IELTS speaking topic accommodation: sample questions and answers with useful IELTS vocabulary

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In the IELTS speaking exam, you may be asked questions about flats, houses or homes. Read the following IELTS exam-style questions and answers below and pay attention to the new words or phrases in bold.

Make a note of any new vocabulary and remember, in writing and speaking, the best way to learn this new language is to use it! While there are no IELTS vocabulary lists the examiner is listening for, your vocabulary for IELTS should include less common words and idioms.

Look at the example sentences and make them true for you - change a noun word, places and dates to sound natural and add in any new idioms you know. Remember that IELTS is not about just memorising new words, idioms and IELTS vocabulary to get a good IELTS score; you also have to be flexible in the IELTS test and if you don't know the exact phrase, use other words with the same meanings.

Students will score higher for lexical resource (this means IELTS vocabulary) in the IELTS test for using 'less common phrases and expressions' so practice including 6-8 of these IELTS vocabulary phrases in every answer - these are the words in bold you can see throughout the text. It's essential to learn some new phrases every time you practice for the IELTS test and make sure you are learning IELTS vocabulary phrases rather than just words so that you are using the correct collocations.

IELTS speaking part 1 style questions

Examiner: Do you currently live in a house or a flat?

Eduardo: At the moment I am living in a rented flat because I have recently moved into a new central neighbourhood. This has taken a bit of getting used to if I'm honest, as previously I lived in a detached house in the suburbs which was much more comfortable.

Examiner: What was the family home like where you grew up?

Maria: I was lucky to be brought up in a large family home which was where my grandparents lived before my parents. This ancestral home was steeped in family history and I have always felt a great attachment to it. It is far more spacious than the urban loft where I am now, with larger, airier rooms and inspiring panoramic views which my family spends hours enjoying.

The house has a large veranda where we share not only lunch but all our family meals, a study and a cellar where my father keeps his best wine. I enjoyed this independent house as I had my own room and large enough spaces to host all our family reunions.

Examiner: Have you ever shared a flat with people you did not know before?

Henri: Well, when I used to live in London, a city with great transport facilities yet I could not afford to rent a place of my own, so I decided to join a flat share which I saw advertised on an accommodation website.

Although I had my own room it was a real challenge as the flat was in need of modernisation, and whilst the rooms boasted original features, such as original Victorian windows, it was freezing cold and my flatmates, who also had separate rooms, kept to themselves to study or watch TV so it was hard to make friends. I prefer living somewhere with a house layout with a small garden if possible, even a swimming pool, instead of an apartment block rented accommodation.

Part 1 feedback

Note that the IELTS candidate used several different tenses as well as appropriate vocabulary for IELTS. The phrase 'boasted original features' just means 'had original features' but sounds much more impressive. Making word lists of useful phrases like this will help your IELTS vocabulary and improve your IELTS score.

IELTS speaking part 2 style cue card

Accommodation là gì? Có những hình thức accommodation nào?

Describe a house or an apartment that you would like to live in. You should say

  • What kind of accommodation it would be
  • where it would be
  • who would live there with you
  • and why you would enjoy living in this place

Caspar: I have always been attracted to the idea of constructing my own home with many amenities, as my father and other family members are architects and we have always been great fans of watching TV programmes that follow the trials and tribulations of people who are involved in complicated and ambitious building projects. We often spend time contemplating harmonious atmosphere designs such as a house with a master bedroom, two bedrooms as spares, a spacious dining area and located in a wonderful neighbourhood. Sometimes, although there are many difficulties and unexpected challenges along the way, the end resulting home is just beautiful, appealing and really inspiring.

This small house would be by the sea, possibly in France, as the Atlantic coastline there is still quite wild and underpopulated and offers a good life. I'm attracted to the idea of an environmentally friendly bungalow or old house which could be redesigned, which would be open plan and use screens or bookshelves to divide rooms.

