It happens to us all when we’re learning a new language: you’re speaking, and speaking, and speaking and then suddenly! – you get to a word you don’t know. Has this happened to you? What can you do? Well, today in our free English vocabulary lesson you can find out! Let’s learn more about what to do with the words you don’t know…

English Vocabulary Lesson: The Words You Don’t Know

How was the video? Was there anything which you didn’t understand? Don’t panic. Scroll down to read a summary of the video, get more practice with your vocabulary – and most importantly, learn about KWYJIBO!

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Simon teaches 1-to-1 online English lessons in IELTS, business English, general English and other English exams.
He is a native-English speaker with 10 years’ experience and professional teaching credentials.
Lessons with Simon take place online, via Skype. In your lessons with him, he helps you with the English that you need to succeed and enjoy your life!
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Simon set up English42 in 2013, after teaching English around the world. He lives in Dublin, where he spends his time teaching exams like IELTS, as well as business English and English speaking. When he’s not teaching, he listens to music and tells terrible jokes.

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1. Move!

The easiest way to express a word you don’t know is to use your body! Most English learners use their hands and arms to express words which they don’t know.

The good thing about physical movements is that they’re easy. You don’t need any English to illustrate a word in this way. So, everyone – even elementary students can use physical movements to express themselves.

The bad thing is that it can be difficult for the listener to understand. The person who is listening to you may not understand exactly what you mean if you use a physical movement. Also, one physical movement can have many different meanings. Think of the word triangle. How would you use your arms and hands to express this? Isn’t this the same as mountain, church, house or pyramid?

So, to help the listener understand us, we need something better…

2. Use synonyms

The next part of our English vocabulary lesson is about synonyms. Synonyms are different words which have more or less the same meaning. They are much more precise than physical movements. However, they are more difficult to do.

Basically, using synonyms makes understanding easier for the person who is listening to you.
If you don’t know a word like gallery you can say art museum; if you forget the word professor, say university teacher; instead of dentist you can say tooth doctor.

However, you need to have good vocabulary to know lots of synonyms. Don’t panic. This is our speciality at English42! Vocabulary is a huge part of our Facebook page, our free video lessons and in our private 1-to-1 lessons.

Synonyms are also the key to passing your IELTS test. If you’re serious about passing this difficult exam, we can help! Click on the picture below to learn about IELTS lessons with Simon.
Otherwise, simply continue to get links to our vocabulary lessons (including our popular 7 new words series). Finally, you can also understand what we mean by kwyjibo!

IELTS practice tests

If you’re serious about improving your IELTS score, we’re here to help! English42 offers professional online IELTS practice tests in Writing and Speaking. (We also offer 1-to-1 IELTS preparation lessons, with professional experts). Click on the image to learn more.

3. Kwyjibo

Now we arrive at the most difficult and important part of our English vocabulary lesson: what is kwyjibo? Well, as we said in the video, kwyjibo is a nonsense word which will help you when you forget an English word or you don’t know it. In this kind of moment, think to yourself “KWYJIBO!” – that’s your signal to build a definition of the word.

Here’s an example of a definition. What do you think we’re talking about?

A language which 1 billion people speak.

In fact, there are 2 possible answers to this definition: Mandarin Chinese or English. But a good kwyjibo definition has only 1 possible answer. For example, a smartphone which is made by Apple (iPhone) or the woman who leads the United Kingdom (Queen Elizabeth). So, if you define the word you don’t know the word, the person you’re speaking to will immediately understand it.

To study kwyjibo in depth, visit our free lesson on relative clauses, or practice with the What’s That Word? quiz!

QUIZ: What’s That Word?

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