STRATEGIES FOR B2 FIRST AND C1 ADVANCED LISTENING PART 2

Listening Part Two in the B1 First and C2 Advanced exam is a gap-fill exercise. You are given a number of sentences with gaps and you need to complete the gaps with a word or short phrase. Here are some strategies that you can use to try to get the answers correct.

Firstly, you have time to read the text before you listen, so read it! But you need to read quickly because there isn’t a lot of time for this.

When you read, use the context to tell you the type of word or words you need to complete the gaps with – do you need a noun, an adjective, a verb, an adverb, etc.?

Also, use the context to predict the type of information that goes in the gap. This will help you to know what to listen for.

When you complete the gaps, you must use the exact word or words that you hear in the listening.

It is difficult to write one answer and continue to listen for the next one. Therefore, instead of trying to write the whole word or short phrase, just write an abbreviation (for example, the first letter of the word(s)). Then after you listen, you can write the full answer. Doing this means you can spend more time concentrating on listening and less time thinking about writing.

You listen twice. Use the first listening to listen for the answer; use the second listening to check that your answer is correct.

After you have completed the answers, read the sentences again to check that they make sense. The sentences always make sense when they are completed with the right answer. If the sentence makes sense, your answer could be correct; if the sentence does not make sense, you answer will not be correct.

ALWAYS GIVE AN ANSWER! You do not lose any marks for wrong answers, so if you are not sure, just guess – you might be correct and then you’ll get a point!

In the listening exam, you have a question paper and an answer sheet. After you have completed all parts of the listening exam (Part 1, 2, 3 & 4), there is time for you to transfer your answers from the question paper to the answer sheet. You must do this! If you don’t do it, you won’t get any marks! The answer sheet is sent to Cambridge and is marked, but the question paper is destroyed!

So, try out these strategies when you do practice tests, find out which ones work for you and then use them in the exam too. Good luck!

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LINKING WORDS & EXPRESSIONS

When you speak and when you write, it’s important to link what you say together. One way that you can do this is by using linking words and expressions, so here are some that you can try out.

To add more information:

in addition

furthermore

moreover

For contrast:

but

though

however

nevertheless

To introduce reasons:

for this reason

it follows that

on account of this

To introduce results:

as a result

in consequence

arising from this

For purpose:

for this purpose

to this end

with this in mind

in order to

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Improving Your Listening by Having Conversations

Why are you learning English? For most people, the answer is to be able to speak to others. But when you speak, you also need to listen. Therefore, a great way to practise listening is to have conversations with people in English.There are a number of steps you can take to do this successfully.

  1. First, consider the situation where the conversation will happen. What kind of vocabulary are you likely to hear in that situation? If there are words that you don’t already know, try to learn them beforehand so you can recognise them when somebody says them.
  2. Next, when you’re having the conversation, don’t worry about trying to understand every single word – you will not be able to do this and it’s also not necessary! What’s more important is to listen for the specific information that you need to continue the conversation. So just listen for this.
  3. But what if I still don’t understand enough? That’s okay too because you can ask people to repeat themselves and you can even sound like a native speaker by using some of these expressions:
  • Sorry, I didn’t catch that.
  • Huh?
  • Come again?
  • What was that?

So, go out, speak and listen to people. Try to implement these three steps and when you have conversations in English, you may well find that listening is easier.

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IDIOMS & ANSWERS

Do you know the meaning of these frequently used English idioms?

Let’s see!

  1. Idiom: See eye to eye
  • Meaning: to agree
  • Example: My finacé and I really saw eye to eye on the wedding arrangements.

2. Idiom: Once in a blue moon

  • Meaning: something that happens very rarely.
  • Example: I don’t really like fish so I only go to seafood restaurants once in a blue moon.

3. Idiom: When pigs fly

  • Meaning: something that is very unlikely to happen or will never happen.
  • Example:  I’ll get a pay rise when pigs fly.

4. Idiom: To cost an arm and a leg

  • Meaning: to be very expensive.
  • Example: Houses cost an arm and a leg these days.

5. Idiom: A Piece of Cake

  • Meaning: something that is very easy.
  • Example: Speaking English is a piece of cake 😉

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BEGINNING & ENDING AN INFORMAL EMAIL OR LETTER

When you write an email or a letter to a friend or family member, it is usually appropriate to write informally. Here are some informal words and expressions that can help you to begin and end your emails or letters in an informal way.

Formal email / letters start with Dear, but when you’re writing to a friend, you can be much more, well, friendly. You could try these ways of saying hello:

  • Hi, Hiya, Hey, Heeeeellllllllloooooo,

You may want to follow any of the above with your friend’s name, but always use a comma at the end.

Next, move down two lines and start with a capital letter, but what can you write here? Here are some suggestions:

  • This is just a quick email / letter to say…

It was great to hear from you.

Thanks for your email / letter.

Sorry I’ve taken so long to write back.

Of course, you then need to write the main body of your email / letter. When you get to the end, you could try finishing with one of these expressions:

  • Well, that’s all for now.

Give my love to everyone.

Don’t forget to write soon.   

followed by:

  • See you soon,

See ya soon, (ya is a very informal way of writing you)

All the best,

Lots of love,

and your name – don’t forget your own name – that’s very important!

So, the next time you’re writing an email or a letter to a friend, try using some of these expressions to set an informal tone.

SPECULATING ABOUT PHOTOS IN SPEAKING EXAMS

Do you wonder what to say when you have to talk about photos in your Speaking exam? Speculating is the answer. “But what is speculating and how do I do it?” I hear you ask. Read on for the answer.

Speculating is when you guess something based on evidence and using modals of speculation is a great way to speculate. Here are some examples:

  • I think he must be happy because he’s smiling.

