In today’s IELTS speaking lesson, we are going to look at cue cards that ask you to describe a TV programme. There are various possibilities here, so we will explore what sorts of TV programmes you might have to talk about and how to do it effectively.
Possible Cue Cards about TV Programmes
First of all, let’s begin in a logical place by exploring possible cue cards. It is unlikely that you will be simply told to “describe a TV programme” and so there will usually be something that follows it. You might be asked to “describe a TV programme you enjoy” or “describe a TV programme you often watch.” It might be a TV programme specific to your country or one that you didn’t like. You will need to read the card carefully to understand exactly what is required of you.
You can see more examples here:
Today, we will focus on this cue card:
Describe a television programme that you watch.
You should say:
– which kind of television programme it is
– what usually happens in the television programme
– why you enjoy watching the television programme
and explain why you would recommend the television programme to other people.
Analysing the Cue Card
When you receive your cue card, you should spend some time looking at it carefully to make sure that you understand it. This can also help you to make notes and give your answer a logical structure. Doing that can help you to impress the examiner by speaking more fluently and logically.
Here, you are asked to describe a TV that you watch. The tense here is present simple, showing that it is something recurrent (ie it happens over and over). Thus, you should not talk about something from the past or the future. You should also talk about:
- its genre
- its plot (and possibly characters)
- and what makes it enjoyable to you
These are all things you can glean from the cue card and that can guide you to give a great answer.
Once you have figured out exactly what the cue card requires you to talk about, you should make some notes so that you can talk more easily. The purpose of these notes is to:
- remind you of important vocabulary
- help you keep to a coherent structure
Doing this will also help you to keep calm and speak in a fluent way without panicking. Just remember not to write too many notes or else you will be in danger of wasting your time. You only have one minute to prepare!
When it comes to describing TV programmes, you can generally use similar language to that which you would use for movies. By this, I mean you can recycle words and phrases relate to genre and content.
There is a lot of overlap in these topics and so preparing to talk about movies can really help you. Some things that you might discuss are:
However, there are some differences, of course. TV programmes typically air on a schedule whereas movies just appear once. As such, you might talk about watching a movie as a single experience, but watching a TV programme is something you could do over a period of days, weeks, months, or years. Think about Game of Thrones, for example. That aired over many years, so it would require some different language to describe.
Programme, Program, or Show?
Let’s take a moment to think about the differences these words. What makes program and programme different, and how do they differ from a show?
The answer is: They are all the same!
“Programme” is the British spelling, so this is what you would encounter in the IELTS exam. “Program” is American and “show” is more common in America but can be used in either country.
Do we still talk about TV programmes?
IELTS can be a little old-fashioned in some ways. Think about it: They still ask you to write a letter!!! As such, you may be surprised to be asked about TV shows because TV isn’t as popular as it used to be. These days, people stream shows on platforms like Netflix or Amazon Prime. Does that mean that they are no longer TV programmes? After all, we aren’t usually watching them on TV! Nowadays, it is common to watch them on a phone or tablet or computer.
Well, it is strange but we still call these shows “TV programmes” even when they are consumed over the internet and watched on device or computer monitor. As such, you can still mostly use the same language, but if you want throw in some modern vocabulary about streaming, downloading, and so on, then that is also acceptable.
Ok, but now I will give you my answer to the above cue card:
A TV programme that I regularly watch a cartoon called Rick and Morty. It’s animated but it’s definitely not for children because it features a lot of adult humour. The show revolves around a scientist called Rick and his grandson, Morty. They are very different in terms of personality but always share bizarre adventures across multiple universes.
The show is very funny because of its outrageous humour and ridiculous characters, many of whom are cameo roles by famous actors. There isn’t much of a linear plot across the series and instead each episode is pretty self-contained, though there is some development and occasionally a storyline might go across several episodes.
I really like this show primarily because of its humour, but also it is important to me as something that helps me to communicate with my friends. Because we all watch this programme, we frequently make reference to it and it is something that unites us. We all understand those strange references and find them funny. I also just appreciate the incredibly intelligent and creative writers who have produced something so different to other TV programmes.
I would recommend this show to people with an open mind and a dark sense of humour. It is hard to explain it to people but if they have a certain mindset, it is likely they will enjoy it immensely.
In this answer, I used some language specific to TV and movies to talk about Rick and Morty. I said things like:
- adult humour
- outrageous humour
- cameo roles
- linear plot
There are also other words and phrases that have helped me give a good answer. I said that the show “revolves around” the lives of these characters. When we say “revolve around” it means that the show is about something. I tried to touch upon various areas so that I could show off appropriate language and also give a full and honest answer, so I mentioned characters, plots, settings, and actors. All of these were related to the topic and gave me some freedom to craft a nice, detailed response.