It has been a long year indeed, but we made it through alive yet again. From what I’ve seen so far, this season of IELTS Speaking topics looks wonderful. Many of the awkward topics (Museums, Farms, Decorations) that some of my students struggled with are gone, and they have been replaced with some fun topics to talk about. Here is the full forecast of IELTS Speaking 2021 topics September to December.

Please be patient whilst I upload all of my model answers. In the meantime, check out the previous season’s topics here.

Note: I have taken some time off work to write all of the content (Part 1, 2 and 3), feel free to share the content with your friends on Social Media.

IELTS Speaking topics 2021 September to December


IELTS Speaking 2021 topics September to December

Part 1 - Newly added topics: Possible questions & model answers

  • What kind of applications do you use on your phone or tablet?

Gosh, I use all sorts, really. It’s safe to say that I’ve got quite a mixed bunch of apps on my smartphone, from dictionaries to games, and everything in between. I mostly use a time management app though, as it helps me to schedule my day-to-day tasks

  • +Which is your favourite?

Hmm, it’s tough to say, but I do absolutely adore an app called ClickUp. Basically, it’s an app that helps me keep track of the time when working on my website and business. I can set targets, monitor progress, and even assign myself KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). I reckon it helps me to stay as productive as possible.

  • How often do you use applications?

Every day, haha. It’s hard to function without them, y’know? Whenever I travel somewhere new, I use Google maps. Whenever I want to see how my family back home in England are doing, I use Messenger. Whenever I want to chill out and unwind, I play a few games like Mobile Legends. 

  • How much time do you spend using applications each day?

Hmm, not as much as most people, I suppose. I rarely check Facebook, and I detest most forms of Social Media, so I hardly spend any time whatsoever on those apps. For others, like ClickUp which I mentioned before, I just need to plan and schedule my daily tasks, then it takes care of the rest

  • +Do you think you spend too much time using applications?

No, definitely not. I must only spend around 30-minutes each day using them. Needless to say, that does vary, but on average, I’d say that I’m a modest user. My wife spends way too much time on them though, haha. 

  • Have you ever downloaded an application because a friend recommended it?

I have, yeah. An old student of mine once recommended Mobile Legends to me, I was curious because I hadn’t played games in a long time, so I decided to try it. This was back in 2017 mind you. I didn’t have my own business back then, and I had much more free time than I do nowadays. Naturally, I sunk a lot of hours into it 😛 


Vocabulary list: 

Application > App (we almost always use “shortened forms” (abbreviations) in spoken English, such as TV, CCTV, PC). 

The preposition we use for devices = on 

For example, “I check the news ON my smartphone” / “I watched it ON the TV last night” / “I love to play games ON my computer” 

Be careful if you use the word “Addicted” whilst speaking in the exam.

I’m + addicted + to + Facebook / I am + an addict (advanced way = “I’m a (Facebook) addict”) / It is + addictive. It’s very common to hear people use this word incorrectly, similar mistakes are commonly made with words like “Success” and “Stress

Types of apps: 

Lifestyle apps = are usually based on subjects such as Fitness / Dating / Food / Travel / Music, some good examples of Lifestyle apps are, Spotify, Uber and Tripadvisor. 

Social Media apps = any app that people use to contact others and share things about their lives, some good examples of Social Media apps are Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / LinkedIn / WhatsApp / Messenger / Line / YouTube. 

Utility apps = we often use this kind of app without thinking about it or downloading them, they come preinstalled on most devices, some good examples of Utility apps are Calculator / Calendar / Weather / Flashlight.

Games or Entertainment apps = one of the most popular kinds of app that most people enjoy using, some great examples are Angry birds / Netflix / YouTube / Mobile Legends. 

Productivity apps = this kind of app helps people to be more productive or work more efficiently, it is a large category that boasts many features like Wallet / Pay / Documents / Sheets / Evernote / Wunderlist / ClickUp.

News or Information apps = exactly what you think it is, apps like Buzzfeed / Google News / CNN / Reddit / Flipboard.

Useful structures: 

All sorts (phrase) = a large number of things or people. I typically use this as a response to questions like “What do you like to do over the weekend?“. I will typically say something like “Gosh, all sorts, really”. 

It’s safe to say that” = one of my favourite structures to use in Part 3, answer 1. When something is safe to say, it means that most people wouldn’t argue or disagree with what you’re going to say next.

From (A) to (Z) and everything in between” = a great way to avoid listing many things. Here is a good example of this is “What do most people do for work in your hometown?” a typical answer of mine will sound like “Gosh, all sorts, really. From farmers to doctors and everything in between“.

To keep track of +something” = to follow or monitor something.

Absolutely adore” (collocation) = a way to say you love something, very expressively. I use this whenever I’m asked about my “favourites” in Part 1.

Needless to say,” = if you’ve checked my mother model answers, you’ll notice I use this structure quite often. It basically means that you don’t need to say what you are going to say next, and it suggests that the listener is already able to know what you’ll say.

On average” = something is generally true.

To sink a lot of time into +something”  = another way to say spend a lot of time doing something.

Mind you” = used in speech to give stress to a statement that one is making so that a preceding or following statement will not be misunderstood. For example, “His advice wasn’t very helpful, I’m not criticizing him, mind you.”


  • In your daily life, when do you need to concentrate? 

I’d have to say whilst I’m at work. As an IELTS tutor, I need to be completely focused on my students and give them my undivided attention. It’s imperative that I actively listen to everything they say in order to quickly analyze and offer corrections or suggest more natural alternatives.  

  • Are you easily distracted?

I wouldn’t say so, no. Once I get in the zone, it’s quite the challenge to sidetrack me or make me lose focus. That is unless something pops up that requires my attention more than whatever I’m engaged in at that time. 

  • +What do you do to help you concentrate? ++What usually distracts you?

Well, I try my very best to remove any unnecessary distractions in my workplace, and I force myself to ignore anything that may sidetrack me from my students. I put my phone on silent, and even move it to another room. I also disable all of the notifications on my PC so nothing interrupts my sessions. 

++I’d have to say my phone, definitely. For some reason, whenever I get a notification, I can’t help but check it and see what or who wants my attention. Most of the time it’s just some useless Facebook post or spam email though. 

  • Are you more focused nowadays than you used to be when you were younger?

Yeah, for sure. As a mature, responsible adult, I’ve developed a few good habits that help me remain focused on whatever I’m doing. Having said that, back when I was a kid, even the slightest noise outside would make me get up and stop what I was doing to check it. 

  • Do you use any applications that help you concentrate? 

No… I didn’t even know that was a thing, haha. I think the best app to help me concentrate is just putting my phone somewhere I can’t see it. I reckon if I used an app, it’d probably make me lose my train of thought as it’s simply another thing to think about. 

  • How do you feel after concentrating on something for a long time?

Gosh, utterly exhausted. Concentrating on something for such a long time can be really draining, right? It’s not physically exhausting, but mentally. I’ve got a relatively long attention span though, even for tedious tasks like writing 140-model answers to the current season of IELTS topic.  


Vocabulary list: 

To focus + on + something / To be completely + focused + on + something (collocation).

To concentrate + on + something. 

To be engaged + in + something. 

(Long or Short) + “Attention span” = how much time someone is able to focus on a particular thing/task. 

Undivided attention” = to give all of your attention to someone or something. 

To actively listen” = (Active listening) a technique used to listen with full attention.  

To be “sidetracked + by + something = to be distracted by something. 

To be / to get “in the zone” = to be completely focused on something, it is a state of mind. 

It can’t “sidetrack me = something can’t distract you. 

To “remain focused on something = to continue to be focused on something, we use this when we mention something that might distract you. 

To be in the “right/wrong state of mind = the “right state of mind” means an appropriate way of thinking to do something, for example, “He is in the wrong state of mind to speak to her now (because he is so upset)”. 

The right/wrong “frame of mind” = the same as “state of mind”. Similar to “Mindset”. 

Useful structures: 

Train of thought” (phrase) = a way in which someone thinks or reaches a conclusion, similar to “a line of reasoning”, because it’s a process, we always treat processes like a movement in English, so we often use words like “train” or “track” to describe this kind of thing in a phrasal way. 

That is unless……” = a great way to introduce a condition. For example, “Saying this will always make you sound more natural, that is unless you force yourself to say it and it sounds rehearsed.” 

For some reason” = “some” in this situation means “unknown or unspecified”, so when we say “for some reason” it means you aren’t going to give a specific or known reason for something. (For some reason, I love Jim’s classes). 

Relatively” = one of my favourite adverbs to use, in the above model answers I said “a relatively long attention span”, which means “compared to other people’s attention span, mine is quite long”. Relatively = compared to other things of the same kind. 

“I didn’t even know that is a thing” = a thing means “exist” so this structure is like saying “I didn’t even know it exists”. 

I can’t help but…” = you will have seen me use this structure so many times by now. It basically means “I can’t stop myself from” to refrain from, avoid, or be obliged to + do something. For example, I can’t help but think that people should stop buying model answers from a certain app. 

  • What’s your favourite colour?

Uhmm… I don’t think I’ve got one, haha. I’m not so fussy when it comes to colours. However, if I had to pick a colour now, I’d probably choose green… 

  • +How does it make you feel?

I hardly have any feelings towards it whatsoever. Green is widely known as the colour of envy, yet I’m not an envious kinda’ guy. I suppose it reminds me of nature. 

  • Do you own any items which are that colour?

Yeah, loads of stuff come to think of it. My favourite pair of socks are green, my motorbike is green, and also the LED lights on my computer (NEVER list more than 3x things in the IELTS Speaking section) to name a few

  • Do you consider the colour of things before you buy them? 

Not really, no. Although I wouldn’t buy anything that’s pink. Whenever I buy something, I do think about what other things I have that would work well with that colour, especially for clothes and kitchenware. 

  • Have you ever changed the colour of your hair?

Nope, I’m happy with my natural hair colour. It’s simply something I’ve never given much thought to before. Since reaching my mid-30s, I’ve noticed a few grey hairs on my head and beard, so in the next few years, I might dye them if more pop up

  • Are there any significant or special colours in your country/culture? 

Hmm, not that I know of, no. I suppose red and white maybe, just because they’re the colours used in the flag of England. People back home tend to associate red and white with English culture, and it becomes apparent whenever the Royal Family hosts an event. 


My model answers are very bad for this topic, I need some time to adjust them and write a full vocab list. 


  • Have you ever been lost before? 

Yeah, quite a few times, haha. Unlike most men, I have absolutely no sense of direction. I know my local area like the back of my hand, but whenever I travel somewhere new, I wouldn’t be able to tell head from tails without using Google maps. I got lost on my recent trip to Phu Quoc island, actually. 

  • +What did you do to find your way? ++How did you feel about it?

+I solely rely on Google maps. I don’t know what I’d do without it, actually. It’s not because I’m too lazy to navigate the old fashioned way, I just reckon it’s the best way to accurately traverse new places. 

++Stressed out, that’s for sure. Once the initial panic settled down, I tried to collect myself and think about it logically. After a few minutes of back-tracking, I managed to get back to where I left off and started the journey again. 

  • Can you read a map? 

Not a traditional map, no. I’m rather clumsy so I tend to miss certain turns or points of interest, I always end up getting lost whenever I don’t have GPS

  • Do you prefer to use a paper or digital map?

I’d have to say a digital one. There’s nothing wrong with paper maps, but for people like me, I couldn’t live without Google Maps. Map reading isn’t exactly a skill I’ve needed since I upgraded to a smartphone. 

  • +Do you use any applications to help you navigate? 

Check above.

  • Is it easy or difficult for you to find your way?

For places I’ve been to before, yeah, it’s a breeze. I’m quite good at recognizing places I’ve already seen and recollecting the routes I took the last time I went there. That being said, whenever I go somewhere for the first time, I can’t help but get anxious and depend on GPS

  • Vocabulary list

Traditional map (noun) = a paper map.

Paper map (noun) = a traditional map. 

Digital map (noun) = a map used on a smart-device. 

GPS (noun) = an acronym for “Global Positioning System”, digital maps use GPS technology in order to show your location in real-time whilst you navigate or travel. 

