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IELTS Tips Listening: Good listeners make good notes

The best listeners are engaged with whatever they are listening to. This could be a lecture at school or a conversation with a friend. Have you ever spoken to a friend and then thought, ‘Oh, what did he just say?’ because you were daydreaming? You weren’t being a good listener! And this can happen in your IELTS test too.

Practise making good notes

In the IELTS Listening test, you only listen to the audio once, so you have to be an engaged listener all the way through. One way to practise this is to listen to audios or watch videos and make good notes.

Take, for example, one of our favourite TED talks by Sir Ken Robinson. As you watch, make notes on the following questions. The more information you have, the better.

  • What is Sir Ken ‘interested’ in?
  • What does he believe about children?
  • What does he want to talk about in his speech?
  • He tells the story of a little girl. What is she doing?
  • He tells the story of his son. What play was his son in?

The answers to these five questions can be found in the first five minutes of the video.  

Getting the most out of TED talk

The great thing about TED talks is that you can watch them as many times as you want, and they have transcripts so you can read what is being said. If your listening skills are limited, you can open the transcript and follow what the speaker is saying. You can also use the transcripts to check the spellings of words you don’t know, so you can look them up in the dictionary.

You can improve your ability as an engaged listener by listening to talks, listening to music and even watching movies. What are the people saying? What is the meaning of what they’re saying?

Start practising!

Sir Ken’s is the most watched TED talk ever, with 32.5 million views. His talk and nineteen others can be found on this list of the 20 most popular talks of all time.

Watch talks that interest you and make notes. Then go to Road to IELTS and do our Listening activities. Better yet, use our mock tests to see how you’re doing.