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Part 2 speaking: a musical event – getting the topic vocabulary right

A key point to be aware of is that each part of the speaking module tests a different form of spoken English. So, if you want to prepare well, you need to focus on the right kind of language. This lesson focusses on the right kind of vocabulary in part 2 with a sample speaking about a musical event to listen to, a tapescript and detailed vocabulary assistance.

 

 

Part 2 language – descriptions

Part 2 is largely about the language of description. You are given an everyday topic that a good intermediate level learner should be able to talk about at some length. It is a mistake to get too academic here and try and use complex language – that is not the task. Rather you should be trying to show the examiner that you have sufficient  range of vocabulary to describe:

  • people
  • events
  • things
  • places
  • plans
  • habits

You will find a selection of typical topics on my cue cards page. If you take a look, you will see that these topics are general, everyday topics and the task is normally simply to describe something and then give a brief explanation.

A sample cue card

Look at this cue card. It is simply asking you to describe an everyday experience that anyone could expect to talk about. There is nothing academic here.

A musical event

Describe a musical event in your country

You should say

  • What the event it is
  • Where it takes place
  • What kind of music is played

And you should explain why you enjoy it

Listen to and read my sample answer

Listen

[audio:http://www.dcielts.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/music-proms.mp3|titles=musical event part 2]

Read the tapescript

Okay what I am going to describe to/for you is a musical event. Erm. Before I start perhaps I should mention that I am not in fact a particularly musical person and I very rarely go to concerts but I do erm like to listen to music on the radio and sometimes the tv. And the event I’m going to describe is called the Proms. Erm . It’s a series of concerts which take place in this country towards the end of summer. the beginning of autumn and they take place in the Royal Albert Hall which is perhaps the most famous musical venue erm in this country. And the kind of music you can hear there is chiefly classical music so you have the great composers with their symphonies and concertos etcetera. Erm. But they’re also beginning to look at more contemporary music. They’ve started something called the Electronic Proms which features more contemporary music, electronic music.

As I said, right at the beginning, I’m not a particularly musical person. But the Proms I do enjoy and  I enjoy them for this reason – the atmosphere in the concert hall. Erm. It’s really quite special and in particular on the last night of the Proms erm they play patriotic music almost nationalistic music and everybody is there getting very overexcited, waving their flags, erm. And, as I say, the atmosphere is really quite wonderful and it makes for great tv viewing and I couldn’t recommend it too highly.

Thinking about the vocabulary

This is an exceptionally good spoken answer. Let me try and explain why.

The topic vocabulary

I include 7/8 items of vocabulary that relate specifically to the topic of music. This is a lot. More than enough. The examiner is going to be impressed with this. It doesn’t matter that the words are not complex, I have shown I am capable of talking about music at length and with some precision.

See the topic vocabulary

Okay what I am going to describe to/for you is a musical event. Erm. Before I start perhaps I should mention that I am not in fact a particularly musical person and I very rarely go to concerts but I do erm like to listen to music on the radio and sometimes the tv. And the event I’m going to describe is called the Proms. Erm . It’s a series of concerts which take place in this country towards the end of summer. the beginning of autumn and they take place in the Royal Albert Hall which is perhaps the most famous musical venue erm in this country. And the kind of music you can hear there is chiefly classical music so you have the great composers with their symphonies and concertos etcetera. Erm. But they’re also beginning to look at more contemporary music. They’ve started something called the Electronic Proms which features more contemporary music, electronic music.

As I said, right at the beginning, I’m not a particularly musical person. But the Proms I do enjoy and  I enjoy them for this reason – the atmosphere in the concert hall. Erm. It’s really quite special and in particular on the last night of the Proms erm they play patriotic music almost nationalistic music and everybody is there getting very overexcited, waving their flags, erm. And, as I say, the atmosphere is really quite wonderful and it makes for great tv viewing and I couldn’t recommend it too highly.

The language of description – using adverbs

What I also do very well is here is describe. Again, the language I use is relatively simple but very effective. If you want to give a good description in English, some of the most important words are adverbs such as “really” and “particularly”. If you can use these words well, your language can go up a level – “Really quite wonderful” is much, much more effective than “wonderful”.

See the adverbs

Okay what I am going to describe to/for you is a musical event. Erm. Before I start perhaps I should mention that I am not in fact a particularly musical person and I very rarely go to concerts but I do erm like to listen to music on the radio and sometimes the tv. And the event I’m going to describe is called the Proms. Erm . It’s a series of concerts which take place in this country towards the end of summer, the beginning of autumn and they take place in the Royal Albert Hall which is perhaps the most famous musical venue erm in this country. And the kind of music you can hear there is chiefly classical music so you have the great composers with their symphonies and concertos etcetera. Erm. But they’re also beginning to look at more contemporary music. They’ve started something called the Electronic Proms which features more contemporary music, electronic music.

