This is the second guide in our blog series on IELTS Speaking. Here we will look at a detailed list of topics that commonly appear in part 2 of the exam. We will give you model questions with band 7+ answers, and top tips to improve your score. Don’t forget to download your free pdf copy of this guide to use offline. Ready? Let’s jump right in
This section of the IELTS Speaking exam is also known as ‘the long turn’.
In part 2, you will be given a task card with a set of questions on it (see example below).
You will be given 1 minute to make any necessary notes, after which the examiner will ask you to start speaking. You must aim to talk between 1 to 2 minutes. The examiner will then ask you a rounding off question.
In this section of the blog, we will be giving you examples, tips and tricks on IELTS Speaking part 2 using model answers. Our target score here is band 7+, although your personal goal may be a little above or below this.
Describe a close friend
You should say:
One of my best friends is a girl named Jenny. I met her when I went to college in Paris. How long ago was that? It was about 10 years ago now, so yeah, we’ve known each other, I would say, just over a decade.
We first spoke to each other via a forum that the University had set up for freshmen. It was created so people could introduce themselves and get to know their new classmates before they began university.
What kind of person was she? I would have to say that she is very intelligent and very witty. I would have to say that she has a very sarcastic sense of humour, though. I think that’s what really brought us together as friends. She can be a bit too direct for some people, and at first this was a quality of her personality that I was put off by at first.
When you get to know her a bit better though, you come to understand that she is not being aggressive or insulting. She just doesn’t believe in beating around the bush. If she thinks you’re an idiot, she’ll tell you to your face.
As for why I like her, well, as I said she does have a very sarcastic sense of humour which can be a bit dark at times. It’s something we have in common. She’s also very loyal to her friends as well and doesn’t like it when someone upsets one of them.
Yes, absolutely. There was a time when we lost touch for a while, but that was because we were both very busy with work and personal commitments. We do try to meet up as much as we can. Maybe once or twice a month, I would say.
Describe a person you admire
You should say:
I would like to say that, generally, people tend to admire celebrities like film stars or bands and singers… but for me, it isn’t like that. I look up to people I know as role models. For example, my manager when I worked as a waiter. When I was a student, I had little experience of living on my own and the hospitality industry.
Luckily, I had a talented manager at work who kept an eye on my professional training as well as my daily life. He didn’t just ask me “how are you?”. He asked questions that were related to previous conversations we’d had, and also took a genuine interest in my studies.
He also made sure I kept track of time and that I was using it productively. If I’m completely honest, I was quite unorganised when I was a student, so I was very grateful that I had an understanding and patient manager who taught me how to organise my time better.
I still remember the interview I had with him. When the conversation started, it was in a formal manner, like most interviews, but it ended up being like some kind of intimate chat between old friends. Mainly because we shared so many common interests and were both raised in a similar way. He always knew how to put people at ease. He had a very calm and relaxing manner about him.
However, when I finished uni I got my first job in Finance at Deutsche Bank. As a result, I don’t often get the chance to see him because I’m so busy. We occasionally message each other via Whatsapp and he always asks me how my job is going. And on those days that I’m feeling a bit depressed or sad about something, he motivates me to get keep going. He has been advising me to never let my English slip, so that I can maintain my English at an advanced level.
Is there someone you look up to in your current job?
Not in the same way, no. My manager in my current job is supportive, but I think she’s too busy to really take an interest in my personal life. I also think it is part of her character. Work first, personal life second.
Describe an exciting sporting event or competition that you took part in.
You should say:
I’d like to talk about the most exciting racing competition I experienced when I was in elementary school – so 20 years ago. It was our sports day event, and I remember this particular sports day event because it was absolutely boiling.
It happened outside on the fields next to my school building. So we could sit on the grass and relax until it was our turn to race. It was still very hot though. My team had been winning all the races, such as long jump, egg and spoon race, 100 metre sprint and so on. The final race, however, had to be run by the teachers.
Now, my teacher, and the head of my team, was not very sporty. We were all worrying about the teachers’ race as it was worth 100 points to the winner and, therefore, we could have lost the whole of sports day if another teacher won. We only had 67 points before this race took place.
Now, the teachers were all lined up on the track and ready to race. The headteacher blew her whistle and off they all went. This is where it became really intense, but exciting at the same time.
