Collocations for IELTS – climate change, extreme weather

What is some good IELTS weather vocabulary to express how summers and winters are changing?Here are some collocations for the extreme weather we are experiencing with climate change. They will help you pass IELTS with a 7+.

I have also included some grammar for talking about recent changes and comparing them to the past.

I’ve included some IELTS weather vocabulary phrases. Sometimes these collocations (words that go together) go wrong when they are translated word for word from another language. If you want a high band in IELTS speaking the collocations in this article will help you express precisely what you mean to say in English.

So read on to learn expressions that will impress the IELTS examiner and help give you that 8.0 you are looking for.

When I first wrote this article, it was the 1st of November, and the day before was Halloween. Temperatures were hot for this time of year. By contrast, this got me thinking about a mistake I often hear my Russian IELTS students making when they talk to me about winter in Moscow.

An IELTS Speaking Part 1 question might ask you about your home town and what you like/dislike about it. Russian students answering this question often tell me “our winters are strong”.

In English, winters can be bitter or harsh but not strong!

Here is a way to talk about a very cold winter, an extremely hot summer and some idioms suitable for IELTS Speaking Part 1. They are also useful for essays on climate change:

collocations about winter

We used to always get bitterly cold winters, lots of blizzards, and it was freezing cold outside. But recently the weather has become less predictable. Some winters are extremely harsh, others unseasonally warm.

Russian student

Our winters in England have always tended to be mild and are becoming even milder

If you said “strong winter” it is not confusing. The examiner would understand you. But understanding the subtle differences in words can make all the difference and help you go from an IELTS band 7.0 score to IELTS band 8.0 in Speaking. In IELTS, learning words as phrases and collocations is important. The term winter collocates with bitter, or its opposite, mild, but it doesn’t collocate with strong or weak

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collocations for summer

Nowadays summers in England are much hotter than they used to be. The summer months of July and August can be blisteringly hot and we have heatwaves that last for weeks on end. In Britain we never used to need air-conditioning, but now that is changing. Sometimes, it is so hot that it is difficult to get much work done and highly uncomfortable to be in the office. A desk fan can only be of so much help.

maximise your band score with some precise IELTS weather vocabulary/h3>
We call extreme heat blistering heat, and these two words collocate together. This is a band 8.0/9.0 expression because not only is it a collocation, it is much rarer vocabulary. Notice that it is exact in its meaning – much more precise that hot. Hot can be used in many more contexts that an extremely hot day – a blistering day –
by identifying exact meanings you can achieve 7+ in an IELTS vocabulary score.

Note also, the language in the quotation above is suitable for IELTS Speaking Part 1 where you are proving your ability to make general conversation. If the examiner asks you about the weather in your hometown, it makes sense to talk about how it has changed, too.

Use formal words to maximise your IELTS writing vocabulary score

Below I’ve put the link to the BBC news article, and some vocabulary to notice. They use some more formal vocabulary which would be useful in a serious answer about global warming in IELTS Speaking Part 3. It would also be useful to give examples of rising temperatures in an essay on climate change for the IELTS Writing Test.

  • “…since records began”
    • Q1: Has Halloween ever been this mild before?
  • “…set to stay like this”
    • Q2: Are the temperatures predicted to rise further? Are they expected to fall, or stay the same?
  • “…seasonal norms.”
    • Q3: What are the temperatures usually like at this time of year?

BBC News article talking about the weather this Halloween

All of these expressions are useful for describing weather that has changed since your childhood, both summer and winter. Maybe there used to be bitter winters, but nowadays the winter temperatures are above seasonal norms, or you just had the warmest winter on record or the wettest November since records began. These expressions are handy and are band 8.0/ 9.0 vocabulary

Some useful expressions for IELTS general letters – these collocations and reusable phrases can be inserted in your letter for particular purposes.

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