This lesson shows one way you can talk about an animal for IELTS. You’ll find a certain amount of helpful vocabulary, but the main idea here is to try and make your answer personal – talk about what you know.
Describe your favourite animal. You should say
what it is
where it lives
what it eats
And explain why like it
As ever, I use the cue card to help me structure my talk. This means that I don’t have to worry about how I organise what I say, I just follow each question in turn and add in detail. You can see how I do this by looking at the transcript below. Each “paragraph” answers a separate point on the cue card.
Topic vocabulary and idiom
I don’t really suggest that you worry too much about topic vocabulary when you are speaking or planning in your one minute. You will see that I do use some topic vocabulary for animals, but really there isn’t that much. Instead, I concentrate here on being fluent and making myself coherent. This can be much more practical in an exam situation. There is a real danger that if you think too much about words, you’ll get nervous and say nothing.
Make your response personal
This is an example of a very personal answer – I’m telling the examiner about my own life/ideas. This is an excellent approach. You want to make the examiner interested and you don’t need to be “clever” or “unusual” – you just need to talk about you and your experiences. See my separate lesson on this – making the examiner your friend.
Add in detail
The questions on the card are not restrictive. What this means is that you can add in detail. Here you will find that I talk quite a lot about how my cat looks. That isn’t on the card but it relates to the topic and gives me a chance to say more and, importantly, use more vocabulary.
Listen to my answer
Read the transcript and my notes
I’m going to tell you about my pet cat Montague – he’s practically a member of my family – I’ve always had cats and I suppose I’m slightly silly about them.
He’s just a common or garden cat – a moggy – not a special breed or anything like that. Though his colouring is rather special. He’s all white but has a ginger tail and ginger ears and another patch on his body. He looks as if he might be a pedigree cat and some people have asked. But as I was saying he’s quite common really.
He’s an inside cat. I’d love to let him outside and roam but we live fairly near a road and it just isn’t safe. It’d break my heart if anything happened to him – you know if he was run over. You might laugh at this but I do sometimes take him outside for a walk – on a lead – just as you would with a dog. I don’t take him out onto the road – just into the back garden so that he can chew on the grass – that’s one of his great loves.
What does he eat? Until very recently he only ate chicken. Our vet diagnosed him as being intolerant of any form of cat food – he was being sick all the time. So I used to cook chicken for him 3 times a day! But I’m pleased to say that he is now back on a regular diet as we’ve found a prescription cat food that he can tolerate.
You want to know why I love him? It’s hard to explain. He’s just a member of the family now. And I love him just like I would a person.
The topic words
I have marked the topic words in red. There’s quite a few of them but they aren’t complex. A “moggy” is an affectionate term for a non-pedigree cat – it does only work for cats.
Making it personal
This is a very personal answer an you should see that I use personal pronouns all the way through. I talk about how I feel and I also talk to the examiner.
Spoken idiom and qualifying words
Idiom is tough to learn and you should be careful about overusing it. The words in green are quite simple but they do help. See how I use “fairly” “practically” and rather” – a small thing done well that helps the way you sound.