In this episode of PASS FCE….The Listening paper – An Overview with tips and advice on how to improve your listening.
Welcome to PASS FCE, a Mansion Ingles podcast specifically created to help you pass the Cambridge First Certificate in English Exam.
I’m Craig, I’m a teacher at the British Council in Valencia, Spain, a Cambridge Oral examiner with over 20 years of teaching experience.
Let’s start with the basics. Do you know how long the listening paper is and how many parts there are?
The listening paper has 4 parts and lasts for about 40 minutes.
In part 1 you listen to 8 short dialogues o monologues and choose an answer from 3 possibilities; a), b) or c).
Here’s an example:
You are in a shop and you overhear a conversation between two women.
What has one of the women just bought?
a) a coat
b) a pair of shoes
c) a bag
You have to be careful of distractors in this first part. For example, regarding the question about the woman in the shop, you may hear something like:
“I was thinking of buying those shoes, but they were the wrong colour.” – So the woman DID NOT buy the shoes, she bought something else.
It’s very common to hear these distractions,
So be careful of these distracting tricks in part 1. – Hearing one, or more, of the words in the question does not necessarily mean that it’s the answer.
Let’s do one more example. Here’s another question:
You overhear a man calling a computer shop. Why is he calling?
A to cancel an order
B To arrange a delivery
C To make a purchase
“Hello, I came into your shop last Wednesday to look for a new laptop. You didn’t have the one I wanted in stock, but you said you could order it for me.
My name’s Clarkson, Sammy Clarkson. I paid for the laptop when I was in the shop, and I got a message just now saying that it’s arrived.
When I came in last week, a shop assistant said one of your drivers could drop it off one evening next week. I’m usually at home from 7pm onwards, so I was wondering….
You will hear each part twice, so don’t panic if you don’t get the answer the first time.
Listen again. Remember, you have to decide of the man wants to:
A to cancel an order
B To arrange a delivery
C To make a purchase
So, what do you think?
Well, the answer is B To arrange a delivery. Were you right?
The problem is the man says: “You didn’t have the one I wanted” – so maybe you think he cancelled the order. That would be answer A, but he says,
“You didn’t have the one I wanted in stock, but you said you could order it for me.” (In stock, means in the shop, in the warehouse)
He also says, “I paid for the laptop when I was in the shop,” so maybe you think the answer is C to make a purchase, because “make a purchase means to buy something. But it’s in the past tense,
“I PAID for the laptop when I WAS in the shop. So he didn’t phone to make a purchase, he phoned to get, to receive his laptop, to arrange a delivery. Can you see how careful you have to be when you choose an answer. They do this on purpose
to test your listening skills. Practise as much as possible and you will improve quickly, I promise!
In part 2 you have to complete sentences. You have 45 seconds to read the questions and you should use this time to try to predict the answer to each question.
Is the answer a day or a date, for example?, is it a number? Perhaps the answer is a type of food, an animal, a sport. If you have some idea of what you need to listen for, it will be easier to get the answer.
You may hear distractors in this part, too. You may have to choose between two different numbers or two difference prices, for example.
The answers will always be in the same order as the questions, so you can follow the questions in order.
You will need to write one, two or three words in each space, never more. So, if you have four or five or more words, your answer is wrong. Think again!
Part 3 in the listening is called Multiple Matching, and you hear 5 different people speaking for about 30 seconds. The 5 people speak about the same topic.
You have eight options (A – H) on you question sheet, and your job is to match five of these options to the five speakers. There are 3 options that you do not need to use.
Be careful, because the speakers will not use exactly the same words as are in the options A – H. You need to think of ways in which you can the same thing.
For example, “I don’t mind where we eat” has a similar meaning to “The restaurant isn’t important to me”.
Don’t immediately chose an answer if you hear exactly the same words because it make be a distractor.
You have 30 seconds at the beginning of this part, so you can use this time to read the 8 options and try to think of alternative ways to say the same thing.
The last part in the listening, part 4, is another multiple choice type exercise, but this time you hear an interview, or a conversation, which lasts about three minutes.
Your job here is to answer seven multiple-choice questions. Each question has 3 possiblities; a), b) or c)
It’s a good idea to underline, or highlight key words in the questions. This will help you focus on the correct answer and eliminate the wrong answers and distractors.
Try to eliminate wrong answers. If you correctly eliminate 2 answers, the one that’s left, the one that remains, must be correct!
If you know that one answer is impossible, but you’re not sure about the correct answer, perhaps you’ll have to guess. But guessing 50/50 is better than guessing 3-1!
Listening comprehension improves with practice. The more you listen to English, the easier it will be. We will be helping you to improve your listening in future episodes of PassFCE, and we’ll be focusing in detail on each of the four parts of the listening.
However, don’t wait! We suggest you start now.
Our CD MansionFirst has listening practice material and realistic exam practice tests that will prepare you for taking the actual exam.
There are other websites where you can practice listening at FCE level and I’ll put this links to these sites in the show notes.
All of this information will be there, so the only thing you need to remember is inglespodcast.com and when you go there you will see the links and addresses to the other sites and information on how to buy our cd or digital download.
If you have any questions about this part, or any part of the FCE exam, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or record a voice message on our website at inglespodcast.com.
Thanks for listening and we’ll be back very soon with another episode of PassFCE.
Next episode: An overview of the Reading and Use of English paper.