IELTS speaking and Task 2 writing – talking about interests, skills and abilities


In IELTS Speaking part 1, 2, 3 you are asked to talk about your interests. It is a good idea to think about the types of answers you might give.

All of the following are possible answers in the speaking exam related to meeting new people, starting a new job and other topics, part 1, 3. They refer to feelings and interests; basically talking about yourself.

• I have no objection to meeting new people.

• He is good at socialising with people from different cultures.

• She is fond of chatting to people at social events.

• I’m not keen on making new friends at the expense of old ones.

• I’m too afraid of not feeling welcome when I start a new job.

• I’m against managers making friends with members of staff.

• I’m tired of having to make new friends in new places.

• She disapproves of throwing parties during the week

• He is thinking of holding a party at the weekend.

• We had difficulty in accepting that our favourite library was being converted into flats.

• In spite of being free, the museum was so entertaining.

• Aren’t you interested in following the trends in urban design?

• There’s no point in speculating how people’s lifestyles might change.

What do you notice about these phrases? You will see that the gerund (verb +ing) is prevalent here to talk about feelings and emotions. Gerunds are tricky and worth learning in lists, like this one, related to feelings. You should practice gerunds vs infinitives as this grammar area can be an issue for students’ writing and speaking.

Now consider this ielts question about skills, abilities –

Describe a skill you can teach others

You should say:

  • what it is
  • when you learned it
  • how you taught others
  • how you feel about this skill.

How could you use the gerunds/ gerund phrases to talk about skills/ abilities that you have?

How about this question from part 3? –

What qualities are required to become a company leader (or, CEO or, manager)?

You will need to talk about skills, abilities and interests, even in writing.

Consider this question task 2 ielts topic:

Motivation is more important than ability …..

Brainstorm the language you would need for this task.

You could use language such as: good at/ skilled at, to excel at, be born with,  innate ability, desire to, path to success, assist a person in, achieve dream come true, best of your ability, sense of accomplishment.

So why is ‘motivation/ability’ more important than ‘motivation/ability’?

Try and complete these prompts:

To be successful you need ‘natural ability’ in order to __________________________________________

To be successful you need ‘motivation’ in order to __________________________________________

Finally, have a look at this speaking task. What language would you use to answer this speaking task part 2:

Describe a family member you spend a lot of time with

You should say:

  • who this person is
  • what you usually do together
  • what kind of person he/she is

and explain why you spend the most time with him/her.

ALISTAIR BROWN: As a writing and speaking examiner for more than 10 years, I bring a lot of experience. I have seen the frustrations that students have with IELTS from a career where I have actively guided and corrected students’ studies. I am looking for the most effective ways to teach IELTS as I understand students’ needs.