Some of my students who are preparing for IELTS with me here in Dublin have told me that they really have difficulty understanding Australian accents, especially in IELTS Listening Section 4, which a lecture by a professor. (Sometimes the professor is Australian; sometimes he or she has a British or North American accent.)
My students say that they are used to hearing Irish accents, American accents (mine), and British accents, but feel a little bit lost when they hear an Aussie professor explaining something.
There is nothing particularly difficult about Australian accents; like any other accent, it’s just a question of getting used to it. And that means that if you don’t have friends from Australia to talk to, you need to search out Australian English online and spend a lot of time listening.
I did a quick search on YouTube for some videos about Australia and Australian accents, and here are a few I found.
A clip from Nothing to Declare, a TV show about the customs and immigration agents who protect Australia’s border. In this particular clip, an Irish lad tries to sidestep Australia’s laws and return for a second working holiday (5:59). It’s especially good because you’ve got two different accents going on here. If you like this one, be sure to search out other clips from Nothing to Declare on YouTube or on TV. (In Ireland it comes on Sky Living in the afternoons and early evening; see TV listings here.)
If you prefer sexy lifeguards and daring rescues to border control officers and their drug-sniffing dogs, there’s nothing better than Bondi Rescue. But the real reason you should watch it isn’t for the eye candy, but because there’s a lot of off-camera narration that will give you good listening practice with Australian accents. It’s full of idiomatic expressions and phrasal verbs, so that’s an added bonus. You can find episodes of Bondi Beach Rescue all over Youtube, but here’s one to get you started (22:13).
Finally, here’s is a (sort of) funny video by a guy named Tom Watson about understanding Australian accents (3:49).
If you’ve been studying hard for IELTS and just want some fun, watch Canvas Bags, a tongue-in-cheek anthem about recycling by musical comedian Tim Minchin. Tim hails from Perth, Australia, and now lives in London.
Podcasts are an even better way to get acquainted with Australian accents, though they do require a bit more advance planning and downloading. But once you’ve downloaded a bunch, you can load them on your iPod and practice listening whenever you have a few free minutes on the bus going to school or while you’re at the gym.
I checked out ABC (Australia’s national public broadcaster) and they’ve got a host of podcasts about a wide range of subjects, from education and health to science and sports. It would be worthwhile to download several ABC podcasts at once and load them onto your iPod. Also please let me know if there are any you particularly like so I can post the direct links here for other students.
To sum up, make your IELTS practice fun by searching out YouTube clips and podcasts to help you to better understand our friends from Oz. Don’t feel bad if you need to repeat a video or podcast multiple times. Every minute you spend listening brings you one minute closer to your IELTS goal, and more importantly, to your future.