Map reading + skills = the act of interpreting and understanding the information shown on maps.

Sense of direction (noun) = our ability to sense where we are and where we should go, we use “a sense of _____” in many other situations in English, such as, “a sense of satisfaction”.

To backtrack (verb) = to go back the same way you came. Backtrack can also be used to “consider information again”, too. 

Route (noun) = the planned directions taken to go somewhere.

Haywire (adjective) = erratic, or out of control, for example, “My Google Maps went haywire in the city center so I couldn’t follow it” 

Recalibrate (verb) = to calibrate something again, to calibrate = to check or adjust by a comparison. Digital maps will often need to recalibrate when your Mobile Data signal drops as they rely on the internet. 

A breeze (adjective, idiomatic) = used to describe something that is very easy. Quick tip, avoid saying other idioms like “a piece of cake” or “a walk in the park”, they are overused and never sound natural, trust me. 


  • Useful structures

Like the back of my hand” = to know something very well, for example, “I know Manchester like the back of my hand”.  

“(for) People like me” = a great structure to use when speaking about yourself among a group of people, for example, “it’s not necessary for people like me to do”. 

There’s nothing wrong with” = my favourite structure to use whenever I answer a “Do you prefer” type question in Part 1, it’s a natural way to acknowledge that the other option is also fine, but you prefer… 

Unlike most men/women, I…” = used when you are an exception to most men/women. For example, it is generally believed that men enjoy watching football, however, I do not. 

The old fashioned way” = a great way to say that you do something the way it was previously done. For example, “I don’t like to send text messages, I prefer to stay in contact with my friends the old fashioned way”, this suggests that I prefer to call my friends or visit them rather than send a text message. 

Call me old fashioned, but…” = when people might say that you aren’t up-to-date with the current age or way of doing something. For example, “Call me old fashioned, but I still love to read the newspaper”. 

I don’t know what I’d do without…” = used to express how much you need something. This structure can also be used with “if” instead of “without” to express a possibility. For example, “I don’t know what I’d do if I lost my job” 

I can’t help but…” = I’m sure by now you’ll know this as one of my favourite structures to use in the IELTS Speaking section. 

Collect myself” = not really a structure, but it’s worth mentioning. When we “collect ourselves” we basically recover from surprise, fear or embarrassment (regain self-control). 

Neither head nor tails” = basically means to make sense of something, make sense = understand. However, we typically use this in the negative to convey the opposite.

  • Do you have nice handwriting? +Is your handwriting easy to read?

I’d say so, yeah. In my line of work, it’s imperative that students find my handwriting legible. Whether it’s the students who sit in the front of the classroom or at the back, I need to make sure everyone can read it clearly and effortlessly

  • +What do other people say about it?

Hmm, I get mixed feedback about it, actually. Some people say it’s dead easy to read and they have no problems reading it, but others say I write like a child. Basically, I’ve developed the habit of writing in print rather than writing in cursive. I do that so everyone can easily read whatever I write in classes.

  • Has your style of handwriting ever changed? 

It has, indeed. Back when I was a student, I needed to write in cursive as it showed better penmanship and care. Although I care just as much (if not more than) as I used to, I’ve found that when I write in print, people find it easier to read. I guess it’s because I write mostly on a large whiteboard these days, rather than on a piece of paper

  • Was it difficult for you to learn how to write? 

I honestly haven’t got a clue. I’m sure at first it must’ve been a nightmare, but it’s too far back for me to remember. Like most kids, I could write by the time I reached primary school, and I’ve never had any issues with writing as far as I can recall.  

  • Do you prefer to write or type on a computer? +Do you prefer to use a pen or pencil?

Typing, definitely. I’ve been typing since 1998, and probably will for the rest of my years. There’s nothing wrong with writing the old fashioned way, but I just prefer typing because it’s clearer, quicker and much, much easier 🙂 

  • Would you like to improve your handwriting? 

I don’t think I need to, but I may like to take a course at some point to brush up on my penmanship. Recently, a student told me that my writing was scruffy and illegible. I didn’t take offence though, it just occurred to me that I’ve become lazy in my ways.

  • Vocabulary list

Penmanship (noun) = a person’s handwriting, or the skill/art of handwriting. 

There are 2 main styles of handwriting:

Cursive = when the letters are joined together, often quicker because the pen doesn’t lift up.

Print = when the letters are written individually, often easier to read but slower. 

We typically say, “I write + in + print” or “I write + in + cursive”. 

Legible (adjective) = clear enough to read (of handwriting or printed text)

Illegible (negative prefix + adjective) = not clear enough to read. 

Some useful adjectives to describe good handwriting: 

Clear Defined Stylish Readable Neat Distinct Sharp

Some useful adjectives to describe bad handwriting:

Unreadable Messy Scruffy Scrawled Obscure Childlike Scribbled

Try to think about what kind of pen you love using, too. 

Fountain pen Ballpoint penRollerball penFelt-tip penUni-ball pen

Imperative (adjective) = a strong adjective used to describe something very important. 


  • Useful structures

“In my line of work” = the kind of work you do. 

As far as I can recall” = the furthest (most distant past) memory you are able to recall. You could say “remember” rather than recall, however, I always suggest saying “recall” as it’s less common.

At some point” = at an unknown or unspecified time (future or past). For example, “I’ll go to Paris at some point” or “At some point during the lockdown I became fat”. 

Get mixed feedback” = to receive conflicting feedback from people, for example, someone might like what you did, another person might not. 

To wrap my head around…” = to find a way to understand something or accept it.

To get to grips with…” = typically used in the same way as “wrap my head around” but more emphasis on learning

The old fashioned way” = a natural way to say that you do something the way it was previously done. For example, “I don’t like to send text messages, I prefer to stay in contact with my friends the old fashioned way”, this suggests that I prefer to call my friends or visit them rather than send a text message. 

“(something) Occurred to me…” = used when you realize something, typically used in the moment you realize it. 

By the time I…” = by (a time) is used to say that something has already happened at the time that something else happened. For example, “By the time my student arrived, I had already left”. We typically use this in the past perfect tense.  

There’s nothing wrong with…” = My favourite structure to use for “Do you prefer” type questions in Part 1. If you’ve read any of my other model answers, you’ll know this already. 

“(to) Take offence” = to be offended by someone or something. 

  • What kind of headphones do you use? 

Well, I have 2 types at the moment. At home, I use a decent pair of over-ear headphones. I reckon they’re perfect for my work because they have some noise-cancelling feature that really helps me to focus on my students. As well as those, when I’m out and about, I use a pair of wireless earphones. 

  • Are you happy with them? +What do you like about them?

I’d say so, yeah. Both types have their perks, but there is a noticeable difference in sound quality between the two. I’d say my bulky, over-ear headphones produce remarkable, studio-quality sound, whilst my wireless ones are a bit tinny and hardly have any base whatsoever

+Hmm, for my bulky, over-ear headphones, I love the fact that they are noise-cancelling. They really help to drown out any background noise and allow me to completely focus on my students. For my wireless ones, I love how portable they are, plus they fit nicely into my pocket so I can take them with me wherever I go. 

  • When do you usually wear headphones?

Believe it or not, I wear them all day every day at the moment. Basically, my IELTS preparation centre is closed right now so I’m working solely online thanks to the pandemic. I have private classes from 9 AM to 6 PM each day, and I wouldn’t be able to function without my headphones. 

  • How expensive are your headphones? 

Uhm, they weren’t cheap, that’s for sure. I must’ve spent around $200 or so on them, I guess. I know they’re not exactly the best of their kind, but I reckon they’re the best quality pair I could find within that price range. I invested so much into them simply because it’s something I use daily for work

  • Do you think the price of headphones affects the quality? 

Yeah, as I do for most things. I’ve been through so many pairs of cheap headphones throughout my life, and I can’t help but think they’re something everyone should invest a few extra pounds into. The difference between cheap pairs and a more pricy pair is night and day

  • Would you like to buy a new pair of headphones?

No, no. I’ll probably be fine with my current pair for a few more years at least. Having said that, if something happens to them and they get damaged, then I might need to get another pair at some point. I’ll just be as careful as I can with ‘em and see what happens though. 

  • Are there any public parks or gardens nearby where you live?

Not exactly. There’s a large square just down the road that I can walk to under 10-minutes, but it doesn’t have any grass are flowers. 

  • How often do you go there? 

Gosh, not as much as I’d like to. It’s always so busy in the evenings, seriously, the place is full of children running around, playing games, and making a racket. I’d love to go there more often, but it’s not a great place to stop by anymore.  

  • What do you like to do in parks or gardens?

Hmm, usually I’ll just do a few laps around them with some music on. I reckon they’re the best place to go for a stroll in the evenings, especially after a heavy dinner. Besides that, I absolutely love having a cheeky barbecue with a few mates when the weather gets a tad cooler

  • Do you think public parks and gardens are of good quality in your country? 

I guess like most places, some are and some aren’t, right? England has some dead gorgeous public spaces to spend a day in, they get more than enough funding to keep on top of maintaining them, too. Yet then again, my country also has others that I wouldn’t even feel safe visiting. 

  • When you were younger, did you like to play in parks?

Oh yeah, all the time, haha. Back when I was growing up, we lived 2-minutes away from a huge park. I spent most of my days hanging around it, actually. We’d explore, build dens, and we even put up a rope swing. I’d have to say some of my fondest memories are there.  

  • Are there any special or famous public gardens in your country?

There must be loads, but I can only recall the Blenheim Palace gardens, which is in the Cotswolds, England. You can wander around the water terraces, visit the secret garden, get lost in the rose garden, and even check out the Churchill memorial garden. There’s nothing quite like it. 

  • Do you have a pet?

Yeah, I’ve got a small, British Bulldog, her name’s Rosie. We’ve always had pets at home, actually.

No, I don’t. Right now, I’m unable to offer a suitable environment for one, I’m just too busy with my day-to-day life, y’know? 

  • +Would you like to have one in the future? ++What do you like about having pets?

Yeah, I think so. I’m sure at some point I’ll get one because I’ve always wanted a little companion around the house, although I haven’t got a clue when I’ll have enough time to give one a proper home. 

++Almost everything, haha. It can be quite hard work to walk Rosie for an hour a day, most of the time it’s a pleasure, but when it’s heavy rain outside it’s a real chore. I’d have to say that’s the only downside of it though. She loves me more than anything in the world, and fills my home with joy, y’know? 

  • Which type of pet do you prefer? 

Although I love both cats and dogs, I’d definitely say dogs. There’s nothing wrong with cats, actually, we used to have 3 cats when I was a kid, but I just love dogs ‘cause they’re way more fun to look after, and they really show their affection more than cats do.  

  • Do you think it’s difficult to own a pet? 

It can be quite a challenge, yeah. We need to constantly give them our love and affection, plus, we must be responsible owners, too. They didn’t choose us, we chose them, so it’s our duty to make sure we look after them to the very best of our ability. Otherwise, they might not get the life that they deserve. 

  • Are pets more popular nowadays than they used to be?

Uhm, it’s hard to say, really. The UK has always been a nation of pet owners, and I think nothing has changed. Pretty much everyone I know has a pet at home, actually. For most people, their household wouldn’t feel complete without a pet, especially if they’re used to having one. 

  • How do you feel about irresponsible pet owners?

I can’t stand them! Honestly, there’s nothing I hate more than someone who doesn’t respect the lives of animals. When we own a pet, it’s our personal responsibility to take care of it in a humane way, they have feelings, I know they do, so whenever I see someone either being abusive or careless with their pets, I can’t help but get angry. 

  • Are you interested in science?

I suppose so, yeah. There’s just something about it that’s always sparked my interest, y’know? I’m not exactly sure why though, I guess it’s my curious nature. 

No, not really. For some reason, I’ve never been intrigued by it. I suppose that’s cuz I can’t wrap my head around it well enough to grasp what scientists say about the world.  

  • +Why not? ++What area/field of science interests you the most?

It’s simply too confusing for me. The workings of the world and universe are beyond my comprehension, and I honestly feel like my time would be better spent on something more productive than science. 