Our teacher had got to second place about halfway around the track and we were all thinking: “Is he going to do it?” Then, just as they were about to finish, Mr Stevens, who was in first place, tripped over his shoelace and fell to the ground. Our teacher, Mr Williams won the race! It was incredible and I remember all my team jumping up and cheering very loudly.
Do you take part in any competitions like that now?
Not now, no. I don’t have the time, unfortunately. I like to watch the athletics when the Olympics are on though.
Describe something healthy you enjoy doing.
You should say:
So, I would like to talk about running, which I believe has several health benefits. It can help to build muscle, improves your mood and is a very good exercise for your heart. I have also read that it can strengthen your bones, though many people argue that it damages them, particularly the knees. However, if you buy the correct running shoes this shouldn’t happen.
I love running, it’s definitely my favourite hobby. I find when I run in the mornings, I feel fresh and alive. It also wakes me up and prepares me for the day ahead. Running is a kind of aerobic exercise and helps to improve the body.
There are a good number of benefits with this specific exercise. For instance, running helps to build inner muscles and develops your breathing. It also helps to prevent cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and high cholesterol. Simultaneously, it also burns calories.
Running can also help you lose weight. If you have the type of job where you’re sitting down all day, then you’re not burning many calories. If people continue to do this, they will increase their risk of heart and lung problems. Having any type of exercise will help to keep them fit, but I prefer running.
Generally, I run around Lumpini Park in Bangkok, which is close to my apartment. The park contains an ancient Chinese-style clock tower, ornamental lakes, playgrounds, and a public library. The most significant thing for me, however, is of course, the jogging track. I usually run on the track and sometimes jog at a slower pace when I feel tired or it’s hot.
I find running in the early morning is the most convenient as it’s usually cooler and I can watch the sunrise. The park becomes crowded with different health conscious people around the middle of the day. They go there to do some exercise and then go and get a cold drink.
During the week I run alone, but at the weekends, Aranya, my wife, comes with me. Aranya and I run in the evenings though, as we are usually very busy seeing our family and friends during the day.
Overall, when someone runs, it helps to build muscles, it helps to prevent different diseases and heart attacks, and tolerance levels improve by improving mood. So, considering all the aspects, it appears that running is very healthy indeed.
Do you eat anything before or after you run?
I like to eat something small after I run, like a piece of fruit. If I eat before my run, I have a very strong pain in my stomach. This is not good as it takes a long time for the pain to go away and I can’t run.
Describe your perfect job role.
You should say:
I think my dream job would be to work in garden design. I have experience working as a landscape gardener, but I have never designed professionally before. The qualification I would need is a diploma in garden design which is not that difficult to get, but I don’t have a lot of time or money at the moment. So, I would have to save up, look at my schedule and attend a course at a later date.
The job role would involve meeting up with a client and discussing what they’re going to be using their garden for. I would then have to apply that criteria to a first draft design, gain client feedback before finalising the design.
I suppose the most difficult aspect of the job will be starting out and getting my first clients. It’s my dream job because I like looking at the before and after of a garden and seeing the joy on a customer’s face when they have the garden of their dreams.
How long have you been landscape gardening?
I started landscape gardening when I was 20 years old, so just over 5 years. I do enjoy it, but it’s hard work, especially when it’s cold outside.
Describe a subject that you did not like in the past, but now you like it.
You should say:
As a high school student, I learned a number of subjects. There was one, I wasn’t really into though, and that was history. The reason was quite simple: I disliked the teaching method of my teacher. I found it to be boring and ineffective.
To be completely blunt with you, he was a lazy teacher. All he did was copy words, facts and figures from our course book to the board and made us write down what he wrote. There was no actual teaching involved, or learning for that matter. He then told us that we had to memorise all the information if we didn’t want to receive a low grade for his subject. It was a joke!
When I was in my early twenties, I watched a film about Chinese history. The film is about the time Genghis Khan conquered northern China over a thousand years ago. I really enjoyed the film and realised that history is not as dull as I thought. After that I began reading more historical articles and watched more historical movies, and now I am really interested in history.
I think the Department of Education should change the school curriculum to make it more accessible to students, or train teachers how to deliver history lessons that are exciting and engaging.
Describe your favourite time of year
You should say:
My favourite time of year has to be autumn/winter or near the end of the year. The weather is cool and crisp, the leaves are turning all different colours and I also like that feeling of frost crunching under your feet.
