IELTS Speaking Part 2 | Describe a journey that you remember well.

Describe a journey that you remember well.
You should say:
– where you went
– how you travelled
– why you went on this journey
and explain what made this journey so memorable.

Suggested Answer:

I’m going to talk about a plane journey.1

I took this journey in 2011 with my wife when we were on holiday2 in a beautiful seaside town called El Nido, which is in the Philippines. To cut a long story short3, we mistimed our travel plans, so we had to book a last minute flight from El Nido to the capital, Manila.

El Nido’s a small place, so I was surprised to find out that it had an airport. When we got there, it turned out that4 the airport was just a single line of tarmac in a field that anyone could get into. Everything about the experience was unusual. Our aircraft was a 17-seat propeller plane, and upon boarding it, we had a group of five women in grass skirts lining up, dancing and wishing us good luck.

I’d never been on a propeller plane before, so it was quite a shock. Most of the journey was fine, but during the ascent and descent, the turbulence was ten times worse than you’d normally experience on a normal commercial airliner, so for someone who’s already not the best of fliers, it was pretty scary. When I wasn’t gripping onto the armrest5, I did enjoy the view, though. The plane went a lot lower than I’m used to, so we had a great view of the tropical islands we flew over on the 4-hour journey.

Although it was a bit scary at the time, I’m glad that we went through that experience. Some people say the journey’s more important than the destination, and whilst I don’t completely agree with that sentiment, oftentimes6 it is the journey you remember more. My wife is also in agreement that it was one of the most memorable journeys we’ve ever undertaken together.

Notes:

1 – One of the biggest errors I’ve encountered with Part 2 is students getting stuck on an introduction, often taking 30 seconds to tell me what their monologue is about. This will destroy your fluency score, so if you’re one of those students, I strongly advise you memorise a simple opening line – I’m going to talk about (noun) – and just use that. Your introduction is not going to increase your band score but it may well reduce it.

I’m going to talk about New York.
I’m going to talk about the time I went to New York.
I’m going to talk about a present I received last Christmas.

2On holiday is the British English version of on vacation (American English). This phrase is often misused by non-native speakers, with the preposition to often used instead of on. This phrase is typically used with the verbs to be and to go.

I went on holiday last year.
His mother is on holiday.
Steve will go on holiday after his job finishes.

3 To cut a long story short is a great collocation. We use this when we want to miss out a chunk of a story because it is too long and/or boring.

I didn’t go to university. To cut a long story short, I needed money as soon as I left school.

4 It turned out (that) … is a phrase commonly used to describe receiving new information. When used this way, it is usally proceeded by a complete sentence. It is most commonly used in the past tense, but it can be used in the present.

I tried to go to the pub last night, but it turned out it’s closed on Mondays.
It turns out that we’re not going anymore.
He went to Oxford, but it turned out he wasn’t smart enough to finish the course.

5 – A common mistake students make in IELTS Speaking is to try and jam random big words into answers. This is not what the examiner wants to hear, and if s/he thinks you’re doing that, s/he will disregard that vocabulary. They want to hear TOPIC-SPECIFIC VOCABULARY! The above example is littered with very specific vocabulary related to a plane journey, such as:

airportaircrafttarmac
planepropeller planeboarding
turbulenceascentdescent
flierarmrestcommercial airliner

It is a good idea to do add topic-specific vocabulary to your answers. I strongly recommend studying the most common topics/themes that run though IELTS – people, movies/books, places, etc. – and study specific vocabulary related to those topics.

6 Oftentimes is more American than British, but I’ve hung out with Americans so much that I’m starting to sound like them. It means frequently.

Oftentimes, when my wife goes to bed, I’ll treat myself to a beer.
In Siberia, oftentimes the weather is so bad that most people stay indoors.
Oftentimes, she forgets to write her name on the timesheet.

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