In part 3 of the IELTS speaking test, you will probably get some questions about the past and the future. The examiner will be listening carefully to make sure you use the correct tense.
If the examiner mentions “50 years ago”, “when your parents were young” or “when you were a child”, you should answer using the past simple.
If the question asks you to predict, or if it mentions “in 50 years” or “in the future”, use a future tense (will + infinitive).
Do you think people had easier lives 50 years ago?
Yes, maybe life was simpler and less stressful 50 years ago. The mobile phone didn’t exist, so I suppose it was easier to forget about work at the end of the day because people couldn't contact you so easily.
Do you think life will be more stressful in 50 years time?
Yes, it probably will be more stressful. As the world gets smaller, employees will probably have to travel to different countries more often and stay in touch with colleagues and clients all over the world. There will also be more competition for jobs and the cost of living will keep going up.
IELTS Speaking Part 1: sport
1. What sports or physical activities do you regularly do?
2. Which sport or game would you like to be good at?
3. Do you prefer watching or playing sports?
4. Do you think children should be encouraged to do more sport?
ELTS Speaking Part 2: describe a toy
Describe a toy that was special to you when you were a child. You should say:
- when you got it
- what it looked like
- who gave it to you
- and how you used it or played with it.
One special toy that I remember getting was a Lego car. It was a birthday present from my parents. I can't remember exactly how old I was, but I was probably about 10 or 11.
The special thing about this car was that I had to build it myself out of hundreds of pieces of Lego. The pieces came in a box with a picture of the finished car on the front, and I had to follow step-by-step instructions to put all the pieces together in the correct way. This wasn't an easy task because the car even had an engine, movable seats and gears. It took me a day or two to make, and required a lot of concentration. When the car was finished it looked great, and I felt a sense of accomplishment. I seem to remember that I didn't play with the car very much; the fun part had been the process of building it.
Don't just read this description once. Spend some time analysing it:
Is the description well-organised and easy to follow?
Can you find any good 'band 7' words or phrases?
Could you write a similar description for a different toy?
IELTS Speaking Part 3: children's toys
1. Do you think it's important for boys to play with "boys' toys" and for girls to only play with "girls' toys"?
I think boys naturally seem to prefer playing with "boys' toys" and girls with "girls' toys". When I was young I had toy cars, trucks, guns and things like that, whereas my sister always wanted to play with dolls. I don't suppose it really matters if a boy plays with a doll or a girl plays with a toy car, but children learn quickly what toys are supposed to be for boys and for girls.
2. Do you think it's good if parents only buy "educational" toys for their children?
No, I don't agree with only giving children educational toys. In my opinion, children learn by playing with whatever interests them. Children invent their own games, even if they don't have any toys at all. It's important for children just to have fun; there will be plenty of time for parents to worry about education when their children get older.
IELTS Speaking Part 1: short, simple answers
Do you prefer home-cooked food or food from restaurants?
I prefer home-cooked food because I think it's healthier and you know exactly what you're eating. I also enjoy cooking for family and friends.
You don't need to say any more than this. Just answer the question with a full sentence, give a reason, and maybe add one extra piece of information. Then stop speaking. Stop with confidence and look at the examiner, ready for the next question.
IELTS Speaking Part 2: describe an object
In IELTS speaking part 2, you might be asked to describe an object. For example:
Describe something you bought recently.
Describe a gift you gave or received.
Describe something you own which is important to you.
choose something easy, like a mobile phone:
I'm going to describe my mobile phone. I bought it online / in a mobile phone shop / it was a present from...
I use the phone to keep in touch with friends and family, for communication by voice, text and email. It has various features like video, MP3 player, wireless Internet, digital camera and games. It's easy to share photos and music. I use it for almost everything, it even has a calendar that reminds me about appointments.
My phone is an essential part of my life. It holds my contacts, my photos, my music collection. I've got instant access to my favourite websites. It's like having my whole life in my pocket. I couldn't live without it.
IELTS Speaking Part 3: status symbols
In your country, what possessions show a higher status or position in society?
In my country, people who are wealthy tend to buy big houses and cars. Certain makes of car such as Mercedes or Ferrari are status symbols. They let other people know that you are important or powerful. People who want to give this impression often wear expensive designer clothes, or watches by brands like Rolex.
Do you think we place too much importance on possessions?
Probably, yes. Some people are obsessed with showing off their new mobile phone or wearing the latest fashions. I think it's a problem for teenagers because there's a lot of peer pressure to follow fashion or buy the latest gadget that their friends have got.
Do you think things were different 50 years ago?
Yes, maybe people were less materialistic. I think they bought things that lasted longer; my grandparents talk about how they repaired things rather than throwing them away. Maybe brands and advertising weren't as powerful as they are now.
