These days, the internet is a massive part of the lives of people all over the world and so you will quite often be asked to talk about it for IELTS. There are many ways that it could appear in the exam, but today we are going to look at another cue card from IELTS speaking part 2. This time, it will ask you to describe a website.
In this article, I will try to outline all the things that you need to know in order to give a good answer to this question. I will show you how to analyse the cue card, make notes, pick the right language to use, and then I will give you my own sample answer for this question.
The Cue Card: Describe a Website
It is impossible to anticipate the cue cards that you will encounter in the IELTS exam and only lazy and dishonest teachers pretend that they can do it. As such, you just need to look at common types of cue card and practice them. If you do this, then the cue cards that you encounter in the real IELTS exam will not seem so strange or difficult.
It is possible to be asked various versions of this question. For example:
- describe a website you have bought something from
- describe a website you often browse
- describe a website you often visit
Here are a few other possible variants on this idea:
That is just a few of them and there are in fact many, many more possibilities. This is one reason why you cannot just memorise an answer for IELTS. Some of my former students tried this and struggled badly because they would say “A website I really like is…” but this is not always what the question intends.
Here is the cue card that we will use today:
Describe a useful website.
You should say:
– what it is
– how often you visit it
– what kind of information it offers
and explain why you think it is useful.
Analysing the Cue Card
The most important part of any cue card is the first line. This is what you must adhere to closely. Note that all the different cue cards that I suggested are slightly different in terms of what you must actually describe. It could even be something like “describe a website that you really like” or “describe a website that you would like to design.” Those would require a totally different answer, so it’s really important that you read carefully and don’t just note the word WEBSITE.
The information that follows is also quite important and you should look out for keywords: “what,” “how often,” “what kind of information,” and “why… useful.”
So… let’s review:
- Can you describe any website? No, it must be a useful one.
- You must explain what it is – i.e. describe its functions.
- State the approximate number of times that you use it.
- Talk about the information available on the website.
- Explain why it is useful, in your opinion.
You can say other things about it but you don’t have to. I would recommend talking about the things on the cue card first of all, and if you find you run through these ideas too quickly, then you can say some other things.
Language for Describing Websites
Don’t worry if you are not a computer programmer – you don’t need to be an expert to answer any of the questions in the IELTS speaking test! Knowledge of web design might be helpful for you with this question, but it is certainly not essential.
First of all, there is some language about technology here that might be useful for you:
This is a video that I made for my students several years ago. It contains some up-to-date language about the internet. I made it because most of this sort of language in textbooks is hopelessly out-of-date. However, I recommend that you try to guess the words before you look. This will help you to remember them better. 😉
Remember that when we are talking about the internet, we generally use the preposition “on.” Think about the word “online” and people being “on the internet.” This is very important to remember. We are never “in a website.” We are “on it.” For example:
- There are some great articles on that website.
- Did you see the pictures on Facebook yesterday?
- I’m going to post something about it on my blog later.
- Can you add me on WhatsApp?
- I’ll follow you on Instagram.
Here’s a visual lesson that gives more examples about this useful preposition rule:
I will make some more notes about language in the section following my sample answer below.
Making Notes About the Cue Card
When you are given the cue card, you will have 1 minute to make some notes. You do not have to make notes, but it’s a pretty good idea to write down a few words that may help you remember useful vocabulary or ideas during your speech.
My notes for this cue card (describing a useful website) would be something like this:
- get views
- content – produced/shared
That makes little sense out of context, but you can see my sample answer in the next section. The important thing is that these notes either help you to remember the structure of your answer or remind you of some difficult words that you might want to use.
Just remember to avoid writing down full sentences or else you will certainly run out of time before you have had a chance to adequately plan your answer.
Sample Band 9 Answer
I will now give you my sample answer for this question. Keep in mind that in order to actually get a band 9 score, you need to have excellent pronunciation and fluency. The answer below is grammatically correct and uses appropriate vocabulary, so it would get band 9 for Lexical Resource and Grammatical Range and Accuracy, but the speaker would need to have natural intonation and pronunciation, too, without much hesitation.
The most useful website that I know is YouTube, which is a video-streaming site that is popular all around the world. It contains lots of videos on all sorts of topics, so there really is something for everyone.
The great thing about YouTube is that it grew from being just a collection of silly cat videos and short clips into a genuine platform for excellent content. There are some YouTubers who produce videos that are such high-quality that they look like real TV shows. In fact, many of them probably get more views than actual TV shows now.
YouTube has changed the world by altering how content is produced and shared. People from almost anywhere now have access to an incredible archive of information. I personally love photography and so I go on YouTube most days to learn about techniques for taking better pictures or editing my photos in Photoshop or Lightroom. I can connect with talented photographers around the world and, perhaps more importantly, these genuinely knowledgeably people are now able to turn their skill into real money. Many people have successful careers now because they started a YouTube channel and shared their passion with the world.
I think that YouTube is useful because I can learn so many things in such an easy way. It’s not just photography. If I want to make dinner but I don’t know how to cook something, there’s probably a video for it. That is truly incredible, and for me it makes YouTube the most useful website on the internet.
My answer would take about 1:40 minutes to read, which is perfect for IELTS speaking part 2. It contains good grammar and vocabulary, and it also answers all parts of the cue card.
Note that I did not answer all parts in equal depth. When saying what YouTube is, I gave a short description:
- a video-streaming site that is popular all around the world
I also said very little about how often I use the website:
- I go on YouTube most days
However, you can see that I have given lots more detail for other parts and generally I described the website fully. I have given some interesting ideas and information about it.
Most importantly, my language was also appropriate for the question. I have used some phrases which you might find helpful when describing a website of your own:
- a video-streaming site
- It contains lots of videos
- just a collection of
- a genuine platform for excellent content
- an incredible archive of information
- I go on YouTube
- I can connect with
- the most useful website on the internet
You should note that I have said “contains” for the videos being on the website. I also use “on” as the correct preposition for things relating to the internet. We can use “platform” and “content” to refer to the website and the things on the website, respectively. When communicating with people online, we might also say “connect with.”