Ready to exercise your English listening skills?
Many people think that listening is one of those language-learning skills that you’re either good at or you’re not. And for this reason, a lot of students get nervous when they think about the listening portion of exams.
The truth is that mastering the listening portion of your test isn’t as difficult as you think, as long as you’ve got the right resources to help you prepare. But in order to do that, you might want to do more than just listen to English conversations.
For many students, it also helps to get comfortable with the test format and the style of questions, so that you’re able to respond accordingly. And we’ve got a mixed list of sites that do a little bit of both.
Whether you’re looking to pass an English exam like TOEFL, IELTS or TOEIC, or you just need to get in a little more listening practice, these eight websites can help you practice your listening skills or mentally prepare for your test from the comfort of your own home.
8 Sites to Help You Prepare for Your English Listening Test
If you’ve got an upcoming English listening test and need some extra study material, Exam English can help. Here, you can find useful resources to help you practice your listening for a number of tests, including the following:
Exam English also has resources for business English exams as well, but currently only study material for the reading components.
Along with grammar, reading and vocabulary-building, Exam English also has listening components to all of their test prep material. The listening exercises contain monologues and conversations between English speakers, as well as a series of questions covering content in the listening exercise.
Another awesome thing about Exam English is that they also offer mobile support, so you can download their Android or iOS app for the particular exam you need and practice listening exercises when you’re away from the computer.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Videos are organized by difficulty (beginner to native), topic (arts and entertainment, health and lifestyle, etc.) and format (video blog, news, shows, etc.)—so you can easily browse and find something perfect for your level and interests.
Every word comes with an in-context definition, image, audio and multiple example sentences for easy learning and understanding. You can even click on a word to see how it’s used in other videos across the site.
With such a wide range of resources, you can spend hours practicing your listening with the help of fun activities and detailed explanations to give you the full English immersion experience.
The British Council
The British Council website has a wealth of free resources to help English language learners improve their English skills. While the study material available on the website is almost exclusively in British English, the comprehensive exercises and detailed explanations are helpful for British and American English students.
The British Council has a lot of useful information related to listening tests, including tips to help you prepare for your English listening exam and detailed listening exercises. The listening exercises are broken down into five categories: A1 and A2 (beginner), B1 and B2 (intermediate) and C1 (advanced).
Also, each exercise comes with a worksheet to complete after every activity, as well as an answer key and audio transcript to help you check your answers.
While the exercises on the British Council website aren’t designed with a specific exam in mind, the activities are detailed enough to help you sharpen your listening skills as you prepare for test day.
If you’ve been studying English with textbooks, you’ve probably used a book by Cambridge English at some point. Along with producing excellent classroom study material for students and teachers, Cambridge English is also home to a number of free resources to help you sharpen your English skills.
Cambridge English is also the same company that created the Cambridge English exams, which people from around the world take for employment or immigration purposes. And like most exams, the Cambridge English exams come with a listening component, which you can prepare for by working through some of the listening activities on their website.
Every lesson is assigned a difficulty level following the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) levels. They contain various exercises, like gap-fills and comprehension questions related to the listening material, that let you improve your listening skills and vocabulary. And since the activities aren’t too specific, you can use them for Cambridge English test prep or for general listening practice.
Pearson is another company that makes a lot of ESL textbooks used in the classroom. Along with creating ESL classroom material, the company also made the Pearson PTE exam, which is an assessment that a number of ESL students take before studying or working abroad in an English-speaking country.
If you’re planning to take the PTE, you’ll need to pass a listening portion of the exam that usually takes between 45 minutes to an hour to complete. And while Pearson’s website doesn’t have a lot of free material available to help you prepare for the test, they do offer an offline practice test with audio files and worksheets that can help you practice your listening, reading and writing skills.
And if you’d like additional listening prep for the PTE exam, you can also take a version of the online practice exam. Prices range anywhere between $9.99 to $59.99 depending on the version of the test, but each one will test your listening skills, as well as your speaking, reading and writing skills.
Educational Testing Service
Educational Testing Service, or ETS, is the company that developed the TOEIC exam. This exam is commonly used in a number of countries, including Japan and South Korea, to evaluate the English skills for employment or educational purposes.
If you’re taking the TOEIC, you’ll also need to complete a 45-minute listening section in order to pass the exam. While the ETS site doesn’t have a lot free listening resources available, you can take a look at the sample listening questions so that you have an idea of what you should prepare for.
The company also sales a study guide for the TOEIC listening and reading test, which comes with listening activities, test-taking tips and practice tests.
Oxford Online English
If you’re looking for some one-on-one assistance to help you boost your listening skills before an upcoming test, take a look at Oxford Online English.
They offer a range of affordable prices that give you the opportunity to study with an actual English teacher who can help you fix those weak points in your listening.
You might also want to look at some of their free lessons covering listening, grammar and reading, as well as their 24-question listening assessment test—also free.
Seminole State College
If you’re not preparing for a specific exam and just want to work through some challenging listening exercises, take a look at the ESOL PETT Project on the Seminole State College website.
There, you can choose from a number of listening quizzes designed for beginner, intermediate and advanced students. The questions come with a short to medium-length audio clip and multiple choice answers that test your vocabulary and listening comprehension.
As you can see, there are a number of premium and free listening resources online to help you prepare for test day.
It might seem intimidating, but with the help of these sites you can get the practice you need to pass.
And One More Thing...
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or from the Google Play store.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.