IELTS Speaking Part 1, 2 and 3 – Talking about a House

IELTS Speaking Part 1, 2 and 3 - Talking about a House
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When I took an IELTS test back in 2017, I was a little bit surprised by how casual the speaking was (although it’s not always the case). I talked to the interviewer like when I talk to someone I have known for long. I’m not sure if he was just being nice or if it is how an IELTS Speaking interview should be. Despite all the ease, there are some parts of the speaking test that I would consider as ‘formal’ (if not too serious) and challenging (some might say confusing).


I was interviewed by a nice Australian guy, and we started the interview with a self introduction. He also asked me if I was a student or a working person. The interview always starts with self introduction so I will not explain this further.


IELTS Speaking Part 1 – houses

Here’s how the interviewer started the conversation: 

Let’s talk about houses. How do people usually spend their energy at home?

The first question was not as hard as I thought, so I answered:

It depends on the person. Students will probably spend most of their energy studying or doing homework. Working people usually have some paperwork to do at home. Housewives are busy cooking, cleaning up or taking care of the children. If these people are not busy, they usually spend their leisure time watching TV or doing some exercise. Staying at home may be common among adults, but teenagers who have much energy might need more than just staying at home, and do outdoor activities like sport or just hanging out with friends.

Note

My answer for the first question was really dull indeed. But this is just the first part of the Speaking section, so I think it will do just fine. Just remember that you can develop your ideas whatever you like, as long as it includes answer, reason, and example.


After I finished answering the first question, the interviewer gave me the second question which sounded (more or less) like this:

What kind of energy that the people usually spend at home?

This was the point where the question became more confusing. I mean, it sounded very similar to the first question and had the exact same keywords: people, spend, energy, and at home. I started thinking: did I mishear the question or did he mistakenly repeat the first question? Not wanting to take a chance of misunderstanding the question, I asked the interviewer:

What do you mean by “energy”? Is that energy like electrical energy?

He nodded. So, I assumed that the keyword “energy” is the main problem here. The word “energy” in the first question refers to “our energy that we spend to do activities”. Meanwhile, the word “energy” in the second question refers to “the kind of energy that we consume”. So I answered:

Most people spend electrical energy for their home appliances like lamps, TV, and computers. They also spend fossil fuel like liquified petroleum gas for cooking. This kind of energy is not renewable. Some people are very aware of environmental issues, so they use renewable energy instead. This includes solar energy and biofuel. However, the use of renewable energy is less common because it is more costly. Not all people can afford solar cells, so the use of solar energy for houses is still rare.

Note

I think we are allowed to ask the interviewer (as long as it’s not too often) when we are confused and unable to understand certain questions. I asked a question and still got 7.5 in IELTS Speaking. But, I’m not really sure if asking question will reduce your score (or not).


The interviewer then gave me the third question, which sounded pretty much like this:

What do you think of the fact that some people are still staying with their parents when they are already in their twenties?

I answered:

Not all people are required to move out in their twenties, because this kind of culture is more common to the western society. In Indonesia, someone is expected to live separately from their parents once they get married. Some regions in Indonesia have what so-called “merantau” tradition, a tradition which requires the younger members of a family toleave their home, find a job and make a better living, so that they can support their family. 

But again, it’s not always the case. Some people have to stay at home because they have to take care of their parents when they are getting old or sick. In some cases, a person needs to look after younger members of the family, like younger brother or sister. In a region where extended family is common, it is more likely that someone will not be able to live far from their family. But I personally think that a person needs to leave their house in their twenties or even before twenties, so that they can learn to be an independent person. In the era where urbanization is very common, many people are moving to big cities to pursue their education or to find better job.
The last question was:

Will there be any disadvantages if people are moving to big cities?

I answered:

Yes, there are more disadvantages of urbanization, and this is the case for both the rural and urban area. For instance, massive urbanization has resulted in severe unemployment. Not all people who come to big cities to work have the skills needed to get a job. They end up being jobless and this will create other problems like crime, homeless people, and other issues like social disparity as well as the lack of hygiene and education.


The rural community also faces some serious problems, since none of their younger members wants to be a farmer. Everyone wants to get job in the cities. Villages are being deserted and thus becomes less and less developed.

That’s how the first speaking went. I was not very satisfied with my answers but this was my first attempt so, let’s just move on.


IELTS Speaking Section Part 2


In the second part of the Speaking section, I still got a topic related to housing. The cue card looks like this:


Describe a house/apartment where someone you know lives in

You should say:

  • Whose house/apartment this is
  • Where the house/apartment is
  • What it looks like inside?


