IELTS Cue Card Sample 407 - Describe a surprise that made you happy

IELTS Speaking Part 2: IELTS Cue Card/ Candidate Task Card.

Describe a surprise that made you happy.

You should say:

  • what it was
  • where it happened
  • when it happened

and explain why the surprise made you happy.

Model Answer 1:
I can think of a lovely surprise to share with you.  I’m going to tell you what it was, where it happened and when, and then explain exactly why the unexpected happening made me so happy.

The surprise started with a card from the post office put through my letter box.  The card said that they had tried to deliver a parcel to me, but because I was out when they called they hadn’t been able to leave it, so I’d have to go and pick it up from the parcel depot.  I was intrigued.  I hadn’t ordered anything online, it wasn’t my birthday, and I wasn’t expecting anything exciting in the post at all.  I had no idea what it could possibly be.  The next morning I went to the post office with some ID to prove who I was, and collected the parcel.  It was a box, about the size of a shoe box, wrapped in a dark grey plastic packaging, with the name of the company ‘blurt’ on it.  I was none the wiser, I didn’t recognise the company and couldn’t tell who it was from by the wrapping. 

I waited until I got home, and then I opened it.  The parcel contained a brown cardboard box which said ‘Buddy Box’ on the outside.  Inside, was a collection of rather random, but very charming gift items.  They included a pair of socks made from bamboo; some rather strongly scented soap (I wasn’t too sure about that!); a little blank pad of writing paper with a cover decorated with cactus plants, a ‘sew your own’ cactus kit (that was very bizarre) and an ultra-thin pen for sliding inside a diary or notebook!  There was still no card to say who it was from, but just an anonymous typed note saying ‘I saw this and thought of you!’  It was a completely unexpected gift, sent by someone, somewhere to cheer me up.  I’d had a rather bad time recently following a bereavement and losing my job as well, so I’d been quite down, knowing that someone was thinking about me was really touching, and as well as being a surprise, made me very happy.  The parcel came just a month ago, so it is a very recent surprise, but a lovely one. 

So that is the ‘what’, the ‘where’ and the ‘when’, as to the ‘why’ that is perhaps a little more complicated than you might at first think.  Of course, it was lovely to receive the gift from someone, the contents didn’t matter, it really was ‘the thought that counts’ as the English saying goes, but what made it extra special, was trying to guess who it was from.  I’d been feeling quite lonely, but when I tried to work out who might have sent the parcel to me, I realised I just didn’t know.  Even though I had been feeling a bit sorry for myself, I could actually come up with quite a long list of people who might have been thinking of me and wanting to cheer me up.  I was astonished, and I felt very lucky indeed. 

So this surprise made me happy, not only because it was an unexpected gift of lovely things, but also because it reminded me of how many friends I had around me who cared about me at a difficult time. 

[ Written by - Lucy Marris, Careers Adviser (UK), TEFL teacher (Vietnam) ]

Model Answer 2:
The whole point about surprises is that they can catch you completely unawares. You wake up one morning with no particular expectation that anything unusual is going to happen that day, and perhaps anticipating a rather ordinary and dull working day or weekend ahead of you. Then something remarkable happens, and the world feels full of exciting possibilities and adventures all over again!

I’m going to talk to you about a really big surprise that made me very happy indeed.  I think you too will be a bit taken aback with how unexpected it was as I tell you the ‘what’ the ‘where’ and the ‘when’ – I imagine you won’t need me to explain too much why the surprise made me happy, but I will tell you about that two.

I’ll start with the where and when, because that makes more sense of the story.  It was a Saturday morning about two and a half years ago.  I went down to my local park near to where I live in Sheffield, to take part in a 5km run which is a regular weekly event called Parkrun, which lots of people in the UK participate in, there are over 364 different Parkrun events held in open spaces across the UK so it is quite a phenomenon.  This particular event is quite large, with around 500 runners - of all different ages, backgrounds and speeds – taking part.  On this particular day, after the run I was walking away towards home when I suddenly saw a face I recognised.  ‘Hello’, I said, ‘hello Lucy’ she replied, and that was the beginning of our reunion.  The person I’d recognised was someone I had been at school with thirty years ago in a completely different part of the UK.  When she finished school, she’d moved away to Sheffield to study and made a home here, I hadn’t kept in touch with her, so when I myself moved to Sheffield to take up a new job some 25 years later, I had no idea she lived in the same city.  We met each other completely by chance after three decades, and recognised each other instantly.  It was certainly a surprise!  What made it even more unexpected, was that we were both taking part in a sporting activity.  At school, neither of us had enjoyed physical education, or PE as it was then called, and quite often had skipped school to avoid it!  It was so funny to us both that we should meet up after so long, at such an unlikely occasion and in a city hundreds of miles away from where we used to live as children.  We went off for a ‘quick’ coffee to catch up, and ended up talking solidly for over 3 hours!

It made us both very happy, because we picked up on an old friendship almost exactly where we had left off.  We now meet up at the same event every Saturday, and after our run we still go for breakfast each week.  We also take part in running events together – though I’m really slow and she’s really fast, so we don’t have everything in common.

So that particular day brought a very unusual surprise my way, and one which made me happy not only at the time, but right up to the present day and I hope beyond it too.  It is good to be reminded to look around you and to be open to the unexpected, it makes life a lot more interesting, and a lot more fun!

[ Written by - Lucy Marris, Careers Adviser (UK), TEFL teacher (Vietnam) ]

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