IELTS Speaking Vocabulary about People, Personalities and Characters

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

IELTS Speaking Part 1 - Style questions

Examiner:  Do you enjoy meeting new people?

Minna: Yes, I do, but I admit that it does depend on the context. For example, if I am with a group of life long friends as well, I feel more confident and relaxed than if I am alone, when I feel more timid and awkward.

I think that at work I try to put up a façade of being professional and in control although underneath the surface I am paddling like a swan.

Examiner: Would you describe yourself as a sociable person?

Mario: I’d like to say so, as I am always happy to get involved in organising parties and gatherings – indeed I can be a bit of a control freak, as I have an eye for detail. However, I would be more than delighted to be described as reliable and dependable as we all need friends we can rely on.

I have known my best friends since school, and we trust each other completely and pick up where we left off each time we see each other.

Examiner: Are you usually punctual or late?

Judy:  That’s a great question! Every year I make a resolution to be on time for both work and social meetings, but I have a terrible habit of always being slightly late.

I know that punctuality is a virtue and I am always embarrassed by being a bad time keeper, especially when I understand that being late is rude and disrespectful. I will keep working on improving this negative trait.

IELTS Speaking Part 2 - Style question

Describe a person you would like to be similar to. You should say

  • Who this person is?
  • What this person does?
  • What qualities this person has and explain why you would like to be similar to this person?

Edin: I’d like to talk about a teacher who is Head of Pastoral care at a school I used to go to. Pastoral duties revolve around the mental and social health of students more than the academic side but of course, the two work in tandem.

This lady, Mrs Butler, has held this job for more than a decade, and she is inspiring with her attention to detail and caring personality.

It is her job to interact with students, in a relaxed, almost parental way and create the kind of atmosphere where they can trust her, and share any problems and issues they may have.

As part of her duties, she would liaise between the students and other members of staff, education, and healthcare professional bodies, and parents as needed.

The interpersonal and communication skills required for this role are very demanding  and take a long time to learn if not acquired naturally.

Mrs. Butler is enormously empathetic, she really understands emotion and is a great and generous listener and I believe these are all key qualities that are important to emulate.

I think that interacting with students and colleagues at work can present many challenges and an understanding of human characteristics, even the psychology, of how people think and respond to each other is more and more important.

I would love to be considered as caring, considerate, and reliable as she is and she is really one of those rare people who can connect with anyone, anywhere.

Describe a famous person you are interested in. You should say:

  • who this person is and how do you know about him/her
  • what sort of life did the person have before becoming famous
  • how did this person become famous
  • explain why you like this person

Read and listen to the sample answer here.

Describe a positive change in your life. You should say: 

  • what the change was
  • when it happened 
  • how it happened
  • explain why it was a positive change

Read and listen to the sample answer here.

IELTS Speaking Part 3 Style question

Examiner:  How do you think the personalities of men and women vary?

Sergi: It is often said that men can be more opinionated and less empathetic than women and it is true that this is often a male stereotype.

However, compared to previous generations, many men today are more in touch with their feelings, less moody and are much more aware of the challenges faced by regarding juggling a family and parenthood.

Examiner: How do companies try to assess the personalities of people who are applying for jobs?

Alice: Rather than a traditional interview nowadays, many companies demand high grades in psychometric tests which have been designed to test character in order to select candidates who are compatible with the company mentality.

Whilst these tests may highlight insecure or weaker candidates, I am not convinced that it is the most effective way to judge personality.

Examiner: Why do you think they do this?

Aloic: In my opinion, these tests are used to save time as most jobs today attract numerous applicants and it must be hard to choose the strongest and most suitable.

That said, to be defined by an algorithm or computer program is terrifying and critics suggest that it cannot effectively determine those with good communication skills or natural leaders.

Vocabulary to talk about positive changes

  1. it's never too late to change your ways:  it’s always possible to change habits or lifestyle
  2. turn (your) life around: change (your) life completely
  3. work around the clock: work very long hours 
  4. take (your) job home with you: worry about work outside working hours
  5. be into (something): be very interested in (something)
  6. jump at the chance: take the opportunity enthusiastically
  7. bump into (someone):  meet (someone you know) by chance
  8. it struck me: it gave me that impression
  9. more to (it) than meets the eye:  (it’s) more complicated or interesting than (it) appears
  10. to be hooked: to be totally involved
  11. like a breath of fresh air: something new and exciting 
  12. do (someone) a world of good: have a very positive influence on (your) life
  13. tied up in: very busy and unable to get away
  14. on the up and up: getting better all the time
  15. A change for the better: a positive difference

Vocabulary to talk about famous people

  1. follow (someone) online:  choose to read about someone in news articles or social media
  2. first come to (your) notice:   be aware of someone or something for the first time 
  3. headline news: the most important news of the day
  4. in the spotlight: the focus of attention
  5. know next to nothing about (something): have very little knowledge of 
  6. become front page news: be among the most important news items 
  7. have a hard time: experience difficult moments
  8. rise to fame:  become increasingly well-known
  9. handle (yourself): behave when in public or under pressure  
  10. (something) strikes you: something that impresses you very much
  11. become an inspiration for (others): inspire others through what you do
  12. take up the cause: become involved in some social or political cause 
  13. the voice and face of (something): the person most associated with something 
  14. shy away from (something): not enjoy being the centre of attraction  
  15. not all about (someone): not just about the person but more important than that

Vocabulary List and Definitions

  • confident: in control
  • awkward: uncomfortable
  • underneath the surface, I am paddling like a swan: looking calm but not feeling it.
  • put up a façade: to pretend to be something you are not
  • a control freak: to want to do things yourself
  • an eye for detail: making sure everything is perfect
  • reliable and dependable: be trusted not to let someone down
  • punctuality: being on time
  • disrespectful: impolite
  • a negative trait: bad characteristic
  • parental way: behave like a mother or final
  • interpersonal skills: be good at talking to others
  • empathetic: understanding others emotions
  • generous listener: take time to hear what others are saying
  • to emulate: to be like
  • considerate: kind and thoughtful
  • insecure: shy and not confident
  • moody: sometimes happy and sometimes sad/ cross

More IELTS Speaking Tutorials

Below are more IELTS Speaking vocabulary tutorials to help you prepare for your IELTS exam:

Audio Tutorial

You can download or listen to the audio version here:

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