How to improve your vocabulary around sports
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How to improve your vocabulary around sports

One of my passions, in addition to the English language, is sports. Sports vocabulary is useful in all four parts of the test as well as being an important factor in socialising with people outside of the test context. So, I thought I'd share with you my top booster tips for improving your vocabulary around sports, so you can – like me – talk about the topic for hours with your English-speaking friends, or just feel a little more prepared for the IELTS test if sport isn't really your thing ☺.    In sports, there are four main areas you might want to consider: people, places, objects and actions, and you might want to create a little study grid, a mind map or an excel glossary where you can organise the vocabulary and keep adding new words and expressions as you go along. Check out my blog on animal vocabulary to see examples of a study grid and a mind map.  If you want to study an area of vocabulary in more depth, an Excel glossary file is probably your best option.  Here’s an example of how you can use Excel to organise your sports vocabulary (or any other vocabulary for that matter).    (Click to download) (Click to enlarge) Perhaps more than any other vocabulary area in the test, sports lends itself to playing a  couple of fun vocabulary games. Charades: Sport is a great area to work on because you can have a lot of fun doing it. If you have a friend who is also preparing for the IELTS test, write down a lot of words to do with sports on separate pieces of paper. Then, without looking, pick a word and take turns to mime (or draw) the word. The other person has to guess what the word is. Bonus points if they can spell it! Famous athletes: Another game you can play is the famous sports people game. Write down the name of a very famous sportsperson. Then take turns to ask each other questions like  What equipment do they use?  Where do they play their sports? What competitions have they won? … If you don’t know the answer in English, use a dictionary to find out and make a note of the new word. Keep going until one of you has guessed the right answer.  Sports is also a really popular topic in the writing part of the exam, especially the benefits of sport and the connection between health and sport. To prepare, you could write down all of the benefits of sports that you can think of in your own language. Then imagine that you are asked to discuss this in English. Underline any words where you get stuck because you don’t know the English word. Spend some time with a dictionary to find out what these words are in English. Don’t forget to check the pronunciation, so that you recognise the words in the Listening test. And, finally, a super quick vocabulary lesson:  Learners of English often get confused about when to use ‘go’, ‘play’ or ‘do’ when talking about different sports. So here is my super quick explanation of the rules: If the sport ends in -ing, we say ‘go’. For example: ‘go swimming’. The exceptions are weightlifting, body-building, fencing and boxing. Probably because you don’t need a lot of space for these. We can say ‘do’ in these cases or simply use the sport as a verb: e.g. ‘I box’.  Got it? Ok, next rule: If the sport is a game, we say ‘play’. For example: ‘play tennis’.  2 down, 1 to go: If it’s not ‘go’ and it’s not ‘play’ we say ‘do’. In other words, we use ‘do’ for everything else. For example: ‘do yoga’.   LANGUAGE ACTIVITY Find a list of sports on the internet and decide whether you would say ‘go’, ‘play’ or ‘do’ for each one of them. Try to do this as quickly as you can. That way it’s really good practice for the speaking exam when you don’t really have much time to think about this. Sophie  PS. Pete Jones has a couple of really great blogs on improving your vocabulary around a particular topic area. If you want to find out how to improve your vocabulary around technology, energy and education, I highly recommend you check them out.

Sophie Hodgson

2 June, 2021

How to improve your vocabulary around sports

How to improve your vocabulary around sports

One of my passions, in addition to the English language, is sports. Sports vocabulary is useful in all four parts of the test as well as being an important factor in socialising with people outside of the test context. So, I thought I'd share with you my top booster tips for improving your vocabulary around sports, so you can – like me – talk about the topic for hours with your English-speaking friends, or just feel a little more prepared for the IELTS test if sport isn't really your thing ☺.
Top Tip - Choose a sport your interested in

 

In sports, there are four main areas you might want to consider: people, places, objects and actions, and you might want to create a little study grid, a mind map or an excel glossary where you can organise the vocabulary and keep adding new words and expressions as you go along. Check out my blog on animal vocabulary to see examples of a study grid and a mind map.

If you want to study an area of vocabulary in more depth, an Excel glossary file is probably your best option.

Here’s an example of how you can use Excel to organise your sports vocabulary (or any other vocabulary for that matter).

Example Glossary Sports

 

Download Glossary Template

(Click to download)

Top tip for learning vocabulary

(Click to enlarge)

Perhaps more than any other vocabulary area in the test, sports lends itself to playing a couple of fun vocabulary games.

Charades: Sport is a great area to work on because you can have a lot of fun doing it. If you have a friend who is also preparing for the IELTS test, write down a lot of words to do with sports on separate pieces of paper. Then, without looking, pick a word and take turns to mime (or draw) the word. The other person has to guess what the word is. Bonus points if they can spell it!

Famous athletes: Another game you can play is the famous sports people game. Write down the name of a very famous sportsperson. Then take turns to ask each other questions like

  • What equipment do they use?
  • Where do they play their sports?
  • What competitions have they won?

If you don’t know the answer in English, use a dictionary to find out and make a note of the new word. Keep going until one of you has guessed the right answer.

Sports is also a really popular topic in the writing part of the exam, especially the benefits of sport and the connection between health and sport. To prepare, you could write down all of the benefits of sports that you can think of in your own language. Then imagine that you are asked to discuss this in English. Underline any words where you get stuck because you don’t know the English word. Spend some time with a dictionary to find out what these words are in English. Don’t forget to check the pronunciation, so that you recognise the words in the Listening test.

And, finally, a super quick vocabulary lesson:

Learners of English often get confused about when to use ‘go’, ‘play’ or ‘do’ when talking about different sports. So here is my super quick explanation of the rules:

  1. If the sport ends in -ing, we say ‘go’. For example: ‘go swimming’. The exceptions are weightlifting, body-building, fencing and boxing. Probably because you don’t need a lot of space for these. We can say ‘do’ in these cases or simply use the sport as a verb: e.g. ‘I box’.

Got it? Ok, next rule:

  1. If the sport is a game, we say ‘play’. For example: ‘play tennis’.

2 down, 1 to go:

  1. If it’s not ‘go’ and it’s not ‘play’ we say ‘do’. In other words, we use ‘do’ for everything else. For example: ‘do yoga’.

 


LANGUAGE ACTIVITY

Find a list of sports on the internet and decide whether you would say ‘go’, ‘play’ or ‘do’ for each one of them. Try to do this as quickly as you can. That way it’s really good practice for the speaking exam when you don’t really have much time to think about this.

Sophie

PS. Pete Jones has a couple of really great blogs on improving your vocabulary around a particular topic area. If you want to find out how to improve your vocabulary around technology, energy and education, I highly recommend you check them out.

Sophie Hodgson

Sophie has been supporting students on their IELTS journey since 2003 and feels privileged to have watched them succeed. While most people probably do not like taking tests, Sophie believes that preparing for the IELTS exam can be both interesting and fun. She loves language and structure and enjoys exploring both with her students to help them achieve their aims.

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