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IELTS Preparation Series 3, Episode 10: Vocabulary for Speaking


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Hello, and welcome to Study English, IELTS Preparation. I'm Margot Politis.

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Today we'll look at how to make best use of your vocabulary and get your meaning across

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in the IELTS Speaking Test.

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Knowing how to use your vocabulary in different ways can help you maintain conversation.

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When you find that you can't think of the right word, you can talk around the idea as

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this candidate does here:

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Do you think the children of famous people have it easy?

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No, I don't think so. It must be very, very hard. You know, when I lived in Ecuador, I

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knew a lot of famous people and they always have to have bodyguards, or they have to live

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behind bars, you know, behind big walls, and children are always protected, and they don't

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have the freedom, so it's a big price you pay.

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You can picture the surroundings from her description even though she has not named

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it.

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She said 'have to have bodyguards' 'live behind bars'

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'behind big walls' 'children are always protected'

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and 'they don't have the freedom'.

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She paints a clear picture of what she means: 'live behind bars' - we imagine someone in

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jail; 'bodyguards' - employing someone to protect you and your children.

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The vocabulary used in her description accurately, effectively and successfully describes a 'gated

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community'.

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The ability to use your vocabulary to describe something you don't have the exact word for

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is called circumlocution. Circumlocution means 'talking around something' and is assessed

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as a vocabulary skill.

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During the interview the examiner may use a word that you don't know the meaning of.

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Let's imagine the topic of computers in education comes up in the interview. The interviewer

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takes the opportunity to explore this area and says:

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Computer technology plays a big role in children's education today. Do you think the benefits

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of using computers are overrated?

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Let's say you don't understand the word overrated. You can ask the interviewer what that word

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means, like this:

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Computer technology plays a big role in children's education today. Do you think the benefits

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of using computers are overrated?

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What do you mean by overrated?

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I mean that the benefits are regarded too highly. They're exaggerated.

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This is called asking for clarification. Apart from helping you answer, it shows the interviewer

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an aspect of your speaking ability. There are several ways of asking for clarification.

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You could say:

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Sorry, I'm not quite sure what you mean by 'overrated'.

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Or

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Would you mind explaining what 'overrated' means?

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All these examples ask for clarification appropriately. They range from the least formal what do you

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mean by …? to the most formal would you mind explaining …?

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It would be inappropriate in such a formal interview to just say:

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What's overrated?

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It would, however, be more to your advantage if you tried to guess the meaning of overrated

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and then checked with the interviewer whether your understanding is correct.

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Let's try doing this.

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You know from your own experience that the use of computers for education can be good

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and bad. The question asks about benefits. Benefits are good things but are they overrated?

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Is there any part of the word you recognise?

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It starts with 'over', a prefix you might know. You hear of overpopulation and people

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being overweight. That's too many people … and too fat. So 'over' probably means 'too

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much'. And it's not a good thing.

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So you can check with the interviewer to see if you've understood by rephrasing the question

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like this:

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Computer technology plays a big role in children's education today. Do you think the benefits

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of using computers are overrated?

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Are you saying that the benefits of computer use might not be that good?

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Yes, that's right.

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Asking a question like this shows that you can use your vocabulary skilfully.

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The questions in the Speaking Test interview are designed to encourage answers that show

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you can use a range of language functions.

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The interviewer wants to see if you can express an opinion, or speculate or give a suggestion.

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It's a good idea to vary the ways you respond.

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Take the question: Do you think there is too much violence in films today?

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It's inviting you to express an opinion, like this:

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As far as I'm concerned there is too much violence in films these days.

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But there are other ways of expressing an opinion. Listen:

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In my opinion there is too much violence in films these days.

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From my point of view there is too much violence in films these days.

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It seems to me that there is too much violence in films these days.

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Well, I would say there is too much violence in films these days.

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The same applies to speculating. Speculating means making suggestions, where you don't

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necessarily know the right answer.

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Here are some phrases you can use to speculate:

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Why do teenagers vandalise public transport?

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If I had to guess I'd say that it's boredom

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I'm not sure but from my observation it's boredom

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I imagine that the most important reason would be boredom

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And here are some ways to give suggestions:

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What would you do to improve public transport?

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I think what should be done is increase services

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The problem could be solved by increasing services

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What might be done is increasing services

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Another strategy is to use synonyms or words that have similar meanings.

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Listen to this candidate doing this:

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Why have the forms of popular entertainment changed over the years?

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Because the society has changed a lot, and now we seem to be rushing all the time and

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want to consume everything a lot faster, so I think every form of entertainment is also

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reflecting that kind of very fast, quick way of wanting something different and wanting

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something very quickly.

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He uses a number of synonyms to talk about how society has changed - he feels there is

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a need for things to be done in a hurry.

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He uses the synonyms: rushing, fast and quick. He uses different word forms: the adjective

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fast and its comparative faster, the adjective quick and the adverb quickly.

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By using a variety of synonyms and different word forms he is managing communication well

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and maintaining fluency.

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Listen again:

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Because the society has changed a lot, and now we seem to be rushing all the time and

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want to consume everything a lot faster, so I think every form of entertainment is also

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reflecting that kind of very fast, quick way of wanting something different and wanting

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something very quickly.

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One way to build up your vocabulary is to organise words around categories such as movement.

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You can arrange words like this:

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Some synonyms are fast and quick.

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A collocation, or group of words often used together is 'rushing all the time'

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Word forms would be faster and quickly.

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Some opposites would be slow and sluggish.

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An idiom could be 'in the fast lane', which means living an exciting if sometimes risky

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life.

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Keep adding to this and then using the words you've discovered.

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That's all for now.

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To find more information about the vocabulary you need for the Speaking Test visit our Study

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English website. The address is: australianetwork.com/studyenglish.

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Good luck with your studies. Bye for now.

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