Number one for English language teachers

IELTS set one - listening - numbers

Type: Teaching notes

Aims to improve performance in part 1 of the listening test by students becoming more familiar with stress patterns in numbers.

Particularly in part 1 of the listening test, numbers may come up in addresses, telephone numbers etc. Again these should be relatively “easy” marks but often mistakes are made in this section. The main trap set by the examiners seems to be the difference in stress pattern between numbers in the teens e.g. thirteen, fourteen and numbers in the tens e.g. thirty, forty. It is important that the students are aware of the difference in the stress pattern between the two. I illustrate this on the board using big and small circles as follows:

    • Thirty
    • Thirteen

Drill the pronunciation for fourteen / forty, fifteen / fifty, etc. illustrating the stress on the board as shown or any symbol you may wish to choose. You could emphasize the stress pattern by clapping on the stress or tapping on the desk.

Possible practice activities

Activity 1

  • Write up numbers 13, 30 14, 40 15, 50 etc. on pieces of paper and stick them to the board randomly. Students form two lines in front of the board i.e. two teams.
  • Dictate a number to students (one from each line runs to the board to try and grab the correct number for their team first). - This activity is great with young adults who may be preparing for IELTS for university entrance.

Activity 2

  • Write numbers on board in two columns. Label columns 1 and 2, dictate a number – students shout out the correct column number.

Activity 3

  • As above, but the students dictate the numbers again dictating phone numbers etc. in pairs or to the class.

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Readers' comments (5)

  • Thank you, that's helpful.

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  • Hi Adele,

    Thanks for your feedback. Glad you liked this resource. With the number '0', in British English, it can be pronounced 'oh' (for telephone numbers), 'nil' (for football scores), and either 'nought' or 'zero' when counting generally.

    With American English, 'zero' is used far more often both for telephone numbers and sports scores as well as generally counting.

    Hope that helps,
    Best wishes,
    The onestopenglish team

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  • Very helpful thank you. is there a standard for saying the number 0 ? e.g. phone numbers - should we teach students to expect English speakers to say 'zero' when the majority say /??/?

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  • Thanks for your feedback hoangyen_90. Let us know how you get on using this activity in class.
    Best wishes,
    The onestopenglish team

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  • very usefull

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