In the IELTS exam, you sometimes find topics relating to towns and cities, and sometimes it can be about the countryside. You probably know more vocabulary relating to towns and cities: skyscraper, supermarket, subway, etc. However, out in the countryside, maybe there is less that you know. So let’s look at how the topic could arise in the IELTS exam, and what you need to say in order to give a good answer.

Speaking Exam

Ok, so the first thing that pops into my mind is the IELTS speaking exam. Questions could be simple like:

Where do you live?

Do you live in the town or country?

Do you think it’s better to live in the countryside or an urban area?
countryside path

What is the countryside like near where you live?

These all potentially give you the option to talk about the countryside. Of course, in part one you don’t have to say very much, but you could say something like:

I live in the city but I much prefer the countryside. I think that the peace and quiet is really appealing, as well as the fresh air.

You don’t need any fancy vocabulary, but we’ll look at a few words later on.

In part two, you may be asked to:

  • Describe an area of countryside you know
  • Describe an enjoyable day in the countryside

or something like that.

I made a video about how to answer this sort of question:

As for part three, the questions are going to be more difficult. You may have to talk about why so many people are moving from the country to the city, for example:

I think that there are simply more opportunities for young people in the cities nowadays. People who leave school don’t want to stay in the countryside any more because the best jobs and even social events are all in the big towns and cities. As a result, the countryside is full of elderly people, and even many of them prefer to move to the city, where there’s more for them to do.


The topic of countryside could come up in the writing exam as well, of course. I see it occasionally appear in task 2, where the question would most likely be an advantage/disadvantage question. However, there are various possibilities. Here are three questions:

In many places, new homes are needed, but the only space available for building them is in the countryside. Some people believe it is more important to protect the countryside and not build new homes there. What is your opinion about this?

Some people think that cities are the best places to live. Others prefer to live in a rural area. Compare the advantages and disadvantages of living in the city to living in the countryside.

countryside fields

A girl rides her horse through a field near my house.

Some people think it is better for children to grown up in the city, while others think that life in the countryside is more suitable for them. What are the advantages and disadvantages of both places?

To answer these questions, and the speaking questions above, you need to be able to visualize the countryside and then generate ideas based upon what you see. This is will require a bit of vocabulary.

Vocabulary for the Countryside

When thinking about the countryside, you need to be able to talk about the geographical features:

  • hill
  • valley
  • pond
  • river
  • lake
  • marsh
  • forest

There are also some man-made features:

  • quarry
  • farm
  • field
  • reservoir
  • village
  • hamlet
  • cottage
  • path
  • trail

And you should be able to talk about the animals you see, too.

Here’s a list of animal vocabulary I made several years ago:

However, in the countryside where I live, I mostly see farm animals like:

  • chickens
  • pigs
  • cows
  • sheep
  • horses

Landscape Vocabulary (for IELTS)

I also made this PPT that contains a lot of useful vocabulary for the topic of landscapes. As such, it should be pretty handy when it comes to the issue of towns and rural areas.

More Language Points

To talk about the countryside, you don’t need an extensive vocabulary or complex grammar. However, you may need to compare and contrast it with the city. In that case, you’ll need some good language, like while/whereas. You should also be able to talk in a descriptive way. To do that, just imagine a walk in the countryside and say what you can see.