One of the most common topics in the IELTS speaking test is sports. This is because it is something that is of interest or could be of interest to almost all people in the world. Thus, when you prepare for IELTS speaking, you should be ready to talk about sports.
Note that you don’t need to actually like sports to talk about it! You could tell the examiner honestly that you have no interest, but still you should be able to say something. You should have a little knowledge about sports and why they are of value to society and perhaps their impact on human health.
In this article, let’s look at some questions and sample band 9 answers relating to sports.
Part One Questions
In part one of the speaking test, you will be asked easy questions that are personal in nature. This will be conversational and you don’t need to say much as a response. Here are some examples:
Q: Do you often do sports?
A: It depends what you mean by “often.” I play football once a week and go to the gym maybe twice. For some people, that would be “often” but I wish I had the time to do more.
Q: What sort of sports do you enjoy doing?
A: I like most sports, actually. I enjoy playing football and tennis, as well as swimming. I used to play rugby but it’s too easy to get hurt, so I don’t play it much now.
Q: Do you ever watch sports on TV?
A: Yeah, sure. I watch football every Saturday and whenever there’s a big rugby game on I’ll watch that as well. Oh yeah, and I like to watch the Tour de France in the summer.
Q: Did you do many sports when you were a child?
A: Yes, I was obsessed with sports when I was little. I played football almost every day and was always playing other games with my friends. We got made to do different sports at school, too, like badminton and rugby.
Q: Is there any sport that you would like to learn?
A: Oh yes, definitely. I’d love to learn archery. Recently, I’ve been thinking about taking it up. Also, I would like to get into indoor rock climbing. That looks like fun but unfortunately there are no climbing gyms where I live.
Above, you can see that I have used the names of various sports and places where you would do sports:
- Indoor rock climbing
- Climbing gym
It’s also important to know how we use each word. For example, we “play football” and “play rugby” but we “go climbing” and “do archery.” These sorts of collocations are really important if you want to get a high score for Lexical Resource.
You can learn more vocabulary about sports here and also in this video:
Sport: Do, Play, or Go?
I mentioned above that we use “do,” “play,” and “go” for talking about different sports. For example, we “play football” but we “go hiking” and “do yoga.” Why?
Essentially, it can be though of this way:
- We use “play” for team sports that involve balls
- We use “go” for sports ending in “-ing”
- We use “do” with most individual exercises or martial arts
Here’s a visual guide with many examples:
Part Two – Sports Cue Cards
There are numerous ways that sports could appear in part two of the IELTS speaking test, but generally it would fall into a few categories. You would either be asked to describe:
- A sport you do, did, or want to do
- A memory you have of doing sport
- Someone who does a particular sport
- A place where you can play a sport
Here’s the cue card we will use today:
Describe your favourite sport.
You should say:
– what sport it is
– how often you play it or watch it
– how you play it
and explain why this is your favourite sport.
To this, we might reply:
My favourite sport is football. I’ve been playing it on and off since I was a child. In fact, I can’t even remember when I started because I was probably too young to even be forming proper memories. I played all the way through primary school, but more or less gave up in secondary school as I found other interests. However, I picked it up again in university and, as an adult, I’ve played it here and there. Now that I’m older and trying to stay as fit as possible, I play it quite often with friends who are about my age.
Football is a great game and is popular all over the world because it’s easy to learn. There are in fact quite a lot of variations on it. At a professional level, it’s played with eleven people on each side and a lot of rules, but most people play with smaller teams. I personally play five-a-side, which means five people on each team. However, you even see games with one goalkeeper and a few players outfield, so it is quite versatile.
I guess I like football for many reasons but ultimately it’s hard to articulate why you really feel passionate about something that’s been with you most of your life. Certainly, the camaraderie that comes with being on a team is important, but then there’s also that sense of achievement when you play well… and of course it’s just good to get some exercise on a sunny day. All of that adds up to making football my favourite sport.
A few years ago, I made this article about describing a sportsperson. It is also available as a video lesson here:
Also, here is my advice about how to give a good answer to a part two speaking question.
Part Three Questions
In part three, the questions will be a little more difficult than in part one. They tend to be somewhat abstract in nature, often concerning ethics, society, age, gender, and so on. You will need to give longer answers.
Here are some examples:
Q: Do you think that competitive sports are damaging for children?
A: I can see why some people might think that because it certainly is going to sting when a child loses a game. However, I think that’s an important part of life. People need to learn how to be gracious winners and strong losers, and of course there are innumerable other benefits that outweigh any potential negatives here, such as learning teamwork and tenacity.
Q: Why do different sports seem to appeal more to men and women?
A: That’s a tough question because I think there are different factors. Obviously, innate qualities like biology might mean that some contact sports like rugby are more appealing to men. However, there are also cultural and social factors at play. Women are discouraged from doing certain types of sport in some cultures while men might be encouraged to do others. A woman might feel that she is viewed as not feminine enough if she plays football and, likewise, a man might feel he is not masculine enough if he doesn’t. So it’s complicated.
Q: Do you think that there is too much advertising in sports nowadays?
A: Yeah, actually, I do. Whilst it is understandable that there would be some advertising involved, it’s gone way too far. Athletes are like heroes to people, especially children, and sports teams can be almost like religions, so they have an outsized influence over our lives, and frankly I don’t think it’s fair that a big company can pay to make these people advertise to us. That’s doubly true when the product or service advertised is potentially damaging, like betting companies or fast-food chains.
There is some advice about structuring your part three answers in this video. You will need to skip ahead to the fourth chapter, which focuses on that part of the test.