Also, around the beginning of November, we usually get our first snow and that’s a great excuse to have lots of hot chocolate drinks with marshmallows or some gluhwein. At this time of year, I’m usually hiking in the mountains in south west Austria in autumn and skiing and snowboarding around the end November with my family and friends.
I often like to go to Christmas markets, where I meet up with friends for shopping whilst drinking a few gluhwein. Haha. You need it to keep warm, trust me. I think the main reason it’s my favourite time of year is because I love the cooler weather and relaxing by an open, wood burning fire with friends. It’s very cosy.
Do you not like the summer, then?
I do, but I often find it’s too hot in Austria that time of year. If I am on holiday, on the beach or near a swimming pool, then it’s not so bad. Otherwise, it’s very uncomfortable for me.
Describe an environmental problem that has occurred in your country.
You should say:
There is an environmental problem that I would like to talk about. It’s the polluting of rivers, streams and canals in my city. I believe it’s mainly caused by the irresponsible disposal of waste by factories, utility industries and the people who throw or leave their litter by the water.
The pollution of our waterways has been brought on by many years of abuse and a lack of respect. At one stage, environmental scientists had done research on the waterways surrounding my city and said that were biologically dead, which means there are no fish or any other life, for that matter.
Boats could not travel up and down the canals because there was so much floating plastic and other types of rubbish that were clogging them up. The toxic waste in the rivers gave off a very strong and disgusting smell. We were advised by the local governments to not swim in the rivers as there was a high chance to get an infection.
In the late 80’s, the government started to take action and began an enormous clean-up of the city’s waterways. They started to give out heavy fines to industries polluting the rivers. Police were also given the power to charge people if they were seen littering on the streets. Unfortunately, the authorities are unable to move the main polluters, who were the illegal settlers near the river. The reason is simple, they have their “human rights”.
The problem is important to solve simply because water is the source of life. Water also helped life to survive and evolve and we also need water to live.
Do you think your government has done enough to help the environment?
They are doing a good job and they are increasing awareness so people can begin to take responsibility for their damaging actions towards the environment.
Describe a person you know who speaks a foreign language well.
You should say:
I am going to talk about a person I know who speaks English as a second language fluently. That person is my boss. Due to the nature of her job, she has to travel a lot and therefore needs to use English regularly.
The thing is our company has a large international client base, and there are months when she has to travel twice a week to different parts of Europe and Asia to prepare for client meetings or to provide training to new employees.
Being competent in English also helps her a lot in closing deals with international clients since nowadays English is considered to be the most common language in the business world. She speaks English so well that one of our clients in London asked her if she had ever lived in the UK because her spoken English was almost native.
Do you speak any languages, apart from English, fluently?
Apart from my native language, no. I would like to be able to speak Mandarin Chinese fluently. It looks and sounds like a very difficult language and for that reason I would like to be able to speak it. It would be a challenge, but also a significant accomplishment.
Talk about when you spoke with someone in a foreign language for the first time.
You should say:
I’m going to talk about the first time I had to converse with someone in a foreign language. First of all, I have to mention that I have been learning English for many years, but I haven’t had many chances to practise speaking in English in my home country, let alone communicating with native English speakers. As far as I can remember, the first time I used it for communication purposes was at Easter in 2018.
At that time, I was hanging out with my friends, talking about what our plans were for the Easter holidays, when suddenly a foreigner came up to me. She started asking me questions for directions to the national museum nearby.
Honestly, she had such a strong accent that I couldn’t understand anything she was saying. I had to ask her to slow down and repeat herself several times before I was able to give her the information she needed. Then, I directed her to the museum.
To be completely honest, my English-speaking skills were not the best. I had to use a lot of body language and gestures to make sure that she had all the information she needed. Luckily, she could take in what I said. She then thanked me for helping her before heading off towards the museum.
That moment has helped me realise how important English is in our lives, even if we don’t actually live in an English-speaking country. English is spoken all over the world, and if we want to stay connected to people in other countries, we have to learn and practise using it. I think I need to brush up on my English skills, so I can communicate confidently with foreigners, no matter what the topic of conversation is.
Do you think English will be spoken by everyone in the future?
I really do, yes. English has been the lingua franca of international business and other countries for so long now that it’s inevitable. What I mean is that the idea of everyone speaking English is going to happen.
Talk about a piece of technology that you have started using fairly recently.
You should say:
Ok, so I bought a bike about two months ago from a shop near my house. At first, I thought of buying a large-sized bike. However, I wanted my other family members to use it too, so I bought a medium-sized one.
