In my previous post, I talked about IELTS preparation with a focus on the reading section of the exam. In this space, I will try to present some solutions to the challenges that students face in preparing their listening and speaking skills for those sections. You may doubt your own English language abilities, but it is possible to achieve a good IELTS score if you follow certain handy tips, and, needless to say, keep on practicing. Here are some ways to improve your listening and speaking skills as part of your IELTS preparation.Use entertainment to hone your listening skillsI generally put a lot of emphasis on developing a good reading habit when someone asks me about ways to improve their writing skills. But when it comes to listening skills, you obviously need to go beyond books and think about ways of honing your grasp of the spoken language.We all are fond of something on the TV. It could be a movie, a series (Game of Thrones?), cartoons, cooking shows – the list never ends. Try watching your favorite show in English to begin with. You may want to watch it with subtitles. Over time, you will notice a dramatic improvement in your listening skills. When you aren’t honing your listening skills with TV or movies, try listening to different radio shows in English. It could be an entertainment segment or a serious interview on current affairs – the choice is yours. These are the most practical tips that one can get when it comes to IELTS preparation for the listening and speaking test.Caution: Don’t expect the best results in one or two days, even for native English speakers listening skills take time, but give it some time, and you will not regret it.Improve your native speaking skillsForget about IELTS preparation for now, and don’t worry about conversing in English. Take a moment to consider whether you are an eloquent communicator. Most people are not! Even in their native language, most people lack some speaking skills and are unable to effectively communicate their thoughts in words. They don’t realize this, because they never find the need to impress anyone or get a good score for speaking their native language. The prerequisite to speaking English to a high standard is to speak your native language fully and effectively. Once you strengthen your native speaking skills, move to next step.Practice speaking to impressAgain, start with your native language. But this time keep in mind that you need to impress the listener. You could do that by using formal words and a confident style, both of which are very important during the IELTS exam. Never use slang while you are practicing your speaking skills, because you are not supposed to do that during your exam. Now try to talk in English in the same manner. Remember, you need to find someone who will not just listen to you, but who is able to talk to you in English. The best way to practice your listening and speaking skills is to find someone who is also preparing for the IELTS exam. In this way, your priorities will match and you will have a better chance of helping each other achieve a good score.Learn some English expressionsLast but not the least, learn some expressions in English. Never try to simply translate your native language when you are talking to someone in English. Every language has its own way of expressing different attitudes and feelings. Instead of translating an expression from your own language, try to learn some expressions that are distinctive to English. This could again be a good excuse to watch movies, read books, newspapers or magazines, or just spend time talking to native English speakers – they will probably be very happy to share some of their favorite sayings with you and explain complex meanings. If you’re struggling to find anyone, reach out online; you could even offer classes in your own language in exchange.