Memorising standalone vocabulary or phrases has one major drawback – knowing the definition of a word does not necessarily mean that you know when or how to appropriately use it.
Nuances: Do you know the difference between “convenience” and “convenient”?
Vocabulary is often nuanced – do you know the difference between “convenience” and “convenient”? When do you use one vs. the other? Would a native speaker say that “technology makes our lives more convenience” or “technology makes our lives more convenient”? (FYI – it’s the latter.)
The Listening and Reading tests are vocabulary tests in disguise…
Learning words and phrases in context is of utmost importance – especially for those who are preparing for the IELTS. The Listening and Reading tests are vocabulary tests in disguise – the text may refer to something using one set of words, i.e. “to organise public events” whereas a question may include the phrase “to coordinate communal activities.”
These both mean the same thing, but use different vocabulary to do so – and if you don’t know that “coordinate” can mean “organise” (in addition to meaning that the colour of your pants goes with the colour of your socks), then you may find yourself lost.
The solution? Learn and study vocabulary in context (read, read, read and read some more!) so that you are exposed to the different ways that words are used. On this page you can find vocabulary lists extracted from Ted Talks.
Practicing using new words in the correct context is an important final step. My Spanish teacher recently gave me the assignment to use all the new words and phrases I had learned over our last few lessons in a story. That forced me to review them all and consciously use them correctly (and get additional feedback if I didn’t!). Enlist the help of a native speaker to help you practice and ensure you’re using your new words correctly!