One skill that many people struggle to practice for the OET is listening, especially if you don´t live in an English speaking country or work as a doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional in an English speaking environment. Watching movies and listening to music in English isn’t going to cut it when it comes to preparing for the OET, so we have put together some resources and guidance to help you.
What should I be listening to?
As mentioned above, watching movies in English may help you a bit to become more familiar with certain phrases or to practice the listening skills assessed on the OET listening paper, you need to find materials that are more focused on topics related to health and medicine.
One recommended resource is podcasts because they are available on many topics, which can help you learn about other specialities of medicine or issues related to nursing, and they feature speakers with different accents, which is important for doing well on the OET listening paper. Websites such as ted.com, the BBC and ABC radio have podcasts on health-related topics.
Another positive feature of podcasts is that you can listen to them while you are on the go, such as while you commute to work or while you are doing housework. You can download them to your phone to listen at a convenient time for you or stream them using an application.
One final recommendation on what you should be listening to is to take advantage of your surroundings. If you do have English-speaking friends, particularly doctors and nurses, try to listen to them as they engage in conversations about sensitive topics and as they maintain conversations, such as changing topics, turn taking, and agreeing and disagreeing.
Do I just need to listen to the podcasts?
However, you need to do more than just listen passively to the podcasts. In order to improve your listening skills, you need to be an active listener and ask yourself questions as you listen. There are several listening skills assessed on the OET, so you can ask yourself questions designed to help you develop those skills.
One important skill needed to be successful on the OET Listening paper is listening for gist or main idea. As you listen, try to summarize the main idea of the presentation or each person´s main point, and then continue to revise your summary as you listen to more of the presentation. It is important to continue to ask yourself questions as you listen so that you are actively listening and incorporating any new information.
Another skill on the OET Listening paper is listening for opinion or attitude. For example, you will need to identify how a speaker feels about a certain topic, so as you listen to a presentation or a conversation between two healthcare professionals, such as nurses, doctors of different specialities and therapists, you should try to determine the speaker’s opinion based on certain clue words they use, such as ´I feel´, ´I believe´, or ´the best option for me is…´.
Another skill you need to develop for the OET listening paper is note taking, particularly for Part A, which includes two consultations between a patient and a doctor. For Part A, you will need to be able to listen for specific information, such as names of conditions, medications, or laboratory tests, and write them down as accurately as possible.
A final recommendation is to keep in mind your test venue as you prepare for the OET listening paper. There are different formats of the OET, including paper-based, computer-based, and the OET@home which uses remote proctoring. For tests that are at a venue, such as the paper-based and the computer-based tests, you may be provided headphones. For the OET@home, you will need to have your own headphones, so it is important to have a quality and comfortable set of headphones.