TOEFL Tips From ETS: Listening Advice

Posted on August 24, 2010 | Filed in TOEFL

ETS, the maker of the TOEFL exam, has generously released some highly coveted tips for those of you looking to take the TOEFL sometime soon.

Listen to English-language videos and music. When you rent a DVD or VHS from your local video store, challenge yourself by turning off the English subtitles or captions. Try your best to understand each person speak by watching his or her mouth move; sometimes, you might want to close your eyes and attempt to decipher whatever you can.  It never hurts to challenge yourself.

Listen to a book on tape in English. There are many books on tape of various subjects nowadays.  In fact, you can rent books on tape from your local library for free.  This is a great way to practice your listening abilities by listening to a topic of your interest. Also, podcasts are a great way (and often times free) to test your listening skills.  Podcasts are available online and can easily be transferred from your computer to your mp3 player or i-pod.

Listen to English-language recordings that come with transcripts. ETS recommends you listen to each recording three times. The first time, take notes about the main ideas you hear. Then, the second time, read the transcript and listen for the ideas you might have written down the first time. Then, on the third, listen specifically for any words or phrases you don’t know and look them up. Transcripts are often available online of popular recordings or even come with the recording itself.

It should be noted that ETS also recommends you attend educational lectures in English whenever possible. Now, this might not be easy to do, but many colleges or universities might allow you to sit in on a class, if you can arrange it well in advance. Also, if you have a friend enrolled in an English-speaking class you might be able to tag along and listen to the professor, should there be a lecture given that day. Regardless, when you do go, it might be a good idea to bring a tape recorder with you so you can play the recording over and over again later on for further practice.

Remember: when you listen to lectures, pay close attention to facts, details, opinions and overall structure. Challenge yourself, even – if science lectures are difficult for you, try your best to attend a lecture in a science class.

Want more TOEFL test tips from ETS? Go to

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