My new bike is very useful to me because my weekly routine includes going to work, the supermarket, and visiting friends and family. These are all a short distance away from my house which I can get to without driving a car.
Life is a lot better now that I have a bike. For one thing, I am able to save money. I spend less money now on filling up the car because I don’t need to use it for small trips. Another benefit is I spend less money on car repairs because I don’t use it that much anymore.
Riding a bike is also a form of exercise which gives your heart and lungs a good workout. This, of course, potentially protects me from diseases like high blood pressure, arthritis, heart disease and severe weight gain. These are also some of the main reasons I think bikes will be around for a few more years to come.
Do you think all technology is beneficial to health?
Well, I think technology like computers have their issues. I have a few friends who work as computer engineers and they hardly do any exercise. As a result, most of them have some health problems.
Describe the effects of technology in your school.
You should mention:
So, about 18 months ago we began using computers in our school. Some teachers would assign some homework that had to be done by using the internet or software on the computer.
For instance, there was the time our English teacher had asked us to find some reading and listening passages and texts from the internet and we had to share them with others. But these passages and texts had to be converted to PDF format before we could share them. Our maths teacher wanted us to look up websites related to maths problems and use them to help us improve our maths skills. Which it did, for the most part.
Now, about the third question; whether it could replace a human teacher? I don’t think that technology will ever replace human teachers, well, at least not at lower levels of the education system. Teaching isn’t just giving students problems to solve on a computer or looking things up on the internet. There’s so much more to it than that.
Teaching and learning needs to be based on human relationships. The way a teacher interacts with his or her students has a significant influence on their learning. There are many, who chose to become a teacher because they were inspired by their own teacher, or they chose that career because their teacher recommended it to them.
At present, people are saying that computers are able to express emotions and feelings, but I believe they can never really have real human qualities and characteristics. There will always be that synthetic aspect to them. I would find it very difficult to build a rapport with a robot or a machine.
In contrast, when you see your primary school teacher after, I don’t know twenty years, and depending on the type of relationship you had with them, you will feel an emotion or feeling connected with that teacher. Of course, technology is progressing so quickly that we can’t even begin to imagine what will happen in the future. Maybe cloning technology will provide us with some extraordinary developments, but that’s a different topic.
Do you think that technology in schools is making children lazy?
To a degree, yes. I would say that kids today have it easier than most people, say 15 or 20 years ago. This is because technology helps them to do and learn things faster, such as, doing some research or getting the answer to, let’s say a maths or science problem. 20 years ago, you would’ve gone to the school library and spent hours going through books. Now students can do it by simply looking it up on the internet.
Describe your favourite hobby or pastime.
You should say:
In the past, I tried a number of hobbies, but I just couldn’t stick at them long enough. Probably because I was young and I wanted to try everything. But at this point in my life, I must say that I have found a hobby which I could probably enjoy for the rest of my life, without ever getting bored.
The name of this particular hobby is called “internet surfing and collecting information from it”. Yes, I know it’s strange, but that is my favourite thing to do. I also think that more and more people should consider surfing the internet as their hobby because there are just so many interesting things to learn from the world wide web that it is almost impossible to get a better view of the world in which we live without surfing the net.
The best thing about this hobby is that I can enjoy it anytime from the comfort of my home. You want to learn about a unique aspect of a particular culture or tradition? Well, the internet has it whether you want just some written/text information or an actual video of it. You are interested to learn about the recipes of some delicious foods? There are so many things that we can learn by surfing the internet if you really have the intellect to put all the information in the proper context.
Do you think the internet will be around forever?
I hope so! In fact, I think it will. It has given us so much in terms of connectivity and has allowed us to share ideas and gain information at a speed that in the past would have taken a long time to access.
Describe a quiz program or game show on TV
You should say:
Ok, I’m going to talk about a quiz show called “Who wants to be a millionaire?”. You might be familiar with it as I believe it’s shown here as well. In fact, I think it’s available to watch all around the world.
I came to know about it through YouTube before it was broadcast on TV in Germany. Anyway, the idea of the game is simple. At the beginning of the show the contestants are all together and they are asked a multiple-choice question that they have to answer in order to be in the Hot Seat. Clearly the contestant who achieves this is the one who answers the question correctly and within the quickest time.
When a contestant is chosen, he or she will proceed to sit in a chair in the centre of the studio and will have the chance to answer a total of 15 questions. These questions become more difficult as the game progresses.
