Current Speaking Topic: Jan 2015

A current speaking topic this month, reported by a student, is the topic of happiness. It can be quite a challenging topic to talk about. This topic has been appearing in speaking part 1 from time to time over a period of a few years. Here are some questions and vocabulary so you can prepare for this topic:

  • What makes you happy?
  • Would you say you were a happy person?
  • Does the weather ever effect your mood?
  • What kinds of things do you do to make yourself happy?
  • In what part of the day are you happiest?
  • Were you happier when you were a child?
  • What activities made you happy when you were a child?
  • Is there anything about your life that you’re not happy with?
  • Do you think happiness is important?
  • Why do you think someone are unhappy?

Here’s a sample answer for one of the questions

  • Question: Would you say you were a happy person?
  • Answer: Yes, I would, on the whole. I’m pretty cheerful most of the day and the only time I’m not is when I’m really tired at the end of the day, particularly if it’s been busy at work, which I think it understandable. I generally don’t let things get me down so I definitely think I’m quite positive and happy.
Vocabulary
  • pretty cheerful = quite happy
  • don’t let things get me down = I don’t allow incidents or situations to make me unhappy
  • positive = optimistic (the opposite is pessimistic)
  • downhearted = to have low spirits
  • I’m not often in the dumps = I’m not often depressed
  • carefree = easygoing / doesn’t worry about things
  • cheerful – happy

 

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Sample Answers for Speaking Topic: Charities

These model answers are for IELTS speaking part 3, which is the most difficult part lasting 4 to 5 minutes. The topic of charities usually comes under the topic of unpaid work / volunteer work.

Before you read the sample answers, try to answer the questions yourself.

1. Do you think charities are important? Answer

Yes, I do. In some countries, there is no welfare system so the only form of assistance which poor people or disabled people can get is from charities. For example, some of the local charities around here provide food, clothing and even education support for needy people which really helps to get them back on their feet. So, without help from charities, these people would have very serious problems.

2. Do you think children should be made to do volunteer work as part of their school curriculum? Answer

That’s an interesting question. I think it is great for children to take part in charity work as they can learn about helping people and also understand what it means to be part of a community. However, I don’t think it should be obligatory for them. When children are forced to do something, they often become resentful which would result in them possibly not doing that kind of work later in life. If schools could encourage them to do charity work as an out of school activity, which is not compulsory, that would be better and would encourage them to continue helping others when they’re older.

3. Which do you think are more important, local charities or domestic charities? Answer

Well, I think they each have a different role to play so I can’t say that one is more important than the other. For example local charities are better at helping with the day to day needs of local people because they know exactly what it is they lack and what they need. Large international charities, on the other hand, are good at tackling natural disasters or sending aid to the third world as they have the financial means to help on a big scale. So, they are definitely both very important.

4. If you could donate a large amount of money to any charity, what would it be? Answer

I suppose I would go for an international charity that either deals in providing much needed medical care to developing countries or a charity that champions human rights on a global scale such as Amnesty International. These types of charities are able to help so many people around the world and for me it would be rewarding to think that my money has helped so many. Also these charities deal in the fundamental needs of life, which I think everyone is entitled to, so I would certainly choose them.

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Speaking Part 3 Model Answers: Health Topic

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Speaking Part 1 Topic: Sleep

This is a new topic which has appeared in the least few months in part 1 of the IELTS speaking test. Below are some questions for this topic.

Sleep

  • How many hours do you usually sleep at night?
  • What time do you go to bed?
  • Do you go to bed at the same time everyday?
  • Do you ever have a  nap during the day?
  • Do you think sleep is important?

Here is a question with a model answer for this topic:

Q. Do you often take a nap during the day?

A. To be honest, I hardly ever nod off during the day but, I suppose, if I’ve had a really exhausting day, which is pretty rare, I may have a short siesta after lunch.

Useful Vocab

  • nap (a short sleep)
  • snooze (a short sleep)
  • nod off (go to sleep – often used for daytime sleeping)
  • drift off to sleep (slowly go off to sleep)
  • deep sleep
  • struggle to get to sleep
  • sleeping pill (medication to help someone get to sleep)
  • 40 winks (short sleep of a few minutes)
  • siesta (short sleep after lunch – Spanish in origin)

The Importance of Sleep is an IELTS reading exercise to practice summary completion for this topic. It contains some more useful vocabulary for you.

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IELTS Speaking Practice Test Video

Below is a full IELTS Speaking Test to give you practice before your real test. The practice test examiner will ask the questions and you must answer them.

