Students taking IELTS will need a vast range of vocabulary.
Giving them direction as to which vocab needs to be focused on and how to increase their range will give them a great start to their preparations.
6 Things Your IELTS Students Need to Do to Increase Their Vocabulary Dramatically
Get into Good Habits
Your students will need to literally grow their vocabulary and there are some good habits they can get into while they’re preparing for the exam. Whether students are studying in an English speaking country or not they should read, listen and speak English at every opportunity. Reading a newspaper or magazine will give them access to new words and unfamiliar words should be noted and studied. A vocabulary notebook should be in every student’s bag and carried with them at all times. Stress that translating is not enough on its own as sometimes translations can be misleading. Encourage your students to use an English-English dictionary instead of a translation dictionary. They are now at a level where they should be able to understand the definitions.
Get the Most Out of Their Dictionary
Of course all students will look for the definition but they should be trained to also look at word form, pronunciation and uses. If they’re not familiar with the phonemic chart direct them towards the British Council interactive phonemic chart where they can hear the sounds and replicate them http://www.britishcouncil.org/parents-help-pronunciation.htm.
Expand Their Horizons
Students have various ways of recording new vocabulary but many of them will just write the word, the translation and a definition. There is much more that they can do to expand their range of vocabulary. Suggest that when they learn a new word they follow the following steps:
- Write the definition
- Put the word into a sentence to contextualise it
- Make a note of the word form – noun, adjective, verb etc
- Look for other forms connected to it. If it’s a verb, is there a noun connected to it?
- Look for synonyms.
- Look for opposites.
- Look for collocations.
- If the word is a verb are there any phrasal verbs formed from it?
Doing well in the IELTs Reading Test requires the student to identify parallel phrases and words and getting into the habit of looking for synonyms while they are preparing will be invaluable. A good Thesaurus will be a great addition to their book shelf.
Record New Vocabulary
People learn in many different ways and you should go through the different methods of recording vocab with your students. For example visual learners may find Mind Maps or Vocab Trees helpful. The BBC Learning English website has some great ideas for recording vocabulary including templates that can be used http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/radio/studyguides/pdfs/vocab.pdf. Not all students will always remember to carry a notebook with them suggest that they record new words into their mobile and then look them up later when they return to their home.
Study Topic Vocabulary
The Speaking Test will include talking about a topic for two minutes. Of course your students won’t know what the topic is going to be but having a good range of topic vocabulary will help them. Here are some of the common topics that are often used:
- The Environment
- Your Home Town
- The Arts
Having a good range in these areas will be very useful to your students in all parts of the IELTs exam but particularly in the Speaking Test.
Study Vocab for Academic Writing
In Paper 1 of the Academic Writing Test students will have to give information about a diagram, chart or graph. In order to do well in this part of the exam students should focus on functional language. The areas that should be focused on are:
- Language to describe Comparison and Contrast
- Language to describe Change
- Language to describe Cause and Effect
- General Academic Language
This language will help your students give a clear and concise account of the information given in the diagram.
It’s normal for students to be daunted by the range of vocabulary they will need for IELTS, for example the amount of text in the Reading Test looks like an impossible task on first sight.
Focusing on these language areas and the methods for learning and recording them will give students all the tools they need to do well in the exam.