IELTS Preparation Series 3, Episode 16: Listening for Numbers
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Hello, and welcome to Study English, IELTS Preparation. I'm Margot Politis.
In the Listening Module of the IELTS Test you can expect to be asked questions about
So it's important to be familiar with how we talk about numbers.
First, listen to the numbers in this clip about a wind farm in Tasmania:
Each tower that you can see can generate enough power for between seven and eight hundred
'between seven hundred and eight hundred houses'
When numbers are exact or a clear approximation such as 'between seven hundred and eight hundred',
the word 'hundred' has no final 's'. The plural is formed by the following noun: 'between
seven hundred and eight hundred houses'.
For an exact figure you say: seven hundred houses.
You can use a preposition to be less exact and say: over seven hundred houses; around
seven hundred houses; about seven hundred houses; nearly seven hundred houses or under
seven hundred houses.
When we state a number, such as seven hundred or eight thousand there is no 's' after the
unit - four hundred, ten thousand, or five million.
So when do we add 's' to these words?
Listen to the man in the next clip use 'hundreds' to describe the slow change from one type
of forest to another:
There have probably been three lots of logging since white settlement in the 1860s. In time,
that eucalyptus forest will gradually go back to rainforest, but that takes hundreds of
'Hundreds of years'. There is no number; it's just more than one. Notice we add 'of' before
the noun 'years' Hundreds of years.
So listen carefully. 'Thousands of' and 'millions of' are not exact numbers. They're guesses
or rough figures.
He also said the 1860s. This means any year from 1860 to 1869.
In the next clip about Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the speaker doesn't use the final 's'.
Angkor is one of the most popular World Heritage sites in the whole of Asia. Every year now
there are over one million tourists coming to Angkor.
By saying 'over one million tourists', he means more than one million but much less
than 2 million. If the figure were closer to two million, he would probably say 'nearly
two million tourists'
But if he'd said millions of tourists, he would mean more than 2 million.
Instead of saying one million you can also say a million. It means the same thing.
Listen to this woodchopper talking about how many titles he's won:
I've won one hundred and eighty three world titles I suppose, the only person in sporting
history to ever win over a thousand championships … so I suppose it hasn't been too bad
of a life.
'Over a thousand championships'. He could have said one thousand or a thousand. And
he could have said a hundred and eighty three. Notice that 'and' is used to add numbers below
a hundred - he says one hundred and eighty three.
You also say a thousand and 83 (1,083) and a million and 83 (1,000,083). But you say
one thousand, one hundred and 83 (1,183) or one million, one thousand and 83 (1,001,083).
When you're talking about where something occurs in a sequence, you use ordinal numbers
such as first, second, third, fourth.
Ordinal numbers are used in dates, as in this clip in which the speaker is talking about
a major art exhibition held in 2006.
The Biennale of Sydney this year is the 15th. It occurs every two years, as all biennales
do and this year starts on the 8th of June.
He says 'the fifteenth'. He means the fifteenth Sydney Biennale exhibition. There have been
14 held before this one. The date is the eighth of June. This date can be expressed like this:
June eighth June the eighth
Now listen for another use of an ordinal number in this clip about an art course held in an
So if we're looking at one of the paintings in this gallery in European art, where we're
looking at 19th-century paintings, we're talking about the paintings as they appear in the
She says: '19th century paintings'.
Ordinal numbers are used for centuries and are often written in numbers like this:
Of course, this refers to the 1800s, again usually written as a number: the 1800s.
So what do you call the present century?
I think that the strongest mark of 21st century culture is artists taking from every possible
place to realise their visions.
He says: '21st century culture'. The suffix 's-t' is used after 1 to represent the last
2 letters of 'first'.
Ordinal numbers are also used to refer to fractions.
You have the special fraction terms - half, third and quarter, but all other forms use
ordinal numbers as in this clip about the wind farm:
Six towers were erected in that time; these have the potential of generating one fifth
of Tasmania's power needs from wind energy.
'One fifth of Tasmania's power needs'.
Plural fractions take a plural form, for example: two fifths. Fractions are followed by 'of':
one fifth of. And a noun group which refers to the whole: one fifth of Tasmania's power
Another type of fraction is percentage. For example, 'one-quarter' (1/4) can be expressed
Let's listen for the percentage used in this clip about an oyster farm:
It takes approximately 2 to 2 and a half years to get the oysters up to size and sold to
the market. From this farm we've averaged about 15% of the market for export and that
goes to Hong Kong and Japan.
'fifteen percent of the market'.
Percentages have the same structure as fractions, 'of' and a noun group: Fifteen percent of
the market for export.
Yet another way of talking about parts of numbers is decimals.
Listen to how they're used in talking about wind turbines:
It's quite a large structure. 1.75 megawatts generated by each unit.
Electrical power is measured in 'watts'. One megawatt is one million watts.
You say one point seven five, but write it in numbers with a decimal point: 1.75.
A decimal is usually followed by a plural noun: '1.75 megawatts'
Now let's listen to a furniture maker talk about the thickness of the veneer, or layer
of wood he puts on his furniture. Is his veneer thicker than the old fashioned sort?
Today we're using sophisticated ways of putting our construction of our furniture. We use
a lot of veneers and those veneers aren't the old-fashioned .06 of a mil, they're about
a 6 mil veneer and they're laid up on MDF and they have a solid frame.
His veneers 'aren't the old-fashioned .06 of a mil'. They're 'about a 6 mil veneer'.
They're much thicker.
'Point 06 of a mil' is a decimal figure. It's less than one. Mil is short for millimetre.
Notice that he says it like a fraction - point 06 of a mil.
Usually you say point 06, although you will sometimes hear point zero six.
That's all for today.