As I said, right at the beginning, I’m not a particularly musical person. But the Proms I do enjoy and  I enjoy them for this reason – the atmosphere in the concert hall. Erm. It’s really quite special and in particular on the last night of the Proms erm they play patriotic music almost nationalistic music and everybody is there getting very overexcited, waving their flags, erm. And, as I say, the atmosphere is really quite wonderful and it makes for great tv viewing and I couldn’t recommend it too highly.

Idiomatic/spoken English

Another aspect of this answer which is so good is that it uses quite a lot of spoken/idiomatic English. This is not easy to learn but if you can use some idioms, the examiner will be impressed.

 

See the idioms

Okay what I am going to describe to/for you is a musical event. Erm. Before I start perhaps I should mention that I am not in fact a particularly musical person and I very rarely go to concerts but I do erm like to listen to music on the radio and sometimes the tv. And the event I’m going to describe is called the Proms. Erm . It’s a series of concerts which take place in this country towards the end of summer, the beginning of autumn and they take place in the Royal Albert Hall which is perhaps the most famous musical venue erm in this country. And the kind of music you can hear there is chiefly classical music so you have the great composers with their symphonies and concertos etcetera. Erm. But they’re also beginning to look at more contemporary music. They’ve started something called the Electronic Proms which features more contemporary music, electronic music.

As I said, right at the beginning, I’m not a particularly musical person. But the Proms I do enjoy and  I enjoy them for this reason – the atmosphere in the concert hall. Erm. It’s really quite special and in particular on the last night of the Proms erm they play patriotic music almost nationalistic music and everybody is there getting very overexcited, waving their flags,erm. And, as I say, the atmosphere is really quite wonderful and it makes for great tv viewing and I couldn’t recommend it too highly.

notes

mention: a good word to have meaning to talk about something briefly

take place: much more idiomatic/spoken than “happen” or “occur”

towards the end of: a simple phrase you can learn

look at: a phrasal verb. These are tough. Here it means “experiment with”

features: a nice idiom meaning “contains”

I do enjoy: an excellent spoken habit. You can use the “do” to add strength or emphasis to what you say

really quite: very idiomatic meaning “very, very”

overexcited: you know excited, this just means “very excited”

makes for: another phrasal verb, here meaning “creates”

Music vocabulary exercise

If you want some practice using music vocabulary in a spoken context, here is a quick online exercise for you to try:

spoken music vocabulary

Practice suggestion

Music is not an easy topic to speak about and it is one of those topics you should think about practising. Here is what I suggest:

  • make a list of musical topic vocab – the best words are probably the words you already know
  • practise speaking about music or a musical event and try use some of those words (6 topic words is good)
  • don’t worry about 2 minutes – it can help just to have a conversation with someone
  • when you are confident, try and record yourself for 2 minutes – see how many topic words you can use
  • do NOT write it out first – speaking and writing are very different and you need to get confidence of speaking about something without knowing every word you are going to say (written models of speaking are almost valueless)

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9 Responses to Part 2 speaking: a musical event – getting the topic vocabulary right

  1. Afsane September 14, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    well..this is gonna be really difficult as we have no musical event whatsoever in Iran! I just hope i won’t be asked such kinda questions!

  2. Dominic Cole September 14, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    Most examiners are pretty friendly and try and match cue cards/questions to candidates. So provided you get an examiner who knows Iran, I guess you won’t get this question.

  3. satish January 7, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    Really its valuable suggestion and support.

  4. Radmila January 26, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

    “I couldn’t recommend it too highly.”- does this expression mean that you actually recomment going to this concert?I`m afraid that I just have not came across such grammatical structure so far. Can you explain it , please?

  5. Julia Robert January 25, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this nice post.IELTS Speaking is also very important and students should follow the IELTS Speaking tips for better result in IELTS.

  6. sonam sharma June 3, 2015 at 3:40 pm #

    This is not compulsory for all type of music.we can discuss about our preceptions.that’s all.

    • Dominic Cole September 13, 2015 at 2:42 pm #

      Quite so. The best choice is to talk about what you personally know about. That way you are almost certain to speak better.

      • Shazia Tanqeer July 21, 2016 at 5:27 am #

        Thank you pot is very nice

  7. nikta June 28, 2015 at 4:10 pm #

    it was of a great help to me, specifically the spoken music vocabulary. Thank you indeed

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