Last week (see lessons from Friday to Sunday) I gave you an overview of how examiners score IELTS speaking tests. I also said that I would explain the idea of 'less common' and 'idiomatic' vocabulary in more detail.
First some simple definitions:
- 'Idiomatic' is defined in most dictionaries in this way: using, containing, or denoting expressions that are natural to a native speaker.
- 'Less common' must therefore mean 'less commonly used by learners of English', not 'less commonly used by native speakers'.
In other words, 'less common' and 'idiomatic' basically mean the same thing: phrases that native speakers naturally use, but English learners don't often use.
This is why I tell people that examiners are not looking for 'big' or 'difficult' words. They are looking for phrases and collocations.
Click here to see a lesson in which I highlighted the kind of native-speaker phrases that an examiner might like to hear in a speaking test.
And remember: Understanding these phrases isn't the same as being able to use them yourself.