For every answer that the contestant gets correct, they’ll be given an amount of money. The great thing is, you can always stop the game and go home with the money if you’re not sure about the next question. But if you’re feeling brave you can go with your gut. There are always three things you can use to help you as well if you’re finding a question particularly difficult to answer.
For instance, you can call a friend to help you, or choose 50:50 which will eliminate half the choices on your screen, or you can ask the audience. I think the last one is a bit risky because I’m not entirely sure if I could trust the audience to give me the correct answer.
It’s great fun to watch as the music and the presenter are both good at building suspense during the game. The presenter will often try to mislead the contestant by saying “Are you sure that’s the correct answer?”. This usually makes the contestant doubt themselves and the answer they have given. I think it would be a great game to play for this reason!
Do you think that most people would be interested in playing this game show?
Well, as I said, it’s shown in most countries around the world, so I think people would be interested in having a go at playing this game. I know they have brought out a version of the game that you can play at home with your friends and family. I haven’t bought it yet, but I’m planning to get it.
Describe a positive experience from when you were a teenager.
You should say:
I’ll tell you about my experience when I had to babysit when I was in secondary school. This experience was a positive one because I had the opportunity to prove that I can be responsible. Also, as a result of this experience, I was motivated to do other relevant things.
You see, I am the youngest person in my family, so I was used to being taken care of instead of looking after others, especially young children. One day, I was asked to look after my neighbour’s 3-year-old daughter, as she had an appointment to attend. As I wasn’t doing anything that day, I agreed to take care of her child for a while.
I had met my neighbour’s daughter before, but I didn’t know her. My neighbour told me some important things about eating times, what type of games her daughter enjoyed, but I didn’t really listen to what she said.
Anyway, in the morning, things were going well. We played some games and we had a very tasty breakfast. After breakfast, I was so exhausted I wanted to take a nap, but the girl had asked me to continue playing games with her. After figuring out that I didn’t want to play anymore, she immediately broke down into tears.
I was so tired, and I didn’t know what I could do to stop her from crying. So, I called my neighbour, and I asked what I could do to help calm her daughter down. She advised me to turn on the TV and allow her to watch some of her favourite cartoons. Thanks to her advice, the little girl calmed down, and I had time to rest.
After I had rested and she had watched some of her cartoons, we played another game together. It turns out that the little girl enjoyed having me look after so much that my neighbour has asked me if I would like to babysit in the future. I said yes. Now that I knew her daughter a lot better and I knew how to look after when she was upset. This experience and the other babysitting duties I did, inspired me to become a preschool teacher.
When was the last time you looked after a child?
Before coming here, actually. I now have a daughter of my own who is 3 years old. My mother is looking after her at the moment. Mum’s the babysitter now haha!
Describe a school you went to in your childhood
You should say:
I went to Bomoon High School. I was around 16 years old when I first went to this school and I had been there till I turned 18 years old.
The school was Bomoon High School 5-story building in rectangular-shape with over 500 students and more than 40 fantastic teachers. Moreover, it even had a canteen which was my favourite place to be in the entire school. Mainly because I love the food. The snacks and drinks that the school provided us with were unbelievably tasty.
There was also a large green field where we often played many different games. Not to mention the basketball court. I would have to say that was the most popular part of the school. I wasn’t too keen on sports though. I remember doing physical exercises every day on the field I mentioned earlier…I hated it. I was more of a nerd in high school.
What I was really impressed with was the high standard of education that I was given by the teachers at my school. They encouraged us to expand our horizons through interesting and engaging classes. I also undertook many extra-curricular activities such as drama classes, chess club and volunteer work. Our teachers were always able to adapt their teaching styles in order to help me and my fellow peers learn efficiently and effectively.
Overall, I loved high school. I know some people have a lot of negative experiences in high school, but I was very fortunate to attend a school that understood me as an individual and not just another number.
If you could, would you change anything about your high school?
No, not at all. I was very lucky to attend the high school I did at the time I did. I would like there to be more of the extra-curricular activities such as art and drama to be mainstream subjects. That’s the only thing I would change if I had to choose.
Here is an example of a part 2 speaking examination that was awarded a Band 7. Listen to it carefully and think about the reasons why it scored well:
Describe an unforgettable experience you had in your country
You should say:
It was two years ago when I had my very first motorbike trip with my friends to the first and most ancient village which is located in the Southern region of our country. It is the most unforgettable trip that I’ve ever had.
