IELTS Cue Card: Describe a toy you liked in your childhood

IELTS Cue Card: Describe a toy you liked in your childhood


Describe a toy you liked in your childhood.
You should say:
  • What kind of toy it was
  • When you received it
  • How you played with it
And explain how you felt about it.

Part 3:
  • How do advertisements influence children?
  • Should advertising aimed at children be prohibited?
  • Do you think parents should buy more toys for their kids or spend more time with them?
  • What’s the difference between toys kids played with in the past and the toys they play with now?

Part 2 — Sample Answer:

I loved the toys I could use to build something. I was never into toys such as action figures, and I rarely played with my model train set, but I loved Meccano and Lego.

I’ve always been a creative person, and these two toys helped me develop my creativity.

I think everyone knows about Lego. Fundamentally, you have blocks of different shapes that you can interlock together to build something. I think my Lego sets came with instructions about what to build. I probably discarded them and they were never read. I was more interested in building what I wanted rather than what was described in the booklet. I’d build all kinds of things, from towers to things I pretended were spaceships.

Meccano is less commonly known about, and I think it was only popular in the UK during the late 80s and possibly even early 90s. It’s similar to Lego in that you can make something, but instead of plastic blocks, you have strips of pre-drilled metal, all of different shapes, that you had to put together with nuts and bolts. The set came with little tools that were only really useful for this toy.

I don’t recall exactly what I made with Meccano, but I do remember the set I was given had electric motors and I think it was possible to build a little remote controlled car with it. I don’t think I was able to be as creative with Meccano as I was Lego because all the pieces more or less fit together in a prescribed way.

I loved playing with these toys because it taught me how to build things. It was a creative outlet. I think kids nowadays tend to put too much emphasis on watching movies and playing video games. While these things aren’t bad, they often aren’t really very creative, which is a shame.

I’m not sure what happened to all my Lego and Meccano, but I think that when I stopped playing with them my parents donated them to charity so someone else could benefit from them, rather than have them rot in a landfill site.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Action figures (noun)
A toy that is made to look like a soldier or a character from a film or television show.
Example: Not long after the movie was released, action figures started to appear in stores.

Interlock (verb)
To join some parts firmly together, especially by fitting one part into another.
Example: The Lego bricks interlocked and stuck together tightly.

Set (noun)
A group of similar things that belong together, or are needed for a particular activity, particularly a game.
Example: I bought her a chemistry set.

Emphasis (noun)
The particular importance or attention that is given to something.
Example: I think we should put as much emphasis on preventing diseases as we do curing them.

Landfill site (noun)
A landfill site is a large hole in the ground where waste from people’s homes and from industry is buried.
Example: People think that recycling is better than sending their trash to a landfill site.

Part 3 — Sample Answers:

How do advertisements influence children?

I think advertisements have a particularly strong influence on children. They aren’t really able to assess whether a product is good for them or not, or whether a claim an ad makes is true, but as long as it looks fun they’re likely going to want it.

A lot of ads promote toys, cereal, and games, and these have been the kinds of ads that have been targeted at children for forever and a day. Even before TV and the internet, ads aimed at children would have appeared in magazines and other publications aimed at children.

I think the real intent isn’t to get children to buy something, as they rarely have money to spend, but to pressure parents into buying the toy, junk food, or game for their kid.

I’ve personally witnessed children having a temper tantrum in the grocery store because their dad wouldn’t buy them an unhealthy sugar-laden cereal. It’s likely they wanted it because of some ad they’d seen on TV or online.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Assess (verb)
To judge or decide the amount, value, quality, or importance of something.
Example: Exams aren’t the only means of assessing a student’s ability.

Ad (noun)
An informal form of advertisement. It’s commonly used because it has fewer syllables.
Example: I often prefer the ads on TV to the actual programs.

For forever and a day (idiom)
If something lasts for forever and a day, it can mean a very long time, but not actually for forever.
Example: We’ve been driving for forever and a day and we’re still not there yet.

Aimed at (phrasal verb)
To produce something for a particular purpose or for a particular group of people.
Example: The new photo editing software is being aimed at mobile application developers.

Temper tantrum (noun)
A temper tantrum is a sudden period of uncontrolled anger, like a young child’s.
Example: Robert had a temper tantrum in the store because I wouldn’t buy him any chocolate.

Laden (adjective)
If something is laden with something, there is a lot of something. It’s usually something unpleasant, like debt.
Example: The banks are laden with bad loans.

Should advertising aimed at children be prohibited?

I’m fairly conflicted about this. On the one hand there are quite a number of problems when it comes to advertising to children, but on the other hand cereal makers and toy manufacturers need a way to promote their products. Adults probably wouldn’t be receptive to these ads, and would likely mentally filter out an ad for a toy robot, but a kid wouldn’t. Toy makers aren’t going to be successful if they can’t advertise effectively.