IELTS Speaking Part 1: musical instruments
1. Which musical instrument do you like listening to most? (Why?)
My favourite musical instrument to listen to is the guitar. I like the fact that there are different types of guitar, like classical, acoustic and electric; I love the variety of sounds a guitar can make.
2. Have you ever learned to play a musical instrument?
I took some guitar lessons when I was younger and still have a guitar at home. I don't play it much nowadays; I wish I had more time to practise.
3. Do you think children should learn to play an instrument at school?
Yes, I think it's a great skill and it's really enjoyable to be able to play a musical instrument. All children should be given this opportunity.
4. How easy would it be to learn to play an instrument without a teacher?
It would probably be more difficult without a teacher. You need someone to show you what to do and correct your mistakes; you need a lot of discipline to teach yourself.
IELTS Speaking: describe a website (band 7-9)
In Part 2 of IELTS Speaking, you might be asked to describe a website that you use:
Describe a website that you often use. You should say:
what type of website it is
how you found out about it
what it allows you to do, and why you find it useful.
Here are some ideas, with some of the band 7-9 vocabulary underlined:
Facebook is a social networking website. It's a free website that allows you to keep in contact with friends or find people you've lost touch with. It's one of the most popular websites in the world, with millions of users in different countries.
All of my friends use Facebook. One of my friends sent me an email inviting me to join. I signed up and I've been using it ever since.
Facebook allows you to keep up to date with what friends are doing. You have a profile page with information and status updates so that you can tell everyone what you're doing. You can post messages to other people's pages. You can upload photos and videos. I find Facebook most useful for organising my life, keeping in touch with friends and storing photos. I think social networking websites have become part of everyday life.
IELTS Speaking Part 3: verb tenses
In IELTS speaking part 3 the examiner often asks a question about the past and a question about the future. Be careful: the examiner is listening to your grammar! You need to show that you can use past, present and future tenses correctly. Here are some example questions:
Did people have more free time when your grandparents were young?
Do you think the hobbies people have will be different in the future?
In the first answer, the examiner wants to hear some past tense verbs. In the second answer, you will need to use a future tense. Here are some example answers:
When my grandparents were young, I think they had less leisure time. They didn't have the gadgets we use nowadays, so they probably spent more time doing simple things. For example, nowadays we can cook meals in a microwave in less than 5 minutes, whereas in the past people had to cook everything themselves.
No, I don't think hobbies will change much in the future. I'm sure people will still play games and sports. On the other hand, maybe the Internet is changing the way we spend our free time. In the future, more and more people might have online hobbies.
IELTS Speaking Part 1: friends
1. Are your friends mostly your age or different ages?
Most of my friends are about the same age as me because we met at school or university. I've got one or two friends who are older or younger that I met through work.
2. Do you usually see your friends during the week or at weekends?
I tend to meet up with my friends at weekends because everyone's too busy during the week.
3. The last time you saw your friends, what did you do together?
It was one of my friends' birthday last weekend. Six of us went out for a meal to celebrate.
4. In what ways are your friends important to you?
I think it's important to have friends that you can talk to and share experiences with. My friends make me laugh, but I know I can also rely on them whenever I need help or support.
IELTS Speaking Part 2: describe an advertisement
Describe an interesting advertisement that you have seen. You should say:
where you saw it
what it was about
why you think it was an interesting advertisement.
I'm going to talk about an advertisement for Coca-Cola, which is one of the biggest brands in the world. I've seen Coke advertised everywhere, on posters and TV commercials.
The advert shows a picture of Santa Claus smiling and holding a bottle of Coke. I think the aim is to target children and associate (link/connect) the brand with Christmas time.
The advert is interesting because the company is deliberately trying to influence and attract children. The marketers are trying to capture young customers. They are presenting the drink as something special, a gift for Christmas. However, Coca-Cola is not necessarily a healthy drink for children; it contains a lot of sugar. Maybe this kind of advertising manipulates children and encourages them to pester their parents.
IELTS Speaking: examples, real examples!
To improve your IELTS speaking score, use good examples to extend your answers. Real examples or stories about yourself are the best.
Use examples in part 2 when you need to make your presentation longer. Use them in part 3 to support your opinions.
Here's an example that helps me to extend my part 2 presentation about my mobile phone:
"For example, yesterday I used my phone to call some friends to arrange a get-together this weekend. Some of them didn't answer, so I either left a message in their voicemail or I sent them a text. I also replied to a few emails while I was waiting in a queue at the bank."
IELTS Speaking Part 3: How will the Internet affect our lives?
The "perspectives technique" for generating ideas (see 6th October) can also be useful in the IELTS speaking test. Here's an example:
How do you think the Internet will affect our lives in the future?