  1. Read through the instructions before you listen to the test video
  2. Listen to the questions, pause the video and answer the questions.
  3. After you finish your test, try to improve your answers before you listen to the band score 9 model answers for this test
Instructions

Materials Needed:

  • pen and paper: for making notes for speaking part 2
  • phone or recording device: for recording your answers so you can play it back and check your speaking
  • a timer: for controlling the time in each part and making sure you don’t take more than 14 minutes for the whole test

Method:

  1. Have your materials ready (phone, pen, paper, timer)
  2. Press record on your phone, start your timer and press play on the video below (do this at the same time). Keep your recording device and timer going throughout the whole test. The test will take between 11 and 14 minutes.
  3. Part 1
    1. there will be 12 questions – you must answer each question immediately
    2. after each question, pause the video and record your answer
    3. don’t take less than 4 minutes or more than 5 minutes to answer all part 1 questions
    4. if you finish in under 4 mins, you answers are too short
    5. if you didn’t finish all 12 questions in 5 minutes, your answers are too long or you hesitated too much before answering
  4. Part 2
    1. in part 2, you have 1 min to prepare a talk and your talk must last from 1 to 2 minutes
    2. have your pen and paper ready
    3. the cue card (topic card with prompts) will be shown on the screen
    4. in the video, you will be given one min to make notes – use your pen and paper to prepare your talk
    5. in the video, you will be given two full minutes to talk (a skip button will appear after 1 minute so you can move to part 3 if you finish early but try and speak for the full 2 minutes)
  5. Part 3
    1. there are 5 questions in this part – you must answer each question immediately
    2. you should give long, detailed answers with examples if possible
    3. after each question, pause the video and record your answer into your phone
    4. don’t take less than 4 mins or more than 5 minutes to answer all part 3 questions
  6. After your  test has finished
    1. listen back to your recording and check your answers – see how you could improve your answers
    2. read through the transcript and check you have understood all the questions correctly
    3. listen to the speaking test model answers and see how you can improve your answers

 

Test Questions

Speaking Part 1

Home

  •  Do you live in a house or a flat?
  • Which is your favourite room?
  • Can you describe it?
  • If you could improve one thing in your house, what would it be?

Films

  •  Do you enjoy watching films?
  • What kinds of films do you like most?
  • Did you watch much TV as a child?
  • Are foreign language films popular in your country?

Greeting People

  •  How would you greet someone who was visiting your house?
  • Would you greet an old friend and a stranger in the same way?
  • How do you meet new people?
  • Do you think first impressions are important?

Speaking Part 2

I’d like to move on how. I’m going to give you a topic to talk about. Here is some paper and a pen. You’ll have one minute to make notes and then you’ll need to speak for 2 minutes. I’d like you to talk about a holiday you recently had. Please start making notes, I’ll let you know when it’s time to begin talking.

 A Holiday you Recently Had

Describe a holiday you recently had

You should say:

  • Where you went
  • Who you went with
  • What you did there
  • And why you enjoyed it

Speaking Part 3

  1. Now I’d like to talk more about holidays and travelling.
  2.  If you had the chance to travel anywhere, where would you go?
  3. Why do you think some people like to travel alone?
  4. Do you think travel has changed much over the last few decades?
  5. How does travel change people?
  6. Do you think there are any disadvantages to modern travel?

 

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Sample Answers for Speaking Topic: Health

Below are some sample answers for the topic of health in IELTS speaking part 3. When you answer in speaking part 3, remember to extend you answers with lots of examples and explanation. Also remember to give a direct answer the question asked  and then develop your answer.

1. Do you think people pay enough attention to their health these days?

No, definitely not. The average person nowadays has a sedentary lifestyle and pays very little attention to their diet and also does hardly any exercise. If you take a typical English person, they eat a quick breakfast, such as a sugary cereal, they have a quick bite at lunch, like a sandwich, and for dinner they are either too tired to cook something healthy and nutritious or simply don’t have enough time. It’s pretty much the same with exercise. Few people these days have time to fit it into their daily routine.

2. Do you think the government is responsible for public health?

Well, to be honest, I think it the responsibility of both governments and individuals. Governments certainly could do more to educate people about ways to improve their health and I suppose it would be useful if they could some how have more controlled over the fast food industry. However, much of the responsibility falls on individual people to take exercise, eat well and have a balanced life style.

3. Do you think there are more unhealthy people these days than there were decades ago?

Yes, without a doubt. Generations ago, there was no fast food or convenience food so people generally ate healthy fresh produce instead of the junk food they eat today. Furthermore, people were also more active in the past as they either cycled or walked to get around and also had a healthier life style. Compared to now, they were much healthier.

