Supercharge Your ESL Teaching Arsenal: Mastering Advanced Vocabulary

Vocabulary Words for Advanced English as a Second Language Student

Here are some vocabulary words for advanced ESL students. These are advanced vocabulary words for advanced English as a Second Language students (C2 level). These are also great words to help students prepare for the GRE® General Test, the IELTS exam, or any graduate program in the humanities.

Advanced Vocabulary Test

A great tip is to make an Advanced Vocabulary Quiz

A vocabulary test for advanced vocab words replaces a CCQ (Concept Checking Question) when studying advanced ESL Vocabulary. A quick test will check that your students comprehend the vocabulary.

There are several websites that teachers can use to generate vocabulary tests. Here are a few popular options:

  1. Quizlet ( Quizlet offers a variety of tools for teachers, including the ability to create and share vocabulary tests. You can input your own word lists or use existing sets created by other educators.
  2. ProProfs ( ProProfs provides a wide range of quiz-making tools, including vocabulary test generators. It allows you to customize your tests by selecting different question types and formats.
  3. ( offers an extensive database of pre-made vocabulary tests across various subjects and difficulty levels. Teachers can search for specific topics or create their own tests using the site’s test generator.
  4. ExamTime ( ExamTime provides a suite of educational tools, including a vocabulary test maker. You can create multiple-choice, matching, or flashcard-based tests, and even include images or audio files to enhance the learning experience.
  5. EasyDefine ( While primarily a dictionary and thesaurus resource, EasyDefine also offers a simple vocabulary test generator. You can input your word list and select the desired test format.
 These are advanced vocabulary words for very advanced English as a Second Language students. These are also great words to help students prepare for the GRE verbal.

Graduate level vocabulary

Learning to recognize relationships among words is equally important for English as a Second Language Students. The words below are graduate-level vocabulary words for researchers and academics. If you are tutoring an adult applying to a Ph.D. as a foreign student, these vocabulary words are a great place to start stretching some of their word knowledge.

I have a few tips for teaching near-native students advanced vocabulary. My first tip is to focus on polysemous words. My second tip is to encourage them to read Nplus1, the New Yorker, and the Yale Review, and write down any new word they come across.

Polysemous Words

Polysemous words are great advanced vocabulary words for ESL Students.

Polysemous words are multiple-meaning words that are used differently across the content areas. Examples of Polysemous words include:  environment, measure, and adjacent. These can be particularly challenging for English language learners.

Read for vocabulary growth

My second suggestion is to encourage students to read academic journals and magazines that use sophisticated and diverse writing styles. For example, you can guide your students to read Nplus1, the New Yorker, and the Yale Review.

By regularly reading articles, essays, and features in the magazine, students will encounter an extensive range of vocabulary words, including complex terms and idiomatic expressions.

They should write down any new words they come across. Then, they should try to utilize each new word three times a week in their daily life. They should write it as well as say it aloud in their daily life. This can be a fun game and it will cement their new knowledge.

Word wizards: vocabulary websites

There are also many websites that focus on expanding students’ advanced English vocabulary. Whether your students want to improve their vocabulary to go to graduate school, achieve a Band 7 score on the IELTS, or just sound like a consummate professionals in their field, these sites can help.

  1. is a versatile platform that provides an extensive collection of vocabulary-building exercises and quizzes. It offers personalized learning based on individual progress and provides explanations, examples, and usage tips for each word.
  2. Quizlet. Quizlet is a popular online learning platform that offers user-generated flashcards and study sets. Students can search for IELTS-related vocabulary sets or create their own. It also provides various study modes, including games and practice tests, to reinforce learning.
  3. Magoosh Vocabulary Builder: While primarily designed for GRE (Graduate Record Examination) preparation, Magoosh’s Vocabulary Builder can be useful for IELTS students as well. It offers a comprehensive vocabulary course with flashcards, quizzes, and interactive exercises to improve word knowledge.
  4. Cambridge English Vocabulary in Use: The Cambridge English Vocabulary in Use series is a collection of self-study books that focus on vocabulary development. The books cover different levels and offer explanations, examples, and exercises to help students expand their vocabulary for the IELTS exam.

Advanced Vocabulary Words for ESL Students

dispensation -exemption from a rule or usual requirement.

fuselage – an aircraft’s main body section. It holds crew, passengers, and cargo.

bulwark – a solid wall-like structure raised for defense: rampart.

circumlocution – the use of many words that fewer would do, especially in a deliberate attempt to be vague or evasive. (How Meta!)

proxemics– the branch of knowledge that deals with the amount of space people feel necessary to set between themselves and others.

 anoraks –  waterproof jacket, typically with a hood, of a kind originally used in polar regions

 promulgated – promote or make widely known (an idea or cause)., put (a law or decree) into effect by official proclamation.

opprobrium -harsh criticism or censure.

sloe-eyed – having attractive dark, typically almond-shaped eyes.

remonstrated– make a forcefully reproachful protest.

insouciance– casual lack of concern; indifference.

sartorial-relating to tailoring, clothes, or style of dress.

wharf- a level quayside area to which a ship may be able to load and unload.

tensile -relating to tension, capable of being drawn out or stretched.

cannula-a thin tube inserted into a vein or body cavity to administer medicine, drain off fluid, or insert a surgical instrument. 

cypher-a secret or disguised way of writing; a code.

obsequiousness– too humble or too ready to agree with someone.

