In the IELTS speaking exam, you may be asked about almost any common part of life. There are some predictable topics you often encounter, and most of these are broad human experiences – you know, sports and education and family, etc. In part two, you need to describe something. This could be a person, a place, or an experience.
In the past, I have written articles and recorded sample answers for many part two topics, from animals to books to people. Today, we are going to look at another IELTS speaking part 2 cue card, which asks you to describe a restaurant.
Reading the Cue Card
When you are presented with an IELTS speaking part 2 question, it will come in the form of a cue card – that is a piece of paper with some instructions on it. You need to follow these instructions carefully and then give your answer. In order to give an appropriate answer, you should read the cue card and make sure you fully understand it.
Here is our cue card for this lesson:
Describe your favourite restaurant.
You should say:
- where it is
- what it looks like inside and outside
- what kinds of foods they serve
and explain what makes this restaurant so special to you and others.
Think about some basic facts:
- What do you need to describe? a restaurant
- Can you describe any restaurant? no, it needs to be your favourite
- What things should you say about it?
- location (where)
- appearance (what it looks like)
- menu (what kind of food)
- Can you say you dislike it? no, this is only about a restaurant you really like
- Should you say anything else? you can, but don’t go off topic
To review, this cue card asks the candidate to describe their favourite restaurant, giving some basic information about it, and explaining why they like it.
Making Notes and Preparing to Speak
When you receive the cue card, you should take a moment to read it carefully and analyze the instructions, and then begin making notes. At this point, you have just one minute to make notes. You can later use these notes to speak.
It is essential that you don’t try to write too much. Think of some useful vocabulary or an interesting phrase that you might incorporate, but mostly write what you want to say in very brief note form. Candidates who try to write full sentences will do very poorly in the speaking exam. You simply don’t have enough time.
It is important to practice this skill before doing the actual exam. Look at cue cards online and then practice writing down notes. How much can you think and write in just one minute? If you practice making notes then it will be easier in the final exam.
Here are my notes for the cue card:
- Japanese food – sushi and sashimi
- beer and spirits
- Beatles memorabilia
- Downtown mall
- Good food and service; clean
As you can see, I didn’t write much. There are no full sentences, and no grammar. It is just a bare outline. These notes would help me to speak easily, but wouldn’t take a long time to write.
Remember that no one will ever read your notes. Don’t be self-conscious of how you write, or any mistakes you make. Their only purpose is to help you speak freely during the next section.
After writing your notes, you will have to speak for between one and two minutes. The most important thing is not to speak for less than one minute. That is essential. If you speak for too long, the examiner will stop you. Remember to speak slowly and calmly. If you speak too fast, you will quickly run through your notes and finish in less than a minute!
Here is my sample answer to this part 2 question:
My favourite restaurant is a Japanese restaurant near my house. I don’t know the name because I can’t read Japanese very well, but I often go there and always enjoy it. Of course, they serve Japanese food there, such as sushi and sashimi, but there are many other types of dish. It has an extensive menu. They also have draft and bottled beer, as well as a few spirits.
The restaurant is unique because although it is a Japanese restaurant, it has a lot of Beatles memorabilia. They also pay lots of Beatles music there, which I think is strange. People are always confused when they enter because outside it looks like a typical Japanese restaurant, but inside it is a mix of eastern and western design.
The restaurant is located not far from my house, in a mall situated in the city’s downtown area. I really like it because it’s got great food and the service is better than most places around here. It’s also quite clean.
Here is my sample answer in video form. You will need to skip ahead if you want to only view the video.
Notes on Language
Notice that I didn’t use any particularly difficult language above, except maybe the word “memorabilia.” This word means “memorable objects” and is often used when describing strange decorations in restaurants that relate to culture.
In terms of specific restaurant vocabulary, I used very little. The verb “serve” is used to refer to a restaurant giving food to its customers. Although I didn’t use it, this can be turned into a noun that refers to waiters and waitresses in a gender-neutral way – “server”.
I used the phrase “extensive menu” to mean that the menu has many items. This would be a common way someone might refer to an impressive menu in a restaurant.
In terms of alcohol, “draft” is the sort of beer that comes out of a tap, and “spirits” refers to stronger sorts of alcohol like whisky, vodka, and tequila.