In part two of your IELTS Speaking test, you might be asked to talk about a hobby or activity you enjoy. The cue card question will probably say: ‘Describe an activity you like doing.’
Let’s look at how to give a great answer to this question about hobbies and leisure activities, including a good example answer (go straight to the answer here).
What You Can Talk About
First, quickly think of any hobby or pastime activity you do often (and can describe easily). Then, you can talk about:
- What that activity is (explain it, if it’s an unusual activity)
- Why you enjoy it
- How it improves your life
- When you do it
- Who you do it with
- How long you’ve been doing it for
- When you first got into it (started doing it)
- If it was easy or hard to learn
- What you need to do this activity (equipment, facilities, conditions, other people…)
- Good memories connected to this activity
- A nice story related to it
- Your future plans connected to this activity
- Anything else that comes to mind
Tip One: Prepare Word Groups
One excellent way to use interesting vocabulary in your part-two answer is to memorize many word groups.
A word group is a collection of interesting words, phrases, and idioms connected to one main idea.
For example, you might learn a group of words used to describe an ‘exciting activity.’
This ‘exciting activity’ word group might include the following words and phrases:
‘Exciting, thrilling, engrossing, exhilarating, all my senses come alive, I get lost in the moment, can’t wait to begin, gives me butterflies, really look forward to it…’ (and more)
How to Use Word Groups
When you’ve learned a word group, you can use it for many different kinds of part-two questions.
For example, our ‘exciting activity’ word group could be used in answers to many different ‘activity’ or ‘experience’ questions. You could use it to answer any of these questions:
- Describe an activity you like doing
- Describe an interesting hobby
- Describe an activity you enjoyed as a child
- Describe a vacation you enjoyed
- Describe a journey you went on
- Describe something exciting you like to do
- And many more
The word group will help you use interesting vocabulary. It will also help you to quickly think of things to say.
In the example answer below, you can see a word group named ‘challenging activity’ being used.
Tip Two: Use Stories
While preparing for part two of IELTS Speaking, try to prepare many little stories. A short story can help you:
- Keep talking easily for 30 seconds or so
- Show that you can use the past tenses well (past simple, past continuous, past perfect…)
- Answer the question well with a clear example
While talking about an activity you enjoy, you might tell a simple story about the last time you did that activity, or the first time. Or you might talk about a fond memory related to the activity, or how you learned it, or why you enjoyed it so much as a child. Or perhaps a problem you once had with this activity.
Just ask yourself, ‘what story can I tell related to _____?’ And you’re sure to have a few ideas.
Write down your story, and practice telling it a few times.
Think on Your Feet
The more you prepare little stories to tell, the better you’ll become at quickly thinking up and telling stories. This is an amazing skill for IELTS Speaking.
You’ll become great at ‘thinking on your feet’ (quickly thinking of what to say without planning).
No matter what question you get, you’ll feel confident that you can quickly come up with a story to tell.
Now, let’s take a look at a great example answer to this question about an activity you enjoy. You’ll see that this example includes a word group and a story.
Activity Cue Card
Describe an activity you like doing.
You should say:
- What the activity is
- Where you do it
- Who you do it with
And say why you like doing this activity.
I’m going to talk about kickboxing, which is an activity I really like doing. I enjoy kickboxing because it’s very challenging and it really forces me to push myself and overcome my fears. I started kickboxing about five or six years ago. I first began kickboxing because I wanted to get fit and I also wanted to learn how to fight, so I could defend myself. These days, I do kick boxing twice a week at a gym in the city center. There’s a class of about ten or twelve regular students plus the trainer, who’s really experienced.
The reason I find kickboxing so challenging is that it’s a very tough and demanding physical sport. When I go to the gym, I can’t be lazy. I have to work out very hard for a few hours, even if I’m not in the mood. Sometimes I feel like I want to give up, but my trainer always pushes me to keep going, and I love that feeling of digging deep and pushing myself to the limit. I believe that you grow through adversity and kickboxing gives me the chance to grow.
Kickboxing can be daunting and formidable at times. I remember when I first started kickboxing, I was quite scared of sparring because I’d never been hit before. It was really outside of my comfort zone. But I took the bull by the horns and got into the ring to spar with the other students. And even though it was frightening the first few times, I began to enjoy sparring. I think I really grew as a person because of it. I’m so glad I faced my fears and overcame that challenge.
(Word Group: ‘Challenging Activity’)
Challenging, Demanding, Tough, Hard, Formidable, Daunting, Challenging task, Challenge myself, Enjoy a good challenge, Push myself (to the limit), Really had to push myself, Even if I’m not in the mood, Overcome a challenge, Grow through adversity, Face my fears, Take the bull by the horns, Grow as a person, Outside my comfort zone, Forced me to think in different ways, Dig deep, Had to dig deep for a solution.
See many more word groups here.
Your Turn to Try
Now it’s your turn to answer this question.
Think of an activity you enjoy doing, then think of a way you can describe that activity. Perhaps it’s fun, exciting, challenging, mentally stimulating, sociable, relaxing, or something else.
Create a word group (or use one of ours). And spend a while memorizing that word group.
Also, think of a quick story you could tell in your answer.
When you’re ready, set up the voice recorder on your phone and ask aloud, “Describe an activity you like doing.”
Read the cue card above, spend a minute preparing, and then answer the question. Try to keep talking for two minutes without stopping.
When you’ve finished, listen to your recording and see how many interesting words you used. Notice any mistakes. Think of how you might improve this answer, then answer again.
This is a fantastic way to prepare for part two of your IELTS Speaking test.