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  • Writer's pictureSte Sharpe

IELTS myth… I need to use big words and slang to get a higher band score.

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IELTS myth

It’s time to debunk another common IELTS myth, this time with some information about vocabulary.

During my many years of teaching IELTS, I’ve seen students learn lists of ‘common IELTS idioms’ and try to drop them into conversation thinking it’ll help them achieve a higher band score. On one hand, there is some logic here; on the other hand, it just sounds odd and out of place.

Want to know more about this… read on!

How is my use of vocabulary evaluated in the IELTS Speaking test?

In my previous blog post where I break down the Lexical Resource criteria, I discuss that your vocabulary is assessed on: your range of words, such as collocations,  idiomatic expressions and register; precision of words; paraphrasing.

While it’s important to show your range of vocabulary, it’s also just as important to know how to use them appropriately and accurately in conversations.

At band 7, you need to show awareness of using idiomatic expressions and collocations, as well as effective paraphrasing (using synonyms)... but remember that you also need to show awareness of using these appropriately and accurately.

Are there any examples to help me better understand this IELTS myth?

Let’s have a look at some example sentences below taken from the Internet.

Q1-Where do you like to travel to?

I like to travel. I like visiting places in different countries. I like eating new food. I don’t like travelling to far places. I don’t feel as fresh as a daisy when I get home.

Q2-When did you last receive some bad news?

I last received some bad news about 2 weeks ago. I had a bad review from a customer. I wasn’t over a moon.

In question 1, the sentences are quite short and simple and don’t show any awareness of complexity. Then, we can see the use of ‘fresh as a daisy’ meaning someone who is lively and attractive. Although this has been used accurately, it doesn’t fit in with the level of grammar used.

In question 2, the grammar is a little higher, but the use of ‘over a moon’ is incorrect, as it should be ‘over the moon’.

How can I learn useful idiomatic expressions?

As I’ve said in my previous blog post about Lexical Resource, you need to expose yourself to as much English as possible. When you do this, you’ll be able to see how these expressions are used in everyday contexts, which will help you to use them in similar situations.

So, should I use idioms and slang in the IELTS speaking test?

It’s absolutely fine to use these in the IELTS Speaking Test, but make sure that they are relevant and used appropriately. Sometimes, candidates overuse idiomatic expressions which makes their answers sound very odd, causing misunderstandings.

Remember that vocabulary isn’t the only criteria the examiner uses to assess your speaking; there are also three others, which you can learn more about in my previous posts ‘Fluency and Coherence’, ‘Grammatical Range and Accuracy’ and ‘Pronunciation’.

What should I do now?

If you want to improve your vocabulary for the IELTS Speaking Test, check out my online IELTS Speaking Course where you’ll not only learn all about the IELTS Speaking test format and bust some myths, but you’ll also have chance to increase your range of vocabulary and practise it so that you can show off your vocabulary skills to the examiner on the test day.

You can also join my Telegram Channel (see the link at the bottom of the web page) where you’ll receive free resources to develop your language skills.

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May 18

Thankyou for this useful information.

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