How your kiddo conquers this paper matters — as much as how she prepares for it! Follow our winning tips…

Listening comprehension is the second in a series of four papers (the first is Oral) in your child’s language subjects when she takes the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). It is also, arguably an easier paper to perfect.

Furthermore, scoring in this paper can boost your child’s chances of acing the subject! Follow these steps:

1) Get your child to listen to the television and jot down what they hear

Sounds like an unconventional method in preparing for listening comprehension, but Duncan Rose, head of schools at the British Council Singapore, says doing so will help fine-tune their listening skills.

Rose says for students to “start by closing their eyes and listening. Then try to recount or write down details of what you’ve heard.” If you are worried junior might get distracted by flashing visuals, opt for listening to radio news instead.

2) Try sample listening tests

There are English listening-comprehension tests online by the British Council that can be used to help junior familiarise themselves with the strategies they should adopt in tackling the paper.

These listening tests are for the IELTS — International English Language Testing System — internationally recognised tests for English proficiency. Although there is a slight difference in format from Singapore’s listening-comprehension papers — open-ended questions instead of multiple-choice ones — it is a good trial test for your kid to attempt.

3) Read through the questions

Teach junior to always look through the multiple-choice questions before the first reading begins. The questions will provide hints to the content of the passage and clues her in to what they should pay particular attention to. “Doing this makes the candidate more mentally prepared for the listening when it is delivered,” said Rose.

4) Spot the keywords

For the Chinese language paper, Chen Qian Yi, principal of Hua Language Centre, urges students to circle the key words in the questions. Listen out for the same keywords when the reading starts, as the right answers either follow or precede the keywords you have circled.

Chen adds, “For story-[type] passages, be mindful of the ending [of the reading] as it’ll usually reveal the main theme of the passage.”

5) Mark possible answers first

When the first reading begins, it is time to listen VERY intently to spot clues on the parts of the passage related to the questions. Rose encourages students to simply circle or highlight their answers and not shade them in just yet.

6) Shade in your answers AFTER the second reading

Rose says, “Use the second reading as a confirmation and then make sure you shade the right box by checking against the markings you made during the first reading.”

Chen also urges students not to get distracted: Listening more intently to the second reading can allow you time to check your answers.

Duncan Rose is head of schools at the British Council Singapore. Chen Qian Yi is principal of Hua Language Centre.

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