Phần 10: Vốn từ vựng trong bài thi Nói

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1) Clip 1: Vocabulary for Speaking 

2) Clip 2: Vocabulary Exercise

3) Printable Documents

a) Notes for Study


Build your vocabulary around topic areas such as health, the environment, media, society, technology, education and others.

Demonstrate your range of topic vocabulary by using a variety of word forms, synonyms and opposites.

Don’t forget to include collocations and less common words and expressions, such as idioms.


Having a wide range of vocabulary at your finger tips and being able to use it accurately and appropriately allow you to communicate freely, spontaneously, effectively and fluently.

When building your vocabulary it is not only important to organise it in a meaningful way according to topics but also to look at how the words are used. There is more to a word than just its meaning.

There are different component parts of a word. Using a wide range and having a command of word forms are what is referred to as your lexical resource, one of the criteria by which your speech is assessed.

It is important to know and learn the different ways words are used.

When setting up a vocabulary notebook for yourself you should include the following aspects of a word.

• word forms and stress

• word associations

• collocations

• register

• idioms and fixed expressions

Word forms and stress

Words function differently when they are used as adjectives, nouns, verbs or adverbs.

Knowing the various forms gives you flexibility in the way you can express yourself.

Be careful though the stress may change when using a different word form.

Some examples are on the following page:





















































Word associations

Knowing the way words are associated with each other helps to learn the meaning of words more easily and provides the opportunity when demonstrating your speaking ability to use a wider range of vocabulary. Using synonyms, opposites and other related words allows you to extend your talk or response with more detail and express yourself more eloquently.

There are various ways that words are related. Some of the more common relationships include:

• synonyms

• opposites

• hyponyms


These are words that have the same meaning, or are similar in meaning. Be careful that some words, even though they may be similar or slightly different in meaning, may be more appropriate in one particular context than in another. Grammar can also make a difference in the choice you make.

It is important to take these aspects into account when building your vocabulary notebook and include a reference to the meaning to which the group of synonyms belongs.

On the following page are some groups of synonyms for the word advance used as noun and verb, including a reference to the intended meaning.




bringing progress

development, improvement, growth, headway



move forward

proceed, move on, progress, make headway


promote, benefit, assist


bring forward



These are words that are opposite in meaning. Similarly, as with synonyms it is important to be aware that appropriate use depends on context and grammar. Here are some groups of opposites for advance.




making progress

decline, deterioration



move forward

withdraw, retreat


hold back, delay


move back



This describes the relationship between types of something, for example colours or weather.



jet black, charcoal


chocolate, mahogany, khaki, tan, taupe


indigo, navy blue, sky blue, royal blue


aquamarine, emerald, jade, turquoise, teal


ruby, scarlet, cherry, crimson, burgundy


canary yellow, gold, cream, lemon yellow


off-white, snow-white




drizzle, downpour, deluge, shower, hail, torrential


thunder, lightning, electrical storm, tropical storm

sun and warm

sunny, Indian summer, balmy, scorcher

snow and ice

blizzard, frost, slush, snowstorm, snowdrift, hoar frost, snowfall


breeze, gale, cyclone, trade winds, typhoon



Collocation refers to the way words combine together. Using word combinations appropriately and accurately is important because it will make your speech sound more natural and native-like. For example, in English you can say Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas but it is incorrect to Merry Birthday.

Here are some of the kinds of combination and examples using the noun peace and verb explain.



peace – noun

adjective + noun

lasting peace, world peace, inner peace

noun + noun

peace movement, peace agreement, peace talks

noun + verb

peace prevails

preposition + noun

at peace (with); in peace

verb + noun

bring about peace, make peace (with)

fixed expressions

peace and quiet, peace and tranquillity, piece of mind, rest in peace

explain – verb

verb + adverb

explain clearly, explain satisfactorily

verb + verb

be able to explain, try to explain

verb + preposition

explain about, explain to


explain away, explain everything



Register refers to the use of formal and informal language. In the interview you will be required to speak on a variety of different topics that range from the general and personal to the more abstract, and to use both formal and informal language appropriately. While slang is considered a form of very informal language it is inappropriate to use it in the speaking test.

