Paper 4 - LISTENING
Listening skills go beyond understanding the meaning of individual words. At FCE level, you will not be asked to simply prove you can understand what someone says. The test has been built to focus on certain characteristics that are always present when speaking in real life:
- Purpose: We always listen for some reason, not just to practice as you may have done as a learning exercise.
- Expectations: There is some idea in our mind to anticipate what we will hear. The topic, the purpose, even general knowledge of the world can help you prepare your ears.
- General idea or detail: As learners, we would like to understand exactly how things were said. But in every day life, we discriminate whether we need to understand one specific word -a name for instance- or just get the gist of it.
It will help you a great deal if you become aware of what is being tested in every part. It will also soothe your nerves!
Listening Paper Overview
How long does it last?
The test lasts for about 30 minutes. There are five extra minutes of silence at the end of the tape for you to transfer your answers onto the answer sheet.
This Cambridge ESOL link will show you a brief overview of the listening test. Have a look at the duration, number of questions and distribution of tasks.
What skills are tested?
This is the question to bear in mind.
Read this article by Costas Gabrielatos. You will find a chart with information about each part of the Listening Paper. There are notes on:
Focus: which skills are tested
Format: how skills are tested
Procedure: how to organise your listening and note taking
How do I practice? What accents are spoken?
You will hear a variety of British accents. It is advisable to try to listen to BBC radio or other British sources frequently. That will make you feel more confident about your listening.
I believe that if most students listened to a paper without knowing the FCE tasks they are supposed to do, the overall impression would be that they understand native speakers much more. You could definitely have a successful conversation with them!
However, the listening paper will not test how many words you know or understand. Actually, you should expect some unknown words -or chunks- and still manage to perform the task. For example, if you are asked to infer how the speakers feel about an issue, intonation may be more important than the actual words used.
Now that you know the rules of the game, you are ready for some practice.
FCE Listening Online
Except for the FCE Handbook from the
More practice to be found here:
The site instructions are in Czech not in English, but it is easy to follow:
Related Post: Past Papers -FCE Handbook with mp3 listening
Earphone image source: http://www.kk.org/