Vocabulary for IELTS: Education, Environment, Food

vocabulary for ielts about Education-Environment-Food

Vocabulary for IELTS: Education, Environment, Food

vocabulary for ielts about Education-Environment-Food
vocabulary for ielts about Education-Environment-Food

In one of our previous articles about vocabulary, IELTS Game talked about the importance of appropriate vocabulary for your band score, and we discussed different ways to learn new words and expressions.

We also found out that there are some common topics which we quite often see in the Speaking and Writing parts of the exam.

If you know what topics you’re likely to have in the IELTS, it would be useful to learn vocabulary on every topic.

These topics are:

  • Education
  • Environment
  • Food
  • Globalization
  • Technology
  • Health
  • Crime and punishment
  • Outer space
  • Art

Before in IELTS Game, we covered the important vocab about Globalization, technology, health, and words related to Crime, space, and art.

In today’s article, we’ll study words and phrases on topics education, environment and food.

Make use of this material wisely and don’t forget about special learning techniques.

There’ll be no use just to copy the list of words and learn it by heart.

You should always learn the examples of the word usage and its definition.

Follow our updates to find more useful vocabulary on other IELTS topics.

1. Education

This is a really broad topic – and a very popular one in IELTS.

Any part of IELTS can challenge you with questions related to education.

Types of education

Let’s start with different types of education:

Secondary education – traditionally, in the US it refers to school studies (grades 9 to 12) and culminates in a High School Diploma.

A typical next academic milestone is what is called higher education. Higher education is studies beyond high school.

For example: Higher education in the Western world is usually voluntary.

Note: In some countries, the term tertiary education is used instead.


As a result of your studies, you hopefully receive an official recognition in the form of some qualification. General types of qualifications are:

  • Certificate – for short academic programs;
  • Diploma – university level programs shorter than a degree;
  • Degree – relatively long academic programs covering specific areas in great depth.

Traditionally the first degree you acquire is the Bachelors. You can then apply for Master’s and Ph.D. (Doctorate).

For example: PhD courses may be a mix of theory and practice in your chosen subject.


To start your studies in a recognized university, you normally have to meet specific requirements. Let’s talk about them using a specific vocabulary.

Entry admissions are requirements for prospective students and could be expressed as your minimum grade level during your previous studies, minimum score in specific standardized tests (like IELTS, TOEFL, ACT, GMAT, etc.).

Another way to say it is entrance requirements.

While choosing your future institution you consider a number of aspects such as university rankings and curricula.

The curriculum means the content taught in a specific academic program. By curriculum, we often mean courses offered by a school.

For example: Curriculum is one of the foundational elements of effective teaching.

Tuition & Fees

Let’s continue. Another important thing you usually have to carefully consider is tuition and cost of attendance.

Basically, it’s money you have to invest in your studies. Tuition fees are what you pay directly to the university and the cost of attendance includes food, housing, transportation, books, and supplies.

Top-tier institutions (another very useful expression which means leading or prestigious institutions) often charge thousands of dollars yearly. To ease the burden on their budget many students apply for financial aid.

It could come in the form of a scholarship (scholarship is money for your education awarded based on various criteria defined by a sponsor).

For example: There are a number of scholarship schemes run by governments, charities, and other organizations.

There are other forms of financial aid which include bursaries, grants, fellowship, and scholarship.

  • Scholarships are awarded for scholastic achievement.
  • Bursaries are awarded on the basis of financial need, so it is a certain type of social financial help.
  • Grants are funds provided by a certain party, often a government department, corporation, or foundation to an individual or institution.
  • Fellowships usually refer to grants in support of post-baccalaureate projects, or to pre-baccalaureate projects pursued outside the standard curriculum.

All scholarships and fellowships are grants and need to be repaid.

Learning modes

Now let’s talk about learning modes.

The typical decision for most students is to study full-time, but for those who work part-time studying can be a more realistic solution.

You can also choose to study distantly or via some trendy online program (e-learning).

Or you might prefer a combination of on-campus and distance studying which is called the blended mode.

Let’s go through some other useful words and phrases.

