In part two of your IELTS Speaking test, you might need to talk about your hometown. The cue card will probably say: ‘Describe your hometown.’ And it will give you some suggestions on what to say.
Let’s look at the best way to answer this question, including three cue cards with example band-seven answers (go straight to the answers here).
What You Can Talk About
When describing your hometown, you can talk about:
- Where your hometown is
- How large or small it is
- How busy or peaceful it is (the pace of life)
- What it’s well-known for (or famous for)
- What you like or dislike about it
- Your memories growing up there
- How it compares to where you live now
- Why you left your hometown
- If you’ll ever go back there
- The local cuisine (food)
- The traffic
- The things to do for fun
- Sights to see there
- How easy it is to work or study there
- What the people are like there
- What pastimes people enjoy there
- Things to do nearby
- Anything else that comes to mind
Tip One: Tell a Story
In part two of your Speaking test, it’s always good to tell at least one story. Stories are great because:
- A story helps you keep talking for 30 seconds while you remember and explain the event
- A story lets you show off good past tenses (past simple, past continuous, past perfect…)
When talking about your hometown, it should be easy to think of stories because we all have many memories from growing up in our hometowns.
So while you’re preparing for IELTS, think of a few hometown stories and practice telling them.
Using Stories for Different Questions
When you prepare a story, you can then use that one story for many different kinds of part-two questions.
For example, you might practice telling a story about when you visited a museum in your hometown. You could then use that same story in a question about:
- Your childhood
- Your family
- Your hometown
- Places you’ve visited
- Historical places
- Fun things you’ve done before
- Trips you’ve been on
- Things you’ve learned
- And more part-two topics
Tip Two: Use Word Groups
The easiest way to come up with good vocabulary for part-two questions is to prepare word groups.
A word group is a collection of 10 to 20 interesting words and phrases that are related to one main idea.
For example, one common part-two topic is to talk about a place. This ‘describe your hometown’ question is a ‘place’ question, and there are many other ‘place’ questions.
So you should have a few word groups prepared that can describe place. You could prepare word groups to describe:
- A bustling, crowded place
- A peaceful, quiet place
- An old architecture place
- A welcoming, friendly place
- A green, natural place
- A prosperous, thriving place
Each of these ‘word groups’ should contain many interesting, advanced words and phrases that you’ve learned.
Example of a Word Group
For example, the word group for a ‘bustling, crowded place’ might include these words and phrases: ‘busy, bustling, energetic, buzzing, lively, vibrant, hectic, brisk, full of life, a fast pace of life, on the go, center of it all, beating heart of the city, where it’s all happening, hustle and bustle…’ and more.
How to Use Your Word Groups
When you’ve memorized this ‘bustling, crowded place’ word group, you could then use it to describe your hometown. You could also use it for many other part-two questions about a city or place.
For example, you could use this ‘bustling, crowded place’ word group to answer any of these part-two questions:
- Describe your hometown
- Describe a place you’ve visited on vacation
- Describe a city you’ve been to
- Describe a place you visited as a child
- Describe a shop that opened in your hometown (you can talk about the bustling, crowded area the shop is located in)
- Describe a tourist attraction you visited (you can describe the bustling, crowded area surrounding the tourist attraction)
- Describe a popular place in your city
- Many other ‘place’ questions…
You could also use your ‘old architecture’ word group to answer these questions. Or your ‘peaceful, quiet place’ word group.
Word groups are a very effective way to prepare for part two. They allow you to easily use some wonderful band-seven vocabulary. They also help you come up with things to say faster.
You can slowly prepare your word groups over time. Or you can use some of the word groups collected here.
Tip Three: Use Apps to Memorize Vocabulary
One excellent way to memorize word groups is to use Anki App, or a similar flash card app.
Let’s take a look at three good example cue cards and answers, which will show you how to use word groups and stories.
Hometown Cue Card One
Describe Your Hometown
You should say:
- Where it is located
- What it is known for
- What people do there
And say if you like or dislike your hometown.
I’m going to describe my hometown, which is a peaceful, pleasant city in the North of Thailand called Chiang Mai. It’s a very tranquil, quiet town with a nice, slow pace of life that I really enjoy. Chiang Mai is in a mountainous area in the north of Thailand, so it’s really close to nature, and it’s not as hot as the south of the country.
Chiang Mai is well-known for its many temples. It has over a thousand temples, which are beautiful, serene places to visit. Many tourists come to see the temples. The city is also well-known as being a kind of peaceful haven, where people don’t take life too seriously. I think the people living there really know how to enjoy life, and they enjoy a good work-life balance, spending lots of time with friends and family. They’re mostly cheerful, law-abiding people, who are really welcoming to all the travelers who visit the city each year.
When I was growing up in Chiang Mai, I would often take my motorbike with a few friends and bike up into the nearby mountains. It was beautiful there, up in the forest on the mountain. We would find a nice, quiet spot and enjoy the lovely views, surrounded by peaceful nature and birdsong, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. When you’re up in the mountains, it’s as calm as a millpond. That was a great way to take a break and ease away my worries.
