Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

Today you’ll meet Vanessa from the YouTube channel Speak English with Vanessa.

She shares 3 tips for improving listening skills for IELTS.

These are geared to helping you increase your skills while learning to love listening.

Your study needs to be fun!

If it’s boring, it won’t stick in your head.

There has to be some positive emotion associated with what you’re learning.

Today’s episode gives you great ways to make sure your learning is fun!

What are Vanessa’s teaching goals?

When students find her lessons, they are often demotivated.

They have become bored with language learning.

Her goal is to help students see that learning English can be fun!

It’s doable, it’s manageable and it’s entertaining!

This is a real language that people use and is interesting!

What are some language skills she emphasizes?

  • Vocabulary
  • Listening skills

How to understand movies, television shows and conversations at work.

  • Pronunciation skills

She wants students to speak clearly and well so that they can be understood and make connections.

It’s all intertwined!

The Speaking and Listening IELTS exams are intertwined.

Improving skills for one boosts your score for both!

Tip #1: Improve vocabulary

There are so many words that pass you by.

Because you don’t know them, you don’t notice them when you see them in an article.

When you spend time learning new, unfamiliar words, you start to notice them everywhere.

You have a “light bulb” moment when you learn a new word and then see it and understand it when reading the news or a novel.

  • Pro Tip: Use the “cc” subtitle feature on YouTube.

Some are computer-generated, but many with international audiences add their own subtitles.

These are very accurate!

This way you can pick up many new words.

You’ll learn them through context as you learn about a topic you’re interested in.

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What videos should you focus on?

We know some general topics are extremely common on IELTS.

  • Travel
  • Food
  • The environment

Search for videos on these topics and turn on subtitles.

If they’re automated subtitles, they won’t be 100% correct.

Luckily, you don’t need 100% correct!

You’ll still learn a ton of high level vocabulary.

Tip #2: Don’t overwhelm yourself

Don’t start with media that is well over your language level.

Many popular television shows made for natives might be incredibly difficult to understand.

If you watch for 5 minutes and understand only a few sentences, scale it back.

Start with instructional videos or documentaries where the language is slower and more clear.

You want to make progress!

You have to be realistic about where you’re starting and what you can understand currently.

This is related to Krashen’s theory of Comprehensible Input.

You need to be able to understand a lot of what you’re listening to, but still challenge yourself.

Tip #3: Listen to small clips

Chunk listening into short clips so that they’re easy to repeat.

  • 20 minute episodes
  • 5 minutes of a movie
  • YouTube videos

Listen to it 3 times!

Listen to it both in your native language and English.

Go back and repeat and see how much more you understand.

Vanessa’s listening challenge

These 3 tips are used on every listening challenge Vanessa sends her students.

Students are sent a 30-second clip of a conversation Vanessa has with another native.

You then have a slow version of the same fast clip.

You learn the vocabulary and understand every word.

You receive one lesson each day for 30 days.

After the 30 days, you will see a noticeable improvement in vocabulary and listening.

More information can be found on her website.


All the skills needed for IELTS are interconnected.

Vanessa’s tips can benefit you on Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing.

Improving vocabulary helps on every section!

Use this advice to make Listening practice fun!

And then make sure you have strategies to get the 7 or higher you need.

For all the strategies you need on IELTS, sign up for 3 Keys IELTS today!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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