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IELTS Vocabulary

Vocabulary and Tips for IELTS Speaking Part 1

July 5, 2018

Vocabulary and Tips for IELTS Speaking Part 1

Do you know how to prepare yourself for the IELTS Speaking Paper? Follow these tips and learn this vocabulary and you will improve your confidence (and score) on Part 1 of the IELTS Speaking Exam.

First, three useful tips . . .

Vocabulary and Tips for IELTS Speaking Part 1

#1: Be able to describe where you are from and your job with 100% confidence.

Imagine this: A student works in the Human Resources office of a department in her government. When she comes to the U.S., she is not sure if the U.S. has the same department. She also is unsure of the translation of her government department into English. When she takes the IELTS exam, she cannot confidently talk about her career.

What a shame! Avoid this by making sure you can describe where you are from and what you do.

 

#2: Anticipate questions about your career and hometown and then use impressive phrasal verbs and idioms.

Saying where you are from and what you do for a living takes 5 seconds. What happens when you do not have the vocabulary to say more than “My name is _____. I am from _______. I am a ______”?

Before the test, make sure that you can speak about your hometown, describe it confidently, and talk about yourself using natural expressions. For example:

“My name is Amina. I was born in Lebanon but I grew up* in Germany. I am sort of the black sheep** of my family because I’m the only one who came to the U.S. to study: the rest of my siblings*** studied in the UK.”

*grew up: advance to maturity
** black sheep: something that is different within a group of things that are the same
*** siblings: brothers and sisters 

#3: Use natural expressions

Sometimes, students say that they feel like a robot during the speaking test. This is common when you do not have the small words and expressions that you use in your native language(s). The vocabulary below will help you speak more naturally. 

Vocabulary and Tips for IELTS Speaking Part 1

Vocabulary for IELTS Speaking Part 1

Talking about yourself

  • Your past. I grew up in (place), which is . . .  
  • Your job. I am (currently/presently) . . .
  • Where you live now. I’ve been living in (place) for (blank years/month).
  • Current plans. At the moment, I’m taking classes at . . . and . . .
  • Future plans. I’m hoping to . . .
  • Future plans. I’m planning on . . .

 

Asking for repetition

  • Could you please repeat the question?
  • One more time?
  • I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that. Would you mind repeating?

 

 

Inserting natural phrases

  • Well, I’d have to say that . . .
  • It’s tough to say, but I’d . . .
  • In my opinion, . . .

 

Negative statements

  • I’m not so sure that . . .
  • I’m not convinced that . . .
  • To be perfectly honest, I . . .
  • Between the two of us, . . .

 

Examples

  • For example, . . .
  • As an example, . . .
  • For instance, . . .
  • Perhaps you’re aware of . . .

 

Expressions

  • What’s weird is . . .
  • Something surprising is . . .
  • One thing I never expected was . . .
  • Never in a million years did I . . .
  • I’m not ashamed to admit that . . .
  • Many are surprised to hear that . . .
  • It’s common knowledge that . . .

 

Featured Student Life Vocabulary

Casual English for Conversation

June 12, 2018

Casual English for Conversation

“Conversation is food for the soul.” -Proverb

Conversation is an art and can be difficult in any language. When learning English, it can be even more difficult if you do not have the right vocabulary words to ask the right questions! The next time you have a conversation in English, try using some of these questions and phrases. They will help you to have a casual conversation in English, which will allow you to get to know someone a little better.

Casual English for Conversation

Use these questions to begin a conversation with someone that you know.

What’s new? OR What have you been up to lately/recently?

Use these questions to ask what is new in a person’s life.

  • What’s new?
  • Not much, what’s new with you?
  • OR
  • What have you been up to lately?
  • Just working and life. What about you?

Casual English for Conversation

What’s new in your world?

This is another question to ask about a person’s life and what is new.

  • What’s new in your world?
  • Not much, to be honest. Just working and studying. How about you?
  • OR
  • What’s new in your world?
  • A lot of work lately! And we are getting ready to go on vacation. And you?

Casual English for Conversation

How have you been?

This general question is to ask how a person has been since you last saw him or her.

  • How have you been?
  • Good! And you?
  • OR
  • How have you been?
  • I’ve been good! What about you?

Casual English for Conversation

How are things?

This casual conversation question is just to ask, in general, how the person’s life is going.

  • How are things?
  • Fantastic. I’ve just started a new job. You?
  • OR
  • How are things?
  • Things are great. A little busy lately but good. What about you? How are things?

Casual English for Conversation

It’s been forever!

When you have not seen a person in a long time, this is a great phrase to use. Usually it is followed by a question about how the person has been doing.

 

  • It’s been forever! How are you?
  • OR
  • It’s been forever! How have you been?

 

Casual English for Conversation

How’s _____ treating you?

