What kind of vocabulary do I need to learn?
There are certain key topics that come up in IELTS, and knowing the issues and vocabulary surrounding these topics will help you to:
- read more quickly and predict correct answers
- listen more effectively and be able to correctly spell the words you hear
- write more persuasively, with plenty of ideas to support your argument
- speak confidently on a wide range of topics
IELTS Vocabulary Topics
In my 28-Day Planner and in the Members Academy 28-Day Vocabulary Course, I divide the topics into 4 main areas:
WEEK 1: The natural environment
WEEK 2: The man-made environment
WEEK 3: Life and Society
- Free time and Time
WEEK 4: Research and Technology
- The Arts
- The Future
Get more information about these topics on my Vocabulary Resources page.
How can I improve my vocabulary?
- Read as much as you can of the right kind of IELTS material
- Listen to the radio or podcasts regularly
- Keep a notebook,
- Write down the new words in full sentences.
- Check definitions and word forms (verb, noun, adjective, adverb)
- Check the pronunciation – silent letters, word stress etc
- Review your notes regularly
- Get someone to read out the list to test your spelling
You don’t have to understand and memorise everything new word you see/hear, but the more you read and listen, the more you will become familiar with common themes and issues.
I post daily on social media with videos, podcasts and useful articles about topics that I recognise from the test.
The Academic Word List
A good way to focus on learning key words is to work through the Academic Word List, put together by Dr Averil Coxhead.
Find a nice simple list of formal/informal synonyms from the Plain English Campaign here.
You can find a simple, printable 2-page version of the Academic Word List here.
I’ve made some ‘Mind Maps‘ related to each topic – print them out (preferably in colour!) and put somewhere visible so that you can quickly refer to them and keep reviewing the essential vocabulary.
If you think your vocabulary may be affecting your IELTS score, check out my new course:
IELTS Vocabulary in 28 Days in The Members Academy.
For each topic area, you will find
- a list of key vocabulary,
- a glossary of definitions,
- at least one Reading, Listening and Speaking Task,
- at least one model Writing,
- extra resources and links for more practice.
And what’s really great about the Vocabulary course is that everything is linked, to help you retain new words by recycling them in different contexts.
Topic – Architecture
Reading – How the pyramids were built (Academic), The Iron Bridge (General Training)
Listening – The Underground House, Designing a Concert Hall, Changes to Barford Town
Speaking – Part 1: Describe the place where you live Part 2: Describe a building you find interesting Part 3: What are the advantages of living in a big city?
Academic Writing Task 1: Describe changes to a town or building
General Training Writing Task 1: Write a letter to a historic place you visited
Writing Task 2: In what ways is migration to large cities affecting society?