There were three people in our group: Juan, Adam and myself. We chose to visit a village because we wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and get off the beaten track. Moreover, the village is also the birthplace of my grandparents, and I felt excited to visit the village and get a closer insight into the lifestyle of local people as well as my grandparents.
It’s a five-hour drive, so we set out quite early so we could make it there for lunch. I’ve always been a night owl, not an early bird, so leaving the city at 6am made me feel like I was sleep deprived. However, I was happy shortly after embarking on the trip to the village.
On the way there we admired the stunning landscapes which are different from the city we currently live in. After a fantastic drive, we got to the picturesque village, which made me feel over the moon. We rented some bikes to cycle around the village with a lot of small alleyways filled with green grass.
After riding a bike to the paddy field to get the vibes of the village, we visited some 400-year-old ancient house which was made of mud and laterite and had a look at communal houses where the local people gathered for festival celebrations or public meetings.
After that, we had lunch with scrumptious food which is locally and organically grown. In the afternoon, we joined a cooking class with the villagers who were extremely friendly and talented at making traditional cakes. The highlight of the trip to the village was going to the paddy fields to help the farmers harvest the crop. It was such a once-in-a-lifetime experience which I enjoyed.
That was our first motorbike trip outside of the city, and the first time in the countryside so we enjoyed every single moment there. Juan was like a dog with two tails while Adam and I were also on cloud nine. We liked everything in the village from the fresh air and cosy atmosphere to beautiful landscapes with small houses or paddy fields. We hope that we can go on a more extended trip to the countryside down the road if we have more spare time.
Where would you like to travel to next?
On a motorcycle? I would love to drive around the mountain ranges next. I’d probably ask more of my friends to join me on the journey this time. It would also need to pack enough supplies to take with us as it would be a longer journey.
Describe a house or apartment you would like to live in.
You should say:
I would love to live in a huge mansion in the countryside. I would like to have as many bedrooms with en suite bathrooms as possible, so I could have all my family and friends over for the summer. Not to mention all the surrounding land that we could use for leisure activities such as horse riding, clay pigeon shooting or for leisurely hikes around the estate.
To be fair, the size of my country estate would also be perfect to raise a large family. I come from a large family and I’ve always wanted to have lots of kids. This would be a good time for me to acquire this house.
When it comes to cleaning the house, I would probably have to hire a cleaner. They could live with us with their family in my mansion though. If they wanted to.
It would be fantastic if the estate I lived on overlooked a river or a large lake. I would also like it to be located not too far away from a major city, so I can have the best of both worlds – city and rural environments. As someone who loves colour and nature, I would decorate my house with a lot of paintings and plants. I think I would also like to have a large kitchen garden, where I could grow my own fruit and vegetables and harvest them to use in my own kitchen.
If I get the chance, I would love to have my dream mansion when I get married and start having children.
Describe a foreign culture that you are interested in
You should say:
I have spent pretty much most of my early twenties learning about Japanese and Japanese culture. But I did have an interesting experience about six years ago that inspired me to learn about Hawaiian culture.
One of my friends spent a semester abroad in Hawaii in early 2014, and I spent two weeks at the beginning of the summer visiting him there. I knew absolutely nothing about the culture before going to stay with my friend, but staying there for a short time, really opened my eyes.
The Hawian culture is very different from Japanese culture. It’s an extremely laid-back and relaxed culture. Their main goal in life is to be happy. Workdays tend to be shorter, and since the country is very small and is surrounded by the Pacific Oceans on all borders, it’s really easy to get to the beach.
When I was there, it was a daily routine to see people getting up around 7am and go to the beach to surf for two hours or so. They would then work from around 10am and finish at 4pm, go home and eat, then go back to the beach to relax.
Do you think it’s a culture that most people would enjoy experiencing?
I don’t think it’s for everyone as it’s quite a relaxed culture and I’m aware that some people, especially in the west, prefer to get things done very quickly.
Describe an important day you celebrate in your country.
You should say:
In Chinese culture, we celebrate something called the Lunar New year. It is considered to be the most important holiday for most, if not all, Chinese people. Today, I want to share with you how important this holiday is and what it involves.
Up until, say fifty years ago, China’s economy was mostly agricultural. Therefore, agriculture played and, to some extent, still plays a significant part in Chinese culture. As a result, people here are used to using the lunar calendar. Which, unlike the western calendar, which counts the days we rotate around the sun, we count the days according to the movement of the moon.