They are given in a list so that you can revise the ones you already know and learn some new useful expressions.

Educational verbs

  • to revise – to make changes especially to correct or improve (something); to study (something) again;
  • to enroll (in a degree course) – to enter (someone) as a member of or participant in something; to take (someone) as a member or participant; to become a member or participant;
  • to review – to look at or examine (something) carefully especially before making a decision or judgment; to study or look at (something) again; to describe or show (a series of things or events from the past);
  • to research – to study (something) carefully; to collect information about or for (something);
  • to attend (classes) – to go to or be present at some event;
  • to major in a subject – to pursue an academic major;
  • to deliver a lecture – to carry out/conduct a lecture;
  • to graduate (from a university) – to earn a degree or diploma from a school, college, or university;
  • to keep up with (your studies) – to go or make progress at the same rate as others;
  • to demonstrate academic gains – to show academic progress/education achievement;
  • to broaden horizons – to enlarge / expand someone’s scope;
  • to fall behind (with studies) – lag behind;
  • to evaluate – to determine or fix the value of something; to determine the significance, worth, or condition of usually by careful appraisal and study;
  • to procrastinate – to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done.

2. Environment

One more topic for discussion today is environment. It’s another very popular subject in IETLS.

You might need to read, write, or talk about it during your exam. The words we are going to learn should help you succeed. 

Let’s talk about causes, effects, and solutions to environmental challenges using advanced IELTS vocabulary.

Global warming

Let’s begin with the most talked about environmental issue today – global warming.

What is global warming? Due to human actions, we observe the rise of average Earth temperatures.

It may sound like a nice shift for people living in Russia and Canada, but such climate change triggers some serious negative consequences.

For example: World leaders launch an initiative to accelerate work on global warming.

Global warming also has the potential to change rainfall and snow patterns, increase droughts and severe storms.

Let’s additionally define droughts from this sentence. Most people think it’s a period of hot and dry weather, but that is not completely true.

It is a state or condition when human demands for water exceed its natural availability.

Let’s come back to the consequences of global warming. It’s very likely that you have heard a lot about these issues.

One of the most dangerous consequences are melting glaciers.

For example: The increase in mean temperatures has led to melting of most of the world’s glaciers.

Greenhouse gasses vocabulary

But what drives the increase in temperature? Greenhouse gasses are a widely discussed source.

Some greenhouse gases occur naturally, but human activity leads to release of enormous extra amounts of greenhouse gases.

For example: Population growth, deforestation, and factory farming are creating excess greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere and contributing to global warming.

Looks like we’ve got some new interesting words here! Deforestation is the clearing of trees without the intent of replanting them.

For example: One of the consequences of deforestation is the loss of biodiversity. 

Biodiversity words and expressions

Another great word is biodiversity. Biodiversity is the variety of all living things on Earth which include plants, animals, and microorganisms.

Now let’s continue with some new words associated with biodiversity.

For exampleMany species within a forest ecosystem are endemic to that habitat. When their habitat is lost, it could lead to their extinction.

Here we have 3 new words.

  1. The first one is extinction, which means that certain species no longer exist on the planet.
  2. The second word is habitat and means the natural environment of a plant, animal, or another organism.
  3. And the third word is ecosystem and means any community of living and not living things that work together.

Other useful words and phrases.

Endangered species are those considered to be at risk of extinction.

For exampleThere are over 1,300 species in the United States that are listed as threatened or endangered

The ozone layer – a belt of naturally occurring ozone gas that sits above the Earth and serves as a shield from the harmful ultraviolet radiation.

For exampleUnlike pollution, which has many types and causes, the ozone layer depletion has been pinned down to one major human activity. 

Our next word combination is carbon footprint. It is a number of greenhouse gases emitted by something during a given period of time. Let’s find an example.

For exampleA carbon footprint can be measured for an individual or an organization and is typically given in tons of CO2.


There are two gases which people often confuse – CO2 = carbon dioxide and CO = carbon monoxide.

Their names are similar, and they are both dangerous in high concentration.

