How To Kick Start Your IELTS Learning

IELTS Vocabulary Tips

Let’s kick off a brand new year and as always, a new year promises to bring so many opportunities to us all. Perhaps a new job, a new course, a new apartment, a new city or even a new relationship, whatever you have planned for this year, you should aim to get the new year off to a flying start by doing your best to improve your English language skills.

One way to do that is to aim to learn a new expression, a new word and its word family (whether it is a noun, a verb or an adjective and what variations of the word exist), a new idiom or the spelling of a difficult word every day. If you succeed, you will have learnt 365 new words or expressions by the end of the year – and that is nothing to be sneezed at!

I would like to start you off by giving you an example. Last weekend in my IELTS speaking preparation class, a student was given a question that, by the look of relief on her face, it was clear she thought she would be able to answer easily. However, unfortunately for her she misunderstood a key word and answered incorrectly.

We were talking about spending time by the sea and I asked her what she enjoyed about being by the sea. She answered confidently and clearly without skipping a beat. She said “I enjoy playing in the sand and sometimes, playing volleyball with my friends”.

You see, this poor girl had confused the following expressions:

“Enjoy about …(sth)” and “Enjoy …ing”

They are extremely different questions with totally different answers. I was looking for an answer along these lines:

“Well, there are so many things I enjoy about being by the sea….I could start by telling you how much I enjoy listening to the sound of the waves….the feel of the water on my toes and…you know…..the best thing of all….the smell of the air.”

Such a simple mistake yet such a different meaning, and such a different IELTS band! The girl demonstrated that she didn’t understand the difference in the use of the word enjoy. This unfortunate mistake cost her ONE whole band on the speaking exam!

My advice for the New Year, take your time to learn these differences, they may be small differences but mistaking them can end up being very costly indeed!

Extra practice: Look up the bold italicized words above in your dictionary.