Top Tips for IELTS

3 different ways to do IELTS part 2 speaking – a tourist attraction

This lesson is designed to show you that there are different ways to to IELTS part 2 speaking. The main suggestion is that you try out different ways to speak until you find the one that suits your personal style the best. Different approaches work for different people and different topics. You also find 3 different recordings and transcripts to help you see  how it is done.

The topic – Speak about  a tourist attraction

A tourist attraction

Describe a tourist attraction that you have visited. You should say

What the attraction was

When you visited it

Why you went there

And say whether you enjoyed the visit or not

This is a friendly topic. All you need to do is think of somewhere you have been where tourists normally go. It can be either in your country or abroad. You just need to think of something/somewhere you can remember well. The best advice is to talk about your personal experience and not treat this as a vocabulary exercise – that way you will speak much better.

Just talk naturally – approach 1

In this first example, I just sit down and talk naturally – the way I would normally talk. The benefit of this approach are it helps:

the rhythm of speech – a large part of pronunciation

relaxation – the more relaxed you feel, the better you will speak normally

The one danger is you may forget to talk about what’s on the cue card. While there is no task response mark in speaking, you do want to answer the question; so my advice is to check the cue card from time to time as you are speaking to make sure that you are on topic.

Read and listen

National Gallery

Read the natural approach

I’m going to tell you about the the last time I visited the National Gallery in London – I guess that counts as a tourist attraction – it’s certainly always really busy and there are any number of tourists there – It’s popular I suppose because it’s completely free and that’s slightly unusual for a major art gallery nowadays – If you compare it with The Louvre in Paris for example that’s really pricey and you normally have to queue for hours at a time – The National Gallery is different not just because it’s free but you can walk right in without waiting.

I go there quite a lot – in fact I try to go and visit it whenever I’m in London – I’m fascinated by art and art history and I just like to wander around and look at all the masterpieces that are on display there -Typically I go for about an hour or so only because I lose concentration after a time.

Well – the last I went there was sometime in December – just before Christmas I think – there was certainly a Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square just outside – I was in London to do some shopping and I decided to pop into the National to see if there was a new exhibition on – There wasn’t but I did see that there was a sensational Veronese exhibition planned for April this year – So I what I did was just spend my time looking at some of Turner’s watercolours.

Did I enjoy it? Certainly – the National is one place I’ll never tire of and I’m sure that I will keep on going back there. It’s for me – sort of – one of the greatest art galleries in the world and I think it’s that’s why it’s such a popular tourist attraction.


I include quite a lot of information not on the cue card here. That’s fine. See in particular how I talk about my habit of going to the National Gallery – this allows me to use present tenses too.

See how I come back to the cue card from time to time when I am not sure what to say next. The Well is excellent spoken language – simple but effective. Another useful technique  for doing this is to ask a question [Did I enjoy it?].

Note also how I am careful to finish as I started by talking about the tourist attraction. It is good to remind the examiner that you are talking about the right thing!

Language notes

I don’t relax too much and I do concentrate on using varied grammar and vocabulary. Nothing very complex but enough to show I have a range of language. See the if clause and the different ways I give opinions.

Tell a story – approach 2

This is similar but slightly different. Again, you don’t necessarily follow the cue card points in order, you just tell a story that includes them. The benefit of this approach are :

it can be very simple when you are speaking about an event/experience – you just say what happened in the order they happened

it is often easy to remember details when you tell a story – that is good for vocabulary

There are a couple of problems:

not all part 2 topics are natural story topics

you may go too far off topic unless you check the cue card – so remember to start and finish your story by referring to the topic

Read and listen

Olympic Park

Read the story-telling approach

I’m going to tell you about the time I went to see the Olympic Park in London – I guess you know that the 2012 Olympics were held in London – I didn’t get to go there then because I was living out in China and it was just impossible

But my brother and his family booked some tickets for the Anniversary Games – I think they were called – held in 2013 – a year after the Olympics – last year – it was to celebrate the success of the British athletes at the games – he wanted to go because he hadn’t been able to get tickets for the Olympics either

We went there together in a big group – my brother, my sister-in-law and their two kids – my brother didn’t tell them about where we were going because he wanted to surprise them! It didn’t work because Izzy – my niece is pretty smart and worked it out very quickly – on the train as were going up to London

When we got there it was extremely crowded and it wasn’t easy to get from the Tube station to the stadium itself – but the day was an excellent day out – really good fun – the highlight I suppose was seeing Usain Bolt playing around on the start line and waving to the crowd – he’s a real showman –

But in truth the whole day was great and I was extremely impressed with the Olympic Park and the facilities there and I can see now that the money spent on the Olympic Park was money well spent I’ sure that it’s going to be a sort of tourist attraction for years to come


See how I just tell the story of a day out. I give a little introduction and conclusion to show what I am saying is relevant to the topic. Other than that I just talk about what happened on the day. This is a good approach for when you are under pressure.

