tasks pausing, rewinding etc. – it’s not really exam preparation.
Ideally, you should do point 5 and then, after a few weeks/months, point 4. Additionally, (if you are lucky, you do it at work or for fun) you should listen to real lectures and conversations similar to those found in the exam, but not exam tasks. Little by little, this should become part of your everyday life – in a way, Cambridge wants you to act like an educated British person and start listening to intelligent conversations on everyday basis. Same goes for reading.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4 should be part of your everyday routine
Of course you can also follow all of the above on Facebook.
Remember to listen – and do nothing else. You can’t look up every word you don’t understand. And if you really must – use TED Talks to focus on the moments when all you hear is a grlblblwrl, then switch on the subtitles to see what was said, then listen again without the subtitles.
The biggest secret about listening in English is that is about pronunciation – so my next posts are going to be the rules of English pronunciation which you don’t have to use but you must listen for 🙂