To the Chinese, the first day of the lunar calendar is very important. Not only does it mark the beginning of a new lunar cycle, but it is also the time when families gather together and make new year’s resolutions. Nowadays, people will often go and visit their immediate family members and relatives.
We all get together for a huge feast and wish each other a happy and prosperous new year. Adults will give children or their older relatives red envelopes with money inside. This is a tradition, which ensures that people have lots of luck and are financially looked after. Houses are also decorated beautifully in the hope of an excellent year that will come to all the family.
On this day every year, I spend most of my time at home, helping my mother and other relatives prepare the food, or I will have long conversations with my brothers and sisters. This is a very good opportunity for us to catch up.
The problem is, we all live so far away from each other, and we’re all very busy with our own lives that we don’t have the chance to see each other regularly. Lunar New year is the perfect opportunity for this. Sometimes, in the afternoon, we will go to the temple to pray for good things to come, but not all Chinese people do this though.
For me, it is important that every nation has its own unique culture. As we celebrate the new lunar year, we’re remembering this tradition and passing it on to the next generation. This will ensure an important part of our culture is not lost or forgotten.
Why do you think it’s important that traditions within a culture are not forgotten?
For me, without culture it’s very hard to identify yourself with the world. Traditions give me a sense of place, belonging and connection with my family and my ancestors. These people make up most of who I am as a person. No matter how far I may be away from family, these traditions and our culture will always bring us back together.
Describe an interesting journey you have been on.
You should say:
One of my favourite trips is the one I did in February to Amsterdam. It was a last- minute booking as I wanted to do something spontaneous with my partner. I also love nothing more than going on adventures without much thought. You know, having no purpose other than wandering the streets, looking at new and exciting places and allowing the journey to happen. This is exactly what happened on my journey to Amsterdam.
I paid for a round flight to Amsterdam. However, I had a bit of difficulty with my visa initially, so I had a bit of a problem at first but it sorted itself out quite quickly. After we finally landed in Amsterdam, a transfer driver picked me and my partner up and drove us to a hotel in the heart of the city.
There was not only us, but also 50 other young people in the hotel – most of them were young couples from other European countries. They were all very accepting and kind, and we also spent some of our time walking around the city with two of the couples.
We have not only made friends from all over the world, but also have fantastic memories for life. Especially some of the night outs we spent with some of the other hotel residents. Drinking good quality beer and eating freshly made waffles were incredible.
I think my favourite part of the whole holiday was when we went downtown. We ended up on this bar that was providing karaoke! Someone was singing “living on a prayer”, but in Dutch! Overall, it was a brilliant holiday and a memorable experience.
Have you been back to Amsterdam since?
Unfortunately, I haven’t. I have been quite busy with work and studying this past year, so I haven’t really had the opportunity to travel. Maybe I’ll go somewhere next year.
Describe a perfect vacation away from home that you would like to have in the future
You should say:
My idea of a perfect holiday is to be with family in a giant log cabin at Christmas. I am planning for us to do it this year. In fact, I am so excited about this particular dream vacation that I have to tell you all about it.
It’s always been a dream of mine to spend Christmas surrounded by snow, beautiful decor and have a wonderful wood burning fire in the living room. This is one of the reasons why I am really excited to be going to Finland with family this year. The scenery and the views there are incredible.
I watched a documentary about Finnish Christmas on TV about two months ago and those images have stuck in my head ever since. The place we’re going to is quite near one of the main metropolitan areas, so it has quite a lot of shopping centres, where we can buy all the decorations and unique presents for each other. Plus, there are hundreds of places to try some local Finnish food. I am excited to treat my family members and be able to spend some quality time with them.
Of course, one of the main reasons I want to go on this trip is the snow. Most of my family members have never experienced snow before. I think we’ll have the time of our lives making snowmen and having snowball fights. Then we can all go inside our huge log cabin and get warm by the fire and drink hot chocolates with marshmallows. An added bonus will be the view of all of the trees covered in snow. This will not only be a perfect vacation for me, but a magical one as well.
Why do you think most people never experience their dream vacation?
I think the main two reasons are time and money. Often people have very grand ideas of a perfect holiday, but are unable to follow through with it due to not having enough money. Or they’re too busy either working or have other commitments that prevent them from going on their dream holiday.
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