Speaking test Part Three: Vocabulary about media


If you are looking for some good discussion on journalism and media, I suggest you watch Media Watch on the ABC – or you can  watch it online at the following link


http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/media-watch/FA1635H036S00 (this week’s episode)

If the language is too difficult, try the school children’s news site, BTN


Watching stories about the news will help you with the Speaking and Writing tests as well as Listening of course. Being aware of current affairs helps you to have more to talk about and develops your vocabulary.

Sample Part Three

What is the role of journalists in today’s society?

Well I think journalists are there to inform the public of what is happening in the world around them, especially the political, economic and social issues in the world. A journalist should be honest, accurate and unbiased. These days, in the era of fake news, it is very important for journalists to be thorough and check their sources carefully.

What are some of the challenges faced by journalists?

A big challenge for journalists is that news is online these days, and people expect immediate updates. In the past, there was one edition of the newspaper per day, but these days, journalists are updating news stories around the clock. The digital format also makes it easy for journalists to steal stories from other journalists, making plagiarism a problem that is very hard to combat.

Why do people read the newspaper?

Well, let me see. I think people read the newspaper in order to be informed. They want to know what is going on in the wider world, rather than just living in their own little bubble. Also, people like to be entertained and read the sports, fashion and travel sections for these reasons.

Why read the news instead of watching it?

Well I guess reading the news gives the reader more time to absorb what he or she is reading. So in that way, it is a more reflective activity. It also offers more choice. If I don’t want to read the Sports section, I don’t have to, but if it is on TV, I have to wait until it is over to see the next part that I am interested in. Newspaper stories often give a more in-depth look at an issue because there are no time constraints involved in presenting the story. In contrast, TV news stories have to be short and sweet, to keep the listener interested and to stay within the broadcasting time slot.

Speaking test vocabulary


You need to know how to talk about food and health in both the Speaking and the Writing test. It is important to develop your vocabulary around the topic of health and diet. Let’s start with a few basics.

 How much food?

Calories or Kilojoules are the basic units of energy that are in food. Australians tend to talk in calories, even though we are officially metric, so I am going with that.

Children should eat 1600-200 per day depending on their activity level and other factors.

Adults should eat 2000 calories per day depending on their activity level and other factors.

If you eat more calories than you need, they are stored in the body as fat. If this becomes a habit, than the body will be overweight. When the body becomes seriously overweight, then the person is described as obese.

Calories are not the only thing to consider when choosing healthy food.


Components of food.

Your food is made up of carbohydrate (carbs), fat, protein and micro nutrients like vitamins and minerals. Part of your carbs are fibre, (the American spelling is fiber) which is found in vegetables, fruit, and whole grains like rice and wheat. Fat is found in meat, nuts and food like olives, coconut and other plants, protein is found in meat, fish, beans, dairy, nuts and lentils. Vitamins and minerals are found in wholefoods.

Dairy is food from a cow, sheep, buffalo or goat, and includes milk, cheese, yoghurt, cream and butter. Dairy is a whole food unless it is processed into ice cream or sweetened yoghurt or some other high-sugar, additive-laden ingredient.


Wholefoods vs refined foods

Wholefoods are foods that aren’t overly processed, for example fruit, vegetables, brown rice, whole grain bread, meat (not processed meats like sausage or ham).  They don’t have too much added salt or sugar or any other additives, which include preservatives, artificial colours and flavour enhancers. Wholefoods contain fibre and nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, and they usually have a high water content.

Refined foods are processed foods, usually made in factories. Examples are frozen pizza, canned goods, like baked beans, sauces, snack food like potato chips, corn chips and crackers, sweet biscuits (cookies) and sugary drinks like coke and other soft drinks. They are usually high in sugar, salt or fat, or all of these together, as well as being high in calories. They often have a low water content and are low in nutrients, like vitamins and minerals.

Let’s compare a wholefood to a refined food.

1 orange

1 small bowl of potato chips


On hundred grams of oranges (1 large orange) has 47 calories, almost no fat (0.1g), no sodium (salt), 89 per cent of the daily vitamin C requirement and 2.4 g of fibre.

One hundred grams of potato chips has 536 calories, 35 grams of fat, 8mg sodium (salt). 51 per cent daily vitamin C, and 4.8 g fibre.


Which snack is better for a child? Which one is a child more likely to choose? Why?

Why are people in many countries becoming obese?

Well, I know that children in Australia are becoming obese because of diet and lifestyle factors. Personally I think diet is the main culprit. In Australia and many other countries, people eat a lot of refined food, and it’s not just take-away from places like McDonald’s. Pre-packaged food from supermarkets is also highly refined. People are eating food prepared from cans, jars and packets instead of wholefoods.  These foods are high in calories and salt and sugar, as well as low in nutrients.

Is there an obesity problem in your country? What is the cause?






Speaking Tips Part Three

Color conversation icon setIn Part Three of the test, it is your job to work hard—not the examiner’s job. You are going to showcase your vocabulary, grammar and fluency. Many students confuse it with Part One, and just give a short answer with a little information, or confuse it with Part Two and go and try to give and two-minute speech. Actually you treat Part Three as if it were a conversation with an educated friend. Give extended, supported answers. Do not use overly formal essay writing language — you are speaking, not writing. Giving personal details can help round out your answer and draw the examiner in.

How has education changed in your country since your grandparents’ time?

Hmm … let me see. Education has really changed in so may ways since my grandparents, and even my parents were children. The way that children are controlled and disciplined  now is very different. My father was beaten with a strap by his teacher if he used his left hand to write (even though he was actually left-handed.) That kind of thing is impossible now. A teacher can’t hit a child even if she is really misbehaving. 

Note the use of tenses here:

present perfect with since

past simple for events that have finished

past simple passive when the subject is not mentioned

present simple to switch to talking about the present

present continuous to indicate a continuous event in the present

Also notice the use of whereas to demonstrate a comparison

answer continued….

I’d say another big change in education since my parents’ time is that there are higher expectations on students these days. Competition in the workplace means that children need to perform well in high school and this is reflected in the amount of testing done in schools. Also, the number of years that children stay in school has increased quite a lot. In my mother’s time, it was very common for kids to leave school at the end of Year 10. These days you can’t do that unless you are going into an apprenticeship. Otherwise, it is expected that you will finish Year 12.


conversation phrase I’d say

linking words another, otherwise

time phrases   in my mother’s time, these days

use of casual language    you can’t do that  (instead of children may not do that)  kids

Remember—the examiner is listening to you English speaking proficiency, not evaluating your ideas, so don’t trip over trying to give the most intelligent answer. Just be a confident and as conversational as you can.

Who is your IELTS tutor?


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Have they had training to teach IELTS, or are they simply an English language teacher?

You need someone with extensive knowledge and experience with IELTS training specifically, not just English  teaching.

Are they a native speaker? 

Some non-native speakers can be good IELTS teachers, but you have to make sure that their English proficiency is very high. Ask to see their IELTS score. If they  do not have a minimum of 8.5, they aren’t really qualified to teach you IELTS. Personally, I’d prefer to see a 9. 

Do they understand how the test is scored, and can they explain it to you so that you can understand?

It is no secret — there is a sample of band score descriptors made available to the public by IELTS. If your teacher doesn’t know about these or is unable to explain them in relation to your work, then they are  not qualified to teach you IELTS. 

Have they ever been an IELTS examiner?

In my experience, IELTS examiners and ex-IELTS examiners make the best IELTS teachers but they aren’t really supposed to disclose that information.