Part 1 January 2020 topics

Here are the newly introduced Part 1 January 2020 topics.

Please take the time to review each topic and practise speaking with other IELTS 123 users for free by joining our private group on Facebook.

Please check the master list of current topics here: Part 1 master list. (updated)

There will be more added as the month goes on so please check back here regularly for any updates here.

IELTS Speaking part 1 January 2020 topics

*UPDATED* – reviewed & remastered list.

  1. Countryside
  2. Scenery
  3. Water sports
  4. Numbers
  5. Maths
  6. Laughter
  7. Time by yourself
  8. History
  9. Science classes
  10. The area you live in
  11. Cakes
  12. Breaks (from doing things)
  13. Art
  14. Pens & pencils

Please see below for possible questions & example answers.

You can Google Dictionary here for quick definitions of any words (just double click the word & the definition will pop up)

Also, you can speak with other IELTS 123 users here for free! Practice as much as you can! Let’s begin ?

List of core topics: *unchanged since 2017*

  1. Where you live (home)
  2. +Hometown
  3. What you do (work/study)
  4. +Future plans
  5. Friends
  6. Family & Relatives
  7. Languages
  8. Holidays
  9. Books
  10. Music
  11. School
  12. Travel

List of sub-topics: *updated January 2020*
(common to uncommon)

  1. Numbers
  2. Parks
  3. Pens & pencils
  4. Concentration
  5. Art
  6. Tea & Coffee
  7. Time by yourself
  8. Water sports
  9. Hairstyles / Haircuts
  10. Voices
  11. Breaks (from doing something)
  12. Market places
  13. Walking
  14. The area you live in
  15. Science classes
  16. History
  17. Running
  18. Cakes
  19. Movies
  20. Scenery
  21. Photos (taking photographs)
  22. Patience
  23. Animals / Wild animals
  24. Jeans


  • Would you like to live in the countryside in the future?
  • Did you grow up in the countryside or in a city?
  • Would you prefer to live in the countryside or in a city?
  • How often do you visit the countryside?
  • In your country, do more people live in cities than in the countryside?


  • Does your hometown have any good scenery?
  • Where is the most beautiful scenery in your country?
  • Do cities in your country have good scenery?
  • When you travel, do you prefer to stay somewhere with a good view or a good price?
  • Do you like to take pictures of beautiful scenery?
  • How popular is ‘taking selfies’ in front of good scenery in your culture?

Water sports:

  • Have you tried any water sports before?
  • +did you like it? +why not?
  • What kinds of water sports are popular in your country?
  • Do you think it is a good way to stay fit?
  • How dangerous are water sports?
  • In the future, what water sports would you like to try?


  • Are you good with numbers? (this has a wide range of meanings, don’t worry! can you do addition? Multiply numbers? Problem-solve using numbers? Remember numbers, etc)
  • What’s your favourite number?
  • Can you remember your own phone number?
  • How often do you need to remember numbers?
  • Are there any lucky/unlucky numbers in your culture?


  • Do you like math?
  • How important is mathematics?
  • Were you good at mathematics in school?
  • Did you enjoy studying math?
  • Is mathematics difficult?
  • Do you prefer to do math in your head or using a calculator?


  • Do you usually make your friends/family laugh?
  • When you watch TV or movies, do you like watching comedies?
  • Are there any famous comedians in your country?
  • Do you think it’s important to laugh?
  • How often do you laugh about things with your family/friends?

Time by yourself:

  • What do you do when you are alone?
  • Do you like having time for yourself?
  • How important is time alone?
  • Do you prefer to be alone or with others?
  • When are you usually alone?

Example answers:

What do you do when you are alone?

“Well, I guess it totally depends on my mood, y’know? I’d like to say I make good use of my ‘me-time’ by ‘getting on with’ something productive, but I know that’s not always the case. Like, if I’ve had a ‘hectic’ week at work, I tend to just ‘chill out’ on the bed and ‘endlessly’ scroll through Facebook.”