I think advertisers need to be more responsible though. Perhaps they should be forced to adhere to a code of conduct that prevents them from advertising products that are likely going to have a negative impact, such as an excessively sugary cereal.

I see absolutely no downsides to ads aimed at children that promote healthy behaviors, however I generally feel that it’s the parents’ responsibility to teach these things, and not a commercial.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Conflicted (adjective)
If you are conflicted about something, you’re unable to decide what your feelings or opinions are about something.
Example: Politicians are conflicted about how to deal with gambling.

On the one hand (idiom)
It’s a phrase used when comparing two different facts or opposite ways of thinking about a situation. It’s sometimes used with the idiom on the other hand.
Example: On the one hand I’d like a job that pays more, but on the other hand I enjoy the work I’m doing at the moment.

Receptive (adjective)
If you’re receptive, you’e willing to listen to an accept new ideas and suggestions.
Example: He wasn’t receptive to the idea of moving to a different country.

Filter out (phrasal verb)
If you filter out something, you remove it because it’s not wanted. Example: He filtered out much of what was being said because he wasn’t interested.

Adhere (verb)
To adhere to something is to stick to something, or to carry out a plan without deviation.
Example: We will adhere to the plan and complete it on time.

Code of conduct (noun)
A code of conduct is a set of rules about how to behave.
Example: The industry’s code of conduct says that doctors shouldn’t be given gifts in exchange for recommending a product.

Commercial (noun)
A commercial is an advertisement that is broadcast on television or radio.
Example: There are too many commercials on TV nowadays.

Do you think parents should buy more toys for their kids or spend more time with them?

I think both are important. It’s important for a kid to bond with their parents and spend time with them, but it’s also important for them to have toys to play with.

I think some parents are so busy that they aren’t able to spend a lot of time with their kids. It’s possible some alleviate this guilt by buying the latest toy for their kid. This is a poor substitute for actual quality time, but I suppose at least the child doesn’t feel completely neglected.

Toys are really quite necessary though. A parent isn’t going to be able to spend all day every day playing with their child, and for those times they’re not available, toys can stave off boredom and keep the kid occupied for long stretches of time.

I think some toys can be educational too, in which case I see no problem with a parent buying lots of these toys, but in any event, they’re no substitute for actual one-on-one time with their parents.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Bond (verb)
To develop a close connection or strong relationship with someone is to bond with them.
Example: The hospital gives mothers no quiet private time in which to bond with their babies.

Alleviate (verb)
To make pain or problems less severe.
Example: The medicine did nothing to alleviate his discomfort.

Quality time (noun)
This is time you spend with someone, giving them your full attention because you value the relationship. Example: He spends quality time with his children every day.

Neglected (adjective)
If someone or something is neglected, they aren’t receiving enough care or attention.
Example: She was distressed at how neglected the children looked.

All day every day (phrase)
All the time, without any change.
Example: I can’t sit around all day every day now that I’ve retired.

Stave off (phrasal verb)
If you stave off something, you stop it from happening particularly if it’s a bad situation. It’s usually only temporary.
Example: We’re hoping to stave off all these difficult decisions until November.

One-on-one (adjective)
Something that happens between only two people.
Example: I had a one-on-one interview at that company I sent my resume to.

What’s the difference between toys kids played with in the past and the toys they play with now?

I think there’s one major difference: technology.

A lot of toys nowadays incorporate a lot of technology to make them more interactive and engaging. It’s common for toys today to require batteries or to be plugged in, but toys in the past used to be a lot simpler, and would have lacked the richness that toys today have.

I suppose the further back in time we go, the simpler and more basic toys were. They may have had a mechanical element to them, but it wouldn’t have been very sophisticated.

A lot of kids today play with video games. I see kids in the park playing video games on their phones while they hang out with friends, rather than play an actual game. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but they aren’t interacting with each other quite as well, nor are they getting as much physical exercise as kids in the past did.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Engaging (adjective)
Something that’s attractive, appealing, or delightful in a way that makes people like it.
Example: He’s a really engaging person.

Plugged in (phrasal verb)
To connect a piece of equipment to an electricity supply or to another piece of equipment.
Example: I realized the reason the TV wasn’t working was because I hadn’t plugged it in.

Richness (noun)
The quality of having a lot of something that is valuable or interesting.
Example: We were impressed by the richness of the town’s nightlife.

Element (noun)
A basic part of something.
Example: The TV show had all the elements of a good drama.

Hang out (phrasal verb)
If you spend a lot of time somewhere you are said to hang out there. You can also hang out with people too.
Example: I’ve been hanging out all day at the beach.

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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Flag
English
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United Kingdom
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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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