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IELTS Preparation Series 3, Episode 10: Vocabulary for Speaking


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0:13

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.

0:33

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

0:57

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

1:05

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

1:10

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

1:14

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:

3:46

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.

5:33