Category Archives: IELTS Vocabulary

IELTS Vocabulary: What’s the difference between sex and gender

English is a funny language.

Look at the example of these two words – sex and gender. They mean the same, right?

Yes, in IELTS Writing Task 1.
No, in IELTS Writing Task and Speaking Part 3.

Find out why:

1. What is the difference between sex and gender?

Maybe you think there’s no difference. Sex is ‘male’ or ‘female’ and so is gender. In fact, if you look up the dictionary definition of sex and gender, the first definition is the same: Continue reading

IELTS Topic Vocabulary: Tourism

Tourism is actually a sub-category under Multi-culturalism and Immigration, a popular topic in the IELTS exams. I posted a Writing Task 2 question recently which raised the issue of foreign tourists paying more than local tourists to visit attractions.

Most students will have ideas, and probably some experience (if they have traveled abroad) on this subject. Once you’ve got the structure of the essay (Intro – Body 1 – Body 2 – Conclusion), the next most important thing is to use topic-specific vocabulary to raise your band score.

Remember that if your grammatical accuracy is high, you’re already close to a band 7. From here on, it’s a matter of enhancing your vocabulary and using appropriate words and collocations in discussing the subject. So how can you build a good vocabulary? Continue reading

IELTS Vocabulary: Economy & Money

Here is the text of the article I linked to in this post. This article will help you boost your vocabulary on a common IELTS topic Economy & Money.

If you haven’t read it yet, please read the article and make a note of useful vocabulary. Then, compare your list to the words and phrases highlighted in the text below.

THE ARTICLE:

What if we defined success not by the money we spent and the goods we consumed but by the quality of life we create not only for ourselves but for everyone with whom we share the planet? What if we added up the positives of economic growth and subtracted from them the clear negatives, so we had a better picture of whether we were headed in the right direction? Continue reading

Economy & Money: Video Transcript

Here is a transcript of the video I linked to in this post. This video will help you boost your vocabulary on a common IELTS topic Economy & Money.

If you haven’t watched the video yet, please do so and make a note of useful vocabulary. Then, compare your list to the words and phrases highlighted in the transcript below.

TRANSCRIPT:

We’re heading out into the unknown. We need signposts to guide us – to assure us we’re going in the right direction. Continue reading

IELTS Topic Vocabulary: Economy & Money

Economy & Money is one of the fifteen IELTS topics that frequently comes up in each of the four exams. To answer these questions confidently, you need to know topic-specific vocabulary. In this post, I’ll give you some resources you can use to increase your economy and money related vocabulary. But first, here are some examples of when you might be asked a question based on this topic:

IELTS Reading
A passage based on factors influencing the economy of Singapore.

IELTS Listening
A lecture on economic progress of several nations.

IELTS Writing Task 1
A bar chart comparing the economic growth of various countries Continue reading

IELTS Listening – Get the most out of Ted Ed

In an earlier post, I talked about watching Ted Ed videos to improve your listening skills and boost your vocabulary at the same time. I’ll try to post an interesting Ted Ed video every week – something related to the IELTS topic list.

To get the most out of these videos, I recommend the following:

1. Go to ed.ted.com

2. In the top right corner, you will see a Register button. Click on this and register for the website. You don’t have to do this, but it’s useful to log in and save your favorite videos and answers on the site for future reference. Note that you can use your facebook account to login.

3. Choose a video you want to watch. I’ll be posting a video every week which will be useful from the IELTS point of view.

4. Before you start watching the video, click on ‘Think” in the right margin next to the video. Continue reading

IELTS – What should you read?

There’s a LOT of material on the internet related to IELTS and it’s easy to get overwhelmed and lost in a maze of websites.

For an exam such as the IELTS, it is important for students to read on a variety of topics. However, this does not necessarily mean reading everything on the internet. I advise my students to bookmark two or three websites and visit them everyday. I recommend bookmarking:

1. The Economist: This news site is often a source of texts used in IELTS Reading exams. A lot of the topics you will come across are common topics for IELTS Speaking Part 3 and IELTS Writing Part 2. Even if you read only one news article a day, spend time underlining / highlighting useful vocabulary, looking up its meaning and usage (See how to learn IELTS vocabulary). Continue reading

IELTS – What should you listen to?

The IELTS Listening exam is the biggest enemy for many students. Students complain that they only get to listen to the recording once, or the various accents used are different from their teacher’s accent, or the speakers speak too fast, or that the vocabulary used in the IELTS exams is too difficult.

Really, the only way to develop your listening skills is to think about how you listen in real life, in your language.

  • Do you listen to anything more than once? How many times do your friends or family repeat the same conversation for you? How many times do you listen to a dialogue on TV? Only once. 
  • Do you listen to a variety of acccents? Accents differ not just from country to country but from region to region in every country. Vietnamese spoken in Saigon is different from Vietnamese spoken in Hanoi. Arabic spoken in Jeddah is slightly different from Arabic spoken in Riyadh. Russian in Moscow is different from that spoken in St. Petersburg. Even the English spoken in London is different from that in Scotland.
  • Do you listen to varying speeds of speech? Do your friends speaking in a cafe speak at the same speed as a news reader on TV?
  • Do you listen to people using different kinds of vocabulary? Taking the above example again, do friends talking about the weather use the same words as a weatherman on TV?

