Practicing for the listening section of the TOEFL can be difficult, particularly if you live in an area where not much English is spoken. What that means in practical terms is that you must make the effort to seek out ways to get as much listening practice as possible to help you prepare for the exam. The TOEFL exam features speakers using a variety of accents and you must listen to them if you want to do well.

Fortunately, there are some very easy things you can do to get the TOEFL listening practice you need. Here are five to try.

Method #1: Take tours conducted in English

Because English is so widely spoken, it is relatively easy to find English language tours even in cities where English isn’t spoken. Many museums offer audio tours in a variety of languages. For a few dollars, you can get access to high-quality recordings that will help you improve your listening comprehension. If you can find a tour with a guide, you may have the opportunity to listen and ask questions – and that’s a great way to prepare for the exam.

Method #2: Listen to English language lectures with transcripts

A significant portion of your score on the TOEFL speaking portion will be determined by how well you can understand and respond to topics raised in lectures. The best way to prepare is to listen to lectures on a wide variety of topics.

If you can, get some lecture transcripts and follow along. You won’t have a transcript when you take the TOEFL, but it can be helpful to have a written record to help you learn new vocabulary.

Method #3: Seek out groups of people who speak English

Talking with real people in real time is essential if you want to do well on the TOEFL. The chances are good that, wherever you live, there are other people who are learning English and want the chance to practice. Look at online bulletin boards and universities to find groups – and when you do, join one and participate.

Method #4: Listen to podcasts and audiobooks

There are tons of audio books you can access for free or purchase online on websites like There are many similar websites that offer free audio books. All you need to do is simply do a search on google for free audio books and you’ll get plenty of them.

In addition to that, you can find interesting podcasts that are specifically aimed towards ESL learners or for regular English speaking students.

Here are some examples where you can find some good podcasts.


Method #5: Listen to lectures in English

Several of the listening selections in the TOEFL are lectures. It’s a good idea to practice listening to academic lectures. If you can, attend lectures in person. If not, seek out recorded lectures online. Listen to them, practice taking notes, and familiarize yourself with the typical structure of lectures so you will be prepared on test day.

The listening portion of the TOEFL is essential because it measures your ability to understand spoken English in an academic setting. In a classroom setting or lecture hall, you won’t be able to slow down the speaker’s words or consult a transcript. The key to doing well on the exam – and in school – is to practice your TOEFL listening as much as possible before the test.


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