IELTS speaking practice: topics with answers

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In this tutorial we answer more questions from the speaking exam, parts 2 and 3, recently seen in the IELTS exam. Read through our list of IELTS speaking sample questions.

Cue card (part 2)

Describe a place in your city that you would like to visit
You should say:
- where it is
- what people do there
- how you know it
- and explain why you want to go there

Useful phrases to use:

  • apparently
  • venue
  • Although, I’m not entirely sure to be honest
  • I heard

I would love to talk about a place in London. London isn’t strictly my city because I’m from the North, however, there is a place that I’ve been wanting to visit for a long time.

It’s called the Rooftop Gardens, apparently, they are owned by a successful business man called Richard Branson. He apparently got refused for entering this venue because of his looks.

So he returned the next day and bought it!

I think it’s a casual cafe, and a restaurant in the evening. Although, I’m not entirely sure to be honest. I think they also might hold private events and parties. I heard it’s really popular in London, and it’s usually full, I also heard it has rather sporadic opening times.

I know about these gardens because my mum went there a few times when she lived in London. <Anecdote> She explored a lot of the city and told me numerous times all of the new spots she had found. When my mum lived in the capital, she loved exploring it. Everyday she would explore a new neighbourhood, a new restaurant, a new museum.

I’d really like to go there because I’m a keen plant enthusiast, and there are supposed to be lots of flowers, tropical plants, and exotic trees up there. It’s also rather unique to have a large botanical garden on the roof of skyscraper. Also, this rooftop garden has been on my bucket list for long time!

And that’s my talk about a place I’d like to visit, I hope you liked it.

Discussion (part 3)

What kinds of tourist sites are popular in your country?

Useful phrases to use

  • so to speak
  • It’s difficult to say because
  • for example

<REFLECTION> The tourist sites that are popular in my country are probably the ones associated with “Englishness”, so to speak.

<EXAMPLE> Perhaps these would include Big Ben, the little tea cottages, and of course Trafalgar Square. It’s difficult to say because I haven’t lived there for a while. There are also a lot of areas classed as having outstanding natural beauty, for example the White Cliffs of Dover, and perhaps even the Yorkshire Dales. Personally, I prefer visiting these types of areas, in the countryside.

What can governments do to prevent pollution in tourist sites?

I’ve never actually thought about this to be honest

I’ve never actually thought about this to be honest, I guess they could educate the tourists before they arrive in the area. They could also place more litter bins around the areas. I think also the tourist sites could be better managed, for example, the government could clearly mark the paths to be taken, or even limit it to guided tours -this would reduce the amount of people and most likely reduce the amount of pollution. But it isn’t an easy problem to solve.

What are the advantages of visiting less known places?

  • Well, to start with
  • One last advantage

I love visiting less known places. Well, to start with, there are considerably less tourists around. You probably have more chance to meet the locals, and even interact with them, depending on the languages you speak though. These areas are probably considerably cheaper too. For example, a few years ago I went to Lviv in Ukraine, and it was extremely cheap, and also a beautiful beautiful city, with hardly any tourists.
One last advantage is that in some places they might hardly ever get new visitors, so they treat you really well because you made the effort to get off the beaten track and visit their city.

What are the disadvantages when there are too many tourists in one site?

<personal answer> I can relate to this question a lot. Back in 2005 I went to Budapest for the first time, and there were hardly any tourists, and the place was extremely cheap. About 13 years later I return and (1) a lot of the young local people had moved to Germany or the UK for work, (2) prices had increased, and (3) the city was packed with tourists. Restaurants were full every weekend, and the popular streets were teeming with tourists. For me, personally, it was felt like a completely different city.

PRO TIP: Lists usually sound best in threes.

  1. a lot of the young local
  2. prices had increased
  3. the city was packed with tourists

Cue card (part 2)

Talk about a subject that you used to dislike, but have an interest in it now. Please say
– What subject is it?
– Why didn’t you like it?
– Why are you interested in it now?

I’d like to talk about learning German at high school. We had the option to choose French or German, I chose French I think everyone chose it, and because my surname ends in W, I think I was at the end of the list and so ended up having to do German.

I disliked it for quite a few reasons, firstly I was forced to study it, secondly I disliked the sound of the language, and finally, all my friends were in the French class. I was silly though because I ended up studying it for about 5 years and did the bare minimum each year.

I really regret not putting in any serious effort, I can remember bits and bobs now, like the days of the week and certain phrases. I memorised how to say “I am an only child”, this way the teacher would stop asking me questions about my family. Incidentally though, I have a brother and sister.

I’m interested in it now because I have friends in Austria and Germany, I also believe I could pick it up relatively quickly too. I’d like to read some German literature too, perhaps the books written by Nietzsche.
That’s my talk about a school subject.

Discussion (part 3)

What subjects did you like at school?

I absolutely loved economics, I think it was because the teacher was excellent. His name was Mr Sykes, and he brought the subject to life. He had such a mental clarity when he taught it, I was really impressed. He even taught us material not on the curriculum because he thought it was important for us. That’s a good teacher.

Is learning many subjects at once good?

It’s difficult to say, on the one hand you get a taster of lots of different subjects, so I guess later you can specialise. But on the other hand, if you already know what you enjoy, you are wasting a lot of time learning about things you dislike and will probably never use.
I guess if you are indecisive it’s probably valuable, otherwise it’s a waste of your time.

Is it better to learn one subject at a time, in your opinion?

Yes I think so. If I look back at anything I have ever succeeded at it was because I focused. For example when I left Manchester and started to learn Spanish -that’s all I did, I just learnt Spanish all summer. By the time the university started I was more than prepared and all my friends who had spent the summer in the UK, were really impressed. So, yes I think one subject at a time is the best way to progress.

Do you think teachers should have entertaining teaching styles?

This is a very sensitive subject. A teacher may think they are entertaining but it could be borderline ridiculous for the other party. <ANECDOTE> At high school, I heard about a teacher called Mr Train, who would lock naughty students in a cupboard. I don’t know if it was for discipline or entertainment, but I don’t think he was allowed to continue. So I guess, it really depends if they can be certain it is entertaining then yes, otherwise they should probably tread very carefully.

Cue card (part 2)

Describe a family business you know. Please say
– What is it?
– How did you come across it?
– Who are their customers?

Discussion (part 3)

– What are advantages and disadvantages of a family business?
– Why do some people like to work in large scale businesses?
– What are the reasons that many businesses fail in their first year?
– What are the qualities of a good business person?
– Why do some people like to start their own businesses?

Cue card (part 2)

Describe a success your friend has achieved
You should say:
– who your friend is
– what the success was
– what he or she did
– how you felt about the success

Discussion (part 3)

Why is it hard to maintain friendships for some people?
How do people in your country make friends these days?
Why Is it easier to make friends on the internet than in reality?
What qualities do you think are important in a friend?
What factors may result in the breakdown of a good friendship?
Friendship is the most important relationship. Do you agree? Why? Why not?

Audio tutorial

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