Continue reading

Spelling in IELTS

Too many students lose marks in the Reading, Listening, and Writing sections because of poor spelling. A few misspelled words can mean the difference between 6.5 and 7. And if you are targeting a band score higher than 7, I highly recommend you work on your spellings.

Here’s what I tell my students:

1. Learn the spellings: Note down IELTS-related vocabulary in vocabulary notebook that allows you to focus on spelling. Here’s a great spelling saver I usually give my students. Continue reading

Developing Vocabulary for IELTS

OK. So you know that vocabulary is important for IELTS. But really, did you know it is THE most important factor in increasing your band score? So what do I mean by vocabulary? Good vocabulary does not mean big words. In fact, quite the opposite. Having a good vocabulary means using:

  • Collocations e.g. bar of soap, utterly stupid etc.
  • Common phrasal verbs e.g. ask around, break down etc.
  • Fixed and semi-fixed expressions eg. little did I know, all of a sudden
  • Less commonly used words and phrases e.g. interpersonal skills, broaden my horizons, human existence

So how does one go about developing a good vocabulary that can enable you to get a better band score? Here’s what I tell my students: Continue reading

IELTS Writing Task 1: Understanding charts and graphs (Part 9)

In Part 8 of this series – Understanding charts and graphs – I gave you a list of phrases to describe figures in IELTS Writing Task 1. I asked you then to make two lists:
1. Phrases that can be used to describe the table here e.g. a fifth
2. Phrases that can’t be used to describe the table here e.g. a tenth (10.34%, 10.44%)

Here are the answers:

1. Phrases that can be used to describe the table above

a tenth (10.34%, 10.44%)
one in ten (same as a tenth)
a third (35.52%, 36.93%)
one in three (same as a third)
just over forty per cent (40.16%)
just under ninety per cent  (89.49%, 89.28%, 88.62%)
one in twenty (5.42%, 5.95%, 5.75%)
more than fifty percent (58.20%)
less than one percent (0.92%, 0.74%, 0.94%, 0.92% 0.80%, 0.66%, 0.50%)
three out of four (78.99%)
four out of five (80.74%, 82.61%)
three quarters (same as three out of four)
two out of three (63.20%)
two thirds (same as two out of three)
Continue reading

IELTS Writing Task 1: Understanding charts and graphs (Part 5)

Here are the answers to yesterday’s question about language to use in Writing Task 1. If you haven’t seen them yet, see my previous posts in this series:

IELTS Writing Task 1: Understanding charts and graphs – Analyze the chart
IELTS Writing Task 1: Understanding charts and graphs – Understand the summary
IELTS Writing Task 1: Understanding charts and graphs – Check your understanding
IELTS Writing Task 1: Understanding charts and graphs – Analyze the language

OK. See the table below to see what the key phrases (in bold) mean: Continue reading

IELTS Vocab-a-day

In IELTS Speaking Part 3, the examiner asks you opinion questions. Sometimes you don’t know how to say something. In such cases, it’s useful to use a phrase like this:

I don’t know if this is the right way to put it…

Listen to this example:

Note that native speakers join some words together like this:

don’t know = /dʌnəʊ/

this is/’ðɪ’sɪz/

put it/’pʊtɪt/

The symbols I’ve used here are called “phonemics”. You’ve probably seen them in dictionaries. They are very, very useful for learning pronunciation. Here’s a fantastic interactive phonemic chart where you can learn the sounds for each symbol.  

IELTS Vocab-a-day

In IELTS Speaking Part 3, the examiner asks you opinion questions. Just like you structure a paragraph in writing, you should structure your speaking as well. For a coherent answer:

1. State your opinion
2. Give one / two reasons
3. (optional) Add an argument from the opposite point of view and disagree with it.

To add an extra point or reason, you can say:

But there’s also something else to consider…

Listen to this example:

Note that native speakers join some words together like this:

there’s also = /ðeə’zɔ:lsəʊ/

something else = /’sʌmθɪ’ŋels/

The symbols I’ve used here are called “phonemics”. You’ve probably seen them in dictionaries. They are very, very useful for learning pronunciation. Here’s a fantastic interactive phonemic chart where you can learn the sounds for each symbol.  

IELTS Vocab-a-day

In IELTS Speaking Part 3, the examiner asks you opinion questions. Just like you structure a paragraph in writing, you should structure your speaking as well. For a coherent answer:

1. State your opinion
2. Give one / two reasons
3. (optional) Add an argument from the opposite point of view and disagree with it.

To add an extra point or reason, you can say:

Another important point is that…

Listen to this example:

Note that native speakers join some words together like this:

Another important = /rɪm/

point is/tɪz/

Also, the word that is shortened like this:

that = /ðət/

The symbols I’ve used here are called “phonemics”. You’ve probably seen them in dictionaries. They are very, very useful for learning pronunciation. Here’s a fantastic interactive phonemic chart where you can learn the sounds for each symbol.