Mock Test

Here’s a mock listening paper (on American literature!) meant for IELTS, but can help anyone taking the test to gauge their listening skills according to an internationally-recognized standard.  The answers are even provided in a separate tab, along with a transcript in case you have any quibbles with the answers…


The Art of Note-taking

Note-taking is an important part of listening skills as it helps retain what you have heard much longer in an easily-retrievable manner.

This site gives some good exercises on note taking from a wide range of topics, including political speeches by famous politicians.  Good political speeches are oratory masterpieces, and can affect the listener as effectively as any good book!

Inquiry based teaching

This site is an integrative resource for both students and teachers.  The video from the link is a documentary-style introduction to a style of teaching called ‘inquiry-based teaching’ and it contains footage of this style of teaching in practice within a literature class, as well as explanations from the literature teacher on how and why she goes about it. 

There is just so much that you can get out of it: 
a) You learn about this effective, interactive style of teaching and how to apply it in a classroom
b) You get to listen to students discussing literature using the appropriate terms and rhetoric
c) You get to hone your listening skills by answering the questions about the contents of the video that appear to the right of the video

There are many other videos on applications of inquiry-based teaching in other contexts, but what I’m really impressed about is the use of input content that is as relevant and educational as the content and comprehension questions.  You get to practice your listening and comprehension skills on actual, real-time content that is not designed solely for practicing purposes only.  This integration of learning will give students REAL practice in how to apply their listening and comprehension skills in everyday life. 

Listening Skills Test

Here is an online test to try and gauge how good a listener you are and what areas you might need to improve on.  Like any other self-test, the results will only be as accurate as your honesty, but the questions are fairly objective and straightforward.  The initial test result is free, but you will need to pay for the detailed report.  However, based on the questions they ask, how honestly you felt you answered them, I think you will already be able to have some idea about your own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to listening to other people.


Speaking well it not just about getting your accent and pronunciation right, as Miss Eliza Doolitle so clearly illustrates in this short excerpt video from the 1938 film adaptation of Bernard Shaw’s play, Pygmalion.  When Elize was picked up by Professor Higgins from the gutter, she could only speak in a crude, thick Cockney accent.  He then taught her proper, genteel pronunciation, and as you can see in the video, she manages fairly well – as far as pronunciation and mannerisms go.  Good conversational skills cannot be rehearsed, and no amount of practice would be able to prepare you for the real thing; the only way you can practice IS to actively engage in the “real thing”, that is, to talk to people, even at the risk of discomfort and embarrassing yourself.

Acrobatics with the Tongue

Tongue twisters are also a part of literature; good tongue twisters are those that are challenging and make witty sense at the same time.  

Here is a pretty extensive collection (“1st International Collection of Tongue Twisters”) of common ones as well as not-so-common ones:

Tongue twisters are a good way of training your articulators in English enunciation.  Meanwhile, words that sound alike usually look alike as well, so trying to understand the tongue twister helps you become more aware of the nature of English words and their nuances.  In particular, tongue twisters often make use of words with multiple meanings, for example those that refer to more than one object or those that can be both a noun and a verb at the same time.  

Debating about Literature

Debate is a form of speaking that comes as close as it gets to rhetoric.  While the debate in the link above is written, a good spoken debate rhetoric is pretty similar, in that it is not overly conversational while still maintaining some elements of speech grammar.  Perhaps reading such debates or even practicing them out loud might be a good way to improve our speaking skills, especially when it comes to such complex and academic rhetoric.  At the very least, it would certainly help us win an argument or two…

Listen A Minute

This is a listening and speaking website which offers listening lessons on a wide variety of topics, including literature:

– Class-oriented:  There are group activities that can be done in a class or small study group.
– Varied activites: There are also writing assignments and other homework related to the particular topic.

– Not interactive online: The lessons have to be printed out in Word or PDF format.
– I don’t understand why they provide the transcript at the very beginning of the lesson.

More than an audiobook

This is an audiobook with the visual transcript. Very useful for second language learners of English to improve on their ability to listen and digest varieties English used beyond just ordinary everyday conversations. Original British accents and an engaging story make for effective language learning.

Credits to CC Prose.  They have similar audiobooks on a lot of other literary titles as well!