IELTS Speaking Part 1 - Talking about Flowers and Sport

In IELTS Speaking Section, test takers will be given several questions related to familiar topics like hobby, favorite book, and daily activities. In some cases, we have to talk about delicate or unfamiliar topic. I tried to figure out what sort of questions require greater effort to answer, and so far, I've found two examples. 

Before we embark, we have to realize that even if the first part of IELTS Speaking Section is called "talking about familiar topics", some topics are actually not that familiar. For instance, I found out that some people always need greater effort to answer questions about flowers. They usually find it hard to find examples and elaborate their explanation, and this usually results in delayed speech as they need more time to think. Some other people seem to have problem answering questions related to sport. Sometimes, we simply do not know what to say and end up having the usual painful silence. 

One of many reasons why these topics become so challenging is because not all people are familiar with them. Doing a lot of practice and familiarizing ourselves with these topics are probably the best way to deal with this kind of questions. Let's take a look at some questions related to flower and sport below, and then discuss the best way to answer them.



Talking about Flowers
Do you like flowers?
What's your favorite flower?
When was the last time you gave someone flowers?
Do any flowers have special meaning in your country?
Why do you think women like flowers more than men?


Talking about Sport
Do you like sport?
What's your favorite sport?
Do you often watch sport on TV?
Did you play sport as a child?
What is the most popular sport in your country?
How do most people in your country keep fit?


Now, let's see some sample answers below:


Talking about Flowers

Do you like flowers?
I like certain type of flowers, particularly those that have fragrance and beautiful colors. My sister likes gardening, and we have several flowers at home. I like it when the flowers blossom, especially during the rainy season. It is very relaxing to see flowers with various colors and shapes. It is even better with some butterflies, bees and ladybugs flying around the garden. When my sister is not around, she will ask me to water the flowers and cut some of their dry leaves.

What's your favorite flower?

As I told you earlier, I like flowers with beautiful color and fragrance. I particularly like the scent of jasmine and the color of rose. I also like the shape of orchid, and I often use it as a decoration.

When was the last time you gave someone flowers?

The last time I gave someone flowers was when I attended my sister's graduation several years ago. I don't usually choose flowers as a gift. But, my parents already gave her a present so I decided to give her a bouquet of flowers and congratulated her on her success.


IELTS Speaking Part 1 - Talking about Flowers
Beautiful flowers in Washington
Source: Personal documentation

Do any flowers have special meaning in your country?
Yes, they do. Even though, the meaning varies across culture. In Javanese culture, for example, jasmine is often used for wedding. Its color is white and it represents purity. Rose, on the other hand, is more identical to funeral. There is a story behind the use of rose in funeral. It is some kind of acculturation between Javanese and Islamic culture. It is believed that by putting some rose petals on the grave, the deceased will be forgiven as long as the flower petals are still fresh. However, this meaning could be different in other tradition. In western culture, for instance, rose symbolizes love, and is often given to a significant other on valentine's day.

Why do you think women like flowers more than men?
It is traditionally believed that flowers are more identical to feminine trait. Flowers represent beauty and are more suitable to describe women. Men prefer things which can enhance their masculinity, like cars and sport. They don't usually regard flowers as manly, and will probably avoid wearing shirts with flowery motifs or using perfume which smells like flowers.



Talking about Sport

Do you like sport?
Yes, I do. I always do physical activities at least once a week, be it jogging or swimming. I'm joining a karate club and I practice twice a week. Despite my membership in certain sport club, i like sport more as a hobby, and I never think of being a professional athlete.

What is your favorite sport?

When it comes to sport as a recreation, swimming is always my favorite. I have a lot of work to do, and sometimes this makes me feel a little bit stressed out. I start having difficulties with sleeping. Swimming is an all-over body workout which involves nearly all of our muscles. It helps me stay relaxed, and is a good way to alleviate stress.

Do you often watch sport on TV?
No, not really. I like doing sport rather than watching it. I watch sport on TV only when our national football team is competing in international championship like the AFF championship. In my country, many people become a huge fan of regional football team, but it doesn't really appeal to me. Other than international football competition, I also like watching racing sport like motogp or formula1. Racing sport is always interesting because it involves the advancement of technology, so, the competition is not only among the racers, but also the sport bike and the sport car companies.


IELTS Speaking Part 1 - Talking about Sport
Washington Nationals Stadium
Source: Personal Documentation


Did you play sport as a child?

I wouldn't call a sport per se, but I really liked playing football for fun. Football is a physical activity which requires a teamwork, so it was very enjoyable to play with school mates and neighbors. As a child, I also played other types of sport like badminton, volleyball and sepak takraw, to name a few.

What is the most popular sport in your country?

Football has always been the most popular sport in my country. As I said earlier, every town and city has their own regional team, and this has created some kind of fandom among the locals. We can always see these loyal fans when there is a football match, since they always create a large crowd and proudly wear their team's jersey. People show even more enthusiasm when the national team is competing in AFF or Asian Games.

How do most people in your country keep fit?

Most people in my country like jogging in the morning. They usually jog before going to work. There is a significant increase in the number of people doing fitness to stay fit. Nowadays, it becomes more and more difficult to balance working life and leisure. People who are extremely busy during the daylight usually prefer going to the gym after work.

Tips #1 - Develop your ideas
This can be done by giving reason, supporting ideas, and examples (preferably real life examples). Do not give short answers. You can see the way I developed my idea when answering a question about the meaning of flowers.

My answer was: Yes, certain flowers have meaning in my country
The examples were: Rose and jasmine
The supporting ideas and reasons were: 

  • Jasmine is used for wedding, because its white color represents purity (and the beginning of something new)
  • Rose is used for funeral, due to the acculturation of two traditions

Tips #2 - Focus on meeting Speaking grading criteria

Sometimes, we have a little hesitation when giving certain information related to the Speaking topic. For example, some test takers are having difficulties explaining the meaning of certain flowers in their country. They are afraid of giving unreliable information when answering the questions. When this happens, I always suggest them to focus on the four grading criteria (lexical resource, grammatical range and accuracy, fluency and pronunciation) instead of worrying about the reliability of their answers.

Of course, you can always support your answer with data and facts, if it is relevant to your answers. But you also have to remember that you can always give your own viewpoint. When the assessors are giving you questions about certain topic, they are actually trying to assess your language knowledge and performance, not anything else.

No comments:

Post a comment