IELTS Speaking Vocabulary about Books, Film and Art

Learn some new speaking vocabulary about books, film and art.

In the IELTS speaking exam, you may be asked questions about books, films, and art.  

Read the following IELTS-style questions and answers below and pay attention to the words or phrases in bold.

Use the ‘definitions’ section at the bottom of the page to check any meanings you are unfamiliar with.

Make a note of any new vocabulary and the best way to learn it is to use it!

IELTS Speaking Part 1 Questions

Examiner: Do you enjoy reading for pleasure?

Mario: Yes, I do, but I admit that, with all my studies right now, I don’t have a lot of time to curl up with a book. When I do, for example on holiday, I love thrillers or action books with a strong plot line which I can read cover to cover in a few hours

Examiner: Would you rather watch a film or read in your free time?

Maria: Oh, I would far rather distract myself with a great rom-com movie than read as by the time I get home from work I am shattered! I know movies leave less to the imagination than books, however, I do sometimes watch films which have been adapted from fiction, for example, Emma by Jane Austin, which gave me an insight into strong characterisation and main themes.

Examiner: What was the last book you read and would you recommend it?

Judy: In fact, I have recently finished an inspiring book called The Human History. It was recommended to me by a colleague, and the themes are philosophy, kindness and communication. I found the narrative captivating, compelling and surprisingly comprehensible. I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in understanding humanity a little better.

IELTS Speaking Part 2 Questions

Describe a book or a film that had a strong impact on you.

You should say:

• What was it

• When you read or saw it

• How it influenced you

And say if you liked it and why. 

Eduardo: When I used to live in Paris as a teenager, I became rather obsessed with watching what might be called ‘artistic’ French films. My favourite was called Paris at Midnight and was directed by Louis Truffaut. Often he filmed in black and white and told a rather dark story – the genre could be described as black humour or drama, I suppose.

While many of my friends were happily absorbed in the latest James Bond movie or other rather commercial blockbusters,  I took pride in educating myself in the traditions of the French cinema and trying to learn a bit of French at the same time.

This film in particular had a lasting impression on me – I think in fact, it had been adapted from a best seller and since, it has inspired other cartoon spin-offs and series as well. The beautiful, mysterious heroine was both provocative and enchanting – it was impossible to predict how she would react in a situation, which kept the tension in the film very high. Added to this was a haunting musical score, written by a famous French musician, and this also became a top selling album in the charts.

This film, and others like it, inspired me to work harder on my French language skills and to really investigate the history and culture of Paris in greater depth. At the time, I would have said that I enjoyed it, but in hindsight, I think it was probably not a very relaxing watch, and today, I would opt for something less intellectual!

Describe your favourite movie

You should say: 

  • when and where you saw it
  • what type of film it was
  • what the film was about
  • explain why it is your favourite film

Read and listen to the sample answer here

IELTS Speaking Part 3 Questions

Examiner: Do you think people go to the cinema as much as they used to?

Sergi: No, and there has been a sea change in the way people chose to view films nowadays which has been reinforced by the recent pandemic when cinemas and theatres were closed. Even before this disaster, many film-goers had the option to pay for online streaming of the latest releases via the internet so they could enjoy the thrills of the cinema but without leaving their sofas. Companies like Netflix and Amazon have led the way in this new trend and now commission films and drama series of their own.

Examiner: Should art still play a role in education for students at school, as well as books and films?

Raoul: It is true that for many young adults and school children art is not part of their usual education, and they are only able to access an understanding of great, historic and influential paintings if they study art. Many educators argue that art should play as big a role as the appreciation of books or film in the curriculum as art offers an equally valid perspective on a country’s cultural background and heritage.

Examiner: What do you think about e-books?

Alline: In my opinion, paperback or hardback books are much better and reading a book from an e-reader just doesn’t feel the same for me. Many readers value the sensation of turning pages and that special smell of paper. I think that the look and feel of a book can never be replaced by an e-reader, but I understand usefulness of electronic books. It is very convenient to be able to carry hundreds of books in your pocket especially when travelling or studying.


  • Curl up with a book: to get comfortable and read.
  • Thrillers or action books: exciting and full of events
  • A strong plotline: good story which keeps moving
  • Cover to cover: from start to finish
  • Rom-com movie: a romantic comedy film
  • Adapted from fiction: a film which was first a book
  • Strong characterisation: the main people are well rounded and believable
  • Recommended to me by a friend: someone suggested that I read it
  • Black humour: funny but rather dark or mysterious as well
  • Genre: the type of film. E.g. horror or comedy
  • Commercial blockbusters: films made for the mass market to generate a lot of income
  • A sea change in something: a fundamental shift
  • Online streaming: watching via the internet
  • To commission a film: to ask for one to be made
  • A valid perspective: a real view / outlook/insight to something
  • Cultural heritage: the background and history of a country

Vocabulary to talk about Films

  1. go for (something) : choose something in particular
  2. some kind of film buff: an expert on the cinema
  3. an Art House movie: an independent, artistic film 
  4. if that’s anything to go by: if that means anything at all
  5. be first released: shown in cinemas or to the public for the first time
  6. streaming services: online platforms like Netflix that show movies
  7. not easy to put a label on it: it’s difficult to categorise the film
  8. it’s whatever you want it to be: you decide what type of film it is
  9. a romantic comedy*: a funny film with a love interest
  10. another layer of meaning: another level of interpretation 
  11. there’s something in it for everybody: we can all find something we like in the film  
  12. the film is open to interpretation: there is no one meaning to the film 
  13. get a lot out of it in all kinds of ways: enjoy and understand it in several ways
  14. in the lead: playing the main part or role in a film 
  15. star in many films: be the most famous actor in many movies 

*It’s a good idea to know different film categories such as: a drama, a thriller, an action movie, a horror film, a musical

Useful adjectives to describe books, films and art

  • Provocative
  • Enchanting
  • Haunting
  • Captivating
  • Compelling 
  • Surprisingly comprehensible

More IELTS Speaking Tutorials