Essential Vocabulary in IELTS Speaking
Speaking
Essential Vocabulary in IELTS Speaking

Following on from my post on fluency, I want to focus on the subskill of vocabulary. We all know that to become more proficient in a language, we need to build our vocabulary, but how should we do this with the IELTS Speaking test in mind? How is vocabulary tested in the IELTS Speaking test? Vocabulary is assessed under the criteria, Lexical Resource, which, ‘assesses the range of vocabulary you use and how accurately and appropriately you use vocabulary to express meaning’.  For IELTS 6.0 - for example, the candidate ‘has a wide enough vocabulary to discuss topics at length and make meaning clear, in spite of inappropriacies’. In other words, the candidate demonstrates a good range of vocabulary, but may still make some errors.  For IELTS 7.0 - ‘uses vocabulary resource effectively to discuss a variety of topics’, and ‘uses some less common and idiomatic vocabulary and shows some awareness of style and collocation, with some inappropriate choices’- the candidate should demonstrate a wider range of vocabulary, but may still make some errors.  You don’t need to be error-free, but you should demonstrate to the Examiner your full range of vocabulary, and the ability to use it flexibly.  What will help me boost my score for Lexical Resource? 1. Learn to use collocations correctly A collocation occurs when two or more words are used together in a way that sounds correct’. Learning to use a range of English collocations could therefore help you to boost your score for Lexical Resource and will help you to sound more natural and accurate in English. Find out how to improve your vocabulary using collocations from Liz, she shares some great hints and tips and worksheets to support your preparation.  2. Learn some idiomatic language The Cambridge English Dictionary defines ‘idiomatic’ language as ‘containing expressions that are natural and correct’. The Know Your Phrase website contains some useful examples of common idioms with example sentences, and the following idiomatic language activity by Cambridge English gives you the opportunity to practise selecting the correct idiom. Using carefully chosen idioms will make you sound more natural in English, but take care not to use too many, as this could have the opposite effect! Example and analysis Below is an excerpt from Part 1 of an IELTS speaking test: Notice that the candidate uses an appropriate idiom (that’s just not my cup of tea – meaning ‘that’s not something I enjoy doing’) although he makes a small mistake with the word order.  He also uses several common English collocations (I just end up making some noodles…; I never got into cooking…) which sound natural in this context. There are; however, some examples of less natural sounding collocations, for example ‘it just does not come into me’.  How can I build my vocabulary to prepare for the IELTS Speaking test? If you want your vocabulary to be well-prepared for the IELTS Speaking test, try the following:  1. Create a vocabulary notebook organised by topic This could be a traditional paper notebook or an online tool like Microsoft OneNote. Organise your notebook into different topic sections (e.g. food, films, friends and family) and make a note of vocabulary that you think will be useful for talking about these topics. Make sure you also record common collocations, different word forms, synonyms and antonyms. Try to include some less common words and idiomatic language. Aim to use them when you do your speaking practice.    2. Listen to recorded examples and note down good examples of vocabulary You will find a number of recorded IELTS Speaking tests online, for example on the Cambridge University Press YouTube channel. Watch these and try to note down examples of good vocabulary that the speaker uses, including collocations, idiomatic language, effective paraphrasing, and less common language.    3. Record yourself speaking and review your vocabulary Recording your own speaking is a really useful way to review the vocabulary you are using. As you listen, use your vocabulary notebook to check whether you have used words and phrases correctly, or whether you missed opportunities to use a better phrase. If you do this regularly, you will become more aware of the vocabulary you are using and will be able to practise building your vocabulary to get your best possible score for Lexical Resource. Hope you have found this useful and I will be sharing tips for Grammar in IELTS Speaking next! Lucy

Lucy Passmore

6 October, 2020

Essential Vocabulary in IELTS Speaking

Essential Vocabulary in IELTS Speaking

Following on from my post on fluency, I want to focus on the subskill of vocabulary. We all know that to become more proficient in a language, we need to build our vocabulary, but how should we do this with the IELTS Speaking test in mind?