++Hmm, I’ve always been dead keen on biology. I for one, absolutely love nature and everything about the natural world, so biology really scratches that itch, y’know? Whether I learn something about animals, the environment, or even the way plants form their wonderful patterns and absorb sunlight. It’s so cool!  

  • Did you study science in school? 

Yeah, I needed to. In the UK, science/it’s (is) a core subject at school, even as early as primary school we had science classes, so needless to say, I’ve spent many years studying it. Having said that, not in too much depth though, we learnt the fundamentals, to begin with, then moved on to more specialised areas like Chemistry, Physics, and Biology

  • +How old were you when you started to study science? 

Uhmm, I’m not sure, actually. I must’ve been around 6 or 7 years old, I guess. I know for a fact that I studied it in primary school, but I’m not exactly sure which year we started to study it.

  • Would you like to learn more about science? 

Yeah, well at least biology, anyway. I used to detest physics because it involved so much math, so I’ll stay well away from that field, but I’d love to learn more about our planet and its inhabitants. As well as that, I’d love to learn more about the way our bodies work, I’ve had a real interest in it recently, and learning more would definitely help me live a healthier life.

  • Have you ever done any scientific experiments before? 

Yeah, quite a few at school. I can’t recall the details of them because it was such a long time ago, but from what I do vaguely remember, I really enjoyed doing them. I have a pretty foggy recollection of mixing a few chemicals in a test tube and watching the colours change, then adding another substance to the mix and it nearly exploded, haha. 

  • How many pairs of shoes do you own?

Believe it or not, I must have like 9 or 10 pairs. I’m dead proud of my shoe collection, actually.

  • +How often do you buy shoes? ++ Do you think you have too many pairs?

It’s hard to say exactly. I tend to buy a new pair whenever I see a great deal, or I might treat myself when a newly released model of Nike comes out. Plus, I never miss out on the Black Friday sales, in fact, the first thing I think about when Black Friday comes around each year is: Oh, what shoes do I want but can’t afford?

++No, although my wife begs to differ, haha. I’ve got a massive shoe rack outside my apartment’s front door where I store all my kicks, and frankly, I’m spoiled for choice every time I go out. I most certainly wouldn’t say I have too many pairs though, one can never have enough of a good thing, right? 

  • What kind of shoes is your favourite?

For me, I’d have to say Basketball shoes. I’ve got quite awkwardly shaped feet, so standard shoes just don’t do it for me, they always cause a bit of discomfort after a while, especially when I need to walk somewhere further than 30-minutes away. For some reason, Basketball shoes never put any strain on my feet’s arches, which is why I love them so much. 

  • When you buy a new pair of shoes, what do you consider?

I always need to keep a few things in mind whenever I get a new pair. My feet have quite high arches, so I can only wear shoes that will support my foot type. Then I’ve gotta think about the looks, like, what clothes I could wear with them, how they’ll complement my outfits, etc. Next is how practical they are, and if they’re well-built or not. 

  • Do you spend a lot of money on shoes? 

I wouldn’t say so, even though my wife gets pretty mad at me whenever I come home with a new pair. Due to my foot type, it’s such a challenge to get a decent, suitable pair at a reasonable price. On average, I’d say I spend between $50 to $150 on each pair I get, which is pretty standard for some of the top brands

  • Have you ever bought shoes online? 

Noooo, never. Call me old fashioned, but I always want to try things on before I buy them, plus, I like to thoroughly inspect the build quality, and even compare them to other pairs of the same shoe. I’d rather not risk having to send them back to the online retailer, and the wait to get a refund can take weeks when returning stuff we buy online here in Vietnam. 

  • Do you think shoes are important?

Yeah, definitely. I reckon they’re the most essential item of clothing we can wear, right? Besides complementing an outfit, they need to be practical, too. For me, I wholeheartedly believe that we should never take our feet for granted, so it’s well worth investing a bit extra into a decent pair of shoes.  

  • What is the weather like in your hometown?

Well, for most of the year it’s pretty cold and grey in Manchester, but for a couple of months during the summer, we do get to enjoy an odd spot of sunshine from time to time. 

  • +Is it different to where you live now? ++Do you like it? 

Haha, definitely, quite the opposite, actually. Here in the north of Vietnam, it’s scorching hot almost all year round, then the temperature drops significantly during the winter to a more temperate climate, it doesn’t last as long as winter does back home though.

 ++Not really, no. I can’t stand the cold so I’m much happier with the climate here in Vietnam. I used to get so frustrated with the weather back home, whenever I’d wash my car, it’d rain, whenever I’d plan to have a BBQ, it’d rain, it felt like whatever I planned would be affected by the weather, haha. 

  • Do you prefer hot or cold weather? ++ Dry or wet weather?

Uhm, I’m not so fussed supposing it isn’t too extreme, really. When the weather hits the mid-40s during the summer here, it can get a bit draining, it almost saps your energy, y’know? But then again, when it’s so cold outside you can’t help but wear gloves, I really miss the warm sunshine in winter.  

++I’d have to say dry weather. As a motorbike enthusiast, I take great pride in keeping my machine clean and rust-free, the rain just ruins all of my best efforts. Having said that, I do enjoy scrubbing the dirt off my bike, so it’s not as bad as I make it out to be, haha. 

  • Is the weather worse nowadays than it was when you were younger? 

I think so, yeah. From what I’ve experienced, it seems to get colder these days, and the summer doesn’t last as long as it used to. Saying that, when the summer does come around, it can get much hotter than I recall, so I think both sides of the scale have been tilted. 

  • How often do you check the weather forecast? 

Gosh, each and every single day of the week. Believe it or not, it’s become a part of my morning ritual. When I sit back and enjoy my morning coffee, the first thing I do is check the forecast to see if it’s a good day to take my bike for a spin or not and if I’ll need to bring a raincoat to work with me

  • +Do you plan your days around it? ++Is it always accurate and reliable? 

To some extent, yeah. My days are always the same during the week as I’ve got a set schedule to adhere to, of course, the weather wouldn’t change that. However, on my days off, I do need to account for the weather when coming up with plans for the weekend or road trips. 

++For the most part, yeah. There have been a few recent occasions when it was completely off though. A few weeks back, it caught me by surprise because I expected it to be a sunny day, so I went out of the city with my wife to visit somewhere new, the next thing we knew, the sky turned a dark grey and we were stuck in the middle of nowhere waiting for the rain to die down

Reused topics from the previous season:

  • Where do you usually see advertisements? 

Well, considering that I don’t watch TV anymore, I mostly see them on YouTube and Social Media. As you probably already know, they’re full of ads so I must see thousands of them every year.

  • Can you remember any advertisements you saw recently?

Sure. One that really stood out among the many was a decent BMW ad I saw on YouTube not so long ago. It was showing off their latest model of GS series motorbikes, I was absolutely blown away by the production quality and attention to detail

  • How do you feel about advertisements?

To be perfectly honest with you, I can’t stand them any longer. Having said that, when I was a kid, I actually used to love watching different ads on the TV, but the same can’t be said for the ads I see online these days. There’s just something about them that makes me count down the seconds to skip them. 

  • Have you ever bought something after seeing the advertisement? 

Yeah, I have, actually. I was scrolling through Facebook one day and saw an infomercial about a water repellent spray or somet’ like that. Once I saw how effective the product was, I immediately clicked the link and ordered a few cans of it. Surprisingly, it did exactly what it said on the tin, haha. 

  • Do you think the advertisement helped you make your decision to buy it?

Definitely. I wouldn’t have even considered getting it if I didn’t see it in action on the ad. Even though I despise most ads I see online, when I see a decent infomercial about a product that may prove useful in my day-to-day life, I usually give it the time of day it deserves

  • How effective are online advertisements? 

Hmm, it’s difficult to say, really. From what I’ve experienced, it’s safe to say that they tend to be more of a nuisance than anything. That may not be the case for everyone though, they may work as intended for a different audience than myself. For me personally, I can’t help but ignore them, or try my very best to ignore them anyway. 

  • Do you like barbecues? 

Yeah, I love ‘em, who doesn’t, right? I honestly reckon that they bring out the sweet, meaty flavour of beef n’ pork which conventional ovens or grills in the kitchen can’t. Not to mention, there’s just something about the sound of burgers sizzling on the grill that really whets my appetite, too. 

  • What kind of food do you barbecue?

All sorts, really. My personal favourite has to be a whole rack of spare ribs or pork chops that have been marinated overnight. I can’t think of anything better than lighting up a bunch of red-hot coals, sitting back with a cold beer, and tending the grill. It’s one of the few pleasures in life that makes the daily grind worthwhile, right? 

  • When do you usually have barbecues? 

Gosh, not as much as I’d like to. I wish I could have one every day of the week, but it’s simply not possible, y’know. I treat my wife n’ family to an authentic Korean Barbie a couple of times a month. Also, every now & then we love to go camping n’ have a good ole’ cookout

  • How popular are barbecues in your country? 

Hmm… Even though I can’t speak for everyone, I’d say most people love to have a good cookout whenever we get a spot of sunshine. Unlike many countries across Asia, the UK doesn’t have so many indoor BBQ joints where people can go to enjoy one regardless of the weather. Believe it or not, there are only a couple of months per year that we can have one, so people tend to take advantage of that whenever they can. 

  • Do you have any plans to go for a barbecue soon?

Yeah, at some point this month I’ll probably go for one, but I’m not exactly sure when that’ll be. I’m pretty swamped with writing content for the current season of IELTS topics at the moment, so once that’s out of the way, I’d love to go to my favourite Korean BBQ restaurant with my family. 

  • Do you prefer to barbecue indoors or outdoors? 

Y’know, if I had to choose between them, I’d have to say outdoors. There’s nothing wrong with having a Barbie indoors though, actually, sometimes it’s better, but I just love doing it outdoors. That way I don’t need to worry about making the house smell like a bonfire or burning it down 😛 


Useful vocabulary: 

Have a barbecue / To barbecue (just like picnic, we typically use the word barbecue in its noun form more often than its verb form)

Cookout / Barbie = synonyms for barbecue.

Grill (noun) = a metal framework used for cooking food over an open fire.

Sizzle (verb) = when food makes a sound similar to a hiss, typically when it is fried or grilled.

Light up (phrasal verb) = to ignite, typically a cigar, cigarette, pipe or charcoal.

Charcoal (noun) = a black or dark brown rock widely used as fuel for heating / barbecuing.

Red-hot coals (collocation) = when the charcoal has been ignited and it extremely hot.

Whet my appetite (phrase) = Whet means to excite or entice, typically someone’s interest, desire or appetite. The phrase means to excite your appetite which basically means it makes you desire the food even more.

Marinade (noun) = a sauce, typically made of oil, vinegar, spices, and herbs, in which meat, fish, or other food is soaked before cooking in order to flavour or soften it.

Marinate (verb) = to soak the foods mentioned above in marinade.

To marinate overnight = a cooking term, to allow the meat to rest in the marinade overnight, typically between 8 to 24-hours.

Conventional ovens (noun – collocation) = an oven widely used in kitchens or restaurants.

BBQ Joint (informal noun) = a restaurant where you can have a barbecue.

Korean barbecue (noun) = a style of barbecue that originated in Korea which is famous all over the world.


Useful structures: 

I’ve used loads of my usual structures in this topic, you’ve probably noticed by now that most of the structures I’ve used here were also used in many other topics. Try to learn from the way I use them and try to apply them to your own answers.

“There’s just something about ______________ that ____________” = used when you know the effect/result but can’t say exactly why (for example “There’s just something about Keith O’ Hare’s videos that makes me feel more confident using idioms”).

If I had to choose between them, I’d probably pick A = my typical response to do you prefer questions.

There’s nothing wrong with _______________ though, = used for “Do you prefer A or B” questions.

Believe it or not, = used when you want to say something that is true (the truth might also be surprising or unexpected to the listener, too).

Not as much as I’d like to = expression of frequency (used when you want to do something more than you do).

Every day of the week = expression of frequency (when you do something every day).

Every now & then = expression of frequency (around 50% of the time, like; sometimes).

At some point = at an unknown or unspecified point in time (I’ll reach 1,000 subscribers at some point).

