CAE Listening Part 1 + Podcasts for CAE Listening Practice

CAE Listening Part 1 + Podcasts for CAE Listening Practice

Are you planning to take the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English Exam soon? Don’t stress: in addition to structured test preparation classes, there are many ways to prepare for the exam using self-study! Do you know these CAE Listening Part 1 tips and how to prepare for this part of the test when you’re not in the English classroom? These tips and suggested podcasts will help you improve your score.

The Listening Module of the Cambridge CAE Exam consists of 4 parts. Need more help with the Listening Module of Cambridge FCE or CAE? Check out our other articles, CAE and FCE Listening Part 2 Tips and Listening Part 4 Tips.


CAE Listening Part 1 + Podcasts for CAE Listening Practice  

Before learning tips and tricks for the exam, make sure that you understand the basic requirements and components of Listening Module, Part 1.

Listening Part 1 Overview

  • You hear an audio recording
  • The recording has three conversations
  • Each conversation is between two people
  • You will listen to the recording twice
  • Each conversation has two multiple choice questions
  • Each correct answer earns you one mark

What the test is looking for:

According to Cambridge, this part of the exam is testing your ability to understand feeling, attitude, purpose, function, agreement, course of action, gist, or detail. Examples of this in the test might include the following:

  • Feeling: In the conversation you hear, a person might tell another person their current emotions or how they are reacting to a certain situation. Vocabulary words related to emotion are common.
  • Attitude: A person might tell another person their opinion about something. Opinion-related vocabulary might be used, such as “I don’t care for X” or idioms such as “X isn’t my cup of tea.”
  • Purpose: The reason for doing something is communicated. First recognize what the purpose that is being communicated is: perhaps a person is leaving a job (or moving, or going back to school) and is describing why. Phrases such as “that’s why” and “which is why” could indicate this; the speaker could also use transition words such as “therefore” and “because.”
  • Function: A person could describe how something works (or doesn’t work when it should). Listen for how something works and descriptive language.
  • Agreement: It is natural in a conversation for two people to agree or disagree; therefore, in this section, agree/disagree vocabulary might be used. Of course, the words “agree” and “disagree” are hardly used (that would be too easy!). Instead, listen for expressions that illustrate agreement/disagreement, such as “I totally understand,” “That makes sense,” or “I see.”
  • Course of action: How will something occur? These details of a conversation might be tested. Listen for words that indicate steps in a process, such as “then” and “after that” and “following this.”
  • Gist: “Gist” is the main point of a conversation. What point was the speaker trying to make? This could be tested.
  • Detail: In addition to testing your overall understanding of a conversation (gist), “detail” can also be tested. Listen for dates, numbers, and other specific information.

CAE Listening Part 1 + Podcasts for CAE Listening Practice

How to practice

Part 1 is probably the easiest part of the CAE Exam to practice because it’s based on a conversation between two people. To practice, try listening to as many conversations as you can. These can be conversations between characters on TV, interviews on YouTube or the news, or podcasts.

CAE Listening Part 1 + Podcasts for CAE Listening Practice

Podcasts to Prepare for CAE Listening Module

Try listening to these podcasts to prepare for Part 1 of the CAE Listening Module. Each of these podcasts includes a transcript, so you can read and listen at the same time (until you become comfortable reading without the transcript).

American Stories for English Learners

Experience some of the best short stories written by American authors, but experience them in audioformat. American Stories for English Learners has more than 14 hours of listening content: each podcast is 57 minutes long and is a story from a famous American author (some of the longer stories are in two parts). Users can download the MP3 and the transcript and then read and listen to Mark Twain, O. Henry, Willa Cather, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Edith Wharton, and many others. The project is from Voice of America, which provides content written in plain American English with short sentence structures, no idioms, and a limited vocabulary. Each lesson is specifically designed for the English language learner.

CAE Listening Part 1 + Podcasts for CAE Listening Practice

BBC 6-Minute English

BBC 6-Minute English is a popular listening resource for Cambridge preparation students. The lessons are quick (just 6 minutes, as the name suggests), cover an interesting variety of topics, and include learning materials such as vocabulary lists. You can access the archives (lessons before 2014) here, and see updated lessons on its new website.

Wait, Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me!

National Public Radio (NPR) produces many interesting podcasts on different subjects. “Wait, Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me!” is special because it covers the news, but in a quiz format: listeners can guess which of the news stories are real and which are fake. It’s fun, informative, and great English listening practice! You can download “Wait, Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me!” here.


Do you need to prepare for the Cambridge CAE Exam? CISL’s small class sizes (never more than 8 students per classroom) and intensive curriculum provide the materials and one-on-one instruction necessary to succeed. Contact CISL to learn more about our effective teaching methods and our beautiful locations of study in San Diego and San Francisco.