This page contains our tips for how to expand your vocabulary in a way that improves your life rather than burdening it.
Don’t be like the IELTS exam candidate who when asked to name their favourite festival, replied ‘a potato’.
Instead, use these tips to expand your vocabulary to a point where you can pass the IELTS test with ease.
The Best Way To Learn IELTS Vocabulary
The number one way to improve your lexical resource is NOT to buy a vocabulary app and start wading your way through wordlists. Learning vocabulary in this way offers little reward.
The more popular the app, the more probable that 1000s of other candidates will also learn and use the same words. The popularity of these words will reduce their value since the examiner hears them more often.
Instead, you should read and absorb articles written by a variety of authors – most of whom you can find for free online. You can either choose topic areas where your vocabulary needs strengthening or areas that interest you.
What To Read
Good free sites to read include the BBC, The Guardian and Australasian Science.
Paid magazines (both online and offline) include New Scientist, Nature, National Geographic and Medium.
Here’s a quick overview of some of the best sources…
How To Expand Your Vocabulary With The BBC
The BBC website has a wealth of resources that can help you improve your vocabulary over a wide range of topics.
We recommend that to get started you visit the website and start browsing. You can use the BBC search box to find articles of interest.
Our video course demos the best way to navigate your way through the BBC using more specialised search techniques.
One of our current students finds the BBC’s Thinking Allowed podcasts a useful resource.
This series contains many podcasts, videos, essays and photographs which discuss topics as diverse as ethnography, social science, beauty, and identity in the workplace.
How to Expand Your Vocabulary With The Guardian
The Guardian is another fantastic free resource of high-level articles.
Clicking on the More link just below the title will open a menu which contains a list of topics.
Again, either choose an area you need to improve, or an area that interests you.
Particular sections that might prove fruitful with regards to the IELTS test include the environment, education, society, science, tech, global development and cities.
You might also find articles of interest under the Lifestyle submenu.
The Long Read series, contains in-depth reporting and essays. The authors have pitched these articles and podcasts at a level that you will find both challenging and fruitful.
How to Expand Your Vocabulary With TED Talks
Ted Talks are already very well known, but did you know that each talk comes with a transcript? The availability of the script makes it easier to extract useful vocabulary from what you hear.
A range of filters at the top of the page help you to choose a talk to listen to.
You can choose topic areas ranging from entertainment to global issues. When selecting the length of the talk, I recommend selecting a duration of 6-12 minutes. The 0-6 minute category can last only seconds.
Once you have found a talk, make sure you click on the transcript so that you can read as you listen.
Our Own Blog Series
Make sure to keep an eye on our very own blog, where we curate articles worthy of your attention.
Each article we post covers an area common in the IELTS test and contains both ideas and vocabulary you can use.
We first tweet many of our articles on our Twitter account. Following us on Twitter will give you a regular flow of articles to read throughout the week. You can also interact with us there.
We also have a special series called Spotlight IELTS Vocabulary, which you will find jam-packed with useful reading.
Keep your eyes open for the image below in our blog. We use this image to headline each edition of our Spotlight IELTS Vocabulary series.
We demo more useful resources that can help you learn vocabulary on our IELTS video course.