IELTS speaking vocabulary about school and education

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You may be asked questions about school and education in general.  Read the following IELTS style question 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 – style questions

Examiner: What did you enjoy most when you were at school?

Janet:  School feels like a long time ago now, as I am currently at University, but I do remember really enjoying English lessons. We were lucky enough to have a native speaking teacher, which was usual, but it gave us the opportunity to be inspired by hearing authentic pronunciation and our teacher told very funny stories to keep us focused.

Examiner: Do you think a teacher should be friendly or strict?

Alexa: When I was at school, our teachers were ‘old-school’, strict  and very traditional, so our lessons were teacher centred. As children we were not encouraged to ask questions or voice our opinions. However, today, thankfully, classes are more student centred, and encourage collaboration and I think a more friendly teacher would be more successful here.

Examiner: What’s the most difficult part of your study now?

Kamila: Well, for the most part, I’d say it’s encourage collaboration. I mean there are so many assignments, and students are always under a lot of pressure to meet deadlines.  I am lucky as I don’t find exams too overwhelming. If you are well prepared, they are entirely predictable, and I can pretty much sail through them with only a bit of revision.

IELTS speaking part 2  style question

Describe a subject you enjoyed studying at school.

You should say:

  • when and where you started studying it
  • what lessons were like
  • what made it different from other subjects

and explain why you enjoyed the subject.

Said: To be honest, I found school pretty challenging for a number of reasons. We moved house quite often back then, so I had to adapt to different teachers, learning expectations and to make new friends. However, the subject which I was always passionate about  and determined to succeed in was French.

I started lessons when I was quite young, which is common in the UK, as learning languages is actively encouraged, but the standard and expectation was relatively low so lessons revolved around role plays asking for ice cream or bread!  Our lessons involved a lot of writing and dictation which was hard, and I did struggle to see the point of this as what I really wanted to learn was how to communicate and be understood. Our vocabulary was based around the family, food, travel and school so It was quite useful but not the sort of things that children really want to talk about.

I was motivated as I had already visited France on holiday and so I could see for myself the possible benefits of being able to communicate and make myself understood. The breakthrough for me came when I was around 15 with a teacher called Mrs. Green.

She was half French herself, so she spoke beautifully and was rather glamourous too and her lessons were filled with laughter, games and stories although she was very strict as well. We were all expected to study hard and to succeed in exams. She was inspiring though because she loved her subject.

Personally, I have always enjoyed listening to languages, to the intonation and sound even if I do not understand. Once I could use the French I had learnt in school when I visited France and later studied there, the language came alive and all that hard work as a youngster paid off!

IELTS speaking part 3 – style question

Examiner: Do you think single sex schools are still relevant in today’s world?

Emilie: While today many would argue that traditional  schools which only allow either girls or boys to study there seem rather outdated and old fashioned as this is not how ‘real’ society of the workplace operates. However, many league tables which rank schools in order of high exam results, have proved that single sex schools can be much better as there are less distractions and maybe students are more able to focus on learning and be proud of their achievements without having to compete with the opposite sex.

Examiner: What are the benefits of a boarding school?

Helene: As an alumni of a boarding school, I can see the upsides as well as the challenges. In some countries children as young as 8 are sent away to school, either because of the higher standard of education on offer, or because their parents may be working overseas.

Many of these schools offer a wide range of extra-curricular activities such as golf, photography or fashion as well as the core academic subjects. Children usually speak of forming lifelong friendships, with their peer group as well as teachers and there is a strong concept of shared experiences.

Examiner: What are the advantages of studying a distance learning course?

Lydia: For many people, especially  students who work or need more flexibility, distance  or  remote learning  is the ideal way to study. There are several benefits that immediately come to mind. Not only  the cost, which  is far less than it would be to attend a college with high tuition fees but the ability to study at your own speed.

It is usually agreed that some find that this method of learning suits them better than sitting in lectures or going to tutorials which demands more self-motivation and discipline.

Vocabulary words related to education and definitions:

  • authentic: real, true
  • old-school strict: traditional learning with punishments and controlling teachers
  • teacher centred: where the teacher is leading the class
  • encourage collaboration: learning together through discussions
  • pressure to meet deadlines: having to finish work by a certain time / date
  • assignments: homework or essays
  • sail through them: not to have to work hard and to find things easy
  • learning expectations: what the teacher expects from their student
  • role plays: acting out a situation to simulate or practice it
  • dictation: writing down what the teacher says, accurately and fast.
  • breakthrough: a new development
  • inspiring: something which makes you want to do better
  • intonation: the ‘singing’ sound of speech
  • paid off: was worth the effort
  • outdated: old fashioned
  • league tables: tables which rank the position of schools according to  academic success
  • alumni: students who used to go to a certain school or college
  • boarding school: where students live at school during the term time
  • extra- curricular activities: anything NOT academic, eg sport, drama
  • peer group: students of your own age, in your class
  • remote: not being physically there / learning via computer

More IELTS vocabulary tutorials to help you prepare for your IELTS exam:

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