Practice the IELTS with Documentaries

Documentaries are a good resource for you to practice the IELTS because they not only get you involved, they also deliver a lot of knowledge and information that you may use in the IELTS test. Most importantly, they contain both academic English and conversational English, which is useful for developing all the four skills (listening, reading, writing and speaking). Let’s take a look at the recommended resources and how to practice the IELTS with documentaries!

Practice the IELTS with documentaries-magoosh

Recommended Documentaries

Life Story

As I have already mentioned in Practice the IELTS with TV and movies, Life Story is a fascinating BBC documentary series. It has six episodes telling you about the different stages of wildlife which consist of birth, survival, finding home, fighting for power, finding partners, and becoming parents. The narrator speaks slowly and pronounces clearly, so it is not difficult to understand. You can practice your listening skills by watching without subtitles.

Museum Secrets

Museum Secrets has three seasons with more than 20 episodes.  It explores the secrets behind the world’s famous museums and talks about unknown history.

Tropic of Cancer

This documentary tells you about a man traveling to different countries around the Tropic of Cancer such as Mexico, Laos and India. During the journey, he encountered conflicts, extraordinary people, and beautiful landscape. You can pay attention to the way he described his experience while watching.

South Pacific

South Pacific is a BBC documentary series which has six episodes in total. It shows the beautiful nature, diverse life, and various kinds of environmental damage in this area. You will definitely enjoy the incredible scenes and the clearly pronounced British accent when watching this series.

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

Different from the other documentaries I recommend, this series contains more academic knowledge and technical terms. Therefore, it will be a little bit hard to understand the content. However, if you are interested in this topic, then just try to watch Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. You can use subtitles in your native language if it is necessary.

Recommended Websites

Here are some websites that you can watch documentaries for free!

Top Documentary Films 

Documentaries Heaven

Documentary Tube

How to Watch Properly

Use subtitles wisely

The most important thing for developing your listening skills is to use subtitles wisely. You can watch without subtitles at first. When there is something you can not understand, try to guess the meaning from the context and pictures. If you still have trouble in getting the meaning, then go back, click on the subtitle and listen to it again.

Take notes

Take notes on new words, expressions, and useful facts.

Think critically

Documentaries cover a wide range of topics that are very common in the IELTS speaking and writing test. Thinking critically about these topics trains your brain, which helps you to generate great ideas quickly for the test.

If you get tired after doing practice tests, try to learn English with these interesting documentaries!

By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

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  • Kuangyan

    Kuangyan creates IELTS blogs at Magoosh. She is passionate about language education and has a MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from New York University. Kuangyan has experience of teaching English both in China and in US. In her free time, she drinks mocha, does yoga, takes photos and travels to different places to explore the exciting world.

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