IELTS Cue Card: Describe a school you went to in your childhood

IELTS Cue Card: Describe a school you went to in your childhood


Describe a school you went to in your childhood.
You should say:
  • Where it was
  • What it was like
  • What you learned there
And explain how you felt about it.

Part 3:
  • What’s the difference between teachers now and teachers in the past?
  • What’s the difference between being taught by a teacher and being taught by AI?
  • What’s the difference between a private school and a public school?
  • What’s the difference between international schools and other schools?

Part 2 — Sample Answer:

I went to quite a few schools when I was a kid as my parents moved around the country a lot because of their work. One that particularly sticks out in my mind is my primary school.

It was in the north of England in a small little town. Most of the buildings there were at least a hundred years old and the town itself hadn’t really changed that much over the years.

This primary school was in a very old building that was originally a mansion. The building was repurposed several decades before I started attending, and in many ways it looked like a more inviting building compared to some newer schools.

I remember I wasn’t very fond of it at first. It rained a lot and the playground was prone to flooding. On my first day I stepped in one of the puddles and spent the rest of the day with wet feet. I think this shaped my view of the school because first impressions really do count.

I learned a lot there though. The teachers were very friendly and welcoming, and were eager to teach in an energetic and enthusiastic way. They had to follow the standard national curriculum but when possible they’d add in something extra to help us learn the material better.

The school had a really excellent reputation in the area, and I believe this is why my parents chose this school. I attended it for a few years until it was time to move once again.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Sticks out (phrasal verb)
Something that’s very noticeable because it’s different is said to stick out.
Example: If you dye your hair purple and blue, you’ll really stick out at work.

Repurpose (verb)
To find a new use for an idea, product, building, or something else.
Example: The company repurposed some of their old computer equipment and made some modern art with it.

Prone (adjective)
If you’re prone to do something, you’re likely to do something or likely to be affected by something. Usually it’s something bad.
Example A: She’s prone to stealing from the company.
Example B: The region is prone to flooding in the winter.
Example C: He’s prone to getting headaches.

Part 3 — Sample Answers:

What’s the difference between teachers now and teachers in the past?

I think teachers in the past used to be more authoritarian and willing to dole out physical punishments. They were very strict and if a student stepped out of line they’d be harshly punished.

There’s been a lot of research that shows that unpleasant teachers are likely to negatively impact learning outcomes. Of course it’s necessary for a teacher to discipline unruly students, but it’s no longer acceptable for them to resort to physical punishments. In fact, nowadays if a teacher hit a student, they’d almost certainly be fired and possibly even find themselves in hot water with the police.

Teachers nowadays are also more likely to use technology in the classroom. Computers and other such devices weren’t available in the past, and so obviously couldn’t be used. Most students today have laptops or tablets, and use these to write assignments as well as do research. This means that students and teachers will have more information at their fingertips and will be able to explain topics in more detail. In the past, this would have required a trip to a library, which would be vastly more time-consuming.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Authoritarian (adjective)
Someone who demands that people obey them completely and refuses them the freedom to act as they wish can be described as being authoritarian.
Example: His manner is extremely authoritarian.

Dole out (phrasal verb)
To give something to several people.
Example: The government has agreed to dole out an additional $5 million in education grants.

Step out of line (idiom)
If you break the rules or do something wrong, you’re said to step out of line.
Example: If you step out of line, you will be punished.

Harshly (adverb)
To do something in an unkind or severe way.
Example: I thought she’d been treated too harshly.

Unruly (adjective)
Unruly things or people are difficult to control.
Example A: The students in the class were very unruly and the teacher had to yell at them.
Example B: My hair is really unruly today and it’s sticking up at the back.

Resort (noun)
If you have to do something because there is no other way of achieving it, you’re said to resort to doing it.
Example: He got hold of the money legally, without resorting to crime.