Do you like having time for yourself?

“Yeah, I ‘treasure it’ because I don’t get as much ‘alone-time’ as I’d like to. With a job like mine, I speak to people for most of my ‘waking hours’, so having a bit of ‘quiet-time’ feels absolutely amazing.”

How important is time alone?

“It’s hard to say, for some people like myself it’s necessary, but I imagine for others…probably not so much, right?. For example, when I need to study for my IELTS test- it’s essential I don’t get ‘side-tracked’, that being said, I need to speak to others whenever I practice IELTS Speaking.” ?

Do you prefer to be alone or with others?

“If I had to choose, I’d definitely rather be with others. There’s nothing wrong with being alone though, actually, every now and then I prefer to. However, I enjoy spending my time with others more, all my most precious memories are shared with mates and the people I love.”

When are you usually alone?

“Hm, more often than not my evenings are spent alone- unless I go to hang out with friends at a Bia Hoi place. Though that’s a rare occurrence nowadays thanks to work and my website. I’d probably say from 7pm onwards ‘most days’, but it depends what’s ‘on my agenda’.”


  • Do you like reading about history?
  • How important is it to learn about history?
  • Do you prefer to think about the past or the future?
  • Have you ever visited a museum?
  • Are there many historical museums in your country?
  • Is history a good subject to learn in school?

Science class:

  • Did you like science classes in school?
  • Were you good at it?
  • How important is it for children to learn science?
  • Do many schools teach science in your country?
  • Did you prefer doing experiments or doing research in science class?
  • How old were you when you started doing science classes in school?

The area you live in:

  • What is good about the area you live in?
  • Is there anything bad about it?
  • Are there many public services in your area?
  • If you could, what would you change about the area you live in?
  • How busy is your local area?
  • Have there been any recent changes to the area you live in?

Example answers:

What is good about the area you live in?

“To be perfectly honest with you, I could talk to you all day about what’s great in Long Bien. It’s in a perfect location for me, though it’s not exactly in the heart of the city, everything I need is just a stone’s throw away. On top of that, there are 2 absolutely huge shopping malls which are pretty well-known throughout Hanoi. Besides that, there are plenty of decent hangouts to chill with mates at, my favourites are Aha cafe & Mimmo’s right by the Red River.”

Is there anything bad about it?

“For sure, don’t get me wrong, I do love Long Bien, but it does have its fair share of problems, I guess nowhere is perfect, right? I reckon the worst thing is the fact that you need to cross Chuong Duong bridge or Long Bien bridge… Believe it or not, they’re no way near wide enough for the sheer number of people who cross them each day. As you can imagine, during Hanoi’s world-famous rush hour traffic, it’s a living nightmare, trust me.” ?

Are there many public services in your area?

“Yup, there are loads actually. With it being a military district, there are so many “People’s comity” buildings dotted around all over the place. Plus, there’s a pretty sizeable courthouse, police station and probably a bunch of others I don’t know about. I rarely need to use any of the public services here, but it’s nice to know they’re there if I ever need them. My dad always says “it’s best to have and not need than to need and not have”, you know?”

If you could, what would you change about the area you live in?

“Hm, it’s hard to say actually. Like I mentioned to you before though, the bridges definitely need sorting out someday. At least if I could, I’d fix all of the holes in them, honestly, it’s like they’re falling apart nowadays, it makes it extremely uncomfortable to ride over them. Above anything else, I’d have to say that’d be the first thing I’d improve. There are probably a fair few other things, but I none come to mind immediately.”

How busy is your local area?

“Gosh, that totally depends on the time of day I guess… During the morning rush and evening commute home it’s absolutely heaving, but throughout the day it’s practically empty. Luckily, I work from home so I don’t need to endure the hectic rush hour madness that most people suffer. That being said, it has improved quite a bit, the local traffic police are doing a truly remarkable job of dealing with the traffic.”

