One activity that’s very popular with my students is recipe dictation. In this activity, I read a recipe out loud in a tutoring session. In the activity, they try to understand what I’ve said, write it down, and then try the recipe for themselves. It’s a fun and tasty way to practice hearing and recording important details.
To help you practice your listening in this way, I’ve recorded myself explaining the recipe for chocolate fondant. Listen to the recipe and see if you can write down the details correctly. You can check your answers by downloading my written version of the recipe here.
The Web is full of this kind of recipe listening practice. Video portals like YouTube and DailyMotion have tons of recipe videos. And cooking websites like Food Network, All Recipes, and Martha Stewart Living have both recipe videos and written versions of the recipes so that you can easily check your listening.
If you’re working with a tutor, recipe dictation can also be a good way to practice speaking. Recipes are generally less complicated than the passages you’ll hear on TOEFL Listening, but watching cooking videos by native speakers is also a great way to pick up English intonation.
And, just in case you’re wondering, the fondant recipe I just gave you was actually originally dictated to me by an ESL student who lives in Paris.