Instant IELTS ‘experts’ have been regularly emerging, popping up like mushrooms now. Every day there is a new one. Well, you need to be aware of the risks here. You could easily waste a lot of time and money, and send your IELTS mark downwards. In this post, I’ll look at the …

 

“We teach you [X number of] words a day” syndrome.

 

Sounds good, right, particularly if [x] is a high figure. Say 50! What about 100? Wow, good? That’s the trouble; it always sounds good, but then you begin to think about it, or do you? Well, that’s where I come in. I can help you think about it. I can reply to this whole ‘100 words a day’ claim strongly and immediately. Here goes. The claim doesn’t make any sense. It’s a trick, and one which may well take your IELTS band score down.

 

Hey, that was strong stuff, right? But let me prove it by using three questions.

 

Question 1: How do you really ‘know’ a word?

 

Knowing a word, particularly a complex and less commonly used one, involves many aspects. Let’s say the word is ‘contemporary’. Incidentally, this was a favourite IELTS word, used all the time, until my IELTS Writing Task Two book was published. In that book I pointed out how this word was almost always used wrongly. Now the word has died a natural death. But let’s look at ‘contemporary’. You need to know its …

 

  1. meaning (and there can be more than one, and each can be subtle),
  2. spelling,
  3. pronunciation,
  4. various form (that is, whether it has a noun, verb, adjective, and adverb form),
  5. usage (that is, how it fits naturally into a sentence),
  6. collocation (that is, what words fit naturally beside it),
  7. grammar (that is, what prepositions may be linked to it).

 

That’s a lot to learn, and it’s just one word. And if you don’t learn all of these, there could be trouble - there could be total BURNOUT [See picture].. So, let’s look at the Band Descriptors for IELTS Writing.

 

Lexical Resource 1: Uses a range of words

 

 

4

5

6

 

Has limited control of word formation and/or spelling; errors may cause strain for the reader

May make noticeable errors in spelling and/or word formation that may cause some difficulty for the reader

Makes some errors in spelling and/or word formation, but they do not impede communication

 

 

 

 

 

 Source: IELTS Writing Task-Two Band Descriptors (Public Version) 

 

         

 

Now remember, if you misunderstand any of the previous 1 – 7 aspects of learning a word, your vocabulary score could be 5, or even lower. You are using a word, an uncommon word, but causing strain for the reader. An IELTS 6 may make mistakes, but these mistakes do not cause strain – but you are doing this, so you are NOT an IELTS 6.

 

[To be continued in the next post]

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