IELTS Cue Card Sample 477 - Open-air or street market which you enjoyed visiting

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

Describe an open-air or street market which you enjoyed visiting.

You should say:

  • where the market was
  • what the market sells
  • how big the market was

and explain why you enjoyed visiting this market.

[You will have to talk about the topic for one to two minutes. You have one minute to think about what you're going to say. You can make some notes to help you if you wish.]

Sample Answer 1:
I was a bit stumped when I saw the topic on this cue card!  It’s been ages and ages since I’ve been to a ‘proper’ open-air street market.  Where I live in England the weather isn’t that great, so the fashion for completely open air markets has passed.  We do have specialist monthly farmer’s markets that pop from time to time, but they tend to be just selling quite expensive luxury items. Speciality home cured meats and home-made cheeses, all very delicious but too pricey for me to shop there. I could talk about one of those, but it would feel fake, because I don’t really enjoy going to those, rather I just feel frustrated because I can’t afford to buy anything on sale there! Instead, I am going to tell you about my memories of a more authentic open air market from my childhood.

I’ll tell you where the market was, what it sold, how big it was and why I enjoyed going there so much when I was little.

So the market was about a mile away from my childhood home, and was held in a place called Kingston upon Thames.  I didn’t know it then, but in fact, Kingston is a really ancient market town. It was of particular prominence as a trading centre because of its geographic location at a river crossing point as well as the boundary of some ancient territories. Depending on who you believe, it has a history that goes back for more than a thousand years, which is impressive in anyone’s calculations surely! So about 45 years ago, I would go to Kingston market with my mum to do our weekly shop there. We’d usually walk, or sometimes cycle, locking our bikes up carefully at the end of a bridge before crossing over the river on it to get to the market. It was a thriving, noisy and busy place. There were seemingly countless market stalls which sold predominantly food items. Lots of different fruit, vegetable and flower stalls competed to attract the attention of passers’ by to buy their goods. Because we went every week we were wise to any bad practice, and knew which stall holders could be trusted to supply quality goods and not over-charge us. I learned from an early age you should always watch the stall holder select produce from the display at the front of the stall – if they did it out of sight from the back you might end up with bruised or over-ripe produce. I also learned to haggle – which doesn’t happen so much anymore nowadays, but was acceptable even commonplace then. Also, I knew to always check the contents of the brown paper bags that were handed over to make sure the quality of fruit and veg was acceptable before paying for it in full! As well as the fruit and veg, there’d be other items. Household goods, ‘cheap and cheerful’ clothes and even impromptu ‘auctions’ of bargain scents or potions. It was a busy, heaving stimulating place. The gutters would be full of discarded fruit and veg, and sometimes I’d go and pick up these cast offs at the end of the day as they were good food for our pet guinea pigs at home!

The market extended throughout the whole of the town centre, with different stalls selling the same types of things grouped close together. All the fruit was in a part of the town known as ‘The Apple Market’ for example. The area of streets it used to occupy is still called that now, but the open air stalls with the colourful striped canvas tops have long since gone, replaced with gentrified boutique shops selling rather more upmarket goods. Other areas had clothes stalls grouped together, you could pick up pairs of socks and pants for practically nothing. They weren’t good quality, but good enough for the price. Nowadays the market in Kingston does still take place, but is very much reduced in size, it is more likely to sell ‘posh’ food like expensive artisan breads; imported luxury olives and exclusive handbags. In my youth, it was a functional place to shop. You could pick up good value, fresh produce in season, and trudge home laden with bags of potatoes, plastic coat-hangers and other commonplace items.

Because the produce on sale was always what was currently in season, what was available varied week by week. Ripe strawberries in the summer were a particular treat!  However, one outing was a great tradition for us all as a family at Christmas. Once a year about a fortnight before Christmas Day, me, my brother and my sister would go with my Dad to choose a Christmas tree from one of the many stalls selling them in time for the festivities. We would carefully select one that was just the right height and amount of bushiness, and then all four of us would hold on to a bit of the tree to carry it the mile home together in a little crocodile line together. We probably looked quite sweet and festive all wrapped up in our bobble hats with thick scarves and gloves!

