Top Tips for IELTS

A television programme – part 2 speaking

This is the next in my series of sample part 2 talks for IELTS speaking. In addition to the chance to listen to and read the script of my model talk, you will find advice to help you so that you don’t run out of things to say, some basic tv vocabulary and advice on structuring your talk.

The cue card

A television programme

Describe a television programme  you watched and did not enjoy.

You should say:

  • what this programme was
  • where and when you watched it
  • what it was about

and explain why you did not enjoy it

A common problem – you don’t have enough to say

The problem with this cue card is quite a common one. It is that if you are not careful, you might run out of ideas and stop speaking too soon. It is possible to say what the programme was, when you watched it and what it was about in only a few words. This means that you then need to speak about why you disliked it for about one and a half minutes. Difficult.

Focus on one key point to develop

My suggestion is that when you look at a cue card like this one, you should spend some time thinking about one point on the cue card you say more about. Normally, there is one point you can develop. The trick to doing this is to understand that in speaking you can add details to what is on the card – provided they are relevant to the main point. In this way, the speaking test is freer than the writing test where you need to be very careful not to add detail the question doesn’t ask about.

An example

With this cue card, I suggest the key point to develop is “What was the programme about?”.  The mistake would be to say in a few words “it was about cooking/tennis/Afghanistan/the financial crisis etc”. One way to do this is to give an example of what the programme is about. Here are some possibilities:

  • describe the type of programme it was (soap opera etc)
  • describe a scene in the programme as an example
  • describe a main character in the programme
  • tell the story of the programme in summary
  • what was the main idea of the programme

How to do it

The best way to do this is simply to tell the examiner what you are doing. Here is some language that may help:

If you don’t know the programme it is…..

To give you an idea of what the programme is about, let me tell you

For example, one thing you might see on this programme is

The reason most people watch this programme is

Television vocabulary

Clearly, some of the main vocabulary you want for this topic will be tv vocab. Here is some for you to consider:

general words

television programme

[television] channel

be addicted to tv

prime time (tv)

tv host





become a couch potato


a soap opera

reality tv

a game show


chat show


a documentary

news bulletin

a repeat


to be shown

to be shot

turn on

switch off

turn over


Structuring your answer – count the points

If you want to get a good score for coherence in the speaking, it is important to try and structure your answer clearly so that examiner can understand what you are talking about. One very clear and simple way to do this is to list the different points you make. For example:

There are three reasons why I disliked the programme

The first was […………………………] So that was the first reason.

Another reason was [………………………..]

Finally, I disliked it because [……………………]

Does that look too simple to you? It shouldn’t. This is how speaking works. When you are speaking, it is important to be as clear as you can be. There is no real need to try “difficult’ or “clever” variations as you do in writing. Keep your structure as simple as possible.

Listen to my sample answer

As you listen, note these points from this lesson:

  1. How I describe the tv show in some detail
  2. The tv vocab I use
  3. How I clearly structure my answer
[audio:|titles=television programme]

Read the tapescript and my notes


See the structure

Okay I’m going to describe to you a tv programme I watched recently and  didn’t enjoy. The programme is called Come Dine with Me. I saw it with me niece Poppy when I was staying with her up in Scotland. It’s a reality show about cooking. The idea is that 4 people who don’t know each other, get together and cook a meal for each other and the people who eat the meal give the cook, or the chef, a score out of 10. And at the end of the week the person who’s got the most points is given a prize by the tv executives

Why didn’t I like it? It’s a very popular show. It’s shown every week and it’s repeated endlessly on tv.  It’s popular, it’s entertaining. But why do you want to watch ordinary people do ordianry things. I’m afraid I simply don’t get the concept of reality tv very much. I prefer more serious programmes, documentaries where I can learn something. That would be one reason.

The second reason is I watched the programme, as I said, with my niece. She loves cooking coooking is her passion, it’s her life. Me? Im not really interested in cooking. I cook but I cook to live. I cook to survive because I have to. And I certainly wouldn’t ever choose to sit down and watch a programme about cooking by myself. I’m afraid I simply don’t have any interest in that at all.


  •  I start off by simply explaining what I am going to do.
  • I briefly give the name of the programme and then spend some time explaining the idea behind the programme
  • I use very simple language to explain to the examiner the structure of my talk. Note how I use a question “Why didn’t I enjoy it?’
  • Ending well is not that important. The examiner may just stop you.


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14 Responses to A television programme – part 2 speaking

  1. Radmila September 7, 2011 at 6:31 am #

    Oh, thank you Dominic, it`s very helpful)

  2. rosaline September 7, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    thank you sir. its very helpful for me.

  3. Ernest September 9, 2011 at 2:07 am #

    I’m a little confused one the use of one word – people. I thought we use it when it is uncountable and yet you have used it with a number. Shouldn’t a person use persons in this case?

    • Dominic Cole September 9, 2011 at 6:30 am #

      People is the normal plural of person and is countable – even though there is no “s”. The only time it is not countable is when you talk about “the Chinese people” for example meaning one nation.

  4. Afsane September 14, 2011 at 5:31 am #

    very interesting!! I was thinking about the same TV program as you explained! hahahaa… it was an excellent example,thank you! 🙂

  5. multilingual langauge jobs January 2, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

    Hi there very cool website!! Guy .. Excellent .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds also?I am happy to seek out numerous useful info here in the post, we need develop extra strategies on this regard, thank you for sharing. . . . . .

  6. Mahnaz February 3, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    Hi, that was really helpful!thanks

  7. hoh March 27, 2012 at 4:29 pm #


    Now I know how to organize 2 min for topic 2, which was my weakest part in speaking test.
    Thank you again and again!

  8. bob September 27, 2012 at 11:39 pm #

    lol ty

  9. prabhdeep bhullar November 12, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    thanxxxxxxxxxx its really very useful

  10. Iraj December 1, 2012 at 5:09 am #

    It was very helpful Dominic. you described the points in very simple way.

  11. trang May 11, 2013 at 7:26 am #

    Thank you from bottom of my heart

  12. fata.veikune July 21, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    It was very clear and helpful dominic the way that you described points in very simple ways

  13. Eugenia October 25, 2013 at 1:25 am #

    Thak you for excellent job! I live in Ukraine and enjoy reading your blog!

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