There are scales of formality. Here are some examples of formal and informal word choices:

less formal          ←                                                                         neutral                                               →        more formal

mum/mom and dad, the old folks

mother and father








advert, ad







home, house


paper, daily rag






to be sorry


to regret

to buy


to purchase

to be mad, cranky

to be angry

to be annoyed

to find out*


to learn

to get rid of*


to dispose of

to get into* (uni)


to be accepted into

to put up with* (something)


to tolerate something

to fight

to argue

to contest

to quit


to resign

to recap


to recapitulate

to swap


to exchange

* Phrasal verbs are less formal

Idioms and fixed expressions

An idiom is a phrase or fixed expression whose meaning is not clear or obvious from the meanings of the words that form the expression. For example, the expression to start the ball rolling is an idiom which means “to get some activity started”. It’s not immediately obvious what is meant by the expression but the context will usually shed some light on the meaning.

Here are some common idiomatic expressions:



from A to Z

knowing everything there is to know about something

Example: He knew the history of his country from A to Z.

all eyes

everybody is looking at someone in particular

Example: All eyes were on John to be sure he did the right thing.

up in arms

to protest angrily

Example: Ticket holders were up in arms when the last concert was cancelled.

in black and white

to have something in writing

Example: I’d like to see that agreement in black and white.

break the ice

to remove the shyness in people

Example: Wait till Jill arrives. She’ll break the ice with her jokes.

blow your own trumpet

to talk about or praise yourself

Example: Didn’t I warn you John would be blowing his own horn at the party.

go Dutch

to pay for oneself, usually at a restaurant

Example: I’ll go out with you only on the condition that we go Dutch.

a golden opportunity

an excellent opportunity

Example: Getting that posting overseas is a golden opportunity to see Europe.

in a nutshell

to sum something up

Example: Well, in a nutshell, that’s what I’ll be doing next year.

play it by ear

to deal with a situation as it develops

Example: I don’t know what kind of mood she’ll be in, so let’s wait and play it by ear.


b) Learning Activities

Practise and consolidate your learning about vocabulary by completing our activities.

The answers for all activities are on the last page.


Choose the appropriate idiomatic expression from the box for each sentence.


rule of thumb


face the music


piece of cake


start from scratch


in the long run


part and parcel


on cloud nine


drop the subject


in leaps and bounds


on second thoughts


1. Having to do the night shift is ________ of being a nurse.

2. Your diligence will pay off _______ when you succeed.

3. Let’s do the shopping tomorrow! No, _______ let’s get it out of the way now.

4. As a ______ students are allowed a 10 minute break every hour.

5. Be prepared to _____ when they find out you damaged the lock.

6. Let’s just _____ before we start arguing.

7. John has progressed _______ since his last report.

8. Because the computer crashed we lost the whole assignment and had to _____.

9. She was _____ when the results came in yesterday.

10. I’ve done the research so this assignment will be a _______.


Match each of the musical instruments in the box below with the types of instrument in the left-hand column.

bongos, saxophone, cello, guitar, harp, didgeridoo, banjo, balalaika, piano, xylophone, flute, concertina, clarinet, triangle, bass drum, organ, zither, castanets, steel drum, accordion, horn, cymbal, maracas, bells, trumpet, sitar, harpsichord, oboe, synthesiser, piccolo, mandolin, violin, trombone


Types of instrument

Musical instrument











1.         H         part and parcel

2.         C         in the long run

3.         J           on second thoughts

4.         A         rule of thumb

5.         F          face the music

6.         I           drop the subject

7.         E          in leaps and bounds

8.         G         start from scratch

9.         D         on cloud nine

10.       B         piece of cake



Types of instrument

Musical instrument


violin, cello, guitar, harp, sitar, mandolin, banjo, balalaika, zither


saxophone, flute, clarinet, oboe, horn, trumpet, didgeridoo, piccolo, trombone


piano, accordion, concertina, harpsichord, organ, synthesiser


bass drum, bells, castanets, xylophone, triangle, maracas, steel drum, cymbal, bongos


c) Transcript

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

Today we'll look at how to make best use of your vocabulary and get your meaning across in the IELTS Speaking Test.

