IELTS Speaking Section Part 1, 2 and 3 - Talking about Society

IELTS Speaking Part 1, 2 and 3 - Talking about Society

Today, we are going to discuss IELTS Speaking Section. There will be some sample questions and answers related to topic society. We will discuss part 1, 2 and 3 of the speaking test as well as some tips on how to do the IELTS speaking. We will also discuss some vocabularies related to the topic and some common grammatical mistakes in speaking. Okay, let's start with the first conversation.

IELTS Speaking Part 1 - Talking about Familiar Topics


How well do you know your neighbors?

I don't know them that well, actually. I spend most of my time working and do not really have much time to interact with people living next door, or across the street. Well, the majority of people who live in my neighborhood are working people who have family. They are busy during the day and would rather spend their time with family after work. We only talk when we have free time, like during the weekend. I often talk to a family living next door while they enjoy their free time on Saturday. The father usually washes his car or mow the lawn and we have a small talk. Sometimes I talk to their kids too, but they are kind of shy and not talking too much.

How often do you see them?

Not very often. As I said, both my neighbors and I are busy working. We only have small talk, on occasion, but that's just about it. 

What kind of problem do people usually have with their neighbors?

There are all kinds of problem that we may have with neighbors, but the most common ones would be noises and kids. My neighbors, who live across the street, have a little baby, and the baby often wakes up in the middle of the night. Sometimes, the crying baby also wakes me up at night. I don't mean to be an egoistic and intolerant neighbor or anything, but I have to wake up really early for work and I need get a good night sleep. Besides, I have been developing an insomnia lately, so a crying baby can definitely be a nuisance for people like me. Other than a crying baby, sometimes I see children play in the street. I scolded them once, but the parents didn't take it very nicely. I told them that they need to supervise their little children when playing outside, because they often play in the street without paying attention to the surrounding traffic. This is dangerous for both the children and drivers who happen to pass the street.

How do you think neighbors can help each other?

Neighbors can take care of each other. I often go on a business trip and my neighbors often help me with my cat. They like taking care of the cat while I'm away, and I think it is very nice of them to help me with my pet. Sometimes, I let my neighbors use my parking space when they have a guest, because I have a garage and never park in the drive way.

Have you ever invited your neighbors to your home?

No, not really. But I was invited to a dinner by a new neighbor living next door. She invited those who live next door and across the street for a dinner, she introduced herself to us, and we welcomed her to the neighborhood.

Do you think you are a good neighbor?

Not really, I seldom have the time to interact with my neighbors. I often come home in the middle of the night, and the light from motorcycle head lamp as well as the noises from the engine can wake up my neighbor's baby sometimes, which I feel bad about. I seldom attend events held in the neighborhood because I have works to do. I wish I could participate more in the such event and become a good member of the community.

IELTS Speaking Part 2 - Self-Presentation

Social Change

Describe an important social change that happens in your country

You should say:

What change is it?

How long has it happened/since when did it happen?

Why is it considered important?

Explain how it affects people in your country

What is it?

As an Indonesian, I feel like the economic and social condition is getting better recently. The majority of the people lived in poverty back then, and there was a very low living standard. There was also a gap between the rich and the poor, as wealth was not distributed evenly. Those who lived under the poverty line simply did not have access to education, health services, jobs, and other aspects of life that were needed to live with a good living standard, the least to ascend the social and economic ladder. The society has gone through a long process to become what it is today and I can say that people, in general, live a much better life these days, both socially and economically.

How long has it happened/since when did it happen?

This positive change started after the 1998  reformation. For 32 years, Indonesia was ruled by a dictator. Poverty was so pervasive, especially after economic crisis hit the country in 1998. Resources were owned by few elites within the government body or their private cronies. Corruption was a commonplace. This caused vertical conflict, as there was a skepticism, or even distrust to the ruling government. It also caused horizontal conflict between the haves and the poor, which resulted in some sort of hatred addressed towards the rich and non-natives. Sadly, all of these issues ended up being a bloody reformation in 1998, a painful process that claimed many lives of civilians, especially student protesters.

