“How to improve acedemic vocabulary for IELTS”

Here, we're going to be talking about the IELTS Academic reading paper. First, we'll talk a little bit about things that you might already know about the IELTS test. Then, we'll discuss what problems you may encounter, what you can do about them, and finally, what skills and strategies you'll need to increase your overall band score.

Most of the students I meet who wish to take the IELTS test are already anxious about their academic reading IELTS score before even completing their preparations. Nevertheless, you do not have to worry since here we will try our best to put your concerns to rest.

Come join us, and let us work together towards your designated IELTS band score, and to help you learn about IELTS academic reading paper.

Academic Reading IELTS Basics

You probably know that there are four different parts to the test: The IELTS listening test, the IELTS speaking test, the IELTS writing test, and lastly, the IELTS reading test, about which we are talking here. Now we're going to discuss the academic reading paper in detail.

What is Academic vocabulary?

The vocabulary is defined as the body of words used in a particular language here, English. Academic vocabulary is nothing but the vocabulary used in articles, academic journals, or presentations about various subjects or an environment of academia. It consists of words of English that communicate ideas accurately and effectively.

Very general usage of language/words is done to communicate in everyday situations. However, in texts relating to academia like research, study, in teaching, or in universities, there's a more formal and straightforward preferred choice of words.

Let's look at this comparison to exemplify the difference between Academic and General vocabulary.

  • Academic Vocabulary
  • General Vocabulary
  • Controversial issue
  • Hot topic
  • Equivalent to
  • The same as
  • Currently
  • Nowadays
  • Nocturnal
  • Active at night
  • Significant
  • Big/ Large

For example :

  • 'Controversial issue' is a much better way of saying 'a hot topic.'
  • 'Significant' is a better way of saying 'big or impactful.'
  • Something is 'equivalent to' is a better expression for 'the same as.'

What is the importance of academic vocabulary in IELTS?

Vocabulary demonstrates how well-read a person is, and its correct usage helps you make an impression on other people. The importance here is to bring a better understanding of the language and its application. The question that arises here is that, Why is academic vocabulary so important for success in IELTS? And more so for the IELTS academic paper than the general training. There are a variety of reasons that we'll come across as we progress through the article. Following are the reasons that demonstrate the importance of vocabulary for your IELTS to demonstrate your proficiency in the language:
  • To expand lexical resources like generative grammar, knowledge of word and phrase meaning.
  • To improve your writing task performance
  • To demonstrate a range of finer words in your IELTS academic test
  • To improve your score.
  • To get exposure to this aspect of the language, which is mostly used in texts of high caliber academia.
  • To learn new words!

There are ample reasons to focus on academic vocabulary for success in IELTS across the world.

Recurrently, the IELTS test is required because you need to demonstrate the ability to communicate in an academic environment and whether you have a clear understanding of the English language. In addition, you have to make your examiner believe that language will not be a problem for you when you are studying abroad.

You can portray that by developing and utilizing good IELTS Vocabulary in your IELTS test. Academic vocabulary can be useful in the general training exam too. You will find examples of the same on the general training IELTS exam, particularly in the second and third texts. The general training exam doesn't require you to have a vivid vocabulary, except in essays. But it will definitely help you to perform better overall.

How is Academic Vocabulary used in IELTS?

Let's just consider all the four skills w.r.t Academic vocabulary:

In the reading section on the IELTS academic paper, the three texts in the reading of the general training exam are of academic nature. However, reading the texts gets progressively more difficult in general training, and there is some Academic Vocabulary in these texts. The same applies to the listening section. Remember, listening is the same in both General training and academic papers.

The same applies to speaking as well, particularly part three of your speaking. Again, you need to include some academic language to make a lasting impression. In the writing part one of general training, you need to write a letter, which could be formal. In IELTS academic part one of writing, you need to describe data, and to do that effectively, you need this sort of vocabulary. Part two on both papers is a discursive essay that has to be written in a descriptive, interpretive way. So again, that's where good Academic vocabulary comes in and plays a vital role in your essay's overall prospect and outlook. Are Cambridge Vocabulary words used in IELTS?

While the Academic IELTS exam is based more on Academic word lists and academic vocabulary, there is comparatively less but a variety of words from the Cambridge Vocabulary lists and books which you can look at to develop an even stronger Vocabulary. The principle is simple. The more words you expose yourself to, the stronger your vocabulary will get. Suppose you have already gone through the IELTS Academic word list. It will definitely help you look at a vocabulary list from Cambridge and other reliable sources for IELTS preparation.

Academic word list

Much research has been carried out on several sorts of words that we use in everyday training and the sort of words that we use in an academic scenario. This research has led to a list of words that have been frequently seen in Academic texts and dialogue. Thus, an academic word list can be defined as a collection of words found in academic written texts. It is a collection of sub-lists from one big list divided into groups by frequency.

So, the first sublist consists of the most common academic words, and the sublists go down in frequency.