When you want to ask about the person’s job, project, or relationship, use this question.

 

  • How’s life treating you?
  • How’s the new job treating you?
  • How’s married life treating you?
  • How’s life in San Diego treating you?

 

Casual English for Conversation

What’s up with _____?

This question is a good way to ask about the status of something in the person’s life. Usually you knew something about this topic but have not had an update recently.

  • What’s up with that job promotion? Did you get it?
  • What’s up with your neighbor? Did he move?
  • What’s up with your sister? Is she still dating that guy?

 

California Life CISL San Diego Executive English Featured Idioms and expressions San Diego San Diego Travel Tips Suggested student activities Vocabulary

Golf Expressions in English

April 9, 2018

Golf Expressions in English

Do you love to golf? This sport is incredibly popular in English, so it is not surprising that there are many golf expressions in English. How many of these have you heard?

English also uses many expressions from other sports: read our Sports Related Idioms for more information!

Golf Expressions in English

Above/below par

Golf definition: “Par” is the number of attempts a player should make before putting the ball in the hole. (It can also be used for  many rounds of golf or for entire tournaments.) To be “above par” means that it took the player more attempts than “normal”; to be “below par” is the opposite.

English definition: Better or worse than average.

Example: Your writing and vocabulary skills are above par, but we need to work on your pronunciation.

Not up to par

English definition: Not as good as something should be; below average.

Example: I’m worried that my skiing is not up to par with my friends. We will see this weekend when we go to Big Bear!

Hole in one

Golf definition: Hitting the ball into the hole in one attempt. 

English definition: A successful attempt at something.

Example: Your presentation was a hole in one. Excellent job.

On par with

English definition: To be at the same level as something or someone else.

Example: My running isn’t on par with Silvia’s, so it’s difficult to exercise with her.

Par for the course

English definition: Typical.

Example: Spending 2-3 hours on social media each day is par for the course these days.

Tee up

Golf definition: To get ready to hit the ball; to put the ball on the tee (the small wooden piece that goes into the ground).

English definition: Prepare something; make detailed arrangements.

Example: The children are teeing up for their annual spring concert.

Golf Expressions in English

CISL San Diego organizes private or group golf lessons for students upon request. The lessons, which are either 30 minutes or one hour, are organized at one of the four beautiful golf courses in San Diego (La Jolla, Coronado, Balboa Park, or Fashion Valley). The lessons include equipment. For more information, contact the CISL Activities Coordinator at sdactivities (at) cisl (dot) edu.

Featured Lessons Vocabulary

10 Phrasal Verbs for Casual Conversation

January 22, 2018

Phrasal Verbs for Casual Conversation

Phrasal verbs are a part of everyday conversation for English speakers. The following are commonly used in casual conversation. Understanding them will allow you to confidently have a casual conversation.

10 Phrasal Verbs for Casual Conversation

Be up to

Definition: Doing something.

Example: What have you been up to lately?

Example: What are you up to this morning?

Why this is a useful phrasal verb: This is a common way to casually ask a friend what their plans are or what they are doing.

Come over

Definition: To go to someone’s house or location.

Example: Do you want to come over later?

Why this is a useful phrasal verb: This phrasal verb is the most common way to ask your friend to your house.

Phrasal Verbs for Casual Conversation

Thanks for coming over for lunch!

End up

Definition: To do something or become something that was not in the original plan.

Example: We planned to go to the movies, but we ended up going to the beach because it was a beautiful day.

Example: I wanted to be a surgeon, but I ended up being a dentist.

Why this is a useful phrasal verb: Plans change! The phrasal verb “end up” is a great way to express this.

Get together

Definition: To meet socially.

Example: Marianne and I are getting together this weekend for drinks.

Why this is a useful phrasal verb: This phrasal verb is the easiest way to express social plans.

Phrasal Verbs for Casual Conversation

We got together and studied for our TOEFL test.

Help out

Definition: To help someone.

Example: Thanks for helping out with the cleanup after the party!

Why this is a useful phrasal verb: We all help our friends out when we can.

Keep up

Definition: Continue doing something; persist.

Example: I can’t keep up with my work lately.

Why this is a useful phrasal verb: We have to keep up with many things: our jobs, our homework, even the lives of our friends.

Phrasal Verbs for Casual Conversation

I ran into my friend at the mall.

Run into

Definition: To meet someone unexpectedly.

Example: Guess who I ran into the other day? My old teacher!

Why this is a useful phrasal verb: We run into people we know often: RUN INTO expresses this better than saying “I saw _____.”

Take off

Definition: To leave (casual/slang).

Example: I have to take off in about 5 minutes. I have to meet my Mom.

Why this is a useful phrasal verb: This is a common way to casually say that you need to leave. English speakers use it often.