In hot water (idiom)
If you’re in a difficult situation in which you’re likely to be punished, you’re said to be in hot water.
Example: Emails that criticize others can land you in hot water.

At your fingertips (idiom)
If you have something at your fingertips you can get it and use it very easily. Usually it’s related to information.
Example: He has all the information he needs at his fingertips.

Time-consuming (adjective)
Something that takes a long time to do.
Example: Writing a book is a very time-consuming job.

What’s the difference between being taught by a teacher and being taught by AI?

I’m not currently aware of any students that are being taught by artificial intelligence, but it’s likely where the future is headed.

I don’t think that teachers will be completely replaced by AI in the future, but likely AI will complement a human teacher and improve a student’s ability to learn.

I think the biggest difference between a human teacher and AI is that the human teacher is going to be able to inspire their students to a greater degree. In addition, AI isn’t going to be able to demonstrate empathy which is crucial for the learning process. Perhaps in the distant future AI will be able to completely replace human teachers, but that’s an almost unimaginable reality.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Artificial intelligence (noun)
The use of computer technology to make computers and other machines think and do things in the way that people can. It’s abbreviated to AI.
Example: My car uses artificial intelligence to drive itself.

Headed (adjective)
Going in a particular direction.
Example: Which way are you headed?

To a greater degree (idiom)
An amount of something that is larger than it otherwise would be.
Example: People are able to invest to a greater degree if they get good financial advice.

Empathy (noun)
Empathy is the ability to understand how someone else feels, usually because you’ve experienced a similar situation, and you can put yourself in their shoes.
Example: Mary had a lot of empathy for Robert when he said his dog had died.

Unimaginable (adjective)
Something that’s very difficult to imagine because it’s so good, so bad, so big, etc.
Example: Space is unimaginably big.

What’s the difference between a private school and a public school?

I think the key difference is cost. Private schools are very expensive and the tuition fees are often sky high. This puts private schools out of reach for most parents.

I think a lot of parents wish they had the means to send their children to a private school, but in most cases public schools rival all but the very best private schools.

Private schools are usually better funded and have smaller classrooms. This means that teachers are less stressed and aren’t spread too thin. They’re able to pay more attention to individual students and, in theory, learning should be better.

As they’re better funded, they’ll have more resources at their disposal. For example, a chemistry lab may be better equipped and the students will be able to perform more sophisticated experiments that just wouldn’t be possible in many public schools.

I think a lot of public schools are struggling to balance their budget and are constantly having to find ways to cut back. Many such schools are woefully underfunded and it’s commonly becoming a hot topic among politicians that are concerned the next generation is being underserved by the public education system.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Key (adjective)
Something that’s key is very important and has a lot of influence on other people or things.
Example: She was a key figure in the art world.

Sky high (adjective)
Something that’s sky high is very high, usually used with prices.
Example: The price of oil went sky-high when the war broke out.

Out of reach (idiom)
It’s used for saying that someone cannot have something or do something because they don’t have enough money or skill.
Example: There were many times when I thought my dream of having a cat was out of reach.

Means (noun)
Money, for example, from an income, that allows you to buy things.
Example: He has the means to buy half the houses on this street if he wanted to.

Spread too thin (idiom)
If you try to do too many things at he same time, so that you can’t give enough time or attention to any of them, you are said to be spreading yourself too thin.
Example: I realized I’d been spreading myself too thin so I dropped two of my classes.

Pay attention (idiom)
To listen to, watch, or consider something or someone very carefully.
Example: I hope you’re paying attention because you’ll be tested later.

At your disposal (idiom)
If something is at your disposal it’s able to be used by you, or able to help you.
Example: I have a car and a driver at my disposal while I’m in Mexico.

Sophisticated (adjective)
Something that’s complicated or complex.
Example: The technology is quite sophisticated.

Balance the budget (idiom)
If you balance a budget, you make the amount of money that’s spent equal the amount that’s received during a particular period.
Example: The government is required to balance the budget.