My personal favourite has to be = I shouldn’t need to explain this one 😛

Even though I can’t speak for everyone, I’d say (that) = used when you don’t want to speak too generally but want to.

A spot of sunshine = a typically British way of saying “a period of good weather”.



  • Do you drive a car?

I do, yeah. I got my driver’s licence back when I was a teenager and I’ve been driving ever since. Besides being behind the wheel, I also ride a motorbike.

  • How often do you drive? 

Hmm… It’s hard to say exactly, but not as much as I used to, that’s for sure. Basically, since I’ve lived in Viet Nam, I haven’t gotten behind the wheel of a car, and quite honestly, I wouldn’t want to drive here. I think riding is much more suitable for these narrow roads and chaotic traffic.

  • Was it difficult for you to learn how to drive a car? 

From what I remember, it was pretty tough to wrap my head around it at first. My driving instructor almost lost his patience with me after the first few sessions, haha. Thankfully, after a couple more sessions, I managed to get to grips with the fundamentals of driving and got a real sense of how to drive.

  • What is the furthest place you have driven to before?

It’d have to be from Manchester to London. It must’ve taken me about 4 or 5-hours to get there one-way. I was a new driver at that time though, so I reckon I could do it in half the time these days 😛 Honestly, that was my first real road trip, and I haven’t driven that far since. Besides that, I’ve done a few tours on my motorbike which were much, much further.

  • Do you prefer to sit in the front seats or the back seats of a car? 

If I had to choose between them, I’d probably pick the front seat. Whether it’s in the driver’s seat or the front passenger’s seat. I dunno why but whenever I’m cooped up in the back seats, I get kinda carsick ‘cuz I can’t see what’s in front of us clearly. I never used to get carsick though, just since I’ve been driving myself. Funny, right?

  • Would you like to learn how to drive a car? 

(Answers for people who don’t drive) At some point, yeah! Though I have to admit that I’m worried sick about driving myself. I know it’s something we all need to learn one day, but I’m gonna put it off until I feel like I can handle it.

  • How would it help you? 

Well, it’d make the journey to university/work a heck-of-a-lot easier, that’s for sure! I’m sick and tired of relying on public transport to go to and from university/work, plus, here in (name of country), the trains/busses/subways are always packed full of commuters.

  • Do you think you would like to go on a long car journey?

Yeah, I probably would. Whether I’m driving or not, it’d be great to get out of the house for a few days and hit the road. I haven’t seen much of my country outside of my hometown, so I reckon a road trip would be the best way to soak up the sights and stop by new places.


Useful vocabulary: 

(get or be) Behind the wheel (phrase) = to drive a car/truck/bus.

To wrap my head around sth (idiom) = to understand something that may be challenging or confusing.

To get to grips with sth (phrase) = to begin to deal with something or understand how to do something.

Driving test (noun) = a test people must pass in order to legally drive a car (in most countries, the driving test is done in 2 parts, a theory test and a practical test. Think of the theory test as a paper-based exam that tests a person’s knowledge of road-safety laws, and the practical test like an exam that tests a persons ability to drive in the real world).

Driving instructor (noun) = a person who teaches others how to drive a vehicle.

Driving lessons (noun) = a lesson conducted by a driving instructor, typically an hour or two.

A new driver (noun) = someone who recently passed their driving test.

Carsick (adjective) = to feel sick whilst in a car, you can also be seasick and airsick.

Motion sickness (noun) = another way to say carsick “I have motion sickness” rather than “be/get/feel”

Road trip (noun) = a long journey that is done on roads.

Tour (noun/verb) = a long journey, or to do a long journey.

Driver’s seat (noun) = the seat in a car that the driver sits in.

Passenger’s seat (noun) = the seat in a car that a passenger sits in.

Road signs (noun) = signs on a road that gives drivers information.

Driver’s licence (noun) = a licence required (by law) to drive a car or vehicle legally (American English = License).

Car insurance (noun) = a form of insurance that protects your vehicle against financial loss in case of an accident or theft.

Commute (verb) = to travel from home to work, or from work to home.

Commute (noun) = a regular journey made from home to work, or from work to home (typically possessive; “my daily commute”).

Commuter (noun) = a person who is commuting.


Useful structures: 

“I’ve been _____ ever since” = I’ve done something since I started it (this is a great structure to use when you talk about your work, for example; “I started tutoring the IELTS back in 2015, and I’ve been tutoring it ever since”).

“Fundamentals of _____” = the basic concept of something.

“A real sense of ______” = a great structure when speaking about your home country, for example; “most people in Viet Nam have a real sense of national pride”.

“It must’ve….” = contraction (like I’ll or she’d) must + have (must’ve) = we use “Must’ve” to express an opinion about a past event that is based on our knowledge of it. It can be difficult to fully understand how and when to use “must + have” so just think of it this way: If you have some knowledge about something that leads you to form the opinion stated.

“I dunno why but” = very similar to “for some reason” and “there’s just something about ______ that _________”. If you are unsure about those 2 structures, check out my other model answers and read about how to use them.

“At some point” = at an unknown or unspecified time (“I’ll get 1,000 subscribers at some point”).

“Do sth in half the time” = to do something twice as fast (to do something 2x faster).

“If I had to choose between them, I’d probably pick….” = my usual response to “Do you prefer A or B” questions in Part 1.



  • Did you ever wear costumes as a child?

No, not at home. My parents never got me one, but to be fair, I never asked for one either. Now that I come to think of it, I did wear one when I performed in the Nativity Play at school. I dressed up as one of the 3 Wise Men, it wasn’t much of an outfit though, it was more like a towel made into a robe 😛

  • How did you feel when you wore that costume?

Uhm… At first, pretty embarrassed, actually. Even though I wasn’t the only kid who was dressed up for the performance, I was the only one wearing a fake moustache. Plus the robe was a bit too small for me, so it looked more like a skirt than anything. Once I got over the initial stage fright, it ended up being one of my most treasured memories in school.

  • Do you like to wear costumes?

These days I do, yeah. I’ve been to loads of fancy dress parties over the years, and I absolutely love role-playing as a character. The thing I love the most is gathering all the bits n’ bobs I need for the costume, then putting it together and showing it off to everyone. It’s become a bit of a ritual every Halloween.

  • Which is your favourite costume? 

I’ve got a few that I love, but I’d have to say a traditional Vietnamese garment which is called an Áo dài. From the very first moment I wore one, I fell in love with them. It’s a national garment here worn by both men and women on formal occasions. If you didn’t know already, it’s a colourful, long, split tunic dress worn over trousers.

  • Are there any traditional costumes people wear in your country?

Hmm… In the UK? Honestly, I can only think of a Tuxedo. Although I’m pretty sure it originated in America during the 1800s, we’ve adopted it as our own for formal events. Over the past few decades, James Bond flaunted his Tux in every movie, and it’s since become an iconic garment in modern pop culture.


Useful vocabulary: 

Dress up (phrasal verb) = to dress in special clothes.

Garment (noun) = an item of clothing.

National garment (collocation) = an item of clothing worn by people of a certain nation.

Traditional garment/outfit/costume (collocation) = an item of clothing traditionally worn by people of a certain culture.

Outfit (noun) = a set of clothes worn together, typically for a particular occasion or purpose.

Flaunt (verb) = to display something (like clothes or achievements) in a way that causes people to envy or admire.

Show off (phrasal verb) = to display something or someone in a proud way (the child showed off his picture to everyone).

Fancy dress (noun) = an unusual or amusing costume worn to make someone look like a famous person, fictional character, or animal, especially as part of a theme at a party

A Fancy dress party (noun) = a kind of party where the dress code is fancy dress.

Dress code (noun, collocation) = a rule which states what clothes people should wear, for example, the dress code at our office is formal wear.

Black tie (noun) = extremely formal clothing worn on formal occasions, also used as a dress code (it’s a black-tie dinner event).

Formal wear (noun) = a formal set of clothes typically worn at formal occasions such as weddings and business meetings.

Casual wear (noun) = a casual set of clothes typically worn for everyday activities.

Smart casual (noun) = a mix of formal and casual clothes, typically worn at work or informal parties.

Role-playing (noun) = the acting out of the part of a particular person or character.

Look my best (idiom) = to look very, very good 🙂

Dress to impress (phrase) = to dress in clothes that will impress others.


Useful structures: 

An integral part of our culture = a very important part of a culture.

Defines us = something that defines who we are.

When people come to think of (country), they always think of (something) = something that people associate with a country or culture (when people come to think of Vietnam, they always think of Pho).

(Something) symbolizes (something) = The sakura flower symbolizes renewal and optimism.

We (wear it) out of respect for our ancestors/traditions/history = to do something because you must respect it.

But to be fair, = a fair contrast.

  • Do you worry about the environment? 

I do, yeah. Although I’m not much of an eco-warrior, I am concerned about it. Actually, back when I was in college, I wrote an article to raise fellow student’s awareness of global warming. Even to this day, I actively think about the effect my lifestyle has on the environment.

  • What do you do to protect the environment? 

Well, like most people, I try my best to reduce my carbon footprint as much as possible. Admittedly, not as much as some, but I genuinely believe that if everyone took small steps towards are more eco-friendly lifestyle, then we’d be one step closer to tackling climate change.

  • Do you think enough people care about the environment? 

Back home in the UK, definitely, there are even laws that require people to care. Every household’s waste across the country is separated into specific bins, which are collected weekly and shipped off to a nearby recycling plant. Sadly, the same can’t be said about the average person here in Vietnam though.

  • Did you learn about the environment at school?

Funnily enough, no. I think it was first mentioned when I got to College. You see, back in the late 80s and early 90s, people didn’t understand the impact their lives have on the planet. It wasn’t until the early 2000s when Britain turned green. I’m pretty sure these days schools are introducing the issue to students at a young age in order to promote a more eco-conscious, environmentally-friendly mindset when they grow up.  

  • Would you like to change anything about your life in order to protect the environment?

Yeah, quite a few things, actually. Right now, I ride a pretty beefy motorcycle, it’s a real gas-guzzler as the Americans say. I reckon if I downgraded to a more economical bike with a smaller engine, I’d drastically reduce my carbon emissions, and in turn, cut my carbon footprint by a mile. ( Pun intended 😛 )

  • Was the environment better when you were younger than it is nowadays?

I suppose it’s hard to say, right? For the most part, people’s efforts are definitely having a noticeable, positive effect on their immediate surroundings, yet something like this isn’t exactly seen everywhere in the world. As more countries adopt green policies, I’m sure, overall, the environment will improve even more than it already has.


Vocabulary list: 

Eco-warrior (noun) = A person who cares a great deal about the environment and actively campaigns to protect it.

Raise awareness (collocation V+N) = To make more people aware of something.

Global warming (noun) = The gradual increase of the planet’s temperature.

Carbon footprint (noun) = The measurable amount of an individual’s or organisation’s carbon emissions.

Carbon emissions (noun) = The amount of carbon that individuals or industries produce.

Eco-friendly (adjective) = Not harmful to the environment.

Environmentally-friendly (adjective) = Not harmful to the environment.

Eco-conscious (adjective) = Aware of the environment and the impact things have on it.

Recycling plant (noun) = A place, typically a factory, that recycles waste/refuse.

Green policy (noun) = A law, regulation, or rule that helps to protect the environment.

Economical (adjective) = Using no more of something than necessary. (e.g. an economical motorcycle won’t use as much fuel as other motorcycles.)

Gas-guzzler (noun, Americanism) = Not proper English, but it has been adopted by many English speakers throughout the world to describe a vehicle that uses a lot of fuel.

Downgrade (verb) = To reduce something to a lower grade, rank, or level of importance. “Downgrade” can also be used as a noun, which refers to the instance of downgrading something. For example, I ride a BMW 1200 GS motorcycle, if I bought a small scooter, the scooter would be considered a downgrade.

Beefy (informal adjective) = Something that is strong, powerful, bulky, impressive, and muscular 🙂

Immediate surroundings (noun) = What people are currently surrounded by, as in, their environment in the present moment.

Mindset (noun) = A way of thinking, or a process of thinking. For example, “he has a positive mindset” = similar to outlook.


