Speaking 2: lexical resource and its role in improving test scores

This video answers the question ‘what is lexical resource?’ in relation to IELTS speaking tests. It is designed to show individuals how they can achieve a better score by developing their skills in this area.

In this context, the word lexical - literally ‘relating to the words or vocabulary of a language’- refers to the range of vocabulary a person uses in their IELTS speaking test. As this video explains, it’s not enough for them to simply memorise a long list of words; they must also use vocabulary effectively.

This includes an understanding of:

  • Collocation: words that are naturally used together. For example, lions roar (they do not ‘shout’) and we make a phone call (we do not ‘do’ a phone call).
  • Connotation: the positive, neutral, or negative association of some words. For example, ‘laid back’ is generally positive, ‘inactive’ is generally neutral, and ‘lazy’ is usually negative.
  • Less common vocabulary or expressions: used in the right way to demonstrate that the speaker understands what they are saying.

These factors will be considered in the context of everyday topics with general relevance in all of the countries where IELTS is used. Specialist knowledge isn’t expected, but a good vocabulary will certainly be an asset.

Reading, learning and practice

This video provides some useful tips to help individuals improve their use of vocabulary. For example, looking out for new words and noting their context to aid understanding of a word’s meaning, usage and collocation – such as in online newspapers.

Another useful tip is to group new vocabulary into related subjects (such as sports) to learn together, rather than making long lists of unrelated words. Mind maps can be useful here.

This video also encourages individuals to learn more synonyms. In test situations, nerves can cause people to forget words or struggle to find the correct word. However, they can get credit for explaining the meaning, or ‘paraphrasing’, so having a range of synonyms to draw on can be helpful. This also makes a thesaurus a valuable tool.

Finally, research tells us that practice has a positive impact on IELTS test scores. You should therefore encourage individuals to practice by trying to use their new vocabulary when speaking with others. They should also download our lexical resource for IELTS speaking and familiarise themselves with the other criteria they will be tested on, namely grammatical range and accuracy, fluency and coherence, and pronunciation.