Preparing for the Listening Section of ECCE & ECPE


Ever wonder why students have problems with the listening sections of language examinations? Ask yourself one simple question: How carefully do I listen when someone is speaking? There is half the answer as to why students score as they do, on listening sections. No one really listens carefully and we are not totally focused on the task at hand. Focus is a must. This is one skill we can give students to help them improve on any listening task. They should know ahead of time what they are listening for and make predictions, judging from the choices, about what they expect to hear. This helps focus.


The listening sections of the ECCE and ECPE consist of 50 questions. The ECCE consists of two types of items, and the ECPE of three types. To handle any listening section skillfully it is important to:


By Sylvia Kar



discriminate between similar sounds (sheep, ship)


differentiate between words with the same sound but different meanings (sun, son - homophones)


recognize various meanings of the same word

·    accommodate – put up for the night

·    accommodate – comply with someone’s wishes


link vocabulary to context (if words such as cells, liver, kidneys etc. are used, you know the topic is related to medicine or biology)


predict meaning of unknown words


identify language function


identify subject/speaker, situation, location, time (who, where, why, what, when, how)


focus on main points of conversation


understand rephrasing



ECCE Listening Sections


Section 1 of the ECCE listening consists of 30 questions and the three answer choices are pictures. Students tend to do well on this section because they have the added benefit of the visual answer choices. So I will not spend any time analyzing this section.


Section 2 of the ECCE listening consists of 4 passages with 4-6 questions each, for a total of 20 questions. This section is more demanding therefore students must be focused. To focus on a task, students must look at the question and answer items carefully and see how they interact with each other, and predict what they will hear. Let’s work with a 2013 sample paper distributed by the Test Administration Center.


Read the question and answer items carefully, looking for a common theme.  


Listen to a teacher in a music class, but first look at the questions.


What is each student supposed to do?


a.       perform in a concert

b.      attend five events

c.       write a research paper

d.      compose a piece of music


What information did the teacher hand out?


a.       a list of possible things to see

b.      a list of all class assignments

c.       a program for a performance

d.      the school’s website address



Why does the teacher want the ticket stubs?


a.       to get the student’s money refunded

b.      to give a discount on another concert

c.       to prove the students went to a show

d.      to create to a class collection


What information can be found on the website?


a.       the assignment requirements

b.      the teacher’s schedule

c.       information about the musicians

d.      a list of local performances


Why is the teacher talking to the class?


a.       to invite the students to a performance

b.      to describe an event

c.       to explain an assignment

d.      to announce a new website


What does the teacher mean when he says:


a.       The students’ responses should be thoughtful.

b.      The students’ responses should be lengthy.

c.       The students’ responses should be entertaining.

d.      The students’ responses should include pictures.





Since it’s a teacher-student relationship, why would the teacher want to see the students? Question 35 addresses this point. Notice how question 31 also relates. Question 33 talks about ticket stubs so this relates back to questions 31 and 32. All the questions relate and can be answered by someone experienced without even listening to the passage.


Your students can reach a level where by using the process of elimination and finding relationships between the questions they can easily find the correct answer before listening. Even if they don’t find the answers, they are very focused and ready to listen for confirmation of the correct answer choice.


This same technique is used for the 3rd part of the ECPE listening, and it’s even simpler to do because there are only three answer choices, A, B and C.


Part 1 of the Listening ECPE Section:


In this part the candidate hears short conversations between 2 speakers and must select the answer which means about the same thing as what the speakers say or is true based on what is said.

Look at the first three questions from an ECPE 2014 Sample Test distributed by the Test Examination Center, and write down what the subject matter is.




a.       The hotel only takes phone reservations.

b.      The price for the reservation may change.

c.       He will telephone the hotel for her.


She wants to book a room


a.       He is nervous about speaking to his supervisor.

b.      His supervisor turned down his request for vacation.

c.       He does not like what his supervisor said.



He has either made, or wants to make a request to his supervisor.


a.       She will think about his decision.

b.      He is not sure what he should do.

c.       She thinks he made the right choice.



He has or he must decide something.


Just doing this simple task focuses the student’s mind on the task at hand and keeps him/her focused. This alone is half the battle won.


Part 2 should be done in exactly the same way. Look at the choices and predict what is going on.


The process of elimination is also a very useful tool. Some choices especially in the longer listening segments are easy to eliminate.


Unfortunately, unless these skills are done repeatedly in the classroom with the students, they will not become second nature, and students won’t have the ability to apply them on an actual exam. Drum them into them and this will focus their attention, and they will perform much better.





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