Lesson 2 of 21
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How to Increase your Vocabulary

In this lesson, we look at what you can do to improve your vocabulary.

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One of the best ways to improve your vocabulary is to watch lots of English speaking films, videos, and series. You should watch these with English subtitles. If you see a word or phrase which you find interesting, write it down. Here are some suggestions…

YouTube is such a great way to get lots of English language content. The best way to learn is to simply watch the content that you find interesting. Here are some suggestions:
  • Accent videos: videos showing different English speaking accents from around the world
  • English learning channels: EngVid, English with Lucy, MmmEnglish
  • IELTS channels: English Speaking Academy, E2 IELTS, IELTS Liz, IELTS Advantage
  • Interesting videos: whatever you’re interested in
Series are a great way to improve your English. The more we watch the same series, the better we understand the characters personalities, accents, and language. Here are some popular English-speaking series:
  • Friends
  • Gossip Girl
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • Downton Abbey
Watching movies is another great way to learn a language. Usually, the best movies for learning aren’t too complicated and don’t have too much talking- this makes it easier to follow the story. Here are some suggestions:
  • The Dark Knight
  • Notting Hill
  • The Pursuit of Happiness
  • Men in Black

Read for fun! When it comes to learning vocabulary from reading, the best way is to simply enjoy yourself and read as much as possible. Unless you are very disciplined, constantly checking words in dictionaries and writing words in vocabulary books will make reading a boring experience and you will soon give up. Make it an enjoyable experience. Read the books or articles that you enjoy and the vocabulary will come. 

Here are some books that are frequently recommended for English learners

  • Harry Potter
  • Sapiens
  • Shoe Dog: a Memoir by the Creator of Nike
  • Roald Dahl’s short stories


  • BBC
  • The Economist 
  • The Guardian
  • The Wall Street Journal

*Many of the examiners get inspiration from these magazines, so by reading these regularly you are more likely to learn vocabulary and ideas related to common IELTS topics.

When you learn a new word, you should review and use it regularly. To learn a new word use/review it 7 times over a long period of time. Here is a proven strategy for reviewing vocabulary.

  • Learn a new word (day 1).
  • Review it before you go to sleep that night (day 1- night). 
  • Review it again before you go to sleep the next night (day 2- night).
  • Skip a day and review it then next day (day 4)
  • Review the word on day 8. 
  • Review the word on day 16. 
  • Review the word on day 32. 

You can set reminders on your phone or calendar to remember to review your vocabulary. Spacing out the time between reviewing the vocabulary increases the chances of learning the vocabulary. 


There are many very useful language learning apps. The great thing about these is that you can use them anywhere: on the train, waiting in a queue, etc. 

Here are some of the most popular language apps.

  • Bussuu (Courses and feedback from native speakers)
  • Duolingo (Fun quizzes and courses)
  • Quizlet (Games and quizzes)
  • HelloTalk (Language exchange)
  • Babbel (Courses and quizzes)
  • IELTS Prep (IELTS tests and activities)

It’s important to know the vocabulary that is relevant to the IELTS exam. That’s what we have aimed to do in this course. We have selected the words and phrases which are the most useful for talking about a range of common topics in IELTS. These are words which have helped students get a band 7,8, and 9 in their speaking and writing test. Each lesson has quizzes designed to show you how each of the words can be used in a typical IELTS sentence. 

Best of luck!

This is a great website for learning vocabulary from English songs: lyricstraining.com 

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