Useful structures:

Funnily enough” = Used in the same way as “Believe it or not,”. Check my other posts for an explanation 🙂

When I got to college” = An informal way to say “When I started studying at college” or “By the time I started studying at college” the word “get” in this instance means “arrive”, so by saying this, you will increase your range of natural idiomatic language.

These days” = My favourite way to talk about the present time in the IELTS Speaking section.

The average person” = An advanced and natural way to talk about “common people” as a group (we should never say “common people” though, there is nothing common about people, we are all unique and special). “The” can be used to refer to groups of people, for example, The rich and famous, The poor, The class of 1998, The disadvantaged.

Take small steps” & “One step closer” = To “take small steps” means to do small things that contribute to the progression of something. To be “one step closer” means that you are nearer to achieving something. I often recommend students to use these together, as combined, they show a greater understanding of them individually. Similar to a cause & effect clause (the cause is the action taken, the effect is that subject is one step closer to…).


  • What is your favourite festival? 

Hmm, I’d have to say Christmas 🙂 There’s just something about it that fills me with festivity, y’know? Honestly, I love everything about it. The music, the decorations, the cheer, absolutely everything. It’s an integral part of our culture, and it reminds people of the importance of giving and generosity. Trust me, no one wants to be a scrooge during Christmas.

  • Was that your favourite festival when you were younger, too? 

Definitely, it always has and always will be. Believe it or not, as early as January I used to start patiently waiting for Christmas to come around again. Of course, it used to be way more exciting back then than it is these days, but I still truly relish it and always manage to get into the Christmas spirit.

  • Can you tell me about some special festivals in your country? 

Well, besides Christmas, we have a few others too. I don’t wanna bore you to death by listing them all, so I’ll let you know about a dead funny one. Every year, in a small town called Gloucester, up in the north of England, there’s a “Cheese rolling” festival where people chase after a wheel of cheese down a steep hill. Actually, it’s rather dangerous for the participants, but there are trained medical staff on-site to tend to any injuries.

  • Have those festivals changed in recent years? 

Yeah, it definitely has. There are fewer and fewer people participating in it with each passing year. I guess people wised up a bit and don’t wanna’ put themselves in harm’s way.

  • Are western festivals becoming more popular in your country? 

(Answered as a candidate) Sure, here in Vietnam, more and more people are celebrating Valentine’s day. Back when I was a student, no one used to care for it, but it’s gained loads of traction recently. Funnily enough, it’s hard to escape these days. On the 14th of February every year, you’ll always see tons of young people who have a crush confess their love. Love is in the air, as they say 😛


Useful vocabulary: 

Please check the words in bold throughout my answers.

Unfortunately, the language greatly depends on which festivals you talk about.

I strongly recommend you to run a quick Google search on the festivals you’re familiar with, and read an article about it in English is a great resource for doing so!


Useful structures:

What? Did you think I wouldn’t write more? You’re gravely mistaken 🙂 I used a bunch of great structures in these answers that can be used interchangeably in other topics.

There’s just something about _______ that _______________” = I use this structure in so many of my answers. We say this when we know the result or effect of something without saying a reason why. Check my answers for Barbecues, Farms and Farming, and many others to see this structure in use.

Always has and always will be” = Used when something is and will be in the future (from the past to the future). Jimi Hendrix is my favourite musician, he always has and always will be. = The fact he is my favourite musician WON’T change in the future.

Trust me,” = Used to express that the listener should trust what you are going to say, it also exaggerates the fact that what you will say is true.

With each passing year” = A great structure to highlight the passing of time, typically used for past events that continue to occur.

Believe it or not,” = Another one of my favourite structures to use, this acts as a discourse marker to prepare the listener for something true and/or surprising.

(to) Care for (something)” = Exactly what you think it means.

Gained (quantifier) traction” = When something increases its acceptance, following or presence, typically used when speaking about movements or campaigns, but it can be used appropriately in other situations. The anti-war movement gained traction in the 1970s. His following gained traction once he was featured on TV.  

Put (subject) in harm’s way” = Used when we say something is placed in a dangerous situation. The news put his reputation in harm’s way. 

(to) Wise up” = Used to describe the act of becoming more intelligent or aware of something.

More ____ back then than it is these days” = When something was “more of something” than it is today. Smoking was more popular back then than it is these days. 

  • Do you like flowers? 

I suppose so, yeah, they’re nice. I’d say I’m more into plants than flowers though.

  • Have you ever received or sent flowers as a gift? 

Yeah, it might surprise you to hear that I receive them way more than I give ’em out. Basically, here in Vietnam, we have two festivals for teachers, international teacher’s day and Vietnamese teacher’s day. Needless to say, my students always give me a bunch of flowers on both days 😛 Sometimes the bouquets are absolutely gorgeous, too.

  • Do you think flowers are a good gift? 

Hmm, for me personally, no. I don’t reckon (think) sending people flowers on special occasions or national holidays is worth it, but I totally appreciate why people do. They only tend to (usually) last for a couple of days before they start to wither away, so I much prefer to get people something more permanent to express my gratitude.

  • Are flowers expensive in your country?

No, not really, here in (Vietnam), they’re quite cheap, actually. The floral industry is saturated with growers up and down the country, I suppose it’s due to the fact that floriculture has always been a big part of the economy here, and always will be.

  • How often do you buy flowers to decorate your home? 

Hardly ever, I can’t even remember the last time I went out and got some, actually. I have loads of plants dotted around my home though. Some that I grew from seedlings, others that I’ve collected over the years. From time to time my students compliment how green my background looks when I do online classes, it really makes my day 🙂

  • What kind of flowers is your favourite? 

I absolutely adore poppies. In the UK, we have a memorial day known as “Remembrance Day”, which is also known as “Poppy Day” to some. In our culture, poppies hold a certain significance as they symbolize the sacrifice made by the fallen heroes of World War One.


Useful vocabulary: 

Some great adjectives used when describing colours: Vivid, bright, vibrant, rich, deep, pure (white).

A bunch of (quantifier) = A group of something bunched together.

Bouquet (noun) = A fancy, french way to say a bunch of flowers, especially a bunch that were arranged in a pleasing way, typically for a gift or purpose.

Wither (verb) = When flowers start to deteriorate (die), they wither. Waste away in a great phrasal verb that is synonymous with wither.

Floral industry (noun) = The industry of growing flowers for retail.

Floriculture (noun) = An alternative way to say “Floral industry”, similar to “Agriculture” or “Horticulture”.

Seedling (noun) = A young plant, typically one grown from seed and NOT a cutting. (A cutting is when we cut a stem and replant it in order to grow another plant).

Symbolize (verb) = To be a symbol of something (He symbolizes justice among single fathers), or to represent as means of symbols (a tendency to symbolize danger as the colour red).

Saturated (adjective) = Supply (a market) beyond the point that demand must be met or satisfied. For example, the car market is saturated with the BMW 3-series now because everyone wants the new 7-series.

Dotted around (adjective) = Used to describe where things are found, typically found in many different places in an area. For example, “There are many trees dotted around my street”.

I strongly recommend you to research some names of popular flowers in your country/culture. Just type into Google “popular flowers in (name of your country).


Useful structures: 

Give ’em out” (pronounced: gi’ve’mout) = To give something (plural) without expecting anything in return (for free).

It might surprise you to hear (that)” = Similar to “Believe it or not,” and “Funnily enough”. Check my previous posts for more information on how and when to use it.

Absolutely gorgeous” (collocation) = A great way to describe something extremely beautiful.

I appreciate why” = A way to say that you understand the purpose or reason behind something like actions, causes or reasons.

Last for” = How much time something will continue to exist. For example “I wonder how long his lucky streak will last for” (I wonder how much time he will continue to be lucky).

Needless to say,” = Used as a discourse marker, we say this when we don’t need to say something but choose to say it. For example, “Needless to say, I love my mother more than anyone else in the world”.

Express my gratitude” = A great collocation to use whenever we want to show someone we are grateful.

Always will be” = Used in a similar way to “Always has/was and always will be” without the past mentioned.

I can’t even remember the last time (I did something)” = An advanced way to say that you rarely do something, used as an expression of frequency.

Hold a certain significance” = We say this when something has a specific significance or meaning.

Over the years” = For a long period of time.

From time to time” = A great expression of frequency (sometimes).

Make my day” = The most special thing to occur on a specific day.


  • When was your most recent holiday?

Hmm, it must’ve been back in February this year. It seems like a lifetime ago, even though in reality it was only 7-months back.

  • Where did you go? 

I went to a small island called Phu Quoc, which is in the south of Vietnam. It was my first time there, and I’d heard so much about it beforehand. I went with my wife and a couple of her mates, and we stayed in a small villa right by the ocean. It was absolutely incredible, actually, every day we were woken up by the sound of the waves crashing against the shore, plus, we got dead lucky with the weather, too.

  • How often do you go on a holiday?

Haha, I’m sure I can speak for everyone when I say, not as much as I’d like to. I must get away around 4 or 5 times per year, on a good year that is. Needless to say, I’d love to go more often but it’s proving to be a challenge recently. Hopefully, when things go back to normal, I’ll get to go for one more often.

  • Do you have any plans to holiday abroad? 

Yeah, as soon as possible, too. I was supposed to go to Kyoto, Japan, last year, but as you can imagine, that didn’t go according to plan. I’m gonna wait until things are back to normality or a new normal at least before my next trip, so if I were to hazard a guess, I’d say early 2022.

  • If you could choose any country in the world to visit on a holiday, where would you go? 

Gosh, it’d have to be Japan, I’ve always wanted to spend a couple of weeks there, actually. There’s just something about it that really excites me, y’know? From what I’ve seen, I’m sure I’d love to do a quick tour around Kyoto, then head on over to Osaka or Tokyo, and soak up the sights along the way.

  • Do you prefer to have a long or short holiday?

Believe it or not, I love extended holidays. There’s nothing wrong with a short break from reality though. I just prefer to take my time and make sure that I have enough time to do and see absolutely everything. Around 2 to 3 weeks is perfect for me. That way I won’t feel rushed or pushed for time, plus I’d be able to fulfil my itinerary, too.


Useful vocabulary:

If you’re confused, “holiday” is the British way of saying “vacation“. Holidays are very different from national holidays and festivals, but people usually go on holiday during those times.

Itinerary (noun) = A planned route or journey, typically a list of things to do on holiday.

Suitcase (noun) = A relatively large box with wheels on it that we take with us on holiday to put our stuff inside.

Luggage (noun) = Your suitcase, and the things you bring with you on holiday (clothes, sandals, cameras, etc).

Baggage (noun) = The things you bring with you on holiday, typically refers to the suitcase itself.

Check-in (noun/verb) = Noun form of “check-in” is the area in an airport where you get your ticket and give them your baggage. The verb form of “check-in” is the action of doing the noun form.

Soak up (the sights)” (phrasal verb) = To absorb something, to take something in (look at the sights).

Flight ticket (noun) = Just like a train ticket, obviously.

Depart (verb) = When your flight “leaves” the airport and heads towards its destination.

Destination (noun) = Where you’re going to.

Tourist trap (noun) = A place that attracts tourists and takes their money.

Travel agent (noun) = A person who arranges holidays for people professionally.

Tour guide (noun) = A person who guides you on a planned trip.



Places you might stay: 

A resort = Large complex where many people will stay, typically has restaurants, swimming pools, leisure activities. When people stay in a resort, they don’t need to go out of the resort for anything.

A hostel = Cheap hotel 🙂

A cabin = Small house.

A lodge = Same as a cabin.

A villa = Large house, they are very fancy.


Different ways to say “go on holiday” or “go for a holiday”:

Short getaway” = a short holiday (vacation).

Weekend getaway” = a short holiday over a single weekend.

Trip” = the act of going somewhere.

Escape reality” = to escape from your daily life.

Break” = typically a “long/short + break”, a break is a pause in doing something, we typically say “take” + “a break”.


Useful structures: 

Get ready, I used so many wonderful structures in this one 🙂

“It must’ve been back in (month/year)” = Must’ve is my favourite contraction to use in the IELTS Speaking section. Must + Have, we use this when we want to say something based on our knowledge of it. I will also use “It must’ve happened around 2 or 3 years back, I guess” in Part 2, whenever I say when something happened.

