Do you want to improve your IELTS listening skills? Well, here’s the perfect TED talk for you! It’s called 5 Ways to Listen Better, by Julian Treasure.



Extraction (noun) – the act or process of getting something by pulling it out, forcing it out, etc. : the act of extracting something

Cocktail party (noun) – a usually formal party at which alcoholic drinks are served

Discount (verb) – to believe that (something, such as information, a rumor, etc.) is not worth serious attention

Intention (noun) – the thing that you plan to do or achieve : an aim or purpose

Reverberation (noun) – a sound that echoes

Cacophony (noun) – unpleasant loud sounds

Mundane (adjective) – dull and ordinary




Watch the video below and list the five ways he suggests we can become better listeners. This begins around 04:00. (Answers below.)



Practice your listening skills by listening to the very beginning of the video and filling in the blanks below. Take a piece of paper and write the numbers 1-8 in the margin, then listen and note what fills the gaps:

We are losing our listening. We spend roughly __1__  of our communication time listening, but we’re not very __2__. We retain just 25 percent of what we hear. Now not you, not this talk, but that is __3__. Let’s define listening as making meaning from sound. It’s a mental process, and it’s a __4__. We use some pretty cool techniques to do this. One of them is __5__. So in a cocktail party like this, if I say, “David, Sara, pay attention,” some of you just sat up. We recognize patterns to distinguish noise from signal, and especially __6__. Differencing is another technique we use. If I left this pink noise __7__ a couple of minutes, you would literally cease to hear it. We listen to differences, we __8__ that remain the same.







  1. Silence – enjoy silence for a short time each day.
  2. Mixer – count the number of sounds you can hear around you.
  3. Savoring – learn to enjoy mundane sounds
  4. Listening positions – use filters to tune in to what you need to pay attention to
  5. RASA – Receive, Appreciate, Summarize, Ask


  1. 60%
  2. good at it
  3. generally true
  4. process of extraction
  5. pattern recognition
  6. our name
  7. on for more than
  8. discount sounds