A proper grasp of vocabulary is definitely one of the most important criteria in the IELTS test. Not only does vocabulary make up 25% of your mark in IELTS writing and speaking but it also plays a crucial part in IELTS Listening & Writing.
However, a vast majority of IELTS learners (90%) don’t build up their vocabulary in the right way. Lots of them have downloaded long lists of words without having seen them used in context before and thought that they could simply learn them by memorising. This is the single worst thing to improve their vocabulary skill. Why? The point is that words rarely have only one strict meaning, so learning out of context is, in essence, is an absurd idea. It means that they don’t fully expose the words within a sentence and paragraph, thereby not figuring out how to use them properly. Therefore, to gain high score in vocabulary, IELTS learners have to use suitable words in each situation, not by using new and strange ones.
So my advice is that instead of learning difficult & strange words, you should focus on examining the words in context, together with learning word forms ( countable, uncountable, noun , verb,…) , collocations related to these words ( followed by which adjectives, verbs or nouns…).
Let’s get down to improving your range of vocabulary in the effective way with the following 5-step plan to have a flexible use of a rich variety of vocabulary:
1. Read & Listen! Most vocabulary words are learned from context so let’s pick a TV show, radio, podcast, magazine or book that interest you. (Bear in mind that you shouldn’t force yourself to watch or read something you are not a fan of because you can feel distracted and then can’t stick to your plan). The more words you’re exposed to, the better vocabulary you will have. While you read, pay close attention to words you don’t know & how they are used. First, try to figure out their meanings from context. Then look the words up.
2. Get in the habit of looking up words you don’t know. It is absolutely essential to set up at least either of the online dictionaries named Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary and Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. Keep in mind to keep it open and handy with thesauruses on its tool bar to look up any new word you are not entirely sure of. Beside each word you should jot down a brief note of the meaning, collocations, synonyms, example sentences, antonyms and pronunciation. You can also draw pictures, relate the word to words you already know or do whatever to remember the word.
- Firstly, you can look up the dictionary to check if you used it correctly (its meaning, its form) and read the examples they made.
For example: you used “ “knowledges” instead of “ knowledge” –> you ‘re wrong.
- Secondly, check the synonym
Synonym: knowledge = understanding, perception, comprehensionThen, read an example sentence or two:
My teacher was well-known for his great knowledge, the most of which she had obtained from books.
- Then, checking collocations:
For example :
|large knowledge||broad knowledge|
|Contribute in something||Contribute to something|
|Expensive price||High price|
|Scarce population||Sparse population|
|a flock of fish||a school of fish|
REMEMBER TO DOUBLE-CHECK ALL OF WORDS YOU USED
3. Own one notebook: Have your own notebook and take note all of new words with meaning, collocations, examples, synonyms and the mistakes you made when using these words.
4. Use mnemonics ( memory tricks): Learning a word won’t help very much if you promptly forget it. Research shows that it takes from 10 to 20 repetitions to really make a word part of your vocabulary. Therefore, you had better review the new words after 10 minutes –one day – 4 days – one week – two weeks – one month – two months (based on spaced repetition, a learning technique to exploit the psychological spacing effect). Also, practice using the new words in a sentence.
5. Practice, practice, practice!
You should use the new words you noted down in your speaking, writing and check your vocabulary regularly to make sure you the words stick in your long-term memory. You can use the following materials to practice at home:
- Check your English Vocabulary for IELTS (by Rawdon Wyatt)
- Vocabulary for Top 9 Common Topics in IELTS exam
- English Collocation in Use (Advanced)
- English Vocabulary in Use
The human mind can effectively remember up to 15 new words in a foreign language per day, so if you practice your vocabulary five days a week, after a week you can learn around 70 new words. After 1 month you will have at least 250 new words in your notebook.
This single learning method is the most powerful way I know for improving your Vocabulary and lots of my students have been successful with it. I bet you will do the same if you get your hand in learning vocabulary with this simple 5-step plan.
The image below is a quick summary of how to learn new words before your IELTS test.
IELTS VOCABULARY TOPICS
Vocabulary Topics for IELTS Speaking:
- Relationships (Family, Love, Friendship)
- People – Physical Appearance
- People – Personality and Character
- Travel & Adventure
- Diet, Fitness and Health
- Education: School & University
- Clothes and Fashion
- Books and Films
- Towns & Cities
Vocabulary Topics for IELTS Writing:
- Government & the authorities
- Nature, Environment & Energy
- Education & schooling
- Children & Family
- Global challenges
- Work & careers
- Cities & infrastructure
- Countryside & agriculture
We are constantly adding to our collection of resources for boosting your Vocabulary score, so if you have a suggestion please let us know.
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