Many students have asked me how to learn English words for IELTS.
I give the same answer every time. There is no such thing as IELTS vocabulary, there is just English vocabulary.
If you make efforts to just improve your English vocabulary, then you should be in good shape for the IELTS test.
But you can do some ‘fine-tuning’ in preparation for the IELTS test.
Want to know how to do it? Read on…
I have said many times before… Plan everything and you can’t go wrong.
As the saying goes
Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance
Read my articles about how to plan your English studying and you will take a huge step in the right direction.
Read, Read and Read Again
This is another thing that I always tell students.
You must have a daily reading habit if you want to see good progress in your English vocabulary.
What To Read?
Try the following for starters
- Daily news
- Short stories
It doesn’t really matter what you read, as long as you read. Reading will help you make incredible gains in your English vocabulary. You will also learn sentence structure and common phrases in English.
All of this is extremely useful for you in the IELTS test.
How Long To Read?
Start by reading for TEN minutes a day and add more time every week.
Read my guides on reading to help you.
Read Articles About Common IELTS Topics
I said above that you should have a reading habit. And that you should read anything you can.
But later, as your General English improves and your vocabulary improves, you can fine-tune your reading.
There are many common topics in IELTS. Topics that appear again and again in the IELTS test.
You should read articles on these topics.
- Your hometown
- Family and family life
- The environment
- Work, working life, jobs and employment
- The arts
Once you feel more confident in your English reading skills and your English vocabulary, then start to read articles on the topics above.
Look for them using Google.
For example, I searched for articles on society and found the following
Make this a daily habit and now you can fine-tune your English vocabulary learning for the IELTS test.
Look Up All New Words
And as you read, you will come across new words or words you don’t know.
This is when you use
- A dictionary
- A notebook
- A pen
Write the words down and look them up in a dictionary.
No, it is not interesting to do this. Yes, it can be very boring.
But you will make great progress in your English word power.
Use a Dictionary
And of course, if you are going to look up every new word you find, you will need to invest in a dictionary.
I recommend one of the following dictionaries to use
But you must use one.
And make sure it is an ENGLISH ONLY dictionary.
Do NOT use a translation dictionary!
And you really should NOT use any app or device to translate words.
This will not help you!
Symbols and Abbreviations in the Dictionary
Find out what all the symbols and abbreviations in the dictionary mean.
Check this link…
Use a Notebook
Buy a notebook and pen and use this for writing down all new words.
Keep clear notes of all new words you find.
Each time write down
- The new word
- The meaning
- A sentence of your own using the new word
Meaning: Having or showing grace or elegance
I saw an antelope on TV and it looked so graceful.
Go over the words regularly.
Check the new words after
- 24 hours
- One week
- One month
Make this a habit!
Check my article on taking notes
Watch YouTube Videos
I am not suggesting that you just mindlessly watch two hours of YouTube videos every day.
But watch videos with intention and purpose.
So, for example, maybe you have just read an article on Crime.
You have made notes of some new vocabulary, and now you need to practice your listening skills too.
What better way than watching YouTube videos?
Search for crime videos and you will find many… now watch one of these videos and see how much you can understand and follow.
This is a great way to practice new learned vocabulary and your listening skills!
How Many Words To Learn Each Day?
I cannot give you a clear answer on this. You need to test yourself.
At the beginning, try to learn FOUR new words every day.
Then try for FIVE or SIX.
There are some experts out there who claim that people can learn up to 100 new words every day.
Maybe you can do that…
But I think most people cannot.
Stick to whatever your limit is.
And you must learn the new words in CONTEXT.
It is a waste of time just going over huge lists of English words without knowing how to use them in a sentence.
Use It or Lose It!
And it is not enough to just make notes of new words, revise them once or twice and think that is it.
You must use the new words!
Try to make short speeches using some new words you have learned.
For example, maybe you read an article on coffee.
You may have learned the words
- Coffee beans
You could then try to make a short talk about coffee using these words.
This will help you to remember the words. Plus, you are gaining confidence in your ability to express yourself using these new words.
Use Complex Vocabulary — But Not Complex Sentences
Many students tell me that they need to use complex English words in the IELTS test.
While this is true, you need to be careful how you do it.
For example, look at the two sentences below
I purchased a formidable item of technology commonly known as the smartphone for a very agreeable price
I bought a smartphone the other day, and it wasn’t too expensive
The second sentence sound more natural and I would suggest you use that kind of English in the IELTS test.
Sometimes students learn a new English word and just throw it into a sentence because they think it sounds good.
So they might say — My hometown is exceptional.
But there is no real context to this.
The examiner might ask you — What makes your hometown exceptional?
Don’t just use words to sound clever!
You have to use the words in context, and you have to use them well.
Learn Idioms and Collocations
Idioms and collocations can make your English sound more natural and more fluent.
I wrote a guide on how to learn English collocations which you can check below.
I also wrote some other guides on collocations which you can check here.
And I’m sorry to keep repeating myself, but reading can really help you to learn idioms and collocations.
Make notes of any interesting phrases or words that are used together.
Try to use these in your daily life and you can then use them to express yourself in the IELTS test.
Use English Vocabulary Apps
You can make use of the many English vocabulary apps that are out there to help you.
Check out the great apps below to help you
Try out some of the apps above. Find one that works for you and you can spend a few minutes every day boosting your English vocabulary.
Use Word Puzzles
You can also do word puzzle games such as crosswords and word searches.
Crosswords have been around for years. Before the internet, people would often do the crossword in the daily newspaper.
You can use crosswords to help you boost your vocabulary and English skills.
Try the sites below to help you.
And word searches can help you with reading skills, spelling and vocabulary.
Try these links below
You can also take a look at these other word game sites
You don’t need to use all of the techniques above.
But I strongly advise reading and making notes of new words. This is essential.
However, all the techniques are useful in their own way.
Hope it helps — and let me know your progress in the comments below.
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