Cooking and food is a common part-one question of the IELTS Speaking test. You might be asked, “How often do you cook?”
Let’s take a look at the best way to answer this question, with 10 good model answers (go straight to the answers here).
How You Can Answer
First, say how often you cook, then add a little more information. You can say:
- Why you cook that often
- How much you like or dislike cooking
- What kind of food you usually cook (which cuisine, dishes, ingredients…)
- How you cook (cooking style, techniques, equipment)
- Who you cook for (yourself, family, friends, customers)
- How you learned to cook
- What you prefer instead of cooking
- Anything else that comes to mind
How to Talk About ‘How Often’
When asked how often they do something, most students just say ‘usually’ or ‘hardly ever’ or ‘once a week,’ which is fine. This is good English.
But there are some more interesting ways to talk about how often you do something, which can help you stand out in the test.
Here are some example phrases you could use for this kind of question:
- ‘I’ve been cooking every day for years now’
- ‘You’ll find me in the kitchen every day’
- ‘I’m always cooking, day in, day out’
- ‘Every single day’
- ‘Whenever I have the chance’
- ‘Most evenings / mornings / weekends’
- ‘I never miss the chance to cook for friends’
- ‘More often than I’d like’
- ‘All the time’
- ‘I’m in the habit of cooking for myself every evening’
- ‘Pretty often’
- ‘Quite often’
- ‘Not very often’
- ‘Every now and then’
- ‘Every other day / night / weekend’
- ‘Once in a while’
- ‘Hardly ever’
- ‘I’m not in the habit of cooking’
- ‘Very rarely’
- ‘Once in a blue moon’
- ‘You’ll never catch me in the kitchen’
- ‘I haven’t cooked anything for years now’
- ‘I can’t remember the last time I cooked’
How Long Should Your Answer Be?
For all part-one questions, keep your answers short and simple.
Part one is only to warm you up. It’s not the time to try to show off amazing vocabulary and grammar.
Save your advanced vocabulary for parts two and three, when you have more time to think.
In part one, just focus on fluency; answer as smoothly as you can, without hesitation. Simpler English is fine.
The Three-Step YES Method
Use the YES Method for all your part-one answers. Just say:
- Your answer (say how often you cook)
- Explain your answer (say why you cook that often or add more information)
- Stop talking (let the examiner know you’re ready for the next question)
Remember to stop talking. Don’t get nervous and talk too much. Part-one answers should be short: about 10-20 seconds, not more.
Here are 10 good answers for you to borrow ideas from.
‘Very Often’ Answers
1. I cook all the time. I think cooking is a lot of fun because I can be creative and I like learning new recipes and dishes from online lessons on Youtube.
2. I’ve been cooking for myself every day since I graduated from college. I’m not a great cook, but I enjoy it because it’s a cheap and healthy way to eat.
3. I never miss the chance to cook for myself and my family. I grew up in Thailand, which has a big food and cooking culture and very special cuisine, so I love making dishes from my hometown.
4. I occasionally cook, every now and then. I can fry food quite well, and I’m good at making soups. I usually use healthy ingredients, like vegetables, grass-fed beef, and free-range chicken.
5. I don’t cook very often, but sometimes I like to have a dinner party with my friends. Then I like to cook a big meal with lots of tasty dishes.
6. Pretty often. I’ve always loved cooking because my father taught me how to cook when I was very young. But these days, I don’t have time to cook every day.
‘Not Often’ Answers
7. Once in a blue moon, to be honest. You’ll rarely catch me in the kitchen. My wife is a wonderful cook and she prepares all of our meals for us.
8. I hardly ever cook because I’m not very good at it. I’d rather go to a restaurant for a delicious meal. In my hometown, there are so many excellent restaurants to choose from.
9. I’m not in the habit of cooking. I think I cook about once a month or once every two months. I’m just not a fan of cooking. It’s too much work.
10. To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I cooked something. I still live at home with my parents, so my parents cook everything for me.
Now You Try
It’s your turn to try. Turn on a voice recorder and ask aloud, “How often do you cook?”
Answer as quickly as you can, using the YES Method.
Try not to hesitate, just speak quickly and easily with simple English and simple vocabulary.
Afterward, listen to your recording, and write down what you said.
Try to notice any mistakes, and think of one way to improve your answer.
Then answer it again!
This is the best way to get ready for part-one questions in your IELTS Speaking test.