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

When you find that you can't think of the right word, you can talk around the idea as this candidate does here:

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

No, I don't think so. It must be very, very hard. You know, when I lived in Ecuador, I knew a lot of famous people and they always have to have bodyguards, or they have to live behind bars, you know, behind big walls, and children are always protected, and they don't have the freedom, so it's a big price you pay.

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

She said 'have to have bodyguards' 'live behind bars' 'behind big walls' 'children are always protected'… and 'they don't have the freedom'.

She paints a clear picture of what she means: 'live behind bars' - we imagine someone in jail; 'bodyguards' - employing someone to protect you and your children.

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

The ability to use your vocabulary to describe something you don't have the exact word for is called circumlocution. Circumlocution means 'talking around something' and is assessed as a vocabulary skill.

During the interview the examiner may use a word that you don't know the meaning of. Let's imagine the topic of computers in education comes up in the interview. The interviewer takes the opportunity to explore this area and says:

Computer technology plays a big role in children's education today. Do you think the benefits of using computers are overrated?

Let's say you don't understand the word overrated. You can ask the interviewer what that word means, like this:

Computer technology plays a big role in children's education today. Do you think the benefits of using computers are overrated?

What do you mean by overrated?

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

This is called asking for clarification. Apart from helping you answer, it shows the interviewer an aspect of your speaking ability. There are several ways of asking for clarification. You could say:

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


Would you mind explaining what 'overrated' means?

All these examples ask for clarification appropriately. They range from the least formal what do you mean by …? to the most formal would you mind explaining …?

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

What's overrated?

It would, however, be more to your advantage if you tried to guess the meaning of overrated and then checked with the interviewer whether your understanding is correct.

Let's try doing this.

You know from your own experience that the use of computers for education can be good and bad. The question asks about benefits. Benefits are good things but are they overrated? Is there any part of the word you recognise?

It starts with 'over', a prefix you might know. You hear of overpopulation and people being overweight. That's too many people … and too fat. So 'over' probably means 'too much'. And it's not a good thing.

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

Computer technology plays a big role in children's education today. Do you think the benefits of using computers are overrated?

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

Yes, that's right.

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

The questions in the Speaking Test interview are designed to encourage answers that show you can use a range of language functions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The same applies to speculating. Speculating means making suggestions, where you don't necessarily know the right answer.

Here are some phrases you can use to speculate:

Why do teenagers vandalise public transport?

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

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

I imagine that the most important reason would be boredom

And here are some ways to give suggestions:

What would you do to improve public transport?

I think what should be done is increase services

The problem could be solved by increasing services

What might be done is increasing services

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

Listen to this candidate doing this:

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

Because the society has changed a lot, and now we seem to be rushing all the time and want to consume everything a lot faster, so I think every form of entertainment is also reflecting that kind of very fast, quick way of wanting something different and wanting something very quickly.

He uses a number of synonyms to talk about how society has changed - he feels there is a need for things to be done in a hurry.

He uses the synonyms: rushing, fast and quick. He uses different word forms: the adjective fast and its comparative faster, the adjective quick and the adverb quickly.

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

Listen again:

Because the society has changed a lot, and now we seem to be rushing all the time and want to consume everything a lot faster, so I think every form of entertainment is also reflecting that kind of very fast, quick way of wanting something different and wanting something very quickly.

One way to build up your vocabulary is to organise words around categories such as movement. You can arrange words like this:

Some synonyms are fast and quick.

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

Word forms would be faster and quickly.

Some opposites would be slow and sluggish.

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

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

That's all for now.

To find more information about the vocabulary you need for the Speaking Test visit our Study English website. The address is: australianetwork.com/studyenglish.

Good Luck with your studies. Bye for now.


(Nguồn UTS: Insearch and Australia Network)