You can probably tell that I really like my hometown. Now that I live in a bigger, busier city I always enjoy returning to Chiang Mai. I like going back to the sedate, easygoing way of life that people enjoy there.
(Word Group Used: ‘Peaceful Place’)
Tranquil, serene, unruffled, cheerful, pleasant, sedate, blissful, stress-free, peaceful haven, quiet place, law-abiding citizens, slow pace of life, easygoing way of life, don’t take life too seriously, know how to enjoy life, away from the hustle and bustle, take a break, ease away your worries, at ease with the world, have a good work-life balance, as calm as a millpond, nice quiet spot…
See more word groups here.
Hometown Cue Card Two
Describe Your Hometown
You should say:
- How big your hometown is
- What it is famous for
- What sights you can see there
And explain how you feel about your hometown.
My hometown is Krakow, which is a medium-sized city in Poland that has a population of about one million people, I think. Krakow is a really beautiful city that’s famous for its wonderful old architecture. When you walk through the city center, you really get a rich sense of history. This is because there are many ancient buildings and monuments, and there are also a great many statues that commemorate famous historical figures.
The central square is huge and beautiful. I think it’s one of the biggest central squares in Europe. And the whole square is surrounded by buildings that date back many centuries. They are really impressive buildings, some with an old Gothic style of architecture. Many of them are also very elegant buildings of Renaissance architecture.
There’s often a busy market in the square, where you can purchase local food and snacks, or souvenirs if you’re a tourist. Krakow is a very touristy city. While you’re strolling around the paved and cobblestone streets, you really feel like you’ve traveled back in time. It’s also a city filled with music because you have street musicians in many places, and they’re all really talented.
Two buildings I especially love are the medieval castle, which overlooks the river, and also the cathedral in the main square. When you enter either of those magnificent buildings, you feel a sense of awe. I think they’re both on the UNESCO World Heritage List of protected buildings.
I remember, I first visited the castle about eight years ago when I was quite young. I went with my family and I thought the huge castle walls and monuments inside the castle grounds were very impressive. I also loved the view of the river, which is stunning in summer. On that day, we went on a boat trip up the river and I saw so many lovely old buildings on either side of the river. We ate ice cream and had dinner in a restaurant nearby. I have many fond memories of Krakow.
(Word Group Used: ‘Old Architecture Place’)
History, ancestry, architecture, lovely old buildings, paved streets, cobblestone streets, cathedral, medieval castle, statues, monuments, commemorate, famous historical figures, historical landmarks, places of historical interes, the city’s cultural legacy, long history going back centuries, dating back many centuries, deep sense of history, UNESCO World Heritage List, Gothic / Baroque / Renaissance / Victorian style of architecture…
Hometown Cue Card Three
Describe Your Hometown
You should say:
- What you can do there
- What you can see there
- What the locals are like
And explain what it’s like to live in your hometown.
I’d like to describe my hometown, which is a very large city in the south of China called Shenzhen. Shenzhen is a wonderful, prosperous city with a very young, hard-working population. Young people come to Shenzhen from all over China to make their fortunes because Shenzhen is a very business-friendly city with a thriving, vibrant economy, and many job opportunities for anyone. It’s the biggest center of business for electronics in China, maybe in the world.
When I was a child, Shenzhen was a much smaller, poorer city. It has really flourished since then. The city has an amazing rags-to-riches story. I remember that I found my first job really quickly and easily. When I graduated, I applied to a few job adverts in local electronics companies and I had a few interviews and I got a job right away. The economy was so healthy that hundreds of companies were hiring. I’m fortunate to have such an affluent, wealthy city as my hometown.
Most people who live in Shenzhen are not locals like me. They are mostly migrants from other cities around China. I think people in Shenzhen are usually very hard working. They’re hell-bent on making money and living a high quality of life. In the center of the city, you’ll find the really high fliers, the movers and shakers. Those are the entrepreneurs who start all the businesses.
I’ve lived in Shenzhen for most of my life, and I’d say that it’s a wonderful city to live in if you like to work hard and if you like a fast pace of life. If you prefer a slower pace of life, and you don’t mind a lower standard of living, then maybe Shenzhen isn’t the best place to live.
(Word Group Used: ‘Prosperous Place’)
Prosperous, prosperity, thriving, flourishing, fast-growing, expanding, wealthy, affluent, hard-working, business is booming, business-friendly, a healthy economy, a vibrant economy, high quality of life, high standard of living, hale and hearty economic landscape, plenty of moneymaking opportunities, many job opportunities, make your fortune, high fliers, movers and shakers, from rags to riches, hell-bent on making money, get down to business…
Now, Your Turn To Answer
It’s time to give this answer a go yourself.
First of all, choose a good word group that could describe your hometown. Then spend some time memorizing the words and phrases in that word group.
Also, prepare one or two short stories about yourself in your hometown (take care with your past tenses).
Next, imagine you’re in the real test. Look at a cue card, set a timer for one minute, and quickly prepare your answer.
When the minute is finished, turn on the voice recorder on your phone and answer the question as well as you can. Try to talk for two full minutes without stopping.
Keep on repeating this process, and you’ll soon feel confident about giving an excellent band-seven answer to this part-two question in your IELTS Speaking test.