The Beatles: Eleanor Rigby – a listening comprehension exercise

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Once again, a song which is half a century old and still sounds as fresh and relevant as only few today. Eleanor Rigby was released in 1966 on the album Revolver, and it has been popular ever since. It has also influenced the English language as the line all the lonely people has become a set phrase. And how many songs can you think of that served as inspiration for a statue? See the cover image; here is the plaque in a more readable resolution:

Plaque on the statue of Eleanor Rigby

The difficulty of this task is about upper-intermediate level, or B2 on the CEFR scale.

Some words (mainly names) have been added to help you a little.

More exercises based on this song will follow.

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.

Suzanne by Leonard Cohen – a gap-fill listening comprehension exercise

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Again, a famous song (and also an old one!), but a different task type this time: you only have to enter the missing words, not the whole text of the song. This is not a difficult exercise since Leonard Cohen sings in an easily understandable manner and the song is fairly slow too – it’s around intermediate level, or B1 on the CEFR scale.

As usual, you can ask for hints by clicking on the Give me a letter button – please note that the free letter will be added in the gap where you have your cursor and that you’ll lose points with this option.

There will be other tasks based on this song later, including vocabulary exercises and the usual text reconstruction task type too. We’re also planning a reading text on the background of the song.

Tom’s Diner by Suzanne Vega – a listening comprehension exercise

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The original version of this unique song is a cappella (with no music), which is quite rare in pop music. It was also published in several different versions and a number of other artists came out with their own covers too. Initially we had a concert version of the song for this task but then we decided to feature the original video instead as it’s easier to understand.

Your task is to listen to the song and write down the lyrics. It’s not very difficult: slightly below B2 level on the CEFR scale, which is between intermediate and upper-intermediate.

There will be other tasks based on this song coming later, so stay tuned.

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.

Someone Like You by Adele

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Listen to the song Someone Like You by Adele and fill the gaps in the lyrics.

Feel free to stop or rewind the video whenever you feel it’s necessary but ideally you should play it once from start to finish and then for the second time only stop it once after every line.

This task is about B2 level on the CEFR scale.

There will be more songs by Adele, and also a different version of this same song: a text reconstruction exercise, where you’ll have to create the whole text yourself.

One by U2: a listening comprehension exercise

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Listen to the song One by U2 and fill the gaps in the lyrics.

Feel free to stop or rewind the video whenever you feel it’s necessary but ideally you should play it once from start to finish and then for the second time only stop it once after every line.

This task is about B2 level on the CEFR scale.

There will be some more tasks later based on this song — including a text reconstruction listening comprehension exercise, a reading comprehension exercise on the background of the song and also some vocabulary tasks to help you learn the words in the song.