Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen – a text reconstruction listening comprehension exercise

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Earlier we already brought you two exercises based on Leonard Cohen’s classic song Hallelujah: an easier and a slightly more difficult one. In both cases only some of the words were missing.

This current task is more complex since no words are given here – you have to reconstruct the full lyrics with minimal help: you get to see how many letters each word has. But other than that, you’re on your own, just like when you try to write down the lyrics of any other song.

It’s probably a good idea to do at least one of the previous versions (easierless easy) and then wait a day or two just so that you don’t exactly remember all the words because then it’s no longer a listening comprehension task but simply a memory test. But of course you can also jump right in:

There will be some more tasks based on this song, including a reading comprehension text and vocabulary exercises too.

Handle with Care – The Traveling Wilburys: a listening comprehension exercise

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Bob Dylan received the Nobel Prize in literature earlier today and we’re celebrating it with a listening task, what else?

Most Bob Dylan fans will know that he was a member of the supergroup the Traveling Wilburys, together with George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne. The song featured here, Handle with Care, was one of the hits of this short-lived band.

Sting: Fields of Gold – a listening comprehension exercise

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Another gem from Sting: Fields of Gold. Not a very difficult listening comprehension task this time, probably between levels B2 and C1. Some of the vocabulary can be a bit tricky but Sting’s singing voice is nicely clear and easy to understand.

Check back in a few weeks for more exercises based on this song, especially vocabulary.

Leonard Cohen: Famous Blue Raincoat – a listening comprehension exercise

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I almost wrote “this is one of the most famous Leonard Cohen songs”, but you can say the same about a dozen of them, so let’s just say “another great song”. Your task is to listen to the original studio version and write down the words you hear.

Once again, this is not a very easy exercise (later you’ll get easier ones based on this same song); the difficulty is probably somewhere between levels B2 and C1 (advanced). Although the tempo of the song is slow and Cohen’s singing voice is fairly easy to understand, his imagery and poetic language can prove to be tricky.

Some words (mainly names) have been added to give you an easier start.

Fairly soon you will find more tasks here based on this song, including vocabulary exercises too.

Sting: Russians – a listening comprehension exercise

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Listen to the song Russians by Sting and write down the words you hear.

Although Sting’s voice can be clearly heard all through the song, it’s still not an easy task because the vocabulary is pretty advanced in places. Also, the lyrics contain some abstract ideas and poetic language, which again make this listening comprehension task more difficult. Overall, it’s somewhere between B2 and C1 level, probably closer to the latter – an advanced level exercise.

Some names have been added to help you a bit.

There will be follow-up exercises to help you learn the vocabulary of this song.

Simon & Garfunkel: The Boxer – a listening comprehension exercise

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Once again, a classic: the famous duo of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel first performed this song in 1969 and it has been popular ever since. The lyrics are not simple: you’ll find some advanced vocabulary items, some of which you might be unfamiliar with.

In this exercise version, only some easier words are left out, and if you still have difficulties, you can ask for hints.

Later you will find more tasks here based on this song, including vocabulary exercises and a pretty difficult text reconstruction task.

Fragile by Sting – a listening comprehension exercise

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This is not an easy listening task for a number of reasons. Though the song sounds fairly slow-paced and Sting’s voice can be clearly heard, he sings the words relatively fast in some places, and the vocabulary level is rather advanced too. Also, the whole song is fairly poetic and contains some complex structures, which makes understanding pretty challenging. Nevertheless, you should give it a try – and there’s always the Hint button, which will give you the next letter.

Probably it’s a good idea to listen to the song as a whole first and concentrate on listening only without actually writing anything. Then before starting again you should be able to add at least a few words, which will make your task easier.

You will find more tasks based on this song here later.

Where the Wild Roses Grow — Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds with Kylie Minogue

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Listen to the song Where the Wild Roses Grow by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (with Kylie Minogue) and enter the words you hear.

You can stop the video whenever you like but it’s probably a good idea to listen to it once from beginning to end and then start again and stop after only each line.

The difficulty of this task is about C1 level on the CEFR scale.


There will be more tasks based on this song, including vocabulary practice and also reading comprehension exercises on the background of the song.

A literary quiz

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books in libraryThis is for those interested in advanced level vocabulary and literature. All the words in this quiz are at least C1 level but most of them are even higher and belong to a special register – literature. Still, they are useful to know but be careful when you want to use them in everyday conversation so as not to seem posh. However, if you use them in writing (in the right context!)  they should improve the quality of your text.

So, go ahead and see how many of them you get right – don’t worry, we won’t call you nescient if you make too many mistakes.