Funicular– (of a railroad, especially one on a mountainside) operating by cable with ascending and descending cars counterbalanced.

obeisance– deferential respect, a gesture expressing deferential respect, such as a bow or curtsy.

millefeuille– a rich dessert consisting of many very thin layers of puff pastry and such fillings as whipped cream, custard, fruit, etc.

marmoreal– made of or likened to marble.

Anhedonia– the inability to feel pleasure. It’s a common symptom of depression as well as other mental health disorders.

potentate– a monarch or ruler, especially an autocratic one.

paucity-the presence of something only in small or insufficient quantities or amounts; scarcity.

Fulsome– complimentary or flattering to an excessive degree, of large size or quantity; generous or abundant

Perfidy– deceitfulness; untrustworthiness.

interregnum– a period when normal government is suspended, especially between successive reigns or regimes, an interval or pause between two periods of office or other things

desultory-lacking a plan, purpose, or enthusiasm.

penumbra- the partially shaded outer region of the shadow cast by an opaque object, the shadow cast by the earth or moon over an area experiencing a partial eclipse.

threnody -a lament, dirge, requiem, elegy

lividity– the quality or state of being livid, specifically: reddish- to bluish-purple skin discoloration due to the settling and pooling of blood following death. If her body had been contorted for four to five hours after death, Lee should have displayed some lividity on her side.

portend– be a sign or warning that (something, especially something momentous or calamitous) is likely to happen.

vicissitude-a change of circumstances or fortune, typically one that is unwelcome or unpleasant, the alternation between opposite or contrasting things.

putative– generally considered or reputed to be.

ken-one’s range of knowledge or sight.”such determination is beyond my ken

potable -safe to drink; drinkable.”there is no supply of potable water available”

perfervid– intense and impassioned.”a perfervid gardener”

 turgidity-the state of being turgid or swollen, especially due to high fluid content. In general context, turgidity refers to the condition of being bloated, distended, or swollen.

denude– strip (something) of its covering, possessions, or assets; make bare.”almost overnight the Arctic was denuded of animals”

insouciant– showing a casual lack of concern; indifferent.”an insouciant shrug”

chthonicadjective, concerning, belonging to, or inhabiting the underworld.”a chthonic deity”

gargalesis-refers to harder, laughter-inducing tickling, and involves the repeated application of high pressure to sensitive areas. This “heavy tickle” is often associated with play and laughter.

Punitive-inflicting or intended as punishment.

importuning-persistent harassment of someone for or to do something.

allocution– a formal speech giving advice or a warning.”the daily allocutions of the Pontificate”

 antecedents-a thing or event that existed before or logically precedes another.

suborn-bribe or otherwise induce (someone) to commit an unlawful act such as perjury.

bribe or otherwise induce (someone) to commit an unlawful act such as perjury.” he was accused of conspiring to suborn witnesses”

fissileadjective (of an atom or element) able to undergo nuclear fission.”a fissile isotope” (chiefly of rock) easily split.”flat-bedded and very highly fissile shale.”

perspicuous-plain to the understanding especially because of clarity and precision of presentation a perspicuous argument.

staid-sedate, respectable, and unadventurous.

subvention-a grant of money, especially from a government.

bathetic-producing an unintentional effect of anticlimax.

putative-generally considered or reputed to be.

ebullient -cheerful and full of energy, ARCHAIC(of liquid or matter) boiling or agitated as if boiling

Polysemous words are great advanced vocabulary lessons
Use GRE Vocabulary

Note that, for the GRE, a common trick is to test the student on the second, lesser-known definition of the word. Be sure to prepare your foreign students for this by always teaching your ELL the second or third meaning of the terms.

The Verbal Reasoning measure of the GRE® General Test assesses your ability to analyze and evaluate written material and synthesize information obtained from it, analyze relationships among component parts of sentences, and recognize relationships among words and concepts.

If you are looking, I wrote some similar articles for more content for your ESL lesson plans.

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Ingrid Maria Pimsner, MA, BA, TEFL
Ingrid Maria Pimsner, MA, BA, TEFL

Ingrid Maria Pimsner has been teaching for over a decade in various universities, nonprofits, and private academies. She has taught English as a Second Language for Lutheran Children & Family Service, Nationalities Service Center, Lernstudio Barbarossa Berlin-Tegel, and more. In addition to her Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Certification, she holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and a MA from Maryland Institute College of Art.