Since the words are classed by frequency, the most common academic words are at the beginning of the list, and the less common words are at the end. These lists were first devised by Averil Coxhead at the School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, in New Zealand. These lists are revised periodically. The latest edits are from the beginning of the 2000s.

In a nutshell, this list contains 570 headwords, and then the different word families different at changes to the words in total there are just under 3000 words.

There are different parts of speech and word forms in English, such as nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, etc. In the academic word list, there are all the word families. The first words that you generally see in italics are in the form of the word that has the highest frequency.

If you want to look at the entire academic word list, search a little on the Internet, and you will find it very interesting. You can find all of these lists online. In addition, you can download academic word lists in PDF format.

There is also something in English called a general service list, which is a list of the most common words used in English. However, we are concentrating on the academic one.

What are some examples of academic words?

Here are some examples from sublist 1.

  • Analyse
  • Consist
  • Data
  • Legal
  • Major
  • Vary

These are headwords from sublist 1.

Can you spot a verb or a noun, or an adjective?

Let's take the word to analyze, for example. This word tells us that the most common form in academic writing is the verb form, analyze. Next to this on the academic word list, you will also have words such as analysis, analyst, analytics, which are all nouns, and analytical, which is an adjective. What other forms could there be?

Similarly, you have all of the different forms of all the headwords you see, of which the headwords are the most common. If you're wondering how to find other forms of words from headwords, it is easy to do so by thinking of a prefix or a suffix, and possibly the opposite or the negative form. You will automatically recall the forms of that word that you've heard or read before. Let's take another example, consistent, consistently, consistency are all related to the word consist.

You get some idea of the sort of language which is in the academic word list. So, remember that the headword and the words related to it will follow. Also, it is not necessary that all words will have different forms. While in the given example of a sublist, we can mostly see verbs, There is one example of such a word: Data. The given headword is the only form of that word.

Beware of compound words: Some people get the wrong idea from a headword by combining it with another word and calling it a form of that word. For example, ' Database' is a compound word that we get by joining the words Data and the word base, which completely changes what it means.

Examples of the use of Academic words in IELTS: Below are examples that show the use of some words from the Academic word list in IELTS.

  • A positive ________ toward learning impacts students’ outcomes.
  • The ________of water is vital for all life forms
    There is more than one answer to each of these quests. But some words fit the best as an answer to a question on the IELTS. You will recall these words from the Academic word list.
    • The words of the academic word list' attitude' or 'inclination' fit better in this blank than its counterparts, i.e., outlook, slant, approach, which carry a more casual tone.
    • The academic word 'availability' fits better here than hereness, handiness, presence, which could also fit but would work as well.

How to study an academic word list?

I suggest you go and investigate the academic word list.

  • You can study words directly from the list by using word cards and doing an intensive study of academic texts.
  • There is a tool called an academic vocabulary highlighter or an academic word highlighter, using which you can identify and learn academic words from any academic text.
  • All you need to do is copy and paste a text and run it through this tool, and it will identify for you the words which are included in the academic word list Attend academic lectures and listen to academic discussions.
  • Also, you can look at the academic collocation list of what you do to improve and develop your academic vocabulary.

How to develop & improve vocabulary?

Listen as much as you possibly can. Listen to the news from around the world. Remember that in IELTS listening, you will hear a variety of accents, so listen to the news from the United States, Australia, Britain, and the rest of Europe. Listen to material from all over the world. Try to find news about where you're living, in English.

Many universities and educational institutions are putting more and more resources and content to listen to online, so you can go and listen to some academic lectures where you will hear in context to this academic vocabulary. Remember that there are many facets to learning words. Not only do you need to know what the word means, but you also need to know its other forms, spelling, its pronunciation, what it might sound like with the same parts of speech et cetera.

How you learn vocabulary is very individual and is something that we could talk about in another article; in the meantime, you must record vocabulary and learn it. But again, it's very, very particular to your style of learning. So initially speak as much as possible.

Even sometimes, talking to yourself can help you become more comfortable with English.

Write as much as you possibly can because when you make grammatical mistakes, you learn more.

If you have email contacts with whom you can communicate with in English, converse with them more often.

Try blogging, find something that interests you, start writing blog posts, and respond to Blogspot comments on various types of content. The more you write, the quicker you write. This will help you in the IELTS exam.

Read, read, read. There is nothing that you could do better to develop your academic vocabulary and read academic texts that interest you, magazines, scientific journals, or financial papers. Find a book that interests you. The BBC Learning English is very good for vocabulary.

Maintain an IELTS Vocabulary book for every new vocabulary word you learn. Keep IELTS vocabulary lists and try to recall specific vocabulary whenever you read something. Note it down.

I'd like to refer you to the Mavelielts.com and the Marvel official Facebook page, where you will find links to our material, guides, tests, and other things that you can do, which will, in turn, help you progress in IELTS. Please share the link to this video with other students or anyone who might benefit from it.