Hello, world! This is ABC English Levels and Valentine speaking. Welcome to our new series of audio lessons dedicated to the FCE listening paper. Listening paper of the FCE has four parts. Today I’ll focus on what they’re like and explain some general approaches and a strategy that can help you to deal with all the four parts easier. Only practical advice! Let’s start with the structure.
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FCE Listening Part structure
- In part 1, you have 8 unrelated episodes of monologues or dialogues. There’s one three-option multiple-choice question for each episode.
- Part 2 represents a short talk or lecture on a certain topic with the summary of the audio which contains ten gapped sentences to be completed.
- The 3rd part is five related extracts with 5 multiple-matching questions.
- Finally, the last part is an interview or conversation with seven multiple-choice questions.
Strategy and tips on FCE Listening Paper
So, what about the strategy? How can you better your marks in the FCE Listening Paper?
- They give you some seconds before each task to get familiar with it. Get the best of it! That is, read the question and the options, underlining key words. Again, key words are the crucial point. Remember that a small word, like ‘his’ or ‘her’, may influence the answer.
- You hear each task twice. Listen carefully for the 1st time and think which option might be right. When listening for the 2nd time, make your choice. If you’re still not sure, tick the one that seems right to you and move on to the next question.
- Do not leave questions without answers. Remember, they do not penalize you for wrong answers, they mark only the right ones.
- Do not get stuck with the same question. Even if you do not know what option to choose, go on with the recording. If not, you’ll get lost and may fail not only the question you’re not sure about but the following ones too. Anyway, you will have some time at the end of each exercise to check your answers.
Do not expect to hear the same words as you see in the question and the options. As a rule, they are synonyms or antonyms of what is being said.
Let’s see the example. A woman is sharing her childhood memories. “It was quite normal that my dad invited some of our neighbours to family dinners. Yeah, it was fun as we all were very friendly, maybe, friendlier than it is traditionally thought in terms of a neighbourhood”.
The question and the options are as follows:
The woman states that
A it was not unusual that her father invited the people who lived near them to family dinners
B they had pleasant get-togethers because of common interests
C it is normal to be friends with neighbours
Let’s think about option A, the woman states it was not unusual that her father invited the people who lived near them to family dinners. The key words are in bold. The original sentence says it was quite normal. Normal means usual. They’re synonyms. An antonym of normal could be unusual. But we have not unusual. Negative plus negative makes positive). So, not unusual is a synonym of normal. See the other words in the option: father – dad; the people who lived near them – neighbours. It seems like option A is the right one.
Be careful, and make sure that the second and the third variants aren’t correct. So, option B states that they had pleasant get-togethers due to their common interests. It’s not said anything about their interests. They had fun because they were very friendly.
In option C, we get an idea that it’s normal to be friends with neighbours. But the original sentence communicates another idea. They were friendlier than it’s traditionally thought in terms of a neighbourhood. What does this mean? Actually, as a rule, neighbours might not have very friendly relationships. So, A is the only correct option. This is how synonyms work.
Do not expect simple clear yes-no answers. People often have their doubts. They may present confusing points of view. Sometimes, it’s just a general idea or emotions that can help you distinguish the main idea from the secondary one.
For example, someone is sharing their experience of visiting some event: “I was really excited about going to that famous place. But when I got there, I was quite disappointed. Well, the amenities were all right and the staff was nice, although the accommodation was rather poor. Oh, but the gig exceeded my expectations!”. And you have a choice:
A liked the place
B was pleased by the staff
C enjoyed the concert
What’s the right option? Let’s think. The key words are ‘excited about the famous place, disappointed, amenities all right, the staff nice, the accommodation poor, the gig exceeded my expectations‘.
Option A, the man liked the place, is just not true because, on the one hand, he was disappointed, on the other, had a good impression of the staff and amenities. Your answer must fully, not partly, correspond a given option.
The second option, the man was pleased by the staff, may seem all right, but… And here come emotions. Which feeling is stronger, about the amenities and the staff or the gig? The gig exceeded his expectations while the amenities were just all right and the staff was only nice. So, although option B might seem appropriate, it is not as important as option C just because of the strong emotions. For this reason, the correct answer is option C, the man enjoyed the concert.
Tip 3. If you don’t know the meaning of some words
Don’t get lost and stuck. Try to work out the right answer from the context. For instance, if you don’t know what ‘amenities’ and ‘gig’ mean, focus on what is clear. In this particular example, the man’s emotions. ‘Amenities are all right, the staff is nice’ is quite a neutral remark. But ‘the gig exceeded his expectations!’ That is a much stronger emotion, right? The same with the options. ‘Be pleased‘ is a soft agreeable feeling. ‘Enjoy’ implies you like something really much. So, we can figure out that a gig is a concert.
Well, that’s all for today. Thank you for being with us. If the lesson was helpful, share it on social networking sites. You can always contact us via our contact form on our website as well as get all the necessary information about our interactive courses.
I wish you all the best. That was ABC English Levels and Valentine. Take care and bye!