How is vocabulary tested in the IELTS Speaking test?

Vocabulary is assessed under the criteria, Lexical Resource, which, ‘assesses the range of vocabulary you use and how accurately and appropriately you use vocabulary to express meaning’. 

  • For IELTS 6.0 - for example, the candidate ‘has a wide enough vocabulary to discuss topics at length and make meaning clear, in spite of inappropriacies’. In other words, the candidate demonstrates a good range of vocabulary, but may still make some errors. 
  • For IELTS 7.0 - ‘uses vocabulary resource effectively to discuss a variety of topics’, and ‘uses some less common and idiomatic vocabulary and shows some awareness of style and collocation, with some inappropriate choices’- the candidate should demonstrate a wider range of vocabulary, but may still make some errors. 

You don’t need to be error-free, but you should demonstrate to the Examiner your full range of vocabulary, and the ability to use it flexibly. 

What will help me boost my score for Lexical Resource?

1. Learn to use collocations correctly

A collocation occurs when two or more words are used together in a way that sounds correct’. Learning to use a range of English collocations could therefore help you to boost your score for Lexical Resource and will help you to sound more natural and accurate in English.

Find out how to improve your vocabulary using collocations from Liz, she shares some great hints and tips and worksheets to support your preparation. 

2. Learn some idiomatic language

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines ‘idiomatic’ language as ‘containing expressions that are natural and correct’. The Know Your Phrase website contains some useful examples of common idioms with example sentences, and the following idiomatic language activity by Cambridge English gives you the opportunity to practise selecting the correct idiom. Using carefully chosen idioms will make you sound more natural in English, but take care not to use too many, as this could have the opposite effect!

Example and analysis

Below is an excerpt from Part 1 of an IELTS speaking test:

Example from Part 1 of an IELTS speaking test

Notice that the candidate uses an appropriate idiom (that’s just not my cup of tea – meaning ‘that’s not something I enjoy doing’) although he makes a small mistake with the word order. 

He also uses several common English collocations (I just end up making some noodles…; I never got into cooking…) which sound natural in this context. There are; however, some examples of less natural sounding collocations, for example ‘it just does not come into me’. 

How can I build my vocabulary to prepare for the IELTS Speaking test?

If you want your vocabulary to be well-prepared for the IELTS Speaking test, try the following: 

1. Create a vocabulary notebook organised by topic

This could be a traditional paper notebook or an online tool like Microsoft OneNote. Organise your notebook into different topic sections (e.g. food, films, friends and family) and make a note of vocabulary that you think will be useful for talking about these topics. Make sure you also record common collocations, different word forms, synonyms and antonyms. Try to include some less common words and idiomatic language. Aim to use them when you do your speaking practice. 
 

2. Listen to recorded examples and note down good examples of vocabulary

You will find a number of recorded IELTS Speaking tests online, for example on the Cambridge University Press YouTube channel. Watch these and try to note down examples of good vocabulary that the speaker uses, including collocations, idiomatic language, effective paraphrasing, and less common language. 
 

3. Record yourself speaking and review your vocabulary

Recording your own speaking is a really useful way to review the vocabulary you are using. As you listen, use your vocabulary notebook to check whether you have used words and phrases correctly, or whether you missed opportunities to use a better phrase. If you do this regularly, you will become more aware of the vocabulary you are using and will be able to practise building your vocabulary to get your best possible score for Lexical Resource.

Hope you have found this useful and I will be sharing tips for Grammar in IELTS Speaking next!

Lucy

Lucy Passmore

Lucy has been teaching IELTS for more than 10 years at language schools and universities across London. She has also contributed to the Mindset for IELTS course book series for Cambridge University Press, working on writing units for the Students’ Books, a Teachers’ book and additional online practice tasks.

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