But there has been a lot of improvement since then. We now live in a democratic country where people have more freedom to express themselves. Transparency and independent judiciary system make sure that people are treated fairly. There is a healthy competition in business. So, life is much better than it was prior to the 1998 reformation. 

Why is it considered important?

Actually, there are some reasons why this change is very important to the people, but I'll give few examples. First of all, there was no free press and free speech prior to reformation. In fact, there wasn't much freedom of any sort because the authoritarian regime ruled the country with iron fist. Try criticizing them, and you will die tomorrow. Media was also pervasively censored to the point where it ended up being the mouthpiece of the government. There were a lot of human right violations those days, people were put in prison without trial, books that were considered dangerous were confiscated by the authority, activists were kidnapped. Well, in general, there wasn't that much civil rights prior to reformation era. This is why 1998 reformation becomes a very important turning point for the people of Indonesia.

Explain how it affects people in your country

The change has brought about some positive impacts. In terms of economic aspect, we can see that wealth is more evenly distributed these days, and this can be seen by the rapid growth of upper-middle class in Indonesia. 

Back then, power and wealth were so concentrated to the government and its cronies. Only people with influence and connection to the government can be successful in business. Now, we can see a lot of companies or startups that were built from scratch by an ordinary person. This has been made possible by a system that encourages entrepreneurship and allows the people to use their potentials and resources to thrive. I'm no expert in economics, but I personally believe that such improvement is only possible when there isn't too much intervention from the government. 

IELTS Speaking Part 3 - Discussion

Talking about social problems

What social problems are there in your country?

Recently, there are a lot of people getting laid off because of the economic impact of the global pandemic. These people have successfully ascended the socio-economic ladder, but now they are extremely anxious, not only about the possibility of second wave of covid19, but also the possibility of second wave poverty. Well, issues related to economy like poverty will eventually lead to social unrest if not handled properly. The high unemployment rate often becomes the reason why crime rate also increases, making the people feel unsafe. The pandemic also makes the low-income household becomes more vulnerable. When both parents are losing their job, it means that the entire family will have to cut expenses. In some cases, frustration resulted from such condition can lead to domestic violence that will definitely be detrimental to the children as well.

You mentioned about poverty. What can be done to alleviate poverty?

First of all, we have to deal with problems in our education system. People are suffering from poverty because they don't have the knowledge and skill needed to join the workforce. This is why we need more education and training. Other than education, there's got to be the spirit of entrepreneurship as well, because entrepreneurs provide jobs for those who need it. Actually, the government has successfully eradicated poverty for the past fifteen years or so, but with all this corona virus stuff going on, there is a possibility that they will have to go back to square one.

What do you think of social charity?

It is a good way of helping people who need medication, or those who suffer from natural disaster. There are a lot of charities in my country, we now even have online crowd funding platform. But, personally, I believe that charity is a way of helping other people, but it's not the ultimate solution for problems related to poverty. To deal with issues of a larger scope like poverty as well as social and economic gap, people will need empowerment more than everything. For example, when we see a young guy suffering from hunger, we can help him by giving him some food, or shelter, but we can't keep feeding that guy expecting him to be a good member of the society. At some point, we have to help him get a decent job so he can make his own living and become an independent, responsible and capable individual. Generally, people do not like being seen as a victim of poverty, or social inequality, what they want is a job that will help them stand on their own feet.

Can you tell me the difference between minor crimes and major crimes?

Of course. Murder is definitely a major crime, especially if it is a premediated murder. People can be charged with death penalty for such crime. But, there are also some differences for minor and major crimes criteria in every country and jurisdiction. For example, the possession of drug may be considered legal in some countries. Even if it is illegal, I think the punishment will not be as severe as here in my country. Here, those who are caught in possession of drug will definitely face imprisonment. In a very serious case like drug smuggling, someone can even get death penalty, so we can say that these drug-related crimes are taken very seriously here. Another crime that is considered as a major crime is terrorism, which is another crime that can result in death penalty. Any other criminal behaviors other than these three will probably fall under the category of minor crimes, or petty crimes.

Some countries have seen urbanization as a problem. Why do you think people are moving to cities?

