RELATED VOCABULARY: Talking about communication

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In this lesson, we are focusing on vocabulary used to describe communication – how we communicate, the words we use, non-verbal communication and more.
Take a look at the list below. How many words do you know? We will soon be adding vocabulary exercises to these pages, but for now, we hope the lists help!
IELTS vocabulary for communicationTypes of spoken communication

  • A discussion – when two or more people discuss a specific matter. It is often a formal situation where topics are discussed, often from different points of view.
  • A conversation – where two or more people talk informally. There may not be a specific topic to discuss or different points of view.
  • A dialogue – very similar to a discussion, although often more formal and with the aim of finding a solution to a specific problem.
  • An interview – a formal meeting where a person is asked questions and their answers are either evaluated or reported.
  • A monologue – a single person speaking for a prolonged period. This is often used in acting, but can also indicate that someone has dominated the conversation and it is only them speaking.
  • A speech – when a speaker talks in front of an audience for a given purpose (e.g. a wedding speech).
  • A lecture – a speech given to an audience or class, especially for teaching purposes
  • A debate – similar to a discussion, but often used as a formal contest of different points of view (e.g. a political debate)

Communicating without speaking

  • Body language – how a person positions themselves (e.g. facing someone, looking at the floor, crossing their arms) that tells us how someone feels.
  • Non-verbal communication  – similar to sign language, but this can be clear, pre-arranged signals. A policeman directing traffic, for example, often uses his/her arms to tell drivers where to go, when to stop etc – this is non-verbal communication.
  • Sign language  – use of the hands to show words and meaning used by (and to communicate to) deaf people.


  • Mother tongue – (also called ‘Native language’ or ‘First language’) this is the language you were brought up listening to and speaking
  • Bilingual – the ability to speak fluently and accurately in two languages
  • Multilingual – the ability to speak fluently and accurately in more than two languages
  • Polyglot – a person who is multilingual

Types of communicator / listener

  • Active listener – someone who listens and asks feedback questions to make sure they understood.
  • Inattentive – someone who does not pay close attention to what is being said or shown

Miscellaneous vocabulary for communication

  • Gossip – talking about the personal or private affairs of other people (often based only in rumours, not facts).
  • Hint – an indirect clue or indication, something not said directly (e.g. ‘she hinted that she would like a new computer for her birthday, but didn’t say so directly’).
  • Confession – admitting something that was wrong, illegal or shameful (he gave a confession to the police about the car he stole)


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