Phrasal Verbs for Casual Conversation

I’m taking off in 10 minutes and going to the beach. Wanna come?

Turn out

Definition: To produce an unexpected result.

Example: I was worried about ordering a lavender coffee, but it turned out to be delicious.

Example: How did your cake turn out? Did you like that new recipe?

Why this is a useful phrasal verb: Things do not always go as we planned. This phrasal verb expresses this situation perfectly (and casually)!

Note: this phrasal verb is slightly different than END UP, although both refer to an end result. END UP focuses more on the outcome or result, while TURN OUT focuses more on producing the result.

Show up

Definition: To arrive.

Example: I think everyone is showing up around 7:30.

Why this is a useful phrasal verb: This is a casual way to say “arrive” and is often used in conversation. “Arrive” is more formal.

 

To learn more about phrasal verbs, read some of our other articles:

Academic English EAP Featured University Pathway Vocabulary

50 Verbs of Analysis for English Academic Essays

October 28, 2017

 Verbs of Analysis for English Academic Essays
In English, we often have to analyze data, research, or facts. Do you know how to do this effectively, while using the appropriate verbs of analysis? This list of 50 verbs of analysis in English will help you.

Note: this list is for advanced English learners (CEFR level B2 or above). All definitions are from the Cambridge Dictionary online

50 Verbs of Analysis for English Academic Essays

Affects

Definition: to have an influence on someone or something, or to cause a change in someone or something.

Example: Experts agree that coffee affects the body in ways we have not yet studied.

Amplifies

Definition: to increase the size or effect of something.

Example: It has been shown that this drug amplifies the side effects that were experienced by patients in previous trials.

Asserts

Definition: to say that something is certainly true.

Example: Smith asserts that his findings are valid, despite criticism by colleagues.

Characterizes

Definition: Something that characterizes another thing is typical of it.

Example: His early paintings are characterized by a distinctive pattern of blue and yellow.

Claims

Definition: to say that something is true or is a fact, although you cannot prove it and other people might not believe it.

Example: Smith claims that the study is the first of its kind, and very different from the 2015 study he conducted.

Clarifies

Definition: to make something clear or easier to understand by giving more details or a simpler explanation.

Example: The professor clarified her statement with a later, more detailed, statement.

Compiles

Definition: to collect information from different places and arrange it in a book, report, or list.

Example: After compiling the data, the scientists authored a ten-page paper on their study and its findings.

Concludes

Definition: to judge or decide something after thinking carefully about it.

Example: Doctor Jensen concluded that the drug wasn’t working, so he switched his patient to a new medicine.

Confirms

Definition: to prove that a belief or an opinion that was previously not completely certain is true.

Example: This new data confirms the hypothesis many researchers had.

Connects

Definition: to join or be joined with something else.

Example: By including the criticisms of two researchers, Smith connects two seemingly different theories and illustrates a trend with writers of the Romanticism period.

 Verbs of Analysis for English Academic Essays

Differentiates

Definition: to show or find the difference between things that are compared.

Example: Smith differentiates between the two theories in paragraph 4 of the second part of the study.

Diminishes

Definition: to reduce or be reduced in size or importance.

Example: The new findings do not diminish the findings of previous research; rather, it builds on it to present a more complicated theory about the effects of global warming.

Discredits

Definition: to cause people to stop respecting someone or believing in an idea or person.

Example: The details about the improper research done by the institution discredits the institution’s newest research.

Displays

Definition: to show.

Example: Smith’s findings display the effects of global warming that have not yet been considered by other scientists.

Disproves

Definition:to prove that something is not true.

Example: Scientists hope that this new research will disprove the myth that vaccines are harmful to children.

Distinguishes

Definition:to notice or understand the difference between two things, or to make one person or thing seem different from another.

Example: Our study seems similar to another one by Duke University: how can we distinguish ourselves and our research from this study?

Elaborates

Definition: to add more information to or explain something that you have said.

Example: In this new paper, Smith elaborates on theories she discussed in her 2012 book.

Embodies

Definition: to represent a quality or an idea exactly.

Example: Shakespeare embodies English theater, but few can understand the antiquated (old) form of English that is used in the plays.

Emulates

Definition: to copy something achieved by someone else and try to do it as well as they have.

Example: Although the study emulates some of the scientific methods used in previous research, it also offers some inventive new research methods.

Enhances

Definition: to improve the quality, amount, or strength of something.

Example: The pharmaceutical company is looking for ways to enhance the effectiveness of its current drug for depression.

 Verbs of Analysis for English Academic Essays

Entails

Definition: to make something necessary, or to involve something.

Example: The scientist’s study entails several different stages, which are detailed in the report.

Equates

Definition: to consider one thing to be the same as or equal to another thing.

