IELTS Cue Card Sample 59 - Describe the most useful household appliance

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

Describe the most useful household appliance that you have.

You should say:

  • What it is
  • How it works
  • How life would be without it

and explain why it is so important to you to you.

Model answer 1:
Lots of household appliances are really useful to have, but today I’m going to tell you about the most useful appliance I have in my home. I’ll tell you what it is, how it works, and how life would be without it, and why it is so important to me.

I didn’t have to think very long about which appliance to choose to talk about for this topic, for me it is easy. I picked the item I just could not live without.  What is it? It’s a kettle. How it works? Well, I fill it with water from my tap – and I’m lucky, where I live in Yorkshire we have lovely soft water that boils quickly and tastes great – then I simply replace the kettle on its base, flick a switch and wait for the kettle to boil. There is an element within the kettle that gets hot from the electricity, and that’s what heats the water, I don’t really know how to explain it any more fully… We have a saying in our country ‘a watched kettle never boils’ I think that’s true! The more you impatiently watch a kettle waiting for it to come to the boil the longer it seems to take.

The principle of a kettle is very simple, and it’s something that is easy to take for granted, but life without a kettle for me is unthinkable. I can think of three main reasons and all are important to me!  

Firstly, I have to start my day with a cup of strong tea, I can’t do anything or speak to anyone until I’ve had that first cuppa of the day. I like Yorkshire tea, made in a pot and served with unsweetened soya milk which I always put in first. I like the pot to stand for a bit before I pour, and the tea has to be made with water that has literally just boiled or it really doesn’t taste the same. I also ideally like to have my tea in my favourite mug – never a cup.  So without a kettle, I just couldn’t face my day!

The second reason is because in my country, if anyone ever visits your house, whether that is a friend or a tradesperson come to do a job for you, the first thing you do to be polite and welcoming is offer a drink of either tea or coffee.  Without a kettle to hand that little ritual would be impossible, it would feel so wrong.

Thirdly, and possibly most importantly of all, there is nothing as bonding as sitting down with a hot cup of tea with a  friend and talking to put the world to rights. Biscuits welcome too, but tea will suffice. It is my firm belief that no problem is so great it cannot be resolved with – or at least diminished by -- a shared pot of tea.

If you think I am placing too much importance on a kettle you are wrong! I don’t have to imagine life without a kettle, as unfortunately, I have experienced it. One day I went to put my kettle on and it immediately fused, it wouldn’t work!  Even though it was early in the morning it was unthinkable to go to my job without having had my cup of tea first. Before I did anything else, I hauled some trousers and a top on over my pyjamas and headed to a 24 hour supermarket so I could buy a cheap kettle, return home and have my cup of tea as usual before my shower and dressing for work. That might sound extreme, but for me, it was the only sensible practical option. When we have an occasional power cut in the UK, it’s horrendous. I can manage without electric light or hot water, but no kettle? That’s really challenging!

A kettle is a much overlooked household appliance, but in my experience, it is the most important one. Tea starts the day, shows hospitality, and I my culture is the one sure fire way to make everything better. A sit-down and a cup of tea (or coffee) with a close friend is one of the best stress busters in the world, and without a kettle, it would be much much harder to deliver on demand!

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


Model answer 2:
I consider the refrigerator to be the most useful household appliance I have. Among these household appliances, I would put refrigerator ahead because of its usefulness specifically for me. I live in an apartment and mostly maintain all of my tasks by myself. I can't think of living without the refrigerator I do have.

I own a refrigerator manufactured by LG and it is a side-by-side refrigerator with an icemaker. I put most of the foods, water and cooked food there. It makes my life easier and helps me eat fresh foods. It is quite tough for me to cook 2-3 times a day and the refrigerator saves me from doing so. My refrigerator consists of a thermally insulated compartment and the heat pump that transfers the heat created inside to the external environment. As a result, the inside of the refrigerator remains cool to a temperature below the room temperature. There is a temperature controller that the user can use to maintain the desired temperature. This temperature can differ based on the room temperature and the type of food preserved. The refrigerator also reduces the rate of spoilage of foods and foods item by maintaining a lower temperature which helps keep lower the reproduction of bacteria to a minimal level.

Without the refrigerator, life would have been much difficult. I would have to go shopping every now and then and buy only a minimum amount of fruits, vegetables and other food items that I would be able to eat in a day.

I would have to purchase cold water in the summer season and have to cook 3 times a day. That would have killed a significant amount of time and would not allow me to do other stuff that I currently do. Making ice cream, smoothie and other juices would have been quite impossible and my lifestyle would not permit me to eat fresh fruits and foods. Sometimes I bring foods, meats and vegetables from my hometown and preserve them for more than a month. That would have been impossible without the refrigerator I own.

For all those reasons, the refrigerator has become an important appliance for my daily life.


Tips for answering this cue card topic:

Some of the useful household appliances that you can talk about for this cue card topic:

•    Toaster
•    Stereo
•    Vacuum Cleaner
•    Heating Machine
•    Refrigerator
•    Rice Cook
•    Floor Cleaner
•    Microwave woven
•    Coffee maker
•    TV
•    Radio
•    Iron machine
•    Washing Machine

Pick the household appliance that you often use and choosing such an appliance would help you describing it in details. This cue card asks you to describe how this tool works and hence picking up a less complicated tool in terms of its mechanical functionality (Iron machine or radio for example) would be a good idea rather than picking up a more complicated appliance like the refrigerator.

To describe how this tool works, you do not have to describe the mechanical aspects of this tool; rather you can describe how you see it. For example: while describing a refrigerator, you can give mechanical and electrical aspects of this appliance but if you are not sure about these aspects simply say that you put the food items and liquid items inside the refrigerator and it maintains a temperature to keep them fresh. Also, mention that you can adjust the temperature and this gives you more control over the cooling process. Obviously, if you can give some details from the mechanical perspective of such tools, that you be better but always keep in mind that highly mechanical description might not interest your examiner.

To answer properly, first say the name of the household appliance with the brand name and for how long you have it. Now give the functional aspects of this appliance, i.e. how it works and you should also mention how you use this tool in your home. Then go to more details of the importance of this tool for you and describe how tough it would have been if you have done things manually without this tools. Take washing machine for example, and you know without it, you would have to wash all your clothes manually that would have been really time-consuming and cumbersome. Say that because of this tool you can very easily engage in other important tasks and the washing machine takes care of your laundry.

Say some experiences you have before you purchased this machine and that would be good to describe the part ‘How life would be without it’. The final part of the cue card is ‘and explain why it is so important to you” and in this part, you have to emphasise some of the points you have already told earlier regarding the question ‘How life would have been without it”.

Part 3: Details Discussion:

Q. What kinds of machines are used for housework in modern homes in your country?

Q. How have these machines benefited people? Are there any negative effects of using them?

Q. Do you think all new homes will be equipped with household machines in the future? Why?

Q. What kinds of equipment do most workers need to use in offices today?

Q. How have developments in technology affected employment in your country?

Q. Some people think that technology has brought more stress than benefits to employed people nowadays. Would you agree or disagree? Why? 


Some similar cue card topics:

1.    Describe something you own which is important to you.
2.    Describe an electronic equipment you own.
3.    Describe a tool that you often use.
4.    Describe a gift you recently got.
5.    Describe a tool you plan to buy.
6.    Describe a useful household appliance. 

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