Here we use must + bare / base infinitive to show that you are almost completely certain that something is true.

  • He’s looking at a website, so he could be looking for another job.

Here we have could + be + -ing to show possibility.

  • He looks injured. I reckon he might have broken his leg.

Here we use might + have + past participle to show possibility.

  • She seems tired, so I think she may have been working very hard today.

Here we have may + have + been + -ing to show possibility.

  • She can’t have slept enough last night because she looks tired.

We can use ‘can’t’ to show that you are almost completely certain that something is not true.

The first two examples are about the present. If you are taking the B2 First exam, you can impress the examiners by using modals of speculation in the present.

The last three examples are about the past. If you are taking the C1 Advanced exam, you can impress the examiners by using modals of speculation in the past.

So, don’t be lost for words when you have to talk about photos in your Speaking exam. Speculate based on what you can see and use modals of speculation to do it.

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WANNA SOUND LIKE A NATIVE?

One way to help you sound like a native speaker of English is to pronounce words in the way that natives do. Three examples of native pronunciation are gonna, wanna and gotta. But what do they mean and how can you use them?

  • Gonna is a contraction of going to, so you can use it when using be going to

Example: I’m gonna go out tonight. = I’m going to go out tonight

You can use it with all persons – first, second and third person, singular and plural – and the stress is on the first syllable: gonna.

  • Wanna is a contraction of want to. You can use it with all persons, except third person singular because third person singular -s just gets in the way!

Examples: I wanna eat a biscuit. = I want to eat a biscuit.

They wanna buy some new clothes. = They want to buy some new clothes.

but NOT: He wanna go swimming.

For wanna, the stress is also on the first syllable.

  • Gotta is a contraction of got to. You can use it instead of got to or have got to / has got to and it works for all persons.

Examples: You’ve gotta do it! / You gotta do it! = You’ve got to do it!

He’s gotta have it! / He gotta have it. = He’s got to have it!

The stress is again on the first syllable: gotta.

You will find gonna, wanna and gotta are most often used in conversational English or in written English when the writer wants to emphasise the pronunciation of the words.

So, wanna sound like a native? Using gonna, wanna and gotta’s gotta do the trick!

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STRUCTURING PARAGRAPHS IN THE MAIN BODY OF AN ESSAY

You probably know that essays need an introduction, a main body and a conclusion. Here, we focus on the main body and how you can structure paragraphs within it.

Start each paragraph with a topic sentence – this is a sentence that introduces what the paragraph is about. Within this sentence or as a separate one following it, state the point that you want to make or the opinion you want to give. Next, you need some evidence or an example that supports that point or opinion you have just given. Then you need to analyse the evidence, which means you need to explain how the evidence supports your point or explain the consequences of the evidence. Here is an example broken down into these different steps:

  • Topic Sentence: In my opinion, if people used transport in different ways, environmental damage would be reduced.
  • Evidence: One option could be travelling to work by bike rather than in a car.
  • Analysis: As a result of this, there would be fewer car fumes and the air would be cleaner, which would mean pollution would be reduced.

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Reading Strategies For Dealing With Unfamiliar Vocabulary

Vocabulary acquisition is key

One of the biggest hurdles students encounter are words they have never heard before. In order to effectively learn new words, there is a whole other set of strategies specifically aimed at understanding new vocabulary.

  • Look at the image for clues: Say they don’t understand a word in the title. Does the photo shed some light onto what it might mean?
  • Look for familiar words within a word: They may not know the meaning of “misinformation”, but they may see it contains the word “information” and try to figure out how the prefix “mis” changes its meaning.
  • Look for context: Some of the other words in the sentence might provide clues as to the meaning of a strange word.
  • Read beyond the sentence: Students should not remain stuck in a single sentence they don’t understand. Quite often clarification and context clues appear further in the reading.
  • Re-read the sentence: Once they’ve figured out the meaning of a new word (or looked it up in the dictionary if all else fails), they should re-read it and see if it makes sense.

For more information about studying General English, Cambridge Exam Preparation or IELTS Exam Preparation courses with Europeak Reading or Eurospeak Southampton, please contact us on:

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Academic or General IELTS?

Academic and General IELTS – What’s the difference?

There are two versions of the IELTS exam: Academic and General. Here’s a quick guide to the differences (and similarities) between them.

Both versions of the IELTS exam have four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The Listening and Speaking sections are the same in both versions, but the Reading and Writing sections are different.

For both versions, in the Listening section, you listen to a total of four monologues and conversations, and answer a variety of different questions on them. You only listen once and the test is approximately thirty minutes.

For both versions, in the Speaking section, you answer questions on familiar topics, speak continuously for one to two minutes on a topic, and answer questions on more abstract topics. You do the speaking exam individually with one examiner. It’s eleven to fourteen minutes long.

For Academic Reading, you read three longer texts and answer a variety of questions about them. The texts are more academic in nature. You have one hour to complete the test.

For General Reading, you also read three texts and answer a variety of questions on them, but these texts are more related to work and general interests. This test is also thirty minutes.

For Academic Writing, you write two pieces of writing. The first is a summary of information. You might be asked to summarise information from a chart or graph, a table, or a diagram showing a process, objects or maps or plans. The second piece of writing is an essay. You have one hour in total for both Writing tasks.

For General Writing, you also write two pieces of writing. The first task is a letter and the second task is an essay. The length of the exam is also one hour in total for both Writing tasks.

Now you know a little more about the difference and similarities between Academic and General IELTS.

At Eurospeak Language School we offer our IELTS exam students real IELTS practice material and for homework and in class.

We also have additional resources, practice IELTS exams and sample IELTS material for you to use in your own time, at home, or to study in the students’ area.

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