Like a lifetime ago” = Another way to say “a very long time ago” but more natural.

In reality” = Used to say something in actual fact (used to contrast a false idea of what is true or possible with one that is more accurate). For example, “his friends thought he was a liar, but in reality, he was trying to protect them”.

Right by (something)” = A more natural way to say “near” something. Check the model answer to see it in use.

The sound of the waves crashing against the shore” = I shouldn’t need to explain this one, it’s just a very expressive way to say “the sound of the ocean”.

“I’m sure I can speak for everyone when I say, (then say something everyone would agree with)” = To speak for people means to say something others would say.

Not as much as I’d like to” = If you’ve taken any of my classes before, you’ll know this is my favourite expression of frequency. It suggests that we want to do something more often than we do.

On a good year” = When the year is full of positive happenings. For example, “My IELTS preparation centre sees around 2000 students on a good year”.

Needless to say,” = When you don’t need to say something, but choose to say it. For example, “Needless to say, I love my wife.” (I didn’t need to say that because the listener already knows).

As you can imagine,” = We use this when the listener should be able to imagine or picture what you’re going to say next. For example, “As you can imagine, I felt so disappointed when I scored a band 5.5 instead of 6”.

If I were to hazard a guess” = An idiomatic way to say “guess something” mixed with a conditional.

“There’s just something about ______ that _________________” = I’ve written about this one so many times now, just check through my other model answers.

Head on over to” = To go somewhere, or to begin the action going somewhere.

Get dead lucky (with something)” = To be very lucky that something happened. For example, “We got dead lucky with the weather, it didn’t even show any signs of rain”.

Proving to be a challenge” = We typically say this when we didn’t expect something to be as difficult as it is. For example, “Achieving band 8 is proving to be a challenge for her”.


  • Did you enjoy studying in primary school?

From what I can remember, yeah. Although it wasn’t such a big school, it had everything I ever needed back then. Actually, I think I spent more time playing than studying, even in classes we used to mess around. It was an extremely laid-back learning environment.

  • Do you speak to any of your friends from primary school?

Believe it or not, I’m still in contact with most of my mates from back then. I guess it’s because we had small class sizes, and my school took a very much “hands-on” approach to education. There weren’t many textbooks, and computers weren’t exactly a thing back then either. I suppose it’s true what they say, some friendships last a lifetime.

  • How difficult were classes in your primary school?

Gosh, they were a breeze, really fun too. We had the same teacher for 5-years, Mr Fowler, and he was the most patient, dedicated, and friendly teacher I could ever ask for. Whilst studying for our KS2 (Key Stage, or KS, is the education system in England which is broken into different levels, in primary school, we are in Key Stage 2), he made every class interactive and meaningful, it didn’t feel like studying whatsoever.

  • Do you think it was a good school? 

Funnily enough, no, not really. Looking back at it now, the building was almost falling apart. We didn’t have any modern facilities like schools do these days, just old classrooms that could have really done with a makeover. Having said that, a school itself is only as good as the people in it, so in that sense, yeah, I reckon it was a great school, haha.

  • Have you ever visited your primary school since you left?

Sadly, no, not yet. Now that we’re talking about it, I would love to stop by sometime and see how it’s changed over the years. I’m sure that since I studied there, they will have completely renovated it, I’m worried that I would hardly even recognize it if I ever go back.



  • What kinds of things do you do to relax? 

Gosh, all sorts, really. One of my favourite ways to unwind must be writing, honestly, nothing beats it. I’ve always loved writing short stories, and I even get lost in my own creations sometimes. I suppose that’s why I post so much content to my blog, even though it isn’t fictional writing, it still relies on my creativity and imagination.

  • When do you need to relax? 

Every time I have a long day at work, definitely. If you don’t know already, being an IELTS coach can be quite tiring, especially since I’ve been making the transition to online classes only. I feel like I talk all day, so by the time I finish my final class, I just want to get my head down and write a few more chapters in my book, or new posts on my blog.

  • Do you have enough time to relax each day?

I’d say so, yeah, but not during work. I work from 9 AM to 7 PM every day, and I only get an hour break in the afternoon. Once I finish work, I usually cook dinner for my family, tidy up around the house, then get a bit of me time to chill out and recuperate my energy.

  • Did you relax more when you were younger than you do nowadays?

Oh yeah, that’s for sure. Looking back to when I was a kid, I’d play outside with my mates, pretty much all day every day. Saying that, these days I only get a couple of hours in the evening, hence, I try to wake up 3 hours before my first class so I get time to work on my website or novel.

  • How often do you relax at work?

Hmm, I only get an hour break each day. I wish I could get more time to rest but it’s not possible at the moment.

  • Are there any places nearby where you live that you go to relax?

Sure, Hanoi offers a wide range of things to do, it really has something for everyone. Teenagers and students tend to hang out in bubble tea shops, adults and workers hit the many bars and restaurants, the elderly mostly walk around the many parks the city boasts.

  • Do you have a wallet or purse? (if no, why not?) 

Yeah, I do. It’s just one of those slim, flip-wallets though, nothing too fancy.

  • What do you keep inside your wallet? 

Uhmm, I squeeze in quite a lot of things, actually. From member’s cards to spare change and everything else, you’d expect to see in a guy’s wallet. I’ve even got a picture of my wife in there, too.

  • Have you ever lost your wallet? 

Unfortunately, yes. It was an absolute nightmare. It must’ve happened around 6 or 7 years back when I was out drinking with some of my students in Prague at the time. I haven’t got a clue what happened, it was with me one minute, then gone the next. I know for a fact I didn’t leave it anywhere because I never take it out of my pocket unless I need to buy something. I reckon it was pickpocketed by someone on the street, it does happen.

  • Have you ever bought or received a wallet as a gift? 

Funnily enough, yeah. The students who I went out drinking with decided to buy me a new one once they heard the news that I lost it, haha. I was really touched that they would do something like that, and it helped me to deal with the stress of having to cancel all of my bank cards and order new ones.

  • Do you prefer big or small wallets? 

I’d have to say small, discreet ones. There’s nothing wrong with having a big, bulky one though. However, after my experience in Prague, I’ve always been extra careful with it, so I reckon any wallet that people can’t see in your pocket is always best.

  • What is your favourite wild animal?

Hmm, I absolutely adore monkeys. For some reason, I rate them as the cutest animals ever. Their round wide eyes, their lovely little fingers, their intelligence, I just love everything about them.

  • Would you like to have that as a pet? 

No, simply because I don’t think I’d be able to provide a good environment for one right now. One day, once I own my own place and have a garden with enough space to build a pen, then I’d love to get one.

  • Are there any places nearby where you live that you can see wild animals? 

Not that I know of, no. There might be some animal sanctuaries a fair few miles out of the city, but I haven’t found out about them yet. Here in Hanoi, I suppose I only see flocks of birds that flap their way through the city.

  • Do you enjoy watching TV shows about nature and animals? 

Yeah, I love nature docs (documentaries). If you don’t know him already, Sir David Attenborough is a world-famous British, natural historian and broadcaster. He is one of the main reasons why I love nature so much. His documentaries are by far the best of their kind, if you haven’t seen any, I’d strongly recommend you to check them out.

  • Did you learn about wild animals at school? 

Besides the kinds of animals I was taught about in nursery, no. Natural sciences and the natural world wasn’t introduced until later in high school, but even then it wasn’t a focal point of the curriculum.

  • Do you think it is important to protect wild animals? 

Definitely, I reckon it’s absolutely essential for people to preserve the natural world. Despite common belief, animals do have feelings, and they do have the right to live peacefully on earth. Everyone knows they’re an integral part of our ecosystem, and without them, we wouldn’t have a planet to enjoy.

  • Can you see the stars at night time where you live?

Sadly, not so many, no. Even on a clear night, I can only see the North Star and a couple of others, but to be fair, they might be planets, I’m not sure.

  • How often do you look at the stars? 

It’s hard to say, I’m not much of a stargazer and I don’t have a telescope either. I’d say whenever I go camping, I always end up staring out into the night’s sky, it’s much clearer out in the countryside than in a major city.

  • Do you prefer to look at the sky during the day or at night time? 

It’s a tough call, actually. Of course, I love it when I can see a lovely, clear blue sky during the day, but at the same time, when the night’s sky is filled with stars, it’s so majestic. However, if I had to choose between them, I’d probably pick during the day. That’s simply because I can’t see much up there at night in Hanoi.

  • When you were younger, did you ever think about going to space? 

Not that I can recall, no. The thought must’ve crossed my mind a fair few times, but I never actively thought about it for a long time. I wasn’t really into space or science-fiction back then, so I probably thought more about cartoons and things to do the next day.

  • Did you learn about the stars at school? 

Yeah, they were mentioned at some point during science classes. Back home in England, we mostly focus on Biology, Chemistry and Physics though. Astrology isn’t exactly a focal point of our curriculum. From what I can remember, I did enjoy learning about what stars are, how they’re formed, and all about the lifecycle of stars.

  • Was the sky clearer when you were younger than it is nowadays? 

Definitely. Looking back to when I was a kid, I could see what felt like billions of stars in the sky, I could even identify some of the constellations, too. Having said that, these days the night’s sky seems so much duller than it used to. On a good night, I’m lucky to see Mars, Venus or other naked-eye planets.


That’s it for the Part 1 IELTS Speaking 2021 topics September to December.

Below is the list of Part 2 and 3 topics. I have updated the format of my forecasts so Part 3 will be included in Part 2. On top of that, I am going to write full model answers for each topic and provide a short audio clip of myself answering them as naturally as possible 🙂

Newly added Part 2 topics: Possible questions & model answers

  • Who this person is
  • How you know this person
  • What this person did
  • And explain why this person impressed you

Model answer:

Countless people have made an impression on me throughout my youth, however, if I need to talk about one today, it’ll have to be Michael Jordan. 

(1) I’m sure you know of him already as he’s regarded as one of the most influential sportsmen in history, and like most people my age, I’ve always looked up to him. My fascination for him was kindled at an early age though, basically, my father used to let me stay up late to watch his basketball games live on the TV. As a 7 or 8-year-old, I can’t express how intriguing it was to watch him play. 

(2) Even to this day, I’m completely blown away by each one of his performances in-game. As a long-time fan of basketball, I’ve only ever seen a few other athletes who even came close to his level of commitment and dedication to the sport. I used to talk about him all the time at school with my friends and teachers, actually, most people got a bit sick of me going on about him so often. 

(3) Needless to say, Michael had a massive impact on my early life. He taught me that no matter the odds, we must always commit 100% to everything we do, and I still try my very best to keep that in mind as I go about my day-to-day life. I genuinely believe that’s a message more school kids should hear nowadays, especially from role models and other public figures.

F = As you can imagine, I look up to Michael Jordan with the utmost respect and admiration. He played a massive part whilst I was growing up, and even to this day, I couldn’t imagine life without him

O = The way I see it, young people should be surrounded by positive influences like Michael Jordan and others, if they’re not, they might not get a sense of what it means to be alive. 

E = At some point, I’ll introduce him to my kids in the exact same way as my father did with me. I really look forward to it 🙂 

  • Who this person is
  • How you know this person
  • What creative things this person does
  • And explain why you admire this person

Model answer: 

Over the years, I’ve met and learnt of a fair few inventive people, however, if I had to talk about one today, it’ll have to be Jack Kirby. He is widely regarded as the most iconic innovator within the comic book industry, and as an artist, is the man who defined the genre. 

(1) I first learnt of his works back when I was in primary school, actually. My father used to collect old editions of the X-Men and encouraged me to read them myself. Whilst most kids were reading novels and such, I was cooped up in my room with my head between the pages of Captain America and The Fantastic Four. 

(2) The thing that impressed me the most about his works was his sheer brilliance and dedication to producing something, unlike anything the comic book industry had ever seen before. He literally reinvented the genre. In comic book history, there is the “pre-Kirby” era and the “post-Kirby” era. Needless to say, I was fortunate enough to be born in the post-Kirby era. 

