Vocabulary In Context Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

​The best way to learn new vocabulary is by seeing it and understanding it in context. In today’s lesson you will read some new vocabulary in an essay and then use it to complete sentences. Finally, you will complete definitions of the new vocabulary.

​When you read new words, it is important to pay attention to what other words surround  the new word in text. This can tell you the part of speech of the word (verb/adjective/noun etc) and the suitable context for the word (such as economics or astrology) as well as the tone (for example, is it formal or slang?). You should write the sentence with the new word in your vocabulary book, and also think of other example sentences to use it in.

​You need to frequently use new vocabulary in order to fully learn and retain it in your memory. To do this,  make vocabulary cards and collect new words and phrases in a vocabulary note book. When you note down new words, consult the dictionary to help you with meaning and pronunciation. Read through your vocabulary book and test your self with your new words everyday.

Let’s practice these ideas with some exercises.

This is an example IELTS Task 2 essay question.

Obesity is a serious problem in many countries, especially in rich countries.

​How can this problem be solved?

​Exercise 1

This is a band 9 model essay for the above task. ​Complete the sentences below with a word from the essay. Click on / touch the word in the essay and then on the gap in the sentence. Use the paragraph numbers to help you. You can only select a word once.

With the advent of urbanisation and the rise in popularity of fast food, there have been accompanying issues with rising obesity rates especially in developed countries like England and the USA. After providing a careful analysis of why obesity has risen so sharply in these countries, I shall suggest a number of ways in which the obesity epidemic can be ameliorated.

To begin with, it should be unsurprising that fast food is incredibly popular in wealthy countries (like England and the USA). Due to the high levels of development in these countries, consumers possess more money and can therefore consume vast amounts of fast food without seriously diminishing their income. For example, the American Dietary Association found that (compared to the average Indian household), the average American household has a six times larger budget for food per month. Consequently, it is to be expected that obesity rates are much higher in countries with larger amounts of wealth.

However, despite the severity of the obesity problem, there are a number of ways in which developed countries could battle it more effectively. Firstly, developed governments could put far more pressure on fast food outlets to provide healthy alternatives to hamburgers, french fries and soft drinks. Secondly, public exercise initiatives could be advertised and promoted far more vigorously. Lastly, modules that inform teenagers about healthy dietary requirements could be taught at schools.

In conclusion, although obesity is a serious issue in the developed world, if the above steps are taken, the situation will surely improve in the coming years.  

Click or touch a word above
1. It has been much easier to connect with people in foreign countries since the of the internet. (paragraph 1)
2. The problem of poverty could be by increasing the minimum wage. (paragraph 1)
3. I would like to a new car as my current one won’t last much longer. (paragraph 2)
4. My friend is a vegetarian so he doesn’t meat. (paragraph 2)
5. Despite the of the cold, they all reached the summit of the mountain. (paragraph 3)
6. The government could put more on fast food chains by introducing a fat and sugar tax. (paragraph 3)
7. The government must do more to healthy lifestyles so that people know how much exercise they should do and what types of food they should eat. (paragraph 3)
8. Your tutor will teach you the you need to take in order to get a good score in the IELTS exam. (paragraph 4)

​Exercise 2

Match the words you used from exercise 1 with their definitions. Click on / touch the drop-down list to select the word.
1. The condition or situation of something being very strong or serious in a negative way (noun)
2. The arrival or start of something (noun)
3. To own or have something (verb)
4. To support or encourage (verb)
5. Stages in a process (noun)
6. To improve something which is bad (verb)
7. To eat or drink (verb)
8. To persuade or try and force someone to do something (verb)

We hope you have learned some new words today, and that you have a better understanding of how to learn new words. Remember to try to learn 10 – 15 new words a week as you prepare for your IELTS test. Keeping a vocabulary book is a great way of doing this.
To continue learning about Vocabulary in Context, move on to lesson 2.
For more interactive vocabulary exercises, visit our vocabulary page.