CILS B1 Cittadinanza (Citizenship): The Listening Part
- The whole exam lasts a total of 2.05 hours.
- The listening part lasts only 30 minutes and is the first of five different tasks.
- The listening section is divided into two parts: prova n.1 and prova n.2. In prova n.1, you’ll have to listen to six short texts and answer multiple-choice questions. In prova n.2, you’ll listen to two short passages and then identify which ones contain information.
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How to do well on the listening portion of the exam:
- It’s important to have at least a pre-intermediate level of proficiency so that you can understand intermediate level sentences and topics.
- Use the CILS Citizenship B1 textbooks (Percorso CILS B1 Cittadinanza, Pronti per la Cittadinanza) to practice on the listening parts.
How do you get to the level of listening required to pass the exam?
If you’re concerned about your ability to understand spoken Italian or just want to improve it, let me assure you that I hear you! Listening is one of the most complex linguistic areas to master for a variety of reasons: opportunities to be exposed to the Italian language are limited if you don’t live in an Italian-speaking country, and finding appropriate listening content to practice can be hard at times.
Particularly the last one.
Listening to content that is tailored to your level is one of the best ways to learn to understand Italian better. To put it another way, you won’t need to be exposed to native content to improve your Italian listening comprehension skills to the B1 intermediate level. And it’s not enough to listen to something slowly; what’s important is that the content you’re using has the appropriate vocabulary and grammar for your level.
This does not mean you should read children’s books, which I never recommend to my private students because they often contain complex Italian tenses that are not necessary for your level. Instead, you should listen to Italian audio content at an advance beginner or intermediate level.
What is the best way to find such content?
There are basically two ways to improve your listening skills at the beginner or intermediate level, in my opinion.
- Read and listen simultaneously to short stories with audiobooks, like these ones.
- Listen to podcasts in simple Italian (with transcription), like these ones.
- Use Olly’s Conversations series for intermediate learners (only if you gave already a solid intermediate level).
The rest, in my experience, doesn’t work.
The importance of reading and listening simultaneously while learning Italian
All the options I suggested also include a written transcript. The reason for this is that you may have trouble deciphering what’s going on, even if the input is slow and simple. This is due to the fact that you will be exposed to a large number of new words (especially if your native language is very different from Italian).
Having a written text or transcript allows you to read and listen at the same time, which is the only way to improve your listening skills in my experience.
After a while, you’ll be able to get rid of the transcripts and become a more confident learner.
When you read, you’ll visualize the sounds you hear in written form, especially if you’re a visual learner like me.
How will this fit into your CILS B1 Cittadinanza preparation?
It all comes down to your Italian level. If you’re an intermediate learner who thinks your listening skills are stuck at a beginner level, make a commitment to listen to one short storybook a week, or listen to a podcast episode every second day and you’ll notice your listening skills improve by leaps and bounds without even realizing it. Don’t spread yourself too thin by juggling too many resources. Choose one and stick to it until you see progress.
Want to improve your Italian through natural conversations? Try this.
If you’re looking for a self-paced Italian language course that can help keep you accountable while improving your ability to follow a conversation in Italian, I highly recommend Olly’s Richard Conversations series. Each course consists of a set of 20 engaging Italian conversations between two friends narrated at a natural pace, with vocabulary observations and transcripts included. This makes it an ideal choice for intermediate learners who have a solid foundation in Italian (A2+, B1, B2 level). The main focus of the course is on listening and expanding your vocabulary through reading and listening at the same time, which is the same approach that I use in my short stories for beginners. This approach is a proven recipe for improving your Italian listening skills and enhancing your vocabulary.
In addition to using Olly’s Conversations course, my personal advice is to also use a tutor and discuss the “conversations” with them. If you don’t have time for regular tutoring sessions, a phenomenal learning strategy is to summarize the content of each conversation in your own words and record yourself doing so.
Do you enjoy watching videos to learn Italian?
Lingopie is a Netflix-like platform that allows you to improve your Italian by watching TV shows, documentaries, and vlogs (separate by genre and level). They offer a beginner-friendly option too.