Telling a story allows me to use good natural and precise vocabulary that I may not be able to use if I just follow the cue card. See the language I use for my family.

Note too that I talk in little bursts – I speak – I stop – I speak – I stop. This is the natural way to speak. We don’t really speak in sentences. Writing and speaking are two different things.

Language notes

This topic is about the past and when we tell stories we normally use past tenses. It’s good to try and use different past tenses. Look at the verbs I have highlighted in green and see how I use the past simple, past continuous and the past perfect.


Follow the cue card – approach 3

This is the least natural approach. Here what you do follow the points on the cue card one by one. The benefits of this approach are

you always know where you are – you cannot get lost about what you are saying

it can make you sound very organised – this can help your coherence and fluency score

The major drawback is that

you may not have enough to say – so you will need to add detail

note also that the three bullet point topics are quite short and that the last question is where you will probably have most to say

Read and listen

The Backs

Read the follow the cue card approach

I’m going to tell you are The Backs in Cambridge – Cambridge University is of course one of the most famous universities in the world – certainly living in Cambridge I can tell you that the city is full of tourists the whole year round –  when you walk down the streets you are almost as likely to hear Chinese as you are English – there are that many tourists here

I suppose the biggest attraction in Cambridge for tourists are The Backs – these are the backs of some of the oldest colleges including King’s Clare and Trinity – what it is the view you see when you look over the river Cam onto the lawns, gardens and buildings of the colleges – I guess it’s become the really iconic picture of Cambridge

I actually live in Cambridge myself but I don’t go to see The Backs that often – I just tend to cycle into work and then go back home without going to see the tourist attractions – but last week my mother-in-law came to stay and we I took her around the sights and gave her a tour of the city ending with the Backs

I did this because she’s a foreigner and didn’t know her way around the city and really needed me to guide her – it helps that I speak her language because her English isn’t that fluent

Did I enjoy it? Well, I surprised myself – I thought that I may get a little bored as I know the city and The Backs so well – but as it turned out I had a really good time – it was interesting to look carefully at things I normally take for granted – my mother-in-law certainly enjoyed going to see The Backs- she now wants to come back and see more of the city


See how I carefully follow the order of the points on the cue card red = what,  blue = when, green =why and purple = if. This makes my answer much more structured than before.

Note also though that I need to add in a lot of detail to get to 2 minutes.


Is one approach best?

No, I don’t think so. My best advice is to try them all out and see what works for you. I’d also add that it is sensible to be ready to try any one of these approaches in your test – you don’t know what question you will get and it helps to be able to talk in different ways.

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7 Responses to 3 different ways to do IELTS part 2 speaking – a tourist attraction

  1. hlp April 1, 2014 at 7:07 pm #

    I think you have a problem with the layout on this page.
    The ‘find us on facebook’ column is obscuring the content in the main column

    • Dominic Cole April 1, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

      Which browser are you on? It works fine for me. Thanks forgetting me know.

  2. Sange Sherpa September 28, 2014 at 7:20 pm #

    A site worth visiting!!!
    Thank you DOminic

  3. elizabeth October 10, 2014 at 12:56 am #

    Love your site, but find the audio difficult to hear. I’m an English teacher but it must be really hard for foreign language speakers. Anyway to improve clarity? Elizabeth

    • Dominic Cole October 14, 2014 at 7:26 am #


      Some of the audio is really quite old now and I am actively (if slowly) trying to upgrade. Apologies.

  4. mitra March 31, 2015 at 9:45 pm #

    thank you so much dear Dominic for your great website. I have a little problem, when I think of exam time I get more stress.
    help me overcome my stress please.

  5. Oussama August 5, 2015 at 12:43 pm #

    thank you very much for this approaches , i think this is what i was looking for , i’m the kind of person who dosn’t include a lot of details in an answer so i found it really difficult to reach 2 min , in addition when i move from one sentence to another i take a lot of time to find what i will say so my speech is really boring when i listen to it , any advice Mr Cole ?

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