(3) For me, it’s remarkable that one person can constantly produce such original works, even though some people consider him as a cartoonist, he’s much, much more than that. He’s an innovator, a genius, and a prolific artist. Since Jack, there has only been a handful of artists within the industry that came close to reaching his level of creativity.

F = As you can imagine, I still love to read his works, and they will never cease to amaze me. There’s just something about them that inspires me to try and redefine my own work

O = The way I see it, everyone should try to be creative in whatever they endeavour to do, whether we work in an office or with children, there’s always room for creativity. 

E = Although he died in the early 90s, his works will live on and stand the test of time, and I Look forward to introducing my son/daughter to some of his books, just like my father did to me. 



(Synonyms) Creative > inventive > innovative > ground breaking > defining > original 

Sheer + brilliance (collocation) 

Never cease to amaze me (phrase) = Cease means to stop, so this means something “will never stop amazing me”

There’s always room for +something (phrase) = We are always able to… For example, “There’s always room for improvement” means, we are always able to improve. 

To produce something unlike anything sb seen before (structure) = to make something new and innovative 

To stand the test of time = Something timeless, won’t disappear over time. 

Before its time = When something was so inventive, nothing else like it was made during that period. 

Ahead of the game = Before the competition does something (Michael Jackson was ahead of the game when he released “Thriller”) 


  • Who this person is
  • What they do
  • How successful they are
  • And explain why they are famous

I only know of a couple of sportsmen and women, however, if I need to talk about one today, it’ll have to be Michael Jordan. 

(1) I’m sure you know of him already as he’s regarded as one of the most influential sportsmen in history, and like most people my age, I’ve always looked up to him. My fascination for him was kindled at an early age though, basically, my father used to let me stay up late to watch his basketball games live on the TV. As a 7 or 8-year-old, I can’t express how intriguing it was to watch him play. 

(2) Michael’s basketball career boasts several accolades and accomplishments, some of which are all-time records that even to this day, no one has managed to take from him. Besides being (arguably) the best player of all time, he shot to fame off the court, too. He started to take on sponsorship deals with well-known brands like Nike and Disney, the next thing we knew, he’s more than just a sportsman, he became a superstar

2.5)) Michael is living proof that with sheer determination and total dedication to something, you can rise to the top of any field. His competitive nature and fighting spirit won over the hearts of the world and struck fear into the hearts of his opponents, his refusal to give in against all odds is a vital quality that athletes need in order to compete on the world stage. 

(3) Unfortunately, like most athletes, his career inevitably didn’t last forever. However, it was one of the longest professional basketball careers of all time, and without a doubt, one that will go down in history. These days, Michael is a successful entrepreneur and family man. He amassed a fortune of over 1.2 billion dollars, grew a brand from scratch to a market leader, and enjoys contributing to youth organisations and humanitarian issues. Remarkable, right?

F = As you can imagine, I look up to Michael Jordan with the utmost respect and admiration. He played a massive part whilst I was growing up, and even to this day, I couldn’t imagine life without him

O = The way I see it, it’s so important that athletes are competitive, and determined to win no matter what. Their career is based on their performance, so if they’re not competitive, they won’t enjoy a successful one. 

E = At some point, I’ll introduce him to my kids in the exact same way as my father did with me. I really look forward to it 🙂 


  • Who this person is
  • What kind of business they are in
  • How successful their business is
  • And explain why you admire this businessperson

As a business grad, I’ve been fascinated by countless business people throughout my life, however, if I had to talk about one today, it’ll have to be Michael Jordan. 

(1) I’m sure you know of him already as he’s regarded as one of the most influential sportsmen in history, and like most people my age, I’ve always looked up to him. Having said that, I’m not going to tell you about his wildly successful sports career today, but his life as an entrepreneur instead. 

(2) For some reason, Michael has enjoyed astronomical success both on and off the basketball court. I suppose it’s safe to say that his drive and sheer determination on the court translated to his business success, too, as he has amassed an enormous fortune as an entrepreneur. He decided to get into the shoe business after he retired from the sport, which is understandable as every basketball player sees their shoes as an extension of their body

(3) There’s no doubt that in order to be successful in the shoe business, you need to be a  cut-throat businessman. It’s one of the most competitive markets in the world, and also one of the most established, so it’s almost impossible for newcomers to enter the market and compete with some of the big players. Luckily for Michael, he was already a big player 🙂 Somehow, he managed to set up one of the most renowned brands in history in a very short period of time, for someone without a background in business, that’s remarkable to say the least

F = As you can imagine, I can’t help but look up to MJ. He took something he’s passionate about and made an empire out of it, and for that reason, he deserves my respect. 

O = The way I see it, people shouldn’t allow a lack of knowledge or experience stop them from starting a business they are passionate about. If we want something, we should go for it, and not stop until we achieve exactly what we want. 

E = I’m trying to apply everything I’ve learnt from MJ to my own business, and I’ll make sure that it’s a success.   

  • Who solved the problem
  • What they did to solve it
  • How difficult the problem was
  • And explain why you think they solved this problem well

I’ve met a fair few problem solvers over the years, however, if I had to talk about one today, it’ll have to be my father. 

(1) Basically, for as far back as I can remember, my dad has always had great problem-solving skills. He’s a logical thinker, and manages to come up with ingenious solutions to problems effortlessly. People say it’s thanks to his analytical mind, and the fact he’s able to look at things from different angles, which often results in effective solutions to whatever problems he may face

(2) Around 20-odd years back, his business was failing, and we were on the verge of becoming bankrupt, actually. They were extremely challenging years for my family, but like families do, we got through it together. It seemed like there was no way out, almost like bankruptcy was inevitable, y’know? Although I was too young to understand what we were going through, I totally get it now.

(3) Eventually, my father decided to sell one of the stores he owned to my aunty. It was a risky/bold move, but nonetheless, a practical solution. After a couple of good purchase orders and reinvesting the money into a single store instead of separating it between two, he managed to get his business out of the red and into the black. This must’ve been one of the biggest problems my family ever had to face whilst I was growing up, and my dad’s pragmatic solution truly did the trick

F = As you can imagine, I look up to him so much. He’s always been a vital role model for me, and I couldn’t ask for a better father. 

O = The way I see it, it’s absolutely essential that people try their best to take the most logical steps towards solving any issue that pops up. We shouldn’t make rash decisions and try to come up with the first thing we can think of, instead, we should all try to be more like my dad.

E = I hope one day I never need to be in such a situation as he was, but if I do find myself faced with a dire situation like bankruptcy, I’ll call my dad as soon as possible. 


  • Who this person is
  • How you know (or know of) them
  • What this person does
  • And explain why you think this person is interesting

  • Where it is
  • How often you visit it
  • What you do there
  • And explain how you feel about this cafe

Model answer: 

There are quite a few coffee shops that I love to spend some time in, however, if I had to talk about one today, it’ll have to be Cong Cafe (Cộng Cà Phê)

(1) I myself am not a fan of coffee shop franchises, I much prefer to support local coffee shops and discover the countless hidden gems Hanoi (name of the city) has to offer. Having said that, there’s just something about Cong Cafe that feels totally different to conventional franchise stores. Each branch has a very personal feel to them, almost unique besides the running theme within them, which is remarkable considering that most franchises feel the exact same all over the world

(2) One of the main reasons I absolutely adore Cong cafe is/must be the decor, they put so much emphasis on it, actually. When you step through the front door, it almost feels like you’ve stepped back in time, it’s hard to describe with words. All of this creates a dead cosy and inviting atmosphere, they’ve gone above and beyond what most coffee shops do to make their customers want to spend time there.

(3) I’m fortunate enough to live just a couple of minutes away from one, so I tend to stop by once or twice per week in the mornings. Believe it or not, I don’t go there for the coffee, in fact, the coffee isn’t anything special and it’s relatively pricey, too. I mostly go to unwind at the weekend and do some work on my website or other business. It’s a great spot to get your head down and crack on with some writing. 

F = As you can imagine, Cong Cafe is one of my favourite coffee shops in Vietnam, there are much better ones, I know, but I just love spending a few hours in it whenever I can. 

O = The way I see it, people should support local coffee shops, especially when they’ve invested a lot of time and energy into making it a great place for people to hang out and enjoy the place.

E = Once the pandemic is over, I think Cong Cafe will be the first place I go to, I really miss it, actually. 

  • Where you went
  • What kind of place you visited
  • What you did there
  • And explain what you liked/disliked about it

I’ve visited a fair few places throughout my life, but if I need to talk about one today, it’ll have to be Toulouse, which is in the southern part of France. 

(1) I went there a couple of years back with my wife, and it was one of the most memorable places we stayed in during our trip across Europe. The city itself is relatively large, and it boasts a unique blend of traditional, 17th-century architecture and modern infrastructure. I suppose that’s why it’s known as the city of art and history. Besides the countless bars and restaurants, there isn’t much to do, even though there are so many things to see. 

(2) After our first couple of days, I started to get a bit fed up with what the city had to offer tourists like us. The staff in some of the restaurants weren’t friendly, and totally lacked customer service skills, I was so disappointed, actually. Having said that, the city made up for the people’s poor service. There are countless points of interest, and we could’ve easily spent a week there without seeing everything the city has to offer. 

(3) We ended up going to the medieval castle known as Carcassonne, which was definitely the highlight of our trip. Although I’ve been to a few castles over the years, none were quite like this one. It’s almost like a town within castle walls. I expected it to be another tourist trap, but I was pleasantly surprised to find all of the prices were reasonable, and we weren’t hounded by sellers. 

F = As you can imagine, we had a great time in Toulouse, despite the bad attitudes of the local people, we managed to ignore it as best as we could and just enjoy the trip. 

O = The way I see it, people should visit Toulouse and Carcassonne at least once if they can, it’s a wonderful place and has so much to offer tourists, the food is great, the sights are breathtaking, and the prices are reasonable, too. 

E = Sadly, I don’t want to go back there, even if it was free, I wouldn’t go back. The people left a sour taste in my mouth and honestly, they aren’t welcoming


  • Where you would like to go
  • How far you would travel
  • Why you would do it (by car)
  • And explain how you might feel about this trip

As a motorbike enthusiast, I can think of countless road trips I’d love to do at some point, however, if I had to talk about one today, it’ll have to be riding along the Beartooth Highway in America. 

(1) From what I’ve heard, this has to be the most stunning and iconic stretch of road for bikers and drivers alike, and by the sounds of it, it’s the perfect definition of what a great ride should be. You start the journey off in Red Lodge, Montana, and then travel up the Beartooth pass in Wyoming. Quite literally zig-zagging up a mountain, haha. 

(2) I first learnt about this route on The Nation Geographic channel back when I was in high school, and I was enthusiastic about doing it myself from the moment I first laid eyes on the scenery. To say it’s breathtaking doesn’t do it justice, seriously. During the summer, you can see the high-alpine meadows blooming, whilst lakes reflect the snow-covered mountains beyond. As you ride along the highway, you look over the vast tundra, which was voted one of the most stunning in the world, and really get a feel for the area’s majesty.  

(3) To be perfectly honest with you, I’m a tad worried about doing it though. The roads are not exactly suitable for inexperienced riders or drivers, and there are hundreds of accidents every year on some of the hairpin bends and hard turns. I remember hearing that from October to May the pass is closed, too, so I’ll need to plan this trip well in advance

F = As you can imagine, I’m looking forward to doing this trip one day, there’s just something about it that I think would be exhilarating

O = The way I see it, road trips like this must be one of the best things we can do in this day and age. They’re a great way to get out of the house and see new places, plus we might even find a new place to call home in the process. 

E = I’m sure that at some point I will do the Beartooth Highway route, but thanks to the pandemic, I haven’t got a clue when that’ll be

  • What activity it is
  • How often you do it
  • How much time it takes
  • And explain why you think this activity wastes your time

There’s only a couple of things I do (activities) which I would consider a waste of time, however, if I had to talk about one today, it’ll have to be cheesemaking

(1) Yes, yes, I know… Cheesemaking sounds fun, and it is, but it’s also an extremely time-consuming process. Believe it or not, I’ve been doing it for a few years now, and honestly, I don’t feel like I’ve gotten any better at it. I spent a while learning the science behind cheesemaking, read a few books, and I even joined a couple online forums to speak to other fellow cheesemakers

(2) It’s not exactly a total waste of time because I get to enjoy the finished product once the cheese has matured. But then again, for the amount of time I invest into each block of cheese I make, I could just as easily work and have more than enough money to buy a high-quality block that was made by a professional. 

