Listening assignment is considered to be one of the most difficult. That is why practicing and improving your listening skills is a vital necessity when preparing for the TOEFL.
There are two main ways to improve your listening skills:
• listen to the English language as often as possible (CD, audiotapes, English movies and radio, etc);
• read a variety of academic materials (scientific journals, periodicals, literature).
When train your listening skills, pay attention to three basic purposes of listening:
Listening for Basic Comprehension
• Learn new topical vocabulary.
• Pay careful attention to the content, don’t get distracted by the speaker’s voice, accent, tone, etc.
• Try to predict what the person will say next using this as a technique to stay focused on the subject of the conversation/text.
• Be active by asking yourself questions about the text.
• Write down three different columns under the headings “main idea,” “major points,” and “important details.” While listening fill the columns with appropriate answers. Then listen for the second time and check your answers.
• Listen to a part of the text and summarize what you have heard. Gradually increase the length of the text for summarizing.
Listening for Pragmatic Understanding
• Try to analyze the purpose of each speaker’s conversation. Does the speaker apologize, suggest, command, etc.?
• Notice the style of the speakers. Differentiate between formal and informal language; determine how confident or emotional the speakers sound.
• Listen for deviations made in the topic line (if there are any).
• Pay attention to different stress and intonation patterns that are used for different meaning.
Listening to Connect and Synthesize Ideas
• Determine the organization of the text you are listening to. Notice specific words that indicate the introduction, major ideas, examples, and the conclusion.
• Identify the relationships between ideas, e.g., cause/effect, compare/contrast, steps in a process, etc.
• Listen for words that convey relationships between ideas.
• If the information is recorded, stop it in different parts and try to predict what will be expressed next.
• Outline the information you heard.