People go to cities with a hope that they will get a better job, a better life. Some of them are really successful indeed, and such success often leads to a false belief that in order to succeed, one has to move to the city. Now, there are more and more people going to the city not having the educational background required to get a job, nor having any skill that will make them attractive to employers, and this is when the problem starts appearing. 

In cities, living standard is higher than in small towns, but everything is expensive. There are a lot jobs there, but there is a high level of competition as well. Those who cannot survive in the city may end up living in slum area, or becoming a beggar, or even street criminals. It is true that city is the center of trade and administration that offers more job opportunity for the people, but it can also be a harsh place for those who go there unprepared.

Can you explain how overpopulation affect urban society?

Indonesia is notoriously known for its centrality, especially in Java, one of the main islands here. While other regions outside the main island are underdeveloped, Java has become overpopulated. There have been some problems resulted from urbanization. Let's take capital city Jakarta as an example. Because of overpopulation, we can see how the city now deals with traffic, homelessness and crime rate. There are a lot of slum areas in Jakarta, which makes social disparity looks clearer more than ever. We can see a giant supermall or a fancy apartment located near a slum, which makes it iconic and ironic at the same time. There are also some environmental concerns related to overpopulation. For example, the city is finding it more and more difficult to manage its waste, which often leads to other problems such as water pollution and flood. Because of overpopulation, Jakarta is also experiencing a land subsidence at a rate of 1 to 15cm a year according to an expert. It is predicted that the city will sink in 2025 or 2050 if the problem related to overpopulation and centralization persist.  

We have read the sample answer questions and answers for the topic above. Now, let's discuss several aspects that we need to pay attention to when doing the IELTS Listening Section, and let's start with the vocabulary.

IELTS Speaking Section Vocabulary

In some rare cases of IELTS Speaking Section, we may have to deal with technical terms like those related to law. Remember that you can use the most common term possible, unless there's no other alternative for such term. For example, I used the term premediated murder, which may not sound that familiar to some people. Suppose you have never heard of this term before, then you can explain it with your own words. For instance, you can give a definition instead, and say: a murder that is committed intentionally, which is fine. There are some words that have synonyms like death penalty, which is sometimes called capital punishment, or death-sentence, or execution. In this case, you are free to choose which word you want to use, although it would be much better if you do not use it repetitively.

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

You may notice that I said: 

  • I'm no expert in economics...

This sentence may sound strange to you, and you may ask: Isn't it supposed to be:

  • I'm not an expert in economics?

Well, you're right. That sentence is not grammatically accurate, but it is commonly heard in real communication though, so this may (or may not) considered as a slip. In IELTS Speaking Section, sometimes you think very fast and you focus more on the communicative aspect instead of grammatical aspect. This is why slips occur. It's okay, you just have to make sure that you don't think too much of a grammar that you end up wasting your time and not answering the questions at all. But, you also have to avoid recurrent grammatical errors because it will definitely reduce your score for grammatical range and accuracy.

Speaking of grammatical range and accuracy, I will also suggest you to use various grammatical structure, as to not become too dull and repetitive. Try demonstrating your mastery of the English grammar. For example, you may notice that I said:

  • Now, there are more and more people going to the city not having the educational background required to get a job, nor having any skill that will make them attractive to employers...

Pay attention to the underlined words. Here, I am using present participle that functions as a adverbial clause. I also use coordinating conjunction nor. I did this to avoid using repetitive sentence structure. I could have said it this way:

  • Now, there are more and more people going to the city. They do not have educational background required to get a job or the skill that will make them attractive to employers... 

The sentence above is grammatically correct, but I have used the same sentence structure so I tried to say it in a different way.

Basic Knowledge

You may realize that society is a very difficult topic in IELTS Speaking Section, especially when we have to explain things like social disparity, or unequal wealth distribution, or the impact of urbanization on both rural and urban community. You don't have to be an expert to answer these questions, but you definitely need some basic knowledge to be able to do so. Try to read newspaper, watch news on television, be more up-to-date to current issues and try to know more about what's going on around you. You may have a good mastery of mastery of grammar and vocabulary, but if you don't have the basic knowledge related to the speaking topic, then you will find it hard to do the speaking test, and this is just bad.

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