So I enjoyed visiting the market because it was such an assault on the senses. The crowds, smells and sights had a great atmosphere. The piles of fresh fruit and vegetable looked amazing, and there were many colourful characters calling out to sell their wares. You could also pick up some extraordinary bargains at the end of the day if you were smart, and could risk waiting to make a last-minute purchase. Stall holders needed to shift items before they went off, and/or didn’t really want to pack them all up again at the end of the day, sometimes it was easier for a market trader to just to sell things ‘for a song’. Occasionally I’d get a huge bunch of flowers for some trifling sum and feel a real sense of achievement carrying them home knowing I’d got myself a bargain!

Open-air markets are very different now, well it is in Kingston-upon-Thames at least. I’m glad I have my memories of the original one, though perhaps I romanticise it a bit. I daresay stall holders wouldn’t get away with cheating their customers by choosing stock from the back anymore, and the choice of products from all over the world is tempting, those have to changes for the better. Even so, I still think we have maybe lost something with the sanitising of the open air market. It is undoubtedly better for health and hygiene, but I used to love darting round the back of the stalls to scoop up discarded cabbage leaves and manky carrots to take home to my pets! I suppose the progress is good, but it’s fun to remember past times too! I enjoyed those visits, and stored up some memories of what a ‘proper’ open air market should be like, with a character and surprise around every corner. I like to think there are still places in the world still were such anarchic and crowded markets still take place week in week out and canny traders and shoppers sport with one another to secure the best deals!

[ Written by - Lucy Marris (2016):  Careers Adviser (UK), TEFL teacher (Vietnam) ]


 

Sample Answer 2:
Shopping is fun when it is done in a street market. I am happy that I had the chance to shop some special stuff from the Temple Street in Hong Kong, China last year.

I am an Italian businessman and love to travel. Annually I take a tour in different parts of the world. Last year, I went China and travelled different parts of the country. Hong Kong appeared as one of the most prominent cities of the country with a special sort of appeal. The night life and the street markets are the keys to the appeal, I think. The market is near to the Jordan Subway station and easily accessible from any parts of the city. This is an enjoyable place to browse a large number of goods and have them after a beautiful haggling with the sellers.    

Temple Street is a large street in Hong Kong and mostly famous for the street shops. The entire location is covered with crowds – mostly sellers and buyers. The market allows the people to pass their time by checking the right goods for them. It sells a large number of goods and products and in lower prices. If you want to buy the products from a shopping mall, you are to pay more than the usual price. So, the locals and tourists from home and abroad come here to get their shopping done. The market is filled with plenty of clothes, foods, toys, dresses for men, women and children, crockeries, wrist watches, CDs, footwear, cookware, handicrafts, tea sets, glasses, antiques, electronic goods, jewelries, jackets and much more. Besides, the food stalls also sell the traditional Chinese foods to fill the hunger of the tired shoppers.     

This was a moderately large market covering around 600 meters. In fact, this was a night market that began in the evening. The shops are settled in rows and there are ample spaces before the shops to move and walk. There were large lights hung on almost every shops to exhibit the products. Almost all the sellers want to trick with the foreign customers. They claim more price than the usual whenever any foreign tourist visits their shops. Besides, the car parking of the market is also filled with some other people playing music around the hours. The food stalls are located in a corner and some of the food vendors had set their stalls wherever they have got an empty space. Despite being a large market, it always crowded as a good number of people come to visit the stalls.  

I have never experienced such a street market. As an Italian, it was kind of new experience for me. But I had the idea that I need to bargain, and finally, I was right about the assumption that the sellers are trying to cheat with the customers about the price of the goods and services. So, if the buyers are not serious in bargaining, they are to incur a huge loss. Even sometimes, the sellers try to sell some fake products logoed with renowned brands. This issue also needs consideration of the buyers. I bought some clothes and ornaments with a reasonable price after lots of arguments with the sellers. But I really enjoyed the snacks and traditional foods of the market. It was a pleasant experience for me indeed.

 

Part 3 – Two-way discussion:

Shopping at markets:

Q. Do people in your country enjoy going to open-air markets that sell things like food or clothes or old objects? Which type of market is more popular? Why?

Q. Do you think markets are more suitable places for selling certain types of things? Which ones? Why do you think this is?

Q. Do you think young people feel the same about shopping at markets as older people? Why is that?

Shopping in general:

Q. What do you think are the advantages of buying things from shops rather than markets?

Q. How does advertising influence what people choose to buy? Is this true for everyone?

Q. Do you think that any recent changes in the way people live have affected general shopping trends?

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