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Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds In this course, we’ve covered listening last. But in reality, this is probably what often comes first when we communicate with other people. Many years ago, I left my country to study in the United States. What do you think was the first thing I had to do involving the English language? As a matter of fact, it was to listen to the questions of the immigration officer. Now to be honest, at first I had difficulty understanding what he was saying. Maybe I was tired from my long flight. But research tells us there’s something else involved here. We always need a little bit of time to tune in or get used to someone’s voice.

Skip to 0 minutes and 44 seconds Of course, there are things I could have done to help me understand the immigration officer better. For example, I could have prepared myself by thinking, what are the kinds of questions that the immigration officer might ask? He might ask, why are you coming to the United States? And if I said to study, he might ask, what are you going to study? On the other hand, he’s unlikely to ask me to explain how to fix an airplane engine, or about the principles of supply and demand. My brain will then know that in this instance, I don’t need to worry or bother about engineering and economics. So a good thing to do whenever you’re listening or reading is to prepare yourself.

Skip to 1 minute and 25 seconds We call this priming, because you get to activate your knowledge and vocabulary in that particular topic or situation. That’s true when you’re taking the test, and that’s also true when you’re in the lecture hall or in the library. And if all else fails, you can always ask the immigration officer or your professor, to repeat what they said. Unfortunately, if you do that in the IELTS Listening test, we can’t help you. It is a test after all.

When do university students need to use listening skills?

Watch Gad talking about listening skills.

Gad talks about ‘priming’ – preparing by thinking about what you might hear before you listen. Can you think of any examples of times when you have done this, when practising for IELTS or in other situations? Let us know in the comments.

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Inside IELTS: Preparing for the Test with the Experts

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