Here we are, a new day, a new opportunity (for a new post: IELTS Speaking 2021 topic: Museums)
About this topic
Unfortunately for my students, an extremely tricky topic has come back in season (and it seems to be quite popular among the examiners again), which isn’t a bad thing because it presents a great opportunity to show your confidence.
Just remember, examiners know a tricky topic when they see one, if you’re able to speak as fluently about museums as you are about your work or hometown, chances are the examiner will be impressed.
Based on what I’ve seen from my students this season, ideas and vocabulary seem to be causing the most difficulty whilst speaking about Museums.
This is nothing new, actually, in every season there will always be some topics that are either strange or awkward to speak about, especially under exam conditions. (Note that this depends on the candidate, some candidates would consider a topic like TV or Music to be more difficult than museums)
The most important step for you to take before your exam is to be aware of what they are and how you’ll deal with them.
- Know your ideas.
- Learn your vocabulary.
Let’s begin 🙂
Though you should never write down full answers like this and try to recite them in your exam, you can learn a lot of language by reading them. Read my model answers carefully and try to make notes.
- How often do you visit museums?
Uhm, not as much as I’d like to… Actually, I can’t even remember the last time I went to one. To be perfectly honest with you, I’ve only been to them a couple of times throughout my life.
- What kind of museums do you like?
Honestly, I don’t have any particular kind that I like more than others, I guess I like any museum that takes my fancy, really. Because I’m rather keen on technology, I’d love to visit any museum related to science or technology.
- When you were younger, did you visit any museums?
Yeah… If my memory serves me well, I went on a school trip to a children’s museum which is called Eureka. It’s a pretty famous museum in the UK that most kids who are in primary school visit. I can’t remember much about it though- cuz’ it was such a long time ago…
- Do you think the museums in your country are of good quality?
Uhm, I’m not sure, really. I guess it depends on how well the museums are kept and what’s inside them. I’m sure the more well-known museums are fantastic, but the smaller, local ones might not be up to par with them.
- Are there any famous or special museums in your country?
Yeah, there must be, but I haven’t got a clue what they’re called. I’m not exactly an expert on the subject, nor do I have much interest in history or museums in general. I’d say the one I mentioned before is dead famous because most people I know went to it when they were younger.
Note, these model answers are not real answers. They are written as a way to learn how a native speaker might talk about the topic.
Note 2, did you notice that I didn’t use much topic-specific vocabulary? That’s because the examiner is listening to how you use the language to speak about the topic, not how much you know about the topic. (Though I should’ve added some topic-specific vocabulary which we’ll cover in the next section).
Here’s a short video of me answering these questions under exam conditions. You should notice the difference between real answers and model answers 🙂
Exhibition (/,eksəˈbiSH(ə)n/) = a public display of works of art or items of interest, held in an art gallery or museum or at a trade fair.
“If I can get enough time off work, I’d love to visit the Tate exhibition in Liverpool next weekend.”
Exhibit (/iɡˈzibət/) = an object or collection of objects on public display in an art gallery or museum or at a trade fair.
“That was one of the best exhibits I’ve ever been to.”
Display (\ di-ˈsplā) = an eye-catching arrangement by which something is exhibited.
“I was really impressed by some of their displays in the museum.”
Attraction (/əˈtrakSH(ə)n/) = a place that draws visitors by providing something of interest or pleasure.
“The giant dinosaur skeleton is our local museums biggest attraction.”
Useful ways to talk about the quality of a place:
(Positive, used for buildings)
- It looks as good as new (phrase, something that is in a very good condition or state)
- Modern – “It’s an extremely modern building”
- Contemporary – “It’s a contemporary building” (in the current style of the times)
- Brand-new (adjective to describe looks/condition)
- Well-built (adjective to describe the structure of something)
- Newly built – common collocation
- A new build – compound noun
- Sound construction – common collocation
- Built to last – “This building was definitely built to last”
- Stand the test of time – expression – uncommon, great for band 8+ when describing something’s quality
- for example; “Your old iPhone probably won’t stand the test of time, Apple just paid out a 5 billion USD settlement because they were found guilty of sabotaging old iPhones in the Supreme Court”
(Negative, used for buildings)
- Falling apart (often used as an exaggeration, it doesn’t necessarily mean the building IS falling apart)
- Worn out – “that coffee shop looks totally worn out nowadays”
- Rundown (informal adjective to describe a place in a negative way)
- Has seen better days – “that place really has seen better days, right?”
- Not what it used to be (it used to be better, appropriate in terms of quality)
- Critter’s paradise (critters are pests, like mice, cockroaches, etc)
- Needs some TLC (TLC = tender loving care – it’s a common expression among native English speakers)
- Left to rot (neglected, as if whoever should look after a place has given up)
- Could do with a paint job – “That cafe could do with a paint job, it’s falling apart”
Useful expressions of frequency:
“Not as much as I’d like to” = suggests you’d like to do something more than you do.
“Once in a while” = suggests that you don’t usually do something.
“A couple of times throughout my life” = suggests that you have only done something a few times in your life.
“pretty much never” = suggests you almost never do something but have done.
Also, note these useful adverbs of frequency:
I’ll write more later but my first class of the day is starting soon, so I need to prepare for it 😛