How to Study For IELTS Without Studying For IELTS
Studying is hard. Studying is boring. Studying is the last thing you want to do. But it’s impossible to get a high score in IELTS without putting in enough hours of study.
The solution? Make your study sessions not feel like, well, study sessions.
There are a number of ways to do this: watching TV documentaries on IELTS-related topics, reading interesting articles on a variety of subjects, playing revision games with a friend or qualified tutor.
But the number one method for studying without studying, the ultimate combination of enjoyability, applied focus and natural skill development, is listening to podcasts.
Podcasts are an incredible tool for developing your academic language whilst also increasing your knowledge of the world. They can provide help in all four components of the IELTS exam; most obviously Listening and Speaking. But they’re also a lot of fun to listen to.
Here are some of the best podcasts (click the titles for the links), and at the end of the article there is some advice on how to listen to them:
The Forum is a discussion podcast in which a number of people from different areas of academia come together to talk about a certain idea. The topics vary between many different subjects, so you can listen to a broad range of topic-related vocabulary.
The talks are very interesting and the opinions that are given are well argued; the language they use would be very useful for your Task 2 essay.
The podcast is also designed with the average listener in mind. Most of the language should be familiar to you, but if a word comes up which you don’t understand, just pause the podcast and look it up. And that’s the beauty of it.
The Infinite Monkey Cake is a podcast which is mainly based in science-related subjects, but occasionally branches out into other areas too. Like The Forum, The Infinite Monkey Cage is a discussion podcast where a panel of people from different areas of academia are invited to talk about a specific topic. It is presented by the affable and floppy-haired physicist Brian Cox, who has become a household name in England after the popularity of his TV shows.
This podcast is one of my favourites. The presenters are hilarious, the subjects fascinating, and you will regularly find yourself erupting in fits of laughter at some of the things that get discussed.
Despite that, the ideas which are presented are extremely interesting, and the panel uses many natural academic collocations which will come in very useful for your Writing. Besides that, it can be a fun challenge to keep up with the discussion and this will enhance your Listening skills.
This final podcast is one of my favourites, and it is a podcast where people tell the stories they have written. This is a little different to the above two podcasts in that it is not based in academia, but rather entertainment.
This may not seem useful to you for IELTS, which is very much an Academic-style English exam. However, it does hold value.
One of the most important and overlooked aspects of the Speaking exam is to make your Speaking interesting. This is most important in Parts 2 and 3. The Moth will not only help you to structure your talk logically and coherently, but it will also effortlessly develop your use of pronunciation; your intonation, stress, and sounds.
How To Listen
I’ve found that the best way to listen to these podcasts is with one piece of paper.
Fold this piece of paper, and then fold it in half again. You should end up with four squares. Keep the paper folded.
As you listen to the podcasts, write down the ideas the speakers give on one of the squares. Also write down any language that you may find useful, or want to look up later.
Once one square is filled, move to the next square and continue to fill it up. Do this until all the squares are filled.
I have found that reducing the white space on the paper by cutting it in half and half again makes people less afraid of starting and encourages them to keep making notes.
If you would like any more suggestions on podcasts to listen to, or have any suggestions on which podcasts others may find useful, or any other useful study methods, please leave a comment below!