So my best explanation is: CO2 is produced by gasoline engines that use a catalytic converter. 

CO is generated by gasoline engines that do NOT use a catalytic converter. I hope this clarifies the difference for you. 

In most cases, you will need to say or write something like ‘to reduce carbon dioxide emissions we have to do something…’

Hazardous waste

Let’s move forward and our next phrase is hazardous waste. 

For exampleIt’s essential that a hazardous waste is handled, stored, transported, and disposed of properly. No one should touch hazardous waste.

Another popular word when we talk about the environment is contamination.

Many people use it as a synonym of pollution, which is not completely correct. 

Contamination is the presence of unwanted or foreign substances.

Contamination may be natural whilst pollution is produced by the influence or activities of people.

For example: Contamination of the fields could happen through overuse or misuse of pesticides.

And let me define the word pesticide for you. 

Pesticides are chemicals that kill or manage pests. You may know those small Colorado potato beetles, so pesticides can help get rid of them.

One more useful word is landfill. It is an area of land that is used to dispose of waste.

For exampleThe purpose of a landfill is to bury the waste in a way that it will be isolated from groundwater, kept dry, and out of contact with air. Each country has a policy for landfills.

Vocabulary related to Energy

Now it’s time to talk about energy, the thing without which people cannot imagine living.

Renewable energy

The first phrase is renewable energy sources.

For exampleWind, solar, and other forms of renewable energy could be the fastest growing power sources over the next few decades. 

The next term is tidal energy. It is a power produced by the surge of ocean waters during the rise and fall of tides.

For exampleEngineers around the world are working to improve the technology of tidal energy generators to increase the amount of energy they produce and decrease their impact on the environment. 

Talking about renewable energy, there are some other sources of it, such as wind turbines and solar panels. 

Wind turbines are an affordable, efficient, and abundant source of electricity.

Some companies have embraced solar panels to improve their environmental profiles and to cut their operational costs.

But unfortunately, fossil fuels still play a dominant role on the market.

Fossil fuels

So another new word here is fossil fuels.

Basically, they are sources of energy in the form of remains of dead plants and animals. Sounds scary?

Well, they developed over millions of years and are now available as coal, oil, and natural gas.

For example: Some fossil fuels, such as coal, are abundant and cheap. Others, like oil, have a variable cost depending on geographic location.

3. Food

You can come across this topic in virtually any part of IELTS.

You are often asked about food in the Speaking part where you might expect questions about your favorite type of meal, desert, restaurant, or international customs around cooking and eating.

In Part 3 of the speaking section, you might be asked to talk about nutritional aspects, the relation between proper diet and health, etc.

Food is also a rather popular topic for Writing Task 2 where you can expect to write in depth about causes and effects of obesity.

So let’s start our food vocabulary training.

International Cuisines

Our globalized world is giving us unique opportunities to share various international cuisines.

Most modern large cities offer a wide variety of restaurants of particular cuisines: Italian, French, Chinese, Thai, and others.

In addition, it’s a popular topic in IELTS.

For this reason, to score high, you have to develop the vocabulary to speak about your diet and food preferences.

It is equally important to use proper adjectives, provide examples, but I warn you again not to memorize any sentences or paragraphs.

Remember that at your exam you have to speak naturally!

For example:

  • I love the simplicity of Italian food with only a few ingredients but of extraordinary quality. Fresh tomatoes and basil, olive oil and Prosciutto de Parma are typical Italian products.
  • Coriander, ginger, cardamom, and saffron are very typical flavors for Indian cuisine. I usually order hot curries with lots of chili and a side of raita to cool down. Many Indian dishes are prepared with rice, vegetables, and seafood.

Healthy Food

Nowadays we often hear about the importance of maintaining the balanced and healthy diet.

It means that we need to think carefully about what we eat and prefer nutrient dense food.

But what is food rich in nutrients? Nutrients are the substances in food that our body processes in order to function.

For exampleGood nutrition – a well-balanced diet combined with regular physical activity is a cornerstone of good health.

And what are good examples of healthy food? Whole grains are a trendy group of widely discussed ingredients. So let’s discuss what a wholegrain product is.

