This section contains useful suggestions for preparing teenagers for listening components in the exam.

Photo of students taking a listening exam, or photo of a headset and computer to suggest an exam environment.

Source: Wdnet Studio / Alamy Stock Photo

Listening is a very difficult part of the exam. Students are easily panicked and distracted and they cannot spend a few minutes recovering as the exam tape will not pause for them.  

  • Prediction – as soon as students start reading the questions they should begin formulating ideas about what they will hear. This can be done in class: let students read the questions on a listening task, brainstorm what they think they will hear, then play the tape and see how much they were able to predict. The more they can predict, the easier the listening will be for them.
  • If students are doing an international exam like the Cambridge FCE, they will hear native speakers. They should have been exposed to the features of natural English like linking, weak forms etc. A good way to do this is to practise listening with pop songs, which do not always have the clearest pronunciation and have features of natural English. See some of the ideas for using songs for listening comprehension on the related pages below. 
  • Many students have complained to me that during their listening exams there was a lot of noise outside the examination room that made it difficult for them to hear the tape or that the recording was not very clear. So, when doing listening in class I often also play music. Have another tape playing with some noises on or play the tape very quietly. This helps them to practise listening carefully, cutting out the noise that would otherwise interfere.  

You can download the whole article on preparing teenagers for exams in the related articles section below.

Other methodology tips for preparing learners for exams

Teenagers: Preparing teenagers for the exam: Grammar and writing

Teenagers: Preparing teenagers for the exam: Reading

Teenagers: Preparing teenagers for the exam: Speaking