IELTS Speaking : Childhood

Take one minute to prepare a talk on the following subject.
Take notes if you like and remember to include reasons and examples.
You should then speak for between one and two minutes.

Describe a happy childhood memory.

You should say:

  • when and where the incident you remember happened
  • who you were with
  • what happened exactly

and explain why it is a happy memory.

IELTS Speaking Tip

To get maximum benefit all the practice should be done without preparing your answers. You will not know exactly what the examiner is going to ask or exactly how he or she will ask it. You need to be spontaneous, to speak as naturally and fluently as possible. The aim of this practice section is to help you to prepare for the type of questions you will get and to practise dealing with them without preparing specific answers. It is important to keep to this for two reasons. First, the examiner will notice if you are repeating something you have learned and will stop you. Second, though it may seem difficult at first, it will actually make the test easier for you if you relax and talk naturally rather than trying to remember a ready-made answer. So the first and most important skill is talking fluently.

The only way to improve your fluency is by getting a lot of practice in speaking. Be confident. Think about what you want to say. Of course you should try to get your English right, but do not worry too much about getting everything absolutely correct. The important thing is that you should speak and listen, that you should engage in an extended interview with the examiner and that you should enjoy using your English to communicate with an English speaker. Most of the exercises in this section are designed to increase your fluency.

Model answer

I grew up very far from most of my family so I only saw them once a year. Every summer I would go to stay with them, while my parents continued working. Although I missed my parents, I used to really enjoy spending time with my grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. I spent all summer there, nearly two whole months, so from time to time my cousins and I would get bored. We would ask my grandparents if they had any ideas for interesting things we could do. Sometimes they suggested going for a bike ride, sometimes into town to do some shopping. At other times, they showed us a new game to play. Then we were happy again.

One day - it must be about 30 years ago (doesn't time fly!) - all of us got really, really bored and we kept complaining to my grandparents. They were tearing their hair out, trying to think up ideas of where we could go and what we could do. Suddenly, my granddad came up with the idea of going to a new water park that had opened that summer. I hadn't heard about it but my cousins had, and they told me all about it. It was a park with vast numbers of different pools, some inside, some outside. There were water slides as well. And, on top of there was not one, but two playgrounds with swings, a merry-go-round, see-saws. We were so excited.

We set off and on the way we were all singing songs and laughing. We couldn't wait to get there. When we arrived, my cousins and I ran into the park and changed into our swimming costumes. Then we went looking for the most exciting-looking pool, and we found it, one with brightly coloured tiles and slides, we jumped straight in. We played all day in the park and had a lovely lunch, sat on some benches in the sunshine.

My granddad loved a pool that was filled with spa water. It was dark brown and stank of rotten eggs. I didn't want to go in but he eventually convinced me. I'm pleased he did because the water was really warm. I'd never swam in water that warm. I didn't want to get out, despite the terrible smell.

I consider it such a happy memory because we enjoyed ourselves so much and I remember so vividly how I felt that day. But there's more to it than just that. When I look back now, I understand how caring my grandparents were and how much they wanted us all to be happy. They would have done anything to help us have a good time. I appreciate that more now that I'm older and have children of my own. I hope we thanked them; I can't remember. But, anyway, they were content, I'm sure, to just watch us have an amazing time, playing and laughing in the water. So, as you can see, it was a wonderful day and is one of my favourite childhood memories.

What other activity did you use to enjoy when you were staying with your family?
I loved going for walks in the local park. There were people selling all kinds of delicious foods from carts, so my grandparents would invariably buy us some treat, like homemade ice-cream or cakes.

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