Cut back (phrasal verb)
To reduce the amount of something, especially money that you spend.
Example: It’s time we cut back a little.

Woefully (adverb)
It’s used to emphasize how bad a situation really is.
Example: The school’s textbooks are woefully out of date.

Hot topic (noun)
A hot topic is a subject that a lot of people are discussing and care about. It’s often something that a lot of people disagree about.
Example: Global warming is a hot topic these days.

Underserved (adjective)
Someone or something that’s provided with an inadequate service.
Example: The children in the ghetto are underserved.

What’s the difference between international schools and other schools?

I was asking a friend who attended an international school what the differences are. He said the biggest one was the breadth of languages that are spoken.

He went to a school for the children of diplomats. There were kids that had come from all over Europe, from different cultural backgrounds, and fluent in different languages. The school would have to cater to all these different students, and some students would have been taught in French, whereas others would have been taught in German or English.

Every day he’d hear a multitude of European languages and the language teachers the school employed were top notch. As a result, when he graduated he was able to speak five languages, which has put him one step ahead those who are monolingual.

Most other schools don’t have such an emphasis on language tuition. While they may teach other languages, many students will graduate with only a rudimentary knowledge of French or German, and will promptly forget what they’ve learned.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Background (noun)
The things that have made you in the person you are, especially family, experience, and education.
Example: The school has students from many different backgrounds.

Cater to (phrasal verb)
To provide people with something they want or need, especially something that’s unusual.
Example: There are more and more TV shows catering to young male audiences.

Multitude (noun)
A large number of things or people.
Example: The city has a multitude of problems.

Top notch (adjective)
Something that’s top notch is excellent.
Example: The restaurant is really top notch.

One step ahead (idiom)
If you’re one step ahead you’re a little bit more prepared, skilled, or successful than other people.
Example: I’ve been working extra hard so that I’m one step ahead of the guy that’s trying to take my job.

Monolingual (adjective)
Someone who knows only one language.
Example: Most British people are monolingual and they can’t speak any other language.

How long will these questions be valid?

At least until the end of April 2020.
Three times a year the British Council changes many of the topics and questions they ask. Sometimes they decide to keep a topic for another four months, but oftentimes they decide to replace it. This one is very likely to be replaced with a new topic at the beginning of May 2020, but it won't be known for sure until then.

Just to let you know, there are 49 possible part 2/3 topics on the current exam. Sometimes there are more, sometimes there are less, and this number changes when the British Council updates the questions.

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I help students with two things: ✅ Day to day speaking practice ✅ IELTS speaking test preparation I correct everything and will help you learn where your mistakes are and how to fix them. I don't ignore your mistakes! I have all the current questions that can appear on the IELTS speaking test. Preparing with me won't be a waste of time, and you won't be practicing questions that are years out of date. I've helped hundreds of students get the score they want on the IELTS speaking test, which can be an incredibly difficult test sometimes. I can help make sure you're as prepared as possible for the questions that examiners can throw at you. Many of my students have commented that they've practiced the very same questions that appeared on the exam, and were happy to have thought through some tricky topics in advance. Let's get started! Book a class and I'll see you soon!
Flag
English
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United Kingdom
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Speaks:
English
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I help students with two things: ✅ Day to day speaking practice ✅ IELTS speaking test preparation I correct everything and will help you learn where your mistakes are and how to fix them. I don't ignore your mistakes! I have all the current questions that can appear on the IELTS speaking test. Preparing with me won't be a waste of time, and you won't be practicing questions that are years out of date. I've helped hundreds of students get the score they want on the IELTS speaking test, which can be an incredibly difficult test sometimes. I can help make sure you're as prepared as possible for the questions that examiners can throw at you. Many of my students have commented that they've practiced the very same questions that appeared on the exam, and were happy to have thought through some tricky topics in advance. Let's get started! Book a class and I'll see you soon!
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