Example: Findings from both studies equate; therefore, we can conclude that they are both accurate.

Establishes

Definition: to discover or get proof of something.

Example: The award establishes the main causes of global warming.

Evokes

Definition: to make someone remember something or feel an emotion.

Example: The artist’s painting evokes the work of some of the painters from the early 1800s.

Exhibits

Definition: to show something.

Example: Some of the research study participants exhibit similar symptoms while taking the medicine.

Facilitates

Definition: to make something possible or easier.

Example: The equipment that facilitates the study is expensive and of high-quality.

Focuses

Definition: the main or central point of something, especially of attention or interest.

Example: The author focuses on World War II, which is an era she hasn’t written about before.

Foreshadows

Definition: to act as a warning or sign of a future event.

Example: The sick bird at the beginning of the novel foreshadows the illness the main character develops later in the book.

Formulates

Definition: to develop all the details of a plan for doing something.

Example: Two teams of scientists formulated the research methods for the study.

Generates

Definition: to cause something to exist.

Example: The study’s findings have generated many questions about this new species of frog in South America.

 Verbs of Analysis for English Academic Essays

Highlights

Definition:  to attract attention to or emphasize something important.

Example: The author, Dr. Smith, highlights the need for further studies on the possible causes of cancer among farm workers.

Identifies

Definition: to recognize a problem, need, fact, etc. and to show that it exists.

Example: Through this study, scientists were able to identify three of the main factors causing global warming.

Illustrates

Definition:  to show the meaning or truth of something more clearly,especially by giving examples.

Example: Dr. Robin’s study illustrates the need for more research on the effects of this experimental drug.

Implies

Definition: to communicate an idea or feeling without saying it directly.

Example: The study implies that there are many outside factors (other than diet and exercise) which determine a person’s tendency to gain weight.

Incorporates

Definition: to include something as part of something larger.

Example: Dr. Smith incorporates research findings from 15 other studies in her well-researched paper.

Indicates

Definition: to show, point, or make clear in another way.

Example: Overall, the study indicates that there is no real danger (other than a lack of sleep) to drinking three cups of coffee per day.

Infers

Definition: to form an opinion or guess that something is true because of the information that you have.

Example: From this study about a new medicine, we can infer that it will work similarly to other drugs that are currently being sold.

Informs

Definition: to tell someone about particular facts.

Example: Dr. Smith informs the reader that there are some issues with this study: the oddly rainy weather in 2017 made it difficult for them to record the movements of the birds they were studying.

Insinuates

Definition: to suggest, without being direct, that something unpleasant is true.

Example: In addition to the reported conclusions, the study insinuates that there are many hidden dangers to driving while texting.

Integrates

Definition: to combine two or more things in order to become more effective.

Example: The study about the popularity of social media integrates Facebook and Instagram hashtag use.

 Verbs of Analysis for English Academic Essays

Lacks

Definition: to not have or not have enough of something that is needed or wanted.

Example: What the study lacks, I believe, is a clear outline of the future research that is needed.

Legitimizes

Definition: to make something legal or acceptable.

Example: Although the study legitimizes the existence of global warming, some will continue to think it is a hoax.

Magnifies

Definition: to make a problem bigger or more important.

Example: In conclusion, the scientists determined that the new pharmaceutical actually magnifies some of the symptoms of anxiety.

Models

Definition: something that a copy can be based on because it is an extremely good example of its type.

Example: The study models a similar one from 1973, which needed to be redone with modern equipment.

Negates

Definition: to cause something to have no effect.

Example: This negates previous findings that say that sulphur in wine gives people headaches.

Neglects

Definition: to not give enough care or attention to people or things that are your responsibility.

Example: The study neglects to mention another study in 2015 that had very different findings.

Obscures

Definition: to make something difficult to discover and understand.

Example: The problems with the equipment obscures the study.

Outlines

Definition: a description of the main facts about something.

Example: Before describing the research methods, the researchers outline the need for a study on the effects of anti-anxiety medication on children.

Overlooks

Definition:  to fail to notice or consider something or someone.

Example: I personally feel that the study overlooks something very important: the participants might have answered some of the questions incorrectly.

Parallels

Definition: to happen at the same time as something else, or be similar or equal to something else.

Example: Although the study parallels the procedures of a 2010 study, it has very different findings.

Converse International School of Languages offers an English for Academic Purposes course for students interested in improving their academic English skills. Students may take this course, which is offered in the afternoon for 12 weeks, at both CISL San Diego and CISL San Francisco. EAP course graduates can go on to CISL’s Academic Year Abroad program, where students attend one semester at a California Community College. Through CISL’s University Pathway program, EAP graduates may also attend college or university at one of CISL’s Pathway Partners. See the list of 25+ partners on the CISL website. Contact CISL for more information.