Explain what you like/dislike about this person’s house



I had one minute to prepare my answer. After one minute passed, I started my presentation, which sounded like this:

Whose house/apartment this is
First of all, I’ve got to say that this is a very interesting topic, since I don’t usually pay much attention to someone else’s house. It is just something that I usually take for granted. I have an interesting example of a house where my friend from high school lives. I went there because he invited me to play game. At first, I was amazed by the architecture of the house. It looked like typical Dutch collonial house. The design was simple, the house was painted white and grey, and there were a lot of wooden material used in the house. I’m a big fan of historical building so instead of playing game, I asked a lot of questions about his house. It turns out that his father inherited the house from his grandfather, who became a rich merchant during the collonial era. The house looked simple from the outside, but it was surprisingly spacious once we entered the house.

Where the house/apartment is?
The house was located in the middle of the city. It was interesting to see an old place like this house standing among modern buildings and office buildings. Despite the rapid development around the area and several changes that happened to his neighborhood, my friend’s father refused to sell the house. The house had been an important part of the family history and his father wanted to keep it that way. However, the family eventually had to leave the house when my friend’s father expanded his business to larger city that the family had to move to their new home.

What it looks like inside?
Although the house was very spacious, my friend and his family did not put a lot of decorations. There were some old pictures of the family, and some old pictures of the Dutch collonial family that previously lived in the house. The family kept all furnitures from the previous owners, so everything looked old and antique. The only modern part of the house were electronic devices like TV, fridge and my friend’s playstation 2. One thing that I remember the most from the house is a stuffed deer head that became some sort of wall decoration in the living room. That thing looked so vivid and it felt like it’s always watching me. The unfriendly look from the deer head was somewhat unsettling.

Explain what you like/dislike about this person’s house

One thing that I really like from the house is the design. It is really artistic and classy. Collonial house like this now becomes very rare and seeing a historic place being well preserved is a real privillege. The house looked exactly like it was during the collonial era, so it was also a little bit nostalgic. My friend’s grandfather often told us what it was like to live in the collonial era, and this became like a fun way to learn history. The only thing I dislike about the house is the display of some old pictures and stuff in the living room. Those things are very old and creepy, and this could be extremely unsettling because the house looked like it was haunted by the past tragedy. My friend often invited me for sleepover but staying at an old house like this is definitely out of question.

Note
Sometimes, you need some time to think of the answer for IELTS Speaking part 2. You will need extra effort explaining things that are not familiar to you. This actually happened when I was asked to explain my friend’s house (like, how much you know about someone else’s house? I don’t even pay much attention to my own house). This is why I gave this ‘opening’ :

First
of all, I’ve got to say that this is a very interesting topic, since I don’t usually pay much attention to someone else’s house. It us just something that I usually take for granted

I was trying to find the best example while giving that not-so-important opening. It is better to keep talking than having the painful and awkward silence.

IELTS Speaking Part 3

After the second part of the Speaking Section, we continued to the last part of the speaking. It was still about housing.

This is the first question given by the interviewer:

Do you think that the government needs to control housing in urban area?

So I answered:

Yes, they do. If the construction of houses is going out of control, there might be some environmental concerns. This happens because the developer might have to cut down trees. One way to solve this is probably by building more vertical housing which needs less land and can accommodate more people. In some cases, developer has to torn down buildings that might have historical significance.

The second question was:
How easy is it to find housing in your country?

So I answered:
It depends on whether you look for housing in the city or in town.  In big cities like Surabaya and Jakarta, there are not so many affordable houses available. The price of houses in urban area is outrageous, especially when you buy a house in developed area with universities or hospitals nearby. It is easier to find housing in town or villages, but most people are working in big cities so I guess living in town and villages will not be their first choice.

The next question was:
Do you prefer living in the village or in the city?

I answered:
I think villages are better place to live. There isn’t much traffic and pollution. It is very tranquil and I can live near my family who currently lives in town.

But I also realize that it is harder to find good job in a small town, and that’s why I move to the city, to find better job and living. Everything is expensive in the city. It costs me a lot of money just to rent a small house near the place where I work. The stress level in big cities is also higher, and this is the reason why I always go back to town at least once a month, to relax and find the peace of mind.

The last question was:

Is it better to rent or to buy place to live in?

I answered:

It s much better to buy your own place, especially when you are already married and have kids. A family needs  stability and having a house is a must. Besides, houses can be a good investment. Even if we don’t live in the house, we can still rent it and get passive income.

I was done with my answer. But there was this short awkward silence as the interviewer was staring at me and saying nothing. I assumed that he wanted to hear more explanation since I still had plenty of time before the Speaking section ended. So I continued my explanation:

Renting a house is common among young working persons who are yet to be married. They usually work really hard to save money to buy a house. Even if they cannot afford buying houses in big cities, they will buy a house in nearby cities. It will take thirty minutes to commute to work, but at least they already have a place to stay, a house for the family.

That’s the end of the Speaking section. I was relieved that the speaking was much less stressful than the writing. Even if I couldn’t reach my 8.5 target for Speaking, at least I already did my best. Besides, 7.5 is not actually that bad 🙂

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