Have there been any recent changes to the area you live in?

“Yeah, plenty. I’ve only lived here for the past 4 years, so as you can imagine, the changes I know of are all relatively new. Off the top of my head, it’s pretty tough to come up with any decent examples. Umm, darn it, I just lost my train of thought, sorry. When I’m lying in bed tonight I’m sure they’ll all come back to me, but now I’m drawing a blank, sorry.”

Did you notice what I did with the final answer? ?


  • Do you ever eat dessert after eating dinner?
  • Is it popular in your country to eat dessert after dinner?
  • Are there any special cakes in your culture?
  • Have you ever made any cakes at home?
  • Did you ever make cakes as a child with your parents?
  • How often do you eat cakes?


  • What do you usually do during breaks at work/school?
  • How often do you take a break from doing something?
  • is it important to take breaks?
  • Do you prefer to have one long break or multiple short breaks?
  • How popular is it to take a nap during a break in your culture?
  • Do you like taking breaks when studying?


  • Do you like art?
  • Have you ever visited an art gallery?
  • +Are there any in your city/town?
  • Do you ever do any kind of art at home in your free time?
  • Are there any pieces of art in your home?
  • Did you study art in school?

Pens & pencils:

  • How often do you write with a pen or pencil?
  • Do you prefer writing with a pen or pencil?
  • Did you start writing in pen or with a pencil first?
  • When was the last time you bought a new pen or pencil?
  • Have you ever received a pen or pencil as a gift from somebody?
  • Have you ever bought somebody a pen or pencil as a gift?

Out of date Part 1 January 2020 topics:


  • Do you like your name?
  • Does your name have any special meaning?
  • Is your name popular in your country?
  • Would you prefer to have a different name?
  • What kinds of names are popular in your country?
  • Is it a traditional name or a modern name?


  • What’s your favourite kind of shoe?
  • How often do you buy shoes?
  • Have you ever bought shoes online?
  • Is it important to buy good quality shoes?
  • Why are some shoes so expensive?
  • Do you know anyone who buys a lot of shoes?


  • How important is it to like your teachers?
  • Did/do you have a favourite teacher?
  • Have you ever thought about being a teacher?
  • Do teachers get paid enough money in your country?
  • How often do you contact your teachers from school/university?
  • What kind of person makes a good teacher?

High school:

  • Did/do you like your high school?
  • Which subjects were/are you good at?
  • Are you still friends with anyone from high school?
  • Do you remember your first day?
  • What did/do you dislike about high school?
  • How important is it to do well in high school?


  • Do you wear a watch?
  • Do you like or dislike wearing watches?
  • How often do you wear a watch?
  • What was your first watch like?
  • Have you ever bought an expensive watch?
  • Are watches popular in your country?


  • Do you do the housework at home?
  • Who does most of the housework in your home?
  • Do you think men & women should share the housework?
  • Did you do housework as a child? / Did you help your parents do the housework as a child?
  • What housework do you dislike doing the most?
  • Is having a maid at home popular in your country?


  • How often do you ride a bus?
  • Do you prefer travelling by bus or by car to work?
  • How old were you when you first travelled by bus?
  • Are there any busses in your city/town?
  • Is it convenient?
  • Are bus tickets expensive in your country?


  • Do you know your neighbours?
  • Do you like them?
  • What do you think about them?
  • How often do you see them?
  • Is it important to be friendly to your neighbours?
  • Have your neighbours ever annoyed you or your family?


  • Do you like boats?
  • Would you like to own your own boat one day?
  • Have you travelled by boat before?
  • Are there any ferries in your country?
  • How expensive are boat trips/tours in your country?
  • Do you think it’s safe to travel long distances by boat?


  • Do you celebrate your birthday?
  • How do you celebrate?
  • Do you prefer to celebrate with family or friends?
  • Are birthdays more special for children than adults?
  • Are birthdays important in your culture?
  • Is there anything special people do for birthdays in your country?

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