4. How could parents encourage their children to be healthier?

I guess the best way would be to set an example. I always think that if adults lead by example, then children will  follow suit. What I mean is if parents need to get involved with sports and out-door activities, it will show children that exercise is fun. Another way would be for parents to get children involved in cooking health meals to encourage them to change their eating habits. Both methods, I’m sure will have a positive effect.

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Should I Speak Fast or Slow?

Many students ask me if they should speak fast or slow in their IELTS speaking test. Some students think that if they speak more quickly, they will get better results. Before I answer the questions of how fast to talk, lets look more at how your speaking test is assessed.

All this falls under the criterion of ‘fluency‘ which accounts for 25% of your final marks for your IELTS speaking.. Fluency relates to the flow, smoothness and coherence of your speech.

Flow – this is about your ability to keep talking. If you are aiming for band score 6 and above, this will be important. You must show the ability to answer at length rather than just give short answers.

Smoothness – this relates to how often you break your speech with pauses, hesitations, self-corrections and silences. All of this interrupts the flow and stops the smoothness of your speech. If you are aiming for band score 6 and above, it is important  to avoid any long pauses and to avoid  repeating yourself.

Coherence – this is all about being understood. There is no point having a goof flow with smooth speech if you are not talking in any logical order. This means organising your ideas so that the listener can understand and also using some linking devices to help the listener follow what you are saying.

So, how fast should you speak? As long as you keep a steady pace, you will be fine. Avoid speaking very slow because the listener can get lost in what you are trying to say. Alternatively, don’t speak very fast as you may lose your coherence. So, keep a stead, even pace when you are talking, extend your answers, avoid long pauses, don’t repeat yourself too much, avoid correcting yourself more than once or twice and keep a logical order to what you are saying.

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Common Questions for IELTS Speaking Part 1

There are over 15 types of questions which frequently come in IELTS speaking part 1. Even though the topics change, the common questions are often repeat so you should develop techniques for each type of question. Watch this video tutorial to learn what types of questions the examiner usually asks in IELTS speaking part 1 and also learn useful tips to help you identify the aim of each question.  Transcript

Hello my name is Liz. In this lesson I want to look at a different types of questions that the examiner might ask you and IELTS speaking part 1. Now as you know you need to prepare lots of different topics so for example family hobbies going out birthdays but you also need to prepare the different types of questions. So even though the examiner will ask you about different topics the questions are often the same. Let’s have a look at some common questions for IELTS speaking part 1.

So let take a look at a common topic and that’s the topic of cooking. It’s a common topic to get in speaking part 1. Now you can see a list of  questions here so let’s take a look at these questions more closely. What you can see is that each question begins with a different question word and this is very important to understand about speaking part 1 because every topic that you get in speaking part 1 can have questions that start with these question words. So for example, Read more….  

IELTS Speaking Part 1: Common Questions

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IELTS Speaking Part 2 Model Answer: Holidays

This is a band score 9 sample answer for a speaking part 2 talk in IELTS. This model demonstrates who you can expand each prompt with more information and description. This IELTS speaking part 2 model answer is estimated at band score 9.

Describe a holiday you recently had.

You should say:

  • where you went
  • how you got there
  • what you did there
  • and explain if you enjoyed it

Model Talk

I would like to talk about a holiday I went on in the south of Vietnam just a few months ago. I went with my parents to a town called Nha Trang, which is a lovely coastal town, and we decided to go there so that they could experience a different part of the country and see life by the beach.

We flew there from Hanoi, which is the capital of Vietnam. The flight took about 1 hour and on the whole it went smoothly. We managed to be one of the first on board and one of the first off when we landed. It was certainly quicker and easier than going by train, which can take over 15 hours.

There was so much to do there that we only had a chance to do just a few things on our three day trip. We took a cruise around the islands and also did some sightseeing inland as well. Taking part in a cookery course was great fun, where we bought fresh ingredients at the local market and learned how to use a wok to fry fresh fish and other seafood like crab and lobster.

We definitely enjoyed our trip and would go there again if we could. Seeing the colourful lifestyle of the locals and having a chance to see spectacular scenery was something we will never forget. For my parents it was a holiday of a life time and they’re still talking about it. If I could live there, I would.

Recommended Lessons

IELTS Video Lesson for Speaking: How to improve at home
IELTS Video Lesson for Speaking Part 1: What’s your favourite
IELTS Video Lesson for Speaking Part 3: Urban vs Rural Life

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