In part one of your IELTS Speaking test, you’ll often be asked about your family. A common question is, “Do you have a large or small family?”
Let’s take a look at how you can answer this question to get a great band-seven score. Below, you’ll also see 20 good examples (go straight to the answers here).
Immediate Family vs Extended Family
When talking about family in English, it usually means your ‘immediate’ family, which means your siblings, children, parents, close in-laws, and maybe grandparents and grandchildren – all the people you live with or invite for Christmas.
Your ‘extended’ family also includes your uncles and aunts, cousins, second cousins, great-grandparents, etc. All the people you maybe don’t see so often but invite to a wedding or funeral.
For this question, you can just talk about your immediate family. But you can talk about your extended family too if you’re very close to them.
Any answer is okay, as long as you express yourself clearly in good English.
Words and Phrases for Talking About Size
When talking about the size of something, you can express it in a few different ways. You can say your family is:
- Really big
- Rather large
- There are loads of us
- About average in size
- No larger than most
- The usual size of about 5 people
- Not very big at all
- Pretty small
- Really small
What You Can Talk About
After you say if your family is large, medium-sized, or small, you can then briefly say:
- Who your family members are (brothers, sisters, children, parents, grandfather, mother-in-law…)
- How many children there are
- What you like or dislike about that size
- How close you are to your family
- If you’re close to members of your extended family (cousins, uncles, aunts…)
- What kind of family values your country’s culture has
- Where you all live
- Why your family is so large, or small (if there’s any reason)
- How often you see your family, all together
- Anything else you can think of
Don’t Say Too Much
For a question like this, just two or three simple sentences will be fine.
Remember, part one is only to warm you up. The questions are supposed to be simple, so you don’t need to say very much.
In part one, focus on fluency: answer as quickly as you can, without hesitation.
Use simple English and just say whatever comes into your head.
Don’t think about trying to use amazing English. You can save your advanced grammar and family-related vocabulary for parts two and three.
A good answering system for part one is the three-step YES Method. Just say:
- Your answer (‘large’ or ‘medium-sized’ or ‘small’)
- Explain your answer, or add a few more details
- Stop talking (stop talking, so the examiner knows they can ask you the next question)
Read the example answers below for ideas on what you can say about your own family.
‘Big Family’ Answers
1. My family is actually pretty huge. I have five siblings: one sister and four brothers. We all get along well and when I was young it was a lot of fun playing games together.
2. Well, I have a lovely big family because I’m a grandmother with five grandchildren. That’s three from my eldest daughter and two from my son.
3. I actually have a really large family. I have two siblings and my father has three sisters, who all live nearby. We all often have dinner together at the weekends.
4. I come from Sicily, which is a culture with strong family values, and Sicilian families are often very big. Mine is no exception. I have 4 siblings in total and tons of aunts and uncles.
5. I don’t have any siblings myself, but I’m very close to my cousins, and I have plenty of aunts, and we’re all very close, so I feel like I have a really large family.
6. Since my father remarried, I’ve had a big family because my mother-in-law has two sons, who are now my brothers, and I also have lots of new cousins.
7. I’m the youngest of seven children. I know that sounds like a lot but I’m from rural India, where it’s not unusual to have six or seven children.
‘Medium-Sized Family’ Answers
8. I’d say my family is about average in size. I have two siblings, a brother, and a sister. I’m the middle child. None of us have any children yet.
9. My family is no bigger than most. I have my husband and two children, and also my mother has come to live with us. So that’s five in total under one roof.
10. My family is medium-sized, which I like as I wouldn’t want to grow up with no brothers or sisters, but also I wouldn’t want to grow up with too many brothers and sisters.
11. I only have one brother, but I’m very close with my cousin too. The three of us hang out and play games together. So I think it’s a medium-sized family.
12. My family is quite normal in size. There’s just my mother and father and two little sisters, and me.
13. I have two children, so far, and maybe I’ll have another one in future. I think that makes it an average-sized family.
‘Small Family’ Answers
14. Well, I’m an only child so my family is really small. I like it because I’m so close to my parents. It would be nice to have a brother or sister, but I have a few really good friends, who are like brothers to me.
15. My sister and I were raised by a single mother, and we don’t have children yet of our own. So my family is still very small.
16. My family is small. There’s only my wife and me. Unfortunately, my parents have both passed away. But my wife’s parents are still alive and well, and they live nearby.
17. My family isn’t very big at all. I have one son, but we’d like to have another. My husband and I plan to have one or two more children.
18. I’m a single parent with one child, so my family is very small. I separated from my wife five years ago and haven’t remarried since.
‘No Family’ Answers
19. I’m afraid I don’t have any family. I never knew my parents because I’m an orphan. I was raised in a foster home. But I hope to have a family of my own one day.
20. I’m unmarried and my parents passed away. So I don’t have a family. I’m very close to my best friends though, and I see them as my family.
Now, It’s Your Turn!
Now that you know what a good length answer is, try to answer this question yourself.
Set up the voice recorder on your phone and ask aloud, “Do you have a large or small family?”
Focus on fluency, and use the YES Method.
After you’ve finished, listen to your recording and write down what you said. This way, you will clearly see any mistakes you made.
Then answer the question again, and improve a little bit each time.
This is the way to prepare for a great band-seven score in part one of your IELTS Speaking test.