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IELTS Preparation Series 3, Episode 15: Listening for Signpost Words


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0:12

Hello, and welcome to Study English, IELTS Preparation. I'm Margot Politis.

0:18

In this episode we'll look at signpost words. These are words and phrases that help the

0:24

listener follow what someone is saying, and work out what they are about to say.

0:30

Listen to this woman talking about Chinese New year in Melbourne:

0:34

Well, she's visiting from Vietnam, and we're just here to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

0:40

I guess it's more quieter here. I mean, it's pretty noisy today, but over in Vietnam, it'd

0:43

be, like, much bigger, yep. There'd be a lot more people around as well.

0:47

When she says 'I mean', the listener knows she is about to explain more about her statement.

0:54

Listen again:

0:54

Well, she's visiting from Vietnam, and we're just here to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

0:55

I guess it's more quieter here. I mean, it's pretty noisy today, but over in Vietnam, it'd

0:58

be, like, much bigger, yep.

1:05

Recognising signpost words and anticipating what the speaker will say are important skills

1:11

for the IELTS Listening Test.

1:14

In the test a speaker may use a technical term you don't know, but if you are listening

1:21

carefully you might also hear a definition of it.

1:24

In the next clip the speaker is talking about the problem of running out of fuel.

1:29

Listen for the technical term and its definition:

1:34

This is a worldwide problem - increasing traffic - not only because it's clogging our roads

1:40

but because of the fuels it uses. And whether vehicles use petrol or diesel or liquefied

1:46

petroleum gas, it all comes from under the ground and we're running out of it, which

1:52

is why researchers are now turning to biofuels - fuels that can be grown instead of mined.

2:00

There are a number of signpost words here. When the speaker says 'not only because' and

2:07

'but because' the listener knows he is about to give two reasons why increasing traffic

2:13

is a problem. Listen again:

2:16

This is a worldwide problem - increasing traffic - not only because it's clogging our roads

2:23

but because of the fuels it uses.

2:25

He also uses the words 'whether' and 'or'. This tells the listener he is about to mention

2:32

two alternative scenarios:

2:35

And whether vehicles use petrol or diesel or liquefied petroleum gas, it all comes from

2:41

under the ground and we're running out of it.

2:44

Finally, he uses the word 'instead'. That shows he is going to give an alternative to

2:50

the first kind of fuel mentioned. Listen: … which is why researchers are now

2:56

turning to biofuels - fuels that can be grown instead of mined.

3:03

Biofuels are 'fuels that can be grown instead of mined'. So now as you follow the talk you

3:11

would be listening for something that is grown:

3:14

They're researching how to extract biofuel oils not from canola and other seed crops,

3:21

but from tiny plants called microalgae.

3:24

He says 'not from seed crops but from tiny plants called microalgae'.

3:29

So microalgae are tiny plants. 'Called' is the signpost word - when you hear it, you

3:39

will get a name or term you might not be familiar with.

3:44

And he uses the word 'but' to introduce the contrast between seed crops and tiny plants.

3:51

Listen again:

3:53

They're researching how to extract biofuel oils not from canola and other seed crops,

4:00

but from tiny plants called microalgae.

4:07

Another common signpost phrase that signals an unusual name is 'referred to as', used

4:14

here by someone talking about hemp:

4:17

Inside the stem is the pith, which is referred to as the hurd fibre. And this is the white

4:24

part there.

4:26

What's the signpost phrase in the next clip?

4:29

Grampians national park is commonly known as Gariwerd as well which is the Indigenous

4:33

term used.

4:35

'Known as' - Grampians national Park is known as Gariwerd as well. It's another name for

4:42

it.

4:43

Sometimes a speaker may use an abbreviation as in the next clip about a motorcycle engine.

4:53

Notice that he signposts this by saying 'what's called a':

4:57

We've taken one of these engines and we've put it in an environment where it's very dynamic.

5:03

You've got centrifugal acceleration, you've got the bike leaning, so we had to make some

5:08

modifications. What we chose was what's called a CVT, a continuously varying transmission,

5:14

the sort of transmission that you see on many scooters.

5:17

He uses the abbreviation CVT and follows with the full form of the word 'a continuously

5:25

varying transmission'. He also provides an explanation of CVT - the sort of transmission

5:33

that you see on many scooters:

5:35

What we chose was what's called a CVT, a continuously varying transmission, the sort of transmission

5:40

that you see on many scooters.

5:43

Recognising these signposts alerts you to the use of technical terms or abbreviations

5:49

in a talk or tells you that the speaker will follow with a definition or explanation.

5:57

The next clip is of a man talking about a grand house. What words indicate a cause of

6:03

something?

6:04

Martindale hall was built in 1879. It was built for a 21 year old sheep farmer, a young

6:10

man called Edmund Bowman Junior who had a rather inflated impression of his importance

6:14

in the world and decided he wanted to live a lifestyle with servants and a grand house.

6:18

He unfortunately lost the place after a decade, about 11 years due to a drought.

6:25

'Due to a drought'. A drought is a severe lack of rain, which meant that he couldn't

6:31

make any money. 'Due to' means 'because of' or 'as a result of'. Like these phrases, it

6:41

signals an explanation or a cause.

6:46

What word in the next clip tells the listener the speaker is about to talk about a result

6:51

or outcome?

6:52

We treat it as our home and the guests treat it as their home therefore it's just like

6:57

a house that you live in. It responds and stays happy.

7:00

Therefore. The guests treat it as their home therefore it's just like a house you live

7:07

in. It's not like a museum.

7:11

'Therefore' is an important word to listen for in more formal contexts such as lectures.

7:17

It tells you that the statement you are about to hear is a result, or caused by, the first

7:23

statement.

7:24

The less formal word 'so' can be used instead of therefore. Listen for it in this clip:

7:35

Diesel engines are more fuel efficient so you'll go much further on a tankful of diesel

7:39

than you would on a tankful of petrol.

7:41

We could also say 'you'll go further on a tankful of diesel because diesel engines are

7:47

more efficient.' Notice the different order.

7:54

Some signpost words tell you that more is going to be added to what is first said.

8:01

You can say 'in addition':

8:04

In addition to our TV show, Study English has a website.

8:09

Or you can say 'as well as':

8:13

As well as a TV show, Study English has a website.

8:17

Listen for another phrase like these:

8:21

Not only is it a museum during the day but when we shut we then have house guests who

8:25

come and use all the artefacts.

8:27

The house is a museum and a guesthouse.

8:32

Not only is it a museum, it is also a guesthouse.

8:36

It's important to know when a speaker is about to give an example. Often they'll say 'for

8:46

example', but they can also say 'for instance', like this:

8:52

Being a private nature reserve we've got all sorts of critters that live here in the wide

8:56

range of habitats that we have. So for instance come night time there's the possums, owls,

9:00

bats.

9:01

Let's listen for one more signpost word, even though.

9:06

It's used in the next clip to talk about stick insects and needle bugs:

9:11

Even though they live in different places and eat different things, they look very similar

9:15

because they both use the same trick to survive.

9:18

Even though. Even though they live in different places, they look the same.

9:25

This phrase is used to show that what follows is surprising, or unexpected.

9:31

For instance, you could say 'even though the weather was bad, we still enjoyed ourselves'.

9:38

That's all for now.

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