According to an official definition, whole grains or foods made from them contain all the essential parts and naturally-occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed in their original proportions.

Basically, products made with whole grains are as good as the original seeds.

Some examples of whole grains: wheat, wild rice, barley, corn, millet, buckwheat, oats, etc. Fiber is another important component of the healthy diet.

It’s found in cereals, fruits, and vegetables, and contributes to keeping our digestive system healthy.

There is another interesting expression often used by healthy food advocates – ‘Eat the rainbow’.

It is a simple way to remind us that we need to consume more varieties of vegetables of all colours.

Eating Disorder and Unhealthy Food

When we talk about eating disorders, obesity is the first thing to mention here.

Obesity is currently among the biggest health problems in the world. It triggers various diseases which combined kill millions of people every year.

There are several words to be used to describe excessive weight: obesity, overweight, adiposity.

For example:

  • Children become overweight and obese for a variety of reasons. The most common causes are poor dietary habits modelled at home, lack of physical activity, and unhealthy eating patterns.
  • Psychological disorders which obesity may trigger include depression, eating disorders, and low self-esteem.


Now let’s discuss what causes excessive weight and obesity and learn some specific vocabulary.

1. Firstly, it’s poor dietary habits modelled at home.

  • For exampleOffsprings of obese parents are much more likely to become obese than offsprings of lean parents. 

2. Secondly, it’s the quality of food we consume.

  • For example: For decades processed food has been getting cheaper, while fruits and vegetables have been getting more expensive. 

3. Thirdly, it’s the addictive nature of engineered food.

  • For exampleNowadays products are engineered to be cheap and last long on the shelf. They are developed to be incredibly tasty so that we can never get enough.

But what are the potential risks of obesity? Engineered food is very dangerous since it can cause a number of diseases such as diabetes, cancer, stroke, and others.

Now I suggest that we go through some additional vocabulary.

All the words are grouped according to their meaning. You will see them on the screen and I will pronounce them.

If any of them are unfamiliar to you, look their definitions up in the dictionary.

I also advise that you come up with several examples to memorize them better.

Food adjectives

  • syrupy – having the appearance or quality of syrup; thick or sweet;
  • sugary – tasting or looking like sugar;
  • crispy – pleasantly thin, dry, and easily broken: having a pleasantly crisp outer layer;
  • bitter – having a strong and often unpleasant flavor that is the opposite of sweet;
  • juicy – containing a lot of juice;
  • sour – having an acid taste that is like the taste of a lemon;
  • zesty – having a strong, pleasant, and somewhat spicy flavor;
  • chewy – something requiring to use your teeth to cut food into small pieces before you swallow it;
  • spicy – flavored with or containing strong spices and especially ones that cause a burning feeling in your mouth;
  • peppery – containing pepper or having the qualities of pepper;
  • ambrosial – something extremely pleasing to taste or smell;
  • crunchy – having a hard texture and making a loud sound when chewed or crushed: not soft or mushy;
  • delicious – very pleasant to taste;
  • savoury – having a pleasant taste or smell;
  • unflavoured – without flavor additives;

Eating Verbs

  • to bite – to seize with teeth or jaws so as to eat something;
  • to chew – to use your teeth to cut food into small pieces before you swallow it;
  • to taste – to have a particular taste, to sense the flavor of something you eat or drink;
  • to savour – to enjoy the taste or smell of something;
  • to swallow – to take (something) into your stomach through your mouth and throat;
  • to digest – to change (food that you have eaten) by a biological process into simpler forms that can be used by the body;
  • to indulge – to allow (yourself) to have or do something as a special pleasure;
  • to devour – to eat up greedily or ravenously.

I really hope that you will make a good use of these expressions not only at the exam, but also in your life.

This is not a complete list of expressions on the given topics, but you can always help us to improve our material.

If you know any other useful phrases and collocations on these topics, write it in the comments box, and we will add it in our article.

Don’t forget that we’re going to publish more articles with the vocabulary for IELTS.

So check the updates and keep in touch. See you!

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