IELTS Podcast (Ep. 12) | Vocabulary Lesson 7: Family

Magoosh IELTS Podcast

Vocabulary Lesson 7: Family

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In this episode of the Magoosh IELTS podcast, your teacher Eliot Friesen explains how to use four words all related to family: Spouse, In-Laws, Sibling, and Sibling Rivalry.

These words will be useful in IELTS Listening conversations, as well as in some IELTS Listening solo speeches.

If you like this lesson, please subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher for more IELTS Vocabulary lessons, and check out all of our IELTS Podcast episodes here!

Download the complete list of IELTS Vocabulary words.

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IELTS Podcast: Episode 12 Transcript

(Translations: فارسی, Tiếng Việt)

Welcome to the Magoosh IELTS Vocabulary Podcast. This is Lesson 12. In this episode, we will cover 4 words all related to family: Spouse, In-Laws, Sibling, and Sibling Rivalry.

Don’t forget to check out our show notes for a link to your free IELTS vocabulary list containing these words and others, and visit for more great resources to improve your IELTS band score. Use coupon code “ieltspodcast” to save 20% off your IELTS test prep!

Okay! Let’s get started.

I’d like to introduce you to your teacher, Eliot. He is the Magoosh IELTS expert and, here’s a fun fact about Eliot: When he was young, his family took annual road trips criss-crossing the United States.

Eliot Intro

Hello Magoosh IELTS podcast listeners, welcome to today’s show. I’m Eliot, the IELTS expert from Magoosh, and thanks to those road trips, I’ve driven through every U.S. state except Alaska. Which is to say I’ve spent a lot of time with my family. Today, we’re going to look at four words that are going to help you to understand the kind of language you’re going to see in the listening passages on your IELTS exam.

Make sure to go to the link in the show notes to get the full list of vocabulary words.
The theme for the words in today’s episode is family, and how to describe family members and family dynamics.


Okay, spouse is the first word on the list. So let’s start with that one, okay?

Spouse, what does it mean?

Well, a spouse is a husband or wife. So your spouse is the person you are married to.

If two people are married to each other, they are each others’ spouses. Spouse is a gender-neutral word, unlike the word husband, which refers to someone’s spouse who is a man, or the word wife, which refers to someone’s spouse who is a woman. The word spouse can be used in place of either husband or wife, but the words husband and wife can only be used in place of the word spouse depending on whether the spouse is a man or a woman.

So if someone asks you if you have a spouse, they’re asking if you’re married. And if you are married, the person you’re married to is your spouse.

So that’s spouse.


The next word is in-laws.

“In-laws” is the word used to describe the relatives of your husband or wife — that is, your spouse. In-laws are the relatives of your spouse. They are called in-laws because they are your relatives by law, rather than by blood, as a result of you marrying into their family.

You would refer to each of your in-laws by their relationship to your spouse, followed by the word “in-law”. So for example, 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, and your spouse’s father is your father-in-law, and so on.

Although you are not genetically related to your in-laws, you are legally considered to be part of the same family, once you are married to your spouse.

Okay? So that’s in-laws.


The next word is sibling.

A sibling is each of two or more children that has one or both parents in common. So a sibling is a brother or sister.

Like spouse, sibling is a gender-neutral word. Whereas the word spouse can be used in place of the male-gendered word husband, and the female-gendered word wife, sibling can be used in the place of the male-gendered word brother, and the female-gendered word sister.

So if you wanted to talk about any of your parents’ children (other than yourself) you could use the word sibling — but you could also get more specific and say brother or sister, depending on the gender of the sibling you’re talking about.

Okay? So that’s sibling.

Sibling Rivalry

Just like last time, the final word of the day is actually a phrase—and it’s sibling rivalry.

Sibling rivalry is a feeling of competition between siblings. Generally siblings will compete to be better than each other at a certain skill or to get a greater share of attention from their parents — especially when they are young children. However some sibling rivalries last all the way through adulthood.

Sibling rivalry is a possible topic not just on the IELTS Listening section, but also in the IELTS Speaking Interview, and possibly in IELTS Writing Task 2. You may be asked to speak or write about the relationship between siblings, so sibling rivalry is a good phrase to know the meaning of—it’s a great phrase to use when describing the competitiveness between children in a family.

So that’s sibling rivalry.


Great! In this episode you learned 4 words related to family. For more vocabulary, download the full list of vocabulary in the show notes and tune in to the next episode.

If you like our show, help us out by leaving a rating and review in iTunes and don’t forget to hit the subscribe button. Until next time! This is Naomi at Magoosh wishing you happy studying.

By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

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  • Molly Kiefer

    Molly is one of Magoosh’s Content Creators. She designs Magoosh’s graphic assets, manages our YouTube channels and podcasts, and contributes to the Magoosh High School Blog.

    Since 2014, Molly has tutored high school and college students preparing for the SAT, GRE, and LSAT. She began her tutoring journey while in undergrad, helping her fellow students master math, computer programming, Spanish, English, and Philosophy.

    Molly graduated from Lewis & Clark College with a B.A. in Philosophy, and she continues to study ethics to this day. An artist at heart, Molly loves blogging, making art, taking long walks and serving as personal agent to her cat, who is more popular on Instagram than she is.


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