IELTS Tips

Vocabulary Words for IELTS: Family

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These are useful words and phrases based around Family vocabulary, a common topic in IELTS. This vocabulary will help you with all parts of the test if the topic arises.

Immediate Family

  • spouse
    • a husband or wife
  • sibling
    • a brother or sister
  • sibling rivalry
    • a feeling of competition between siblings (This is a possible topic not just in IELTS Speaking and Listening, but also in the Reading and Writing portions of the exam.)

Extended Family

  • aunt
    • the sister of your father or mother
  • uncle
    • the brother of your father or mother
  • cousin
    • the son or daughter of your aunt or uncle
  • niece
    • the daughter of your brother or sister
  • nephew
    • the son of your brother or sister
  • in-laws
    • “In-law” is used to describe the relatives of your husband or wife — that is, the relatives of your spouse. Your spouse’s brother is your brother-in-law, your spouse’s sister is your sister-in-law, your spouse’s mother is your mother-in-law, your spouse’s father is your father-in-law, and so on.

Less Common Family Words

The family terms below are unlikely to come up in IELTS Listening tracks or Reading passages. And they are rare in IELTS Speaking and Writing questions. Still, there is at least some chance you’ll see this vocabulary on the exam. And you might use these words in your own responses to IELTS questions.

  • step
    • Just as “in-laws” are your relatives by current marriage, your “step” relatives are relatives from previous marriages. For example, if a man marries a woman who already has children, he becomes their step father, and they become his step children. And if both a husband and wife have children from their previous marriages, those children become each others’ step siblings.
  • great grandparents (great grandmother and great grandfather)
    • the parents of your grandparents 

OTHER Family related vocabulary:

Nuclear family Family group consisting of a pair of adults and their children 
Most households in the Western world tend to be nuclear families. 
Extended family Larger than the nuclear family – consisting of aunts, uncles, and cousins all living nearby or in the same household. 
If you live with your extended family they can help to look after the children.
Single-parent
A parent, not living with a spouse or partner, who has most of the day-to-day responsibilities in raising the child or children.
 
Some people believe that it is not good for children to grow up in a single-parent household. 
Relatives
Group of people related by blood or marriage
 
Relatives, such as grandparents, can play an important role in helping to raise children.
Siblings
Brothers or sisters
 
I have three siblings – one brother and two sisters.
Adolescent
A young person who is developing into an adult
 
Children can sometimes cause more problems for their parents when they become adolescents.
Dependants
Someone who depends on you for financial support, such as a child or family member who does not work
 
My dependants will be well-looked after when I die as I have left a lot of money to them in my will. 
Authoritarian
Demanding that people obey completely and refusing to allow them freedom to act as they wish
 
His father was very authoritarian and he used to scare me quite a lot.
Strict
Strongly limiting someone’s freedom to behave as they wish, or likely to severely punish someone if they do not obey.
 
Some parents believe that they have to be very strict with their children to ensure they behave well.
Birth control / Contraception
(the use of) any of various methods intended to prevent a woman becoming pregnant
 
One of the reasons for the falling number of births in developing countries is birth control. Medical clinics often distribute free contraception.
Birth Rate The number of babies born over a given time
The birth rate has been falling in many countries. 
Bring Up / Upbringing
To care for a child until he or she is an adult, often giving him or her particular beliefs
 
Children should be brought up to respect their parents.I had a very good upbringing.
Raise
To take ​care of a ​person (or an ​animal or ​plant) until they are ​completely ​grown
 
Her parents raised her very well as she is now a very kind and considerate young woman.
Child Development
The biological, psychological and emotional changes that occur in human beings between birth and the end of adolescence
 
There is no doubt that there are factors external to the family that significantly impact on a child’s development.
Childcare
Care for children provided by either the government, an organization, or a person, while parents are at work or are away for another reason
Cheap childcare is very important in order to allow mother’s to return to work.
Divorce
An official or legal process to end a marriage
My parents divorced when I was 15.
Divorce is very common these days.
Separation
An arrangement, but not necessarily done legally, by which two married people stop living together as a couple
Me and my partner are having a trial separation. Hopefully we can sort things out.
Child Neglect
A form of child abuse where there is an ongoing failure to meet a child’s basic needs, such as being left without adequate food, clothes, shelter, medicine etc.
Social services will intervene if a child has been neglected.
Dysfunctional Family
A family where there is conflict, misbehavior, and often child neglect, resulting in poor emotional and physical health
The child comes from a very dysfunctional family. The father was violent and is now in prison and the mother has a drugs problem.
Emotional Security
To feel happy and secure from having enough love, acceptance and respect
The most important factor leading to a fulfilled and happy life for a child is emotional security.
Well-adjusted
Reasonable and has good judgment and their behaviour is not difficult or strange
A child brought up by responsible parents and provided with emotional security will grow up to be very well-adjusted.
Responsible Parent
Having good judgement and the ability to act correctly when bringing up a child e.g. ensuring they are not in any danger
If you have children it is very important to be responsible parents.
Formative years
A period of a person’s life, usually childhood, that has a big influence on the person they become and the rest of that persons life
If things go wrong for someone in their formative years, it can have an impact on their adult life.
Adoption
Taking on the legal responsibilities as parent of a child that is not one’s biological child
If a couple can’t have a child they may decide to adopt.
Fostering
Taking on the responsibilities for a child in place of the child’s natural parents but without legally adopting the child.
Fostering a child can be a very fulfilling experience.
They have decided to become foster parents.
Nurture
Care for and protect (someone or something) while they are growing
It is the family that can provide a supportive, secure, and nurturing environment, which is crucial to the way in which a child becomes an adult.
Overprotective Parents
Wishing to protect a child too much
Children who have had overprotective parents do not build up a strong character to deal with the outside world on their own.
Spoiled Child
A child who shows bad behaviour from overindulgence by their parents
Children who are given everything that they demand from their parents may become very spoiled.

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