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THOUGHTS ON ‘VOCABULARY’



Many students ask me whether or not they should use ‘difficult’ words. Do they need to know lots of them? It doesn’t really matter if you know 500, 1500, or even 15000 words. It all boils down to how you use them. And by the way, what is the aim of communication, whether written or oral? You must agree that it is to make your readers/listeners understand your exact message, right?

In IELTS you will not be writing for an academic audience. You are not expected to write like that wonderful writer, James Joyce. I am sure many of you have attempted to plough through Ulysses. And then, after some time, you must have come across the novels of Ernest Hemingway. What about Paulo Coelho's Alchemist? Or, maybe, you preferred Richard Bach's Jonathan Livingstone Seagull?

Whatever your choice, I am sure you get what I mean. Simplicity, as they say, is the ultimate sophistication.

Can we even hope to use language the way these great men did or regularly do? Of course not. So, what’s the way out? The following may help you. At least, my students regularly benefit from practicing them in their writing tasks:


Be simple.

The simpler sounding you are, the higher you’ll score. But it is very difficult. Simplicity begets elegance and grace. Have you ever ‘opined’ in your ‘epistle’? Christ! Don’t even think of dreaming to do this.


Be relevant. Answer the question/s or opinions asked. Be ‘to the point’. You have never been interested in someone else’s long-winded responses, have you? Then why should you be surprised if they return the favour?


Avoid repetitions, use loose synonyms. I know you love your job, but the job here is not as good as the job you will be able to get if you apply for a job abroad, isn’t it? And do you know, yesterday I saw a saw that couldn’t saw.


What do you think of it? :)


These - and a few others - are the most important features of any high-scoring writing. Focus on developing these virtues. They will always guide you home. Patiently practicing. Persevering in the face of discouragement. And then practising some more. That's the way forward.


Try it. And let me know if you are getting there. I am not worried in the least. For I know you will.


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