Upgrade your vocabulary (lexical resource)
What is lexical resource?
Lexis means the stock of words used in language. It is the totality of your vocabulary items. In others words, the vocabulary you choose to use to express your ideas.
In the IELTS exam, lexical resource is one of the four marking criteria that specifically focuses on the range of vocabulary used.
Lexical resource is used in writing and speaking, out of all of the four IELTS exams. It can be difficult to generate vocabulary on the spot when you haven't trained or prepared to do so.
By training yourself with lexical resource, you are giving yourself a more realistic chance of achieving a higher score.
Some rules on lexical resource
- Use topic-related vocabulary, and not vocabulary that steers us off course
- It isn't about sounding 'smart' or 'academic', its about making your ideas make sense
- If you have used an interesting or unusual word, avoid repeating this (I would say a limit of 2 uses or it becomes repetitive)
- Colloquialism can be effective if done in the right way
- Collocations and noun phrases help to show your grammatical range
- Always remember, you are trying to sound clear and fluent- not vague and complex. The person reading your work shouldn't be trying to decipher what you are saying
Applying lexical resource
Using these student response, I have gone through and made note of successful lexical range, with a comparative example, which represents an over-saturated lexical range, and therefore unsuccessful response.
They key thing to take note of is that despite incorporating a healthy lexical range and applying intelligent use of vocabulary, it does not get in the way of meaning and hinder clarity.
The problem with example below is listed below:
- they have written an unnecessarily complicated response with too many excessive noun phrases
- inappropriate word choice at times, and illogical thought patterns - the response reads like something you might find in a company as part of their legal duties, that is not intended to actually communicate with the reader but speak at the reader- this creates a lack of engagement and reader response
- a lack of authenticity
- there are not clear markers in terms of where the student is addressing different areas of the question
- the student has repeated the ideas without actually giving clear explanation
- although some of the ideas can be seen to have a relationship to the question, it takes a lot of deconstructing to get to their point- this is the opposite of the objective of the task
How do I achieve lexical range?
- When practicing, note down some synonyms that you could use with the question given. For example, if the question is about the difference between right and wrong, appropriate vocabulary could be; behaviour, social norms, manners, responsibility, consequences, repercussions, moralistic, ethical, etc.
- Ask for feedback- have your essays marked and pay close attention to your vocabulary and produce a re-write with improved vocabulary
- Place synonyms in your home setting, such as sticking post-it notes up
- When practicing for listening, listen back to your recordings and make notes on where you struggle with vocabulary; what could you have said instead?
- Continue to record yourself until you are fluent and can exercise a range of vocabulary
If you would like to send me your essay or recording for feedback, visit my IELTS Tutor page for further instruction. I hope to read your essay and/or listen to your listening practice, and help you with your IELTS prep.