First Certificate in English (FCE) Listening Part Two
What will you hear?
There will be a monologue that lasts for approximately 3 minutes. You have to complete the sentences on the question paper with the missing information which you hear in the audio recording. This listening part assesses your ability understand specific information and stated opinion. There are ten questions to complete. Each question is worth one point. This section is essential to master in order to have a good score at the Cambridge:B2 first.
Approaching the questions
You need to relax. A lot of people get nervous and when we are nervous, we don’t listen very well. Breathe slowly and focus on the breathing. This will cause your body to relax and heighten your ability to listen effectively. Deep, slow breathing is a simple method to reduce nervousness.
You have time to read the questions before you hear the audio recording. Do this as knowing what you are listening for is very helpful. Read the instructions carefully. It isn’t uncommon for people to get a question wrong simply because they didn’t follow the instructions.
Dealing with the questions for Part Two
You have to complete the sentence by filling in the gap with 3 words or less or numbers. There will be 10 gaps i.e. ten questions. You will listen to a monologue for about 3 minutes. Then you have to put the missing words (or numbers) into the text. You can listen to the monologue twice. You get a little time (45 seconds) to read through the text before the audio recording begins.
Let’s look at an example question
Jenny says that it was the (1) …………………………………………………………. of her dog’s face that she liked and caused Jenny to choose her.
Here’s the example transcript that we would hear:
I have a number of pets. There’s my cat, my dog and a hamster. I like my cat since he’s such a mellow beast. He sleeps most of the time, but when I get home, he will walk over to the door to greet me. My dog is named Raffles. It was the happy look on her face that I liked and led me to choose her as my dog when she was a puppy. She always looks so happy to be alive. Well, my hamster is a hamster. It eats and runs and sleeps. I like him because he’s adorable.
The answer is ‘happy look.’ That is what she liked about her dog.
You need to really understand what the person is talking about. The following questions would be separate ‘paragraphs’ spoken by the speaker, but related to the same general topic.
Preparation–some general tips for the listening section
Practice often and a lot. The more you practice listening in English, then the better you will do on this section. There is ample material online that you can access.
You need to listen to different accents. There will be accents from England, Canada, The United States, New Zealand, South Africa, etc. Get used to the different vowels sounds and words such as lift/elevator. There are a wide variety of videos on YouTube for this.
The speakers in the recordings will be different ages, so they have different manners of speaking. Listen to a variety of ages of people. Listen to both men and women.
Learn from your mistakes. Don’t just accept them and move on. Analyze your errors and ask yourself these questions.
- What did I get wrong?
- Why did I get that question wrong?
- What don’t I understand here?
- How can I get better?
Read the practice transcripts and try to figure out what the problem is.
Listen to materials that are suitable for your level. Listening to materials that are far above your level will not improve your listening skills. To improve, we need to listen to things that are at or just above our level.
Some specific tips for Part Two
- Don’t write more than 3 words. If you think you need more than three words, then you are wrong.
- For numbers and dates, you can just write the number e.g. 200, 2015, October 10.
- Watch out for the grammar. Read the entire sentence to make sure that your answer fits grammatically.
- The second question always comes after the first question. There is normally one paragraph for each question.
- The sentences on the test paper will be different from what you hear on the audio recording; however, the words that you write must be exactly the same as what you hear.
- Spelling isn’t critical as long as the word is comprehensible; however, if your spelling is really bad and it isn’t clear what you mean, then you won’t receive any points for that answer.