(3) Having said that, as satisfying as eating store-bought cheese may be, I would lose the sense of satisfaction I get whenever my own turns out perfectly, which by the way, it rarely does, haha. Not so long ago, I made a 700-gram batch of Cheddar that spoiled during the aging process. I felt bitterly disappointed because I put so much effort into it, and it completely wasted my time. 

F = As you can imagine, although I love making cheese, it can be a bit draining at times. Sometimes I do think I could be using my time in a more productive way, but I really enjoy it, so I reckon it’s totally fine. 

O = The way I see it, everyone should try their very best to avoid wasting time as much as possible. Our lives are pretty short, so if we waste our precious time on things that literally add no value to our lives, then we shouldn’t do them.

E = I hope one day I’ll be able to step up my game and consistently make decent cheeses, so I’m definitely gonna carry on failing until I can. 

  • What it is
  • When you got it
  • How much money you expected it to cost
  • And explain how you felt about spending more money than you expected

Well, over the years I’ve bought quite a few things that set me back, however, if I had to talk about one today, it’ll have to be my computer. 

(1) Unlike most people these days, I much prefer to use a desktop PC than a laptop. For the most part, they’re more cost-effective and can easily be upgraded to keep up with the times. Having said that, when I got my PC, there was an unexpected cost I didn’t budget for. I had originally budgeted around $500, which I thought was reasonable for a decent rig, so I started to look up some great deals online.

(2) I ended up settling on a PC from a reputable store here in Hanoi, I chose to get it from there as I was a bit suspicious of buying a 2nd-hand PC or from a random online retailer. I saw a perfect machine for $450 on their site, so I rushed to the store and bought it. I needed to get a monitor, too, which I expected, and of course, that pushed me a little bit over my budget, but I was totally fine with that. For the PC and monitor, I must’ve paid around $550, I guess. 

(3) A few months later, my PC started to display a message in the bottom right corner that said “Activate Windows”, I was shocked at first, so I went back to the store to ask them about it. They said that their Windows Licence had expired and I would need to buy a new copy of Windows if I wanted to remove that message… They never let me know that their Windows Key would only last a few months. In the end, I bought a new copy of Windows, which cost me over $150 to get. 

F = As you can imagine, I felt so frustrated about what happened. I should’ve known to ask, but it seemed fine and I thought nothing of it when I first bought the machine. 

O = The way I see it, people should do their homework before they buy a new PC, it turns out that this is a pretty common issue people have whenever they buy one, so always ask!

E = Hopefully, that’s the last problem I’ll have with it, and I won’t need to invest any more money into my PC for another few years… 

  • Who your friend is
  • What good habit they have
  • When you learnt about it
  • And explain why you would like to develop this good habit

My good friend Jack has a few healthy habits that I’d love to adopt, however, if I need to talk about one today, it’ll have to be regular exercise. 

(1) For as long as I’ve known him, he’s always worked out regularly. I wouldn’t exactly call him a fitness freak, but he does take great pride in his exercise regime, oh and he talks about it all the time, too. He usually goes for a short run at the crack of dawn and hits the gym three times per week, it’s quite admirable, actually. 

(2) I wanna adopt a similar regime as his, simply because I do absolutely no exercise right now whatsoever. Over the past few years, I’ve grown out of shape and put on a few extra pounds, so I’m no longer as body-confident as I used to be. Believe it or not, I’ve gone from around 74kg to 100kg in the span of 5 years, it could be due to getting older but I reckon it’s thanks to my lack of exercise.

(3) To be perfectly honest with you, I’m a bit worried about adopting his workout regime. I’m sure you know that it’s quite hot here in Vietnam, even in the early mornings, so I don’t know how my body will react to jogging all of a sudden. I might start slowly, y’know? I don’t wanna shock my system as it’s been such a long time now, but at the same time, I need to do something if I’m ever gonna get back in shape

F = As you can imagine, I truly admire Jack’s dedication and self-discipline, and even though I’d struggle to adopt his habit, I’m excited to start working out more often.  

O = The way I see it, people should talk to each other about their good or bad habits, we can always learn from each other’s experiences and lifestyles, and it makes for a great conversation, too. 

E = As of next week, I think I’ll go for a quick jog in the morning to see what it’s like. 

  • When it happened
  • What you decided
  • How difficult this decision was
  • And explain how making this decision affected you

Throughout my life, I’ve had to deliberate over a number of tough choices, however, if I need to talk about one today, it’ll have to be when I decided to quit my job at the BBC. 

(1) Whilst I was studying at uni, I dreamt of one day working for the BBC, it was my dream job so to speak. I worked extremely hard, and eventually, I was fortunate enough to land a junior position at the BBC North West division, in Manchester. At first, things were fine and I couldn’t have been happier with my new position, a dream come true, indeed. Having said that, after a couple of years, everything changed. 

(2) As time went on, I started to feel like I was stuck in a rut, it was almost as if my honeymoon period had ended and I couldn’t see myself progressing within my career there any further. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I asked my father for some advice. He said, very boldly, “if you’re not happy on Monday, you’re not in the right line of work”, his words really hit home and definitely helped me to make my mind up

(3) After a few months of careful deliberation, I decided to hand in my notice at work and travel to Europe. It turns out that this may have been the best decision of my life up until that point. I took the first flight to the Czech Republic to spend time with my dad, n’ funnily enough, whilst I was there I got a part-time job tutoring the IELTS to some Czech university students. The next thing I knew, I was completely hooked on it. I decided to study for a CELTA qualification and eventually a DELTA degree.  

F = As you can imagine, I couldn’t be happier with the outcome, but regardless, it was without a doubt the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make. 

O = The way I see it, people should always think long and hard before making any life-changing decisions, if they don’t, they might end up in an even bigger rut than they started in. 

E = I’m sure I’ll have more decisions like this to make at some point, so the next time I do, I’ll call my father straight away. 

  • When it happened
  • Where you were
  • What kind of service you received
  • And explain how you felt about receiving good service

  • Which book you read
  • What kind of book it was
  • How interesting or exciting it was
  • And explain why you enjoyed reading this book

  • When it happened
  • How long you waited for
  • Why it was special
  • And explain how you felt when it happened

  • When it happened
  • What time you woke up
  • Why you needed to wake up early
  • And explain how you felt later in the day

  • When it happened
  • Who this person was
  • Why you were friendly to them
  • And explain how you felt about being friendly to them

I’ve needed to hide my detest from people quite a number of times throughout my life, however, if I had to talk about one today, it’ll have to be when I worked for the BBC. Although I’m an easy-going guy, for some reason, my supervisor went out of his way to make it difficult to get along with him. 

1: It all started back in my first week working for the BBC. The other new recruits, including myself, needed to do a quick icebreaker so we could all get to know each other. Everyone took this as a great opportunity to say some interesting things about themselves, and we all had fun whilst doing it. From the looks of it, it seemed like everyone was dead friendly and open-minded

2: When it was my turn to break the ice, I noticed his demeanour changed suddenly. I wasn’t sure if it was something I said, or if he didn’t like the cut of my jib. Throughout my time there, I tried my very best to put up with him, I did absolutely everything I could to make sure he was satisfied with my work, yet nothing seemed to do the trick. Whenever he had a problem with my team, I would always try to smile and understand what he thought the issue was with an open mind. 

3: Sadly, he never lightened up. In the end, I decided to quit my job, even though it was my dream-job since I studied in uni. I learnt that being friendly with people who you don’t gel with can be utterly exhausting, but it’s something we all need to deal with at some point. I suppose we all have problems, and we can never truly know why people act the way they do. 

F: As you can imagine, even to this day I feel so awkward about it, and I wish things could’ve been different between us. 

O: The way I see it, it’s so important that coworkers get along well with their supervisors. If they don’t, it can affect their work and, in turn, affect the company or team. 

E: Hopefully, I’ll never need to work with someone who doesn’t appreciate me as a member of their team again, but I guess I’ll have to wait and see. 


Vocabulary list: 

Detest = extreme dislike.

Cut of my jib = one’s appearance and personality. 

Icebreaker = an activity done at workplaces so coworkers can get to know each other better. 

Break the ice = to get to know people (personally). 

Easy-going guy = a man who gets along well with everyone. 

Demeanour = the behaviour we display to others with signals (shoulders back, eyebrows lowered, wide eyed, etc). 

Lighten up = to be more pleasant. 

To gel with = to get along with others very well (we gelled the moment we met). 

At some point = at an unspecified or unknown period in the future. 

For some reason = for an unspecified or unknown reason. 

To go out of sb’s way = to do more than necessary (the waiter went out of his way to give us great service). 

To put up with = to tolerate something (the mother put up with her son’s bad behaviour for years). 

To do the trick = to sufficiently achieve the results needed. 



  • When it happened
  • Who you gave advice to
  • What advice you gave
  • And explain why you gave the advice you did

  • When it happened
  • Where you moved to
  • Why you moved there
  • And explain how you felt about moving to a new home/school/workplace

  • When it happened
  • Who you felt proud of
  • What they did
  • And explain why you felt proud of this family member

  • What skill you learnt 
  • How difficult it was to learn 
  • When you learnt it
  • And explain why you think this was a difficult skill to learn

  • When it happened
  • What it was
  • How difficult it was to do
  • And explain how you felt about it

  • Who this person is
  • How you know of them
  • What they are known for
  • And explain why you are interested in this person

  • What it is
  • Why you would like to learn or improve it
  • How it would affect you
  • And explain how you feel about it

List of newly added topics 100% complete!  

Reused topics Part 2 from the previous season:

  • Who this person is
  • How you know them
  • What they do (or did when they were younger)
  • And explain how you feel about this person

  • Who this person is
  • How you know them
  • What kind of music they make
  • And explain why you like this singer or musician

  • Who you helped
  • What you did to help your friend
  • Why you helped your friend
  • And explain how you felt about helping your friend

  • Which movie it is
  • When you watched it
  • What the movie is about
  • And explain why this is your favourite movie

  • What it is
  • What you use it for
  • How often you use it
  • And explain why you like using this piece of equipment

  • What building it is
  • Where it is
  • How large it is
  • And explain why you like this building

  • Where it is
  • Why it is quiet
  • How often you visit 
  • And explain how you feel about this quiet place

  • Where it is
  • What you know about it
  • When you want to live there
  • And explain why you want to live in this town/city

  • What the news was about
  • When you learned about it
  • Where you learned about it
  • And explain why people are interested in this news

  • What talent it is
  • When you use it
  • How you want to improve it
  • And explain why you would like to improve this talent

  • What game it is
  • How difficult it is
  • When you play it
  • And explain why you enjoy playing this puzzle game

  • What company it is
  • Where it is
  • How many people it employs
  • And explain how you feel about this company

  • What it is
  • How often you do it
  • When you first did it
  • And explain why you enjoy this activity

  • What the article was about
  • When you read it
  • Where you read it
  • And explain how you felt about this article

  • What you plan
  • When you hope to achieve it
  • Why you made this plan
  • And explain how this plan will affect your life

  • What you saw
  • Where you saw it
  • When it happened
  • And explain why you think it was interesting

  • When it happened
  • What you tried to do
  • Why you failed to achieve it
  • And explain how you felt about failing to achieve it

  • When it happened
  • Where you were
  • What you bought
  • And explain how you felt about buying it from a market

  • When it happened
  • Who you helped
  • What you did to help him/her
  • And explain how your help affected your friend

  • When it happened
  • What you shared
  • Who you shared it with
  • And explain how you felt about sharing it with others

  • When it happened
  • What the argument was about
  • Why you had this argument
  • And explain how you felt about it afterwards

  • When it happened
  • Where you were
  • Why you could not use your phone
  • And explain how it affected you

  • When it happened
  • Why they smiled
  • Where you were
  • And explain why many people smiled

  • When it happened
  • What craft or art activity it was
  • Why you tried it
  • And explain how you felt about it


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