I think the Internet will have a huge impact on our lives. More and more people are using social websites to keep in touch with friends. I think the Internet will probably replace TV because most channels are already available online.
Also, I think we'll do more online shopping. Web-based companies like Amazon are already really successful. In the future, there will probably be more companies that only sell via the Internet, and I expect we'll spend more money online than in traditional shops.
Schools and universities might also use the Internet to provide courses, so online learning will probably become a normal part of life.
He is funny – he has a good sense of humor
He is friendly – he is outgoing and gets on well with people
She is nice – she is generous, she is always there when I need her
She is a happy person – she has a positive outlook on life
IELTS Speaking Part 3: common question types
Here are 3 common question types that the examiner could ask you:
Compare and contrast.
Give an opinion.
If the topic is 'cities', the examiner could ask:
How is life different in cities compared to rural areas?
How do you think life in big cities could be made easier?
What do you think cities will be like in 50 years time?
Here are some answers using ideas from this week's lessons:
Firstly, the cost of living in cities is much higher. Housing is much more expensive in cities compared to rural areas; everything costs more. I think life in cities is more difficult. There are more people, so there's more competition for jobs. Life is a lot slower in rural areas, everyone knows each other and there's a sense of community. I don't think rural areas experience the social problems that you find in cities, like crime and homelessness.
In my opinion cities need to be well-planned. Good public transport can definitely make life easier because there are so many people and it can be really stressful just to move around. Public areas like parks are also important because people need space to relax, and I think cities should be made into healthier places to live and work.
I imagine cities will be less polluted because we'll have electric cars and better public transport. More people might work from home so maybe cities won't be so busy. But I think there will probably still be problems because more and more people are migrating to cities. So I'm not so optimistic about issues like crime, homelessness and unemployment.
IELTS Speaking Part 2: describe a festival
Describe an important festival in your country
Describe a festival: Christmas
Christmas is an annual holiday that, in Christianity, commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ.
Popular customs of the holiday include gift-giving, music, an exchange of greeting cards, church celebrations, a special meal, and the display of various decorations; including Christmas trees, lights, nativity scenes, and holly. In addition, Father Christmas (known as Santa Claus in some areas) is a popular figure in many countries, associated with the bringing of gifts for children.
Over the Christmas period, people decorate their homes and exchange gifts. In some countries, children perform plays re-telling the events of the Nativity, or sing carols that reference the event. Christmas, along with Easter, is the period of highest annual church attendance.
A special Christmas family meal is an important part of the celebration for many, and what is served varies greatly from country to country. In England and countries influenced by its traditions, a standard Christmas meal includes turkey, potatoes, vegetables, sausages and gravy, followed by Christmas pudding, mince pies and fruit cake.
IELTS Speaking Part 2: describe a person
Describe a person you admire.You should say:
who the person is
what he or she is like
and why you admire him or her.
I'm going to talk about my father because he has been a major influence in my life.
My father was always a good role model for me as I was growing up. He's hard-working, patient and understanding; he's also got a good sense of humour and seems to get on well with everybody. Hopefully I've inherited some of these traits.
I admire my father because I think he brought me and my brothers/sisters up well; he was quite strict but always fair, and he has always been someone I can turn to for advice. I think my father set a good example by working hard and having a positive outlook on life. I remember that he used to leave for work early and come home quite late, but he always made time for me and my brothers/sisters.
IELTS Speaking Part 3: technology at work
What technology or equipment is used in most workplaces nowadays?
Does technology help workers, or does it make their lives more difficult?
What effect does new technology have on employment?
1. Advice: give a list of different technologies, then talk about one in detail:
In most workplaces people use equipment such as computers, phones, printers, fax machines and photocopiers. I think the computer is probably the most essential piece of equipment because we rely on it for almost everything: communicating by email, writing reports, organising data, and finding information on the Internet.
2. Advice: talk about the positives AND the negatives:
Technology definitely helps workers because it makes many tasks so much easier. For example, email is such a useful tool for communication between employees in different offices, or even in different countries. On the other hand, technology can make life more difficult, especially when it goes wrong. It causes a lot of stress when the Internet is down or a computer crashes.
3. Advice: give the good effects AND the bad effects:
I think technology is often responsible for people losing their jobs. Machines have replaced people in areas like manufacturing and agriculture, and whenever a new technology is introduced, there are redundancies. At the same time, jobs might be created thanks to a new technology; there would be no computer programmers if the computer hadn't been invented.
IELTS Speaking: advice
Although you might be nervous, try to speak clearly and confidently. Smile, be friendly, and make eye contact with the examiner. As you go into the exam, tell yourself that you have prepared well and that you're going to enjoy the challenge.