Saturday, 13 July 2013

Speaking About Festivals (Speaking Part 2)

The Speaking section of the IELTS exam has 3 different parts. During the first part, you will answer basic questions about every day topics. Then we go on to Part 2 or as it is commonly called, "The Long Turn."

During Speaking Part 2, you are given a card with a topic and expected to speak about the topic for about 2 minutes. Here’s a very common example topic:

Describe your favourite festival or celebration. You should tell:
                -When and where it takes place
                -What is the origin of the festival or celebration
                -What activities are done to celebrate
                -Who you celebrate with
Tell why it is your favourite festival and how you usually celebrate.
Below, you can find some excellent answers to this question. Please note how each response answers ALL parts of the question. There is an introduction which tells what the holiday is and a conclusion to let the examiner know that the speaker has finished. Good answers to Speaking Part 2 should usually answer all the important questions: what, who, when, where, and why.

The answers below are given without naming the festival in question. Can you match the name of the festival  with the correct example? Write your answer in the comments section!!! Answers will be given in the comments section next week.

Witch Burning Day           
Kumbha Mela                  Halloween          
Chinese New Year/Spring Festival 
1.       “My favourite celebration is called ___________.  On this holiday, which is very popular in the U.S., people dress up in costumes as ghosts, witches, monsters or other famous creatures. ___________ takes place on the last day of October, and it’s meant to usher in the beginning of winter. A long time ago, people believed that evil spirits could walk among living people during the winter season, so people put on scary costumes in order to repel them. On ___________, it’s traditional for children to walk from house to house and ask people for candy and other treats. Some people also carve pumpkins, visit haunted houses, or watch scary movies to celebrate ___________. I like this holiday because it’s a good chance to get together with friends and wear silly costumes. ___________ is usually a great time!”

2.       “I am from Brazil, and so of course my favourite festival is ___________. This festival is always held 40 days before Easter, and it offers people their last chance to enjoy meat, wine, and other crazy behaviour before the season of Lent begins. During Lent, people are supposed to behave well and abstain from all these things. ___________ is celebrated with huge city-wide parades and musical performances. Sometimes women dress in revealing costumes and do dances in the streets. Everyone celebrates ___________ by going outside with family and friends and taking part in the parades and dances. There’s a wonderful energy in the air during ___________, and that’s why it’s my favourite festival.”

3.       “My favourite holiday is definitely ___________, which takes place every year at the end of January or the beginning of February. The date of ___________ varies because it depends on the Lunar Calendar. During this holiday, it’s important for people to get together with their families and eat a meal together. During ___________ it’s considered good luck to decorate the house with red decorations. People often clean their houses during this time as a way to get rid of all the bad luck from the previous year. Older family members commonly give gifts of money to younger family members in red envelopes. Traditionally, people used to set off fireworks during ___________, but that has been banned in many places now. Even so, the most important thing is to get together with family members. This is why I really enjoy ___________.”

4.       “That’s an interesting question… Well, I’d have to say that one of the most popular festivals in my country is called ___________. It’s a rather serious occasion, so you won’t find a lot of people drinking or eating like they do during other festivals. Instead, people travel very long distances in order to bathe in one of India’s four holy rivers. The ritual usually takes place at a different river every year.  I’ve read that ___________ is one of the largest gatherings in the world and that sometimes 100 million people participate in it. When I am in India, I usually celebrate this festival by traveling to the riverside towns with my family and bathing in the water. It is my favourite holiday because it gives me a very good, spiritual feeling.”

5.       “Oh, that’s easy! The best festival in the Czech Republic is called ___________ in English. It takes place annually on April 30th and it’s meant to celebrate the beginning of spring. People used to believe that cold weather was caused by evil witches who used their powers to create winter. So on ___________, people make a large effigy of a witch and burn it on a huge bonfire. Once the fire is burning, people gather around and drink beer, roast sausages, and play songs on the guitar. My friends and I always have a great time at this celebration. Sometimes children wear costumes and dance around the fire. It’s a really fun and upbeat holiday and it seems to put everyone in a great mood and get them ready for summer.”

6.       "I don’t think I have a favourite celebration, but I will talk about an important holiday which is celebrated in my country. It’s called ___________, and it’s celebrated every year in September to commemorate the harvest. There’s a ton of traffic during ___________ because people often travel long distances to return to their hometowns. Everyone in the family gets together and makes traditional rice cakes shaped like half-moons called Songpyoo. They are really delicious! Sometimes people offer rice cakes to the ancestors as a way to remember them on this day. I like ___________ because even though we live in a busy, modern world,  we can get together with family at this time and remember our traditions."

Pay attention to details! These answers are great because they answer all parts of the question and use academic vocabulary. Try reading them aloud to practice your fluency!
Also, here is a word cloud with vocabulary words which are very useful for this topic:

Wordle: Festivals

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