Listening

Listening is a skill that you use and improve every day without even realising. Your teacher may talk in the foreign language and so by actively listening and responding in class you’re developing this skill all the time. However, just listening in your language class isn't enough for you to do well in your GCSE listening exam. There are plenty of ways to improve your listening skills at home, school or even whilst you’re out and about. See our tips on how to revise, what to do in the exam and how the exam is structured.

How to revise listening

Top tip:

“Subscribe to a language learning podcast that you can listen to anywhere and at anytime. They start from beginners level and focus on language and culture.”

  • Listen to something little and often.
  • Aim to listen out for something in particular to work on your concentration and how to pick out small details.
  • Learn how to recognise the sound of letters when put together in a word.
  • Ask your teacher for some copies of the recordings they use in class so that you can listen again in your own time and re-do the exercises.
  • When doing exercises, listen and then fill in the answer.
  • YouTube is a great resource for finding things in another language. When you’ve found something you like check out the videos in ‘suggestions’ too.
  • DVDs come with different options for audio and subtitles. Try watching them in the foreign language with subtitles in the language too. This way you listen and read, so you see the spelling, hear the pronunciation and learn the meaning all at the same time.
  • Online revision sites such as BBC bitesize have questions for you to answer about a video or audio clip. Try to listen a few times to pick up all the details.
  • Listen to music in your foreign language; you can even look up out the lyrics too and try singing along. Have a look at Gekommen um zu Bleiben by Wir Sind Helden, Bailando by Enrique Inglesias and Dis-Moi by BB Brunes.
  • Listen to the radio in the foreign language. There are many available online, such as http://www.rfi.fr for French or Deutsche Welle for German. You can listen to what type of music is played, as well as chat shows and the news.
  • Subscribe to a language learning podcast that you can listen to anywhere and at anytime. They start from beginners level and focus on language and culture
  • Try watching your favourite TV show or film in another language - you can often find clips on YouTube, or some DVDs have different language options. You could watch Friends in French, for example.
  • Don’t panic if you don’t understand everything! If there was no challenge it would just be boring.

Exam tips

Insider info:

“Read the questions before you hear the extracts, so you know what to listen out for.”

  • The is a great exam to earn you loads of easy marks - answers are often just one word or you simply tick the correct box.
  • The exam tests your ability to understand the foreign language spoken by a native speaker - you may not lose marks for wrong spellings but make sure that what you write still makes sense.
  • Read the questions before you hear the extracts, so you know what to listen out for.
  • Answer the question that is asked - the answer may not be that obvious.
  • Don't be distracted. Listen carefully to the recording and write your answers in the pause gaps.

Exam structure

  • The exam will last between 35-45 minutes.

Warning!:

"The exam format varies depending on your exam board so these guidelines are only a rough guide and you should always check with your teacher to find out what your exam will be like.”

  • The exam format varies depending on your exam board, so these guidelines are only a rough guide and you should always check with your teacher to find out what your exam will be like.
  • Different types of answers may include: ticking the correct answer; stating if an answer is true or false; matching a letter to a number; writing a word or short phrase and completing a sentence.
  • Higher Tier extracts are longer than the Foundation Tier and you'll be tested on more complex vocabulary.