IELTS: Count the words!

Listening comprehension is not the easiest element of the IELTS exam. You will have to listen to the text, understand it and answer questions. And at the interview stage, you will have a conversation with the examiner.

Many students who are preparing for IELTS say that they lack the practice to feel confident in listening. Immediately make a reservation that to develop the skills you need, it is not enough just to listen to the recording and answer questions. Here it is very important to understand your weaknesses and work on them.

Students often complain that sometimes the sounding English words merge into one, and because of this, it is even more difficult for them to understand what was said. It is difficult for them to separate the important from the secondary, and because of the excitement, when they do not understand something, they miss what they could well catch.

There’s a great exercise to help you focus on what you’ve heard: Count the number of words in the sentences you’ve listened to. At first, it will be difficult for you, especially if you do not know in advance which words are abbreviated in the sounding speech. In addition, by repeating these sentences out loud, you will be able to develop speaking skills.

Consider the following example:

He’d never seen her before.

Obviously, there are six words here. The abbreviated auxiliary verb (the time index Past Perfect) can be easily missed. A native speaker will be indicated by the past participle seen. Would you pay attention to this if you took this sentence by ear?

Count the words in the examples that you will find in the article on Link . Do not write down what you hear and try not to bend your fingers when counting. Then analyze each sentence, think about its structure. Does its grammatical organization correspond to the number of words you think it contains.

Evaluate how difficult this task seemed to you. It may have been difficult for you to complete, however, it is very useful for listening skills. If you can identify each word, then you will soon understand the texts completely. Play these suggestions aloud. You can write yourself down and then listen to see if you have a pronunciation problem.

If you’ve listened to sentences and counted the words, check yourself.

1 I am having a few friends round for dinner tomorrow.

Note that I and am merge to form /aɪm/, and for is pronounced /fə/. There are 10 words in this sentence.

2 If you had not told me it was going to happen, I would not have believed it.

Have you heard all the abbreviations and weak forms? Come back and listen to this sentence again. There are 17 words here.

3 Studying for the IELTS exam can take a lot of time, can’t it?

Don’t forget that all merges count as 2 words! This sentence is 14 words long.

4 Why don’t you turn on the television and see if there is any news on the situation?

There are 18 words in this sentence. Go back to the recording and listen to see if there is pronounced .

5 He really is not as happy as he used to be when he was younger, is he?

There are 17 words in this sentence.

How many exercises have you done correctly? If you are serious about preparation, then go back to the recordings and listen to them again.

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