I'd love to work with my father on the design, and ideally it would be made of eco-friendly materials, such as sustainable woods, recycled glass and highly insulated to keep energy costs as low as possible. I've been inspired by the Scandinavian style houses I have seen in design magazines, which are planned to blend into their location, looking simple and clean from the outside, but boasting all mod cons inside like an air conditioner and ample room.

I would love to have a large terrace to sit and watch the sunsets or share sustainably sourced local foods. I am not tempted by an extravagant, designer or flashy décor but prefer something understated with stripped or varnished wood floors, a kitchen made from recycled wood, and open shelves to display my valuable collection of ceramic pottery which was my grandmother's. Light is very important to me, so I would try to incorporate large full-length windows to enjoy the views and experience a connection to the peaceful countryside outside.

Part 2 feedback

Again, this IELTS candidate has included a mix of past, present and future tenses (I'd love to...) which demonstrates that they are able to produce accurate sentences. They have also used the word 'would' several times as they are talking about somewhere they 'would like' to live. The clue is in the question!!

The vocabulary is appropriate for IELTS, and it's clear the candidate has made some useful word lists with idioms relating to accommodation. Another of the best IELTS tips is for you to develop the ability to use three adjectives naturally together in the test (they don't want an extravagant, designer or flashy decor). This 'rule of three' is a great way for IELTS students to sound more fluent and show off their language skills.

IELTS speaking part 3 style questions

Examiner: In your country is it more common to rent or buy a house?

Sergi: I actually just watched a TV show on this topic recently. Over the past twenty years, there has been a surge in property prices, fuelled by relaxation in the rules surrounding mortgages and loans. This has resulted in a boom in the housing market. Many young professionals are taking the opportunity to get on the property ladder but for the average person, many years of renting is needed to save enough for a deposit. 

Examiner: Many landlords are known to take advantage of their tenants. What can be done to control this?

Raoul: It is well known that in many urban areas, which are overcrowded and where current accommodation is in very short supply for university students, that unscrupulous landlords charge excessive rents and demand large deposits which they are unlikely to return in full. In addition, accommodation might be unsafe. It is essential that improved legal protection be provided for flat tenants with all contracts in writing, as most people are unaware of their rights, and this might give leaseholders more confidence and security in the future and a more positive renting experience.

Examiner: It is preferable for families to live in central districts or in the suburbs?

Alline: The trend for parents with young children to relocate from a metropolis apartment to more suburban areas with less concrete walls and a more park friendly environment is widespread in many countries. On the other hand, it also depends on which neighbourhood you want to live in but the city centres have become too expensive for normal, middle-income families or people to live there. Outside the centre, there are the new hipster neighbourhoods, where many creative or entrepreneurs and artists live in a city-style apartments. You may see a lot of electric cars, but there can be a shortage of family-sized homes. This is the main difference between choosing accommodation in the city and suburbia.

Part 3 feedback

There are a lot of new words in this example! One of the most useful tips your IELTS teacher will give you is to keep making word lists or vocabulary for IELTS, organised by topic and with appropriate collocations, and practice using them whenever possible. This will help you to get a good score. Even though it's impossible to know exactly what the examiner will ask you, this doesn't matter; your word lists with vocab on common topics will help you to prepare well.

The use of modals (should, could, might) in writing part 2 and speaking will always improve your answer as it is not only showcasing good vocabulary, you are demonstrating that you can accurately use different tenses too. Remember that your total score looks at vocabulary as well as grammar, fluency and pronunciation. If you have memorised some easily adaptable phrases, you will say them more fluently and with good pronunciation and this is what the examiner is listening for. For a high score, you need to use topic-specific vocabulary (about accommodation) and make the language sound natural - for example, sharing your own experience or giving advice for others as a part of your answer. Improve your IELTS answer like this: 'I learned a lot as a result of having a difficult landlord, and if I was to offer advice and tips to someone else in the same situation, I would tell them to make a note of every conversation and keep all correspondence'. You can adapt this phrase to work for various writing and speaking questions.