In this tutorial, we discuss band 9 IELTS Speaking vocabulary examples with ex-examiner Robert.
You will learn:
- A vocabulary mistake many IELTS test takers make
- Tips to improve your vocabulary to Band 9 level
- How to use online resources to improve your vocabulary
- Simple vs complex vocabulary for IELTS speaking
Vocabulary is part of that fundamental issue all language learners face at some time.
Please note that there is no special IELTS vocabulary for Band 9 or for any Band for that matter.
It is important to have a range of vocabulary, to be able to speak confidently about anything that is asked of you and to have some depth too, in other words, some specialised vocabulary on specific topics.
A vocabulary mistake many IELTS Test-takers make
Using specialised vocabulary on certain topics is not the same as just knowing a lot of fancy words. One mistake some people make is thinking that it’s important to use elegant words and phrases, to say, for example, that “the populace is not sufficiently cognizant of the perils encompassing this nefarious practice of waste disposal”
The problem there is these words that are simply hardly ever used and certainly not altogether one after the other. What you need is clarity, to be clear to others about what you are saying and choosing the appropriate words to do so. People are simply not impressed with “big” words.
Of course, IELTS is also a question of knowing how to talk about topics to show that you do have the means to do so but it is a matter of using everyday language together with some appropriate topic-related expressions.
Tips to improve your IELTS Vocabulary to Band 9 level
- Keep a vocabulary notebook which would include not only the word and its basic meaning or translation but also useful synonyms and antonyms, an example sentence to illustrate its use in context, and, perhaps most importantly, the words it’s associated with, its collocations.
- Use all forms of available information on words such as online and/or traditional dictionaries as well as online information about collocations and idioms.
How to use online resources to improve your vocabulary
You can search for collocations associated with any particular word online. Keeping to my earlier example, let’s go for “disposal”. Cambridge online dictionary offered no less than 17 possible collocations including some that look very useful such as “means of disposal”, “disposal site” and “disposal method”. All examples come with an example sentence taken from a genuine source.
Merriam-Webster online dictionary also offers lots of collocations, synonyms and antonyms. But, be mindful of which synonyms may or may not be appropriate in any particular context.
For example, synonyms included “discarding” “throwing away” and “dumping” but “dumping” is a word often used in the sense of disposing of large amounts of waste materials probably illegally whereas “discarding” would be used more in the sense of “abandoning one course of action or thought”.
Look at the word “waste”. I find it on wordreference.com where it appears as a verb, a noun and an adjective. Am I “wasting my time” doing this? Was it “a waste of time”? Should I just throw all this in the “wastebasket”?
Although looking through these online sites can be time-consuming and it may be a good idea to simply make a note of any word or expressions you find interesting when you read, and to avoid losing the thread of what we are reading, look it up later.
Let’s say 30 minutes a day could be profitably spent working like this on vocabulary.
Simple vs Complex Vocabulary
In spoken English, clear and simple language is always better. Let’s take a look at our earlier example again.
“the populace is not sufficiently cognizant of the perils encompassing this nefarious practice of waste disposal”
Instead of saying, “you are cognizant of that fact, no?”. Just use “know” or a useful synonym like “be aware of”, which came out as the first choice as a synonym of “know”.
So, we have “not sufficiently aware of” instead of “cognizant of” and are left with some other little changes to make.
The “populace”, “the perils encompassing” and this “nefarious” practice. Just look up those words for yourself. What words would you choose to replace them?
Populace? The public, people, communities?
Perils? Dangers, risks
Encompassing? Surrounding, involving
Nefarious? Evil, criminal
Now, those choices I made came from being a native speaker, knowing for example, that in this context, the better synonym for “nefarious” was probably “criminal” rather than “depraved” or “sinful”.
For you as a learner of English, such choices may be more difficult to make, and you will make mistakes since making mistakes is all part of the learning process.
All the more reason to check words in use, in context and to double check your word choices with fellow students, IELTS experts and through feedback. That’s how to build up to what we could describe as a Band 9 Vocabulary level where we show flexibility and precision, and use idiomatic and formal language.
You can download or listen to the full tutorial here: