IELTS Cue Card Sample 467 - House/ apartment that someone you know lives in

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

Describe a house/ apartment that someone you know lives in.

Please say:

  • whose house/apartment this is
  • where the house/apartment is
  • what it looks like inside

and explain what you like or dislike about this person’s house/apartment.

Sample Answer 1: (House in Sheffield, England)
Well, at first, I was a bit flummoxed by this topic. I suppose that’s because it is easy to take for granted the sorts of accommodation people live in, and not really pause to think about it all that much. I have moved around a lot for work and so try not to get too attached to houses or flats I’ve rented as I am never sure how long I might be in them. The location of the accommodation is usually the most important thing for me when I’m choosing where I live, and so I don’t really tend to judge other people’s living situations as they too can be precarious. However, now you have given me the topic to talk about, I can think of one example of where a friend lives that immediately comes to mind. I’m going to tell you all about her house, where it is, what it’s like (as best I can) and the pros and cons of her choice of home.

So, this friend of mine is someone who I’ve known for years. She is married, and shares her home with her husband and two almost grown up children. They are quite a sporty household, interested in lots of activities like walking, cycling, running and music. Both her sons play in student bands. My friend also runs her own business (mail-order cookies) from the basement of her home, so it’s quite a busy household!

The house is in Nether Edge, which is an established residential suburb in the south-west of the City of Sheffield, England. This is in colloquial terms quite a ‘posh’ area of Sheffield! It is a relatively affluent area with wide tree-lined streets and lots of little boutique shops, delicatessens and even its own well-established amateur theatre in the area. It has a real community feel, everyone there seems to know their neighbours and take an interest in what is going on on their doorstep. The houses tend to be Victorian, built of solid stone.  The grandest houses have their own walled gardens and are packed with ‘original features’ like large windows, beautiful old fire-places, picture rails and wooden floor boards. Some of the houses have now been sub-divided into flats, and there are a few newer properties tucked away within the region. Generally though, it’s a very pretty area of the city, with a mix of attractive terraced houses and some larger detached properties. It is certainly a very ‘desirable’ place to live, particularly for people with families, as it is safe, with a community feel and properties large enough to accommodate the biggest of families.

The house my friend lives in is a beautiful rambling Victorian home. It has many original fireplaces with black hearth stones and attractive tiles along the sides of the open fire grates. There are wooden floors a-plenty, high ceilings and the house goes up three floors high as well as down into the basement. She has converted this area into a lovely kitchen for her business on one side of the basement, the other side has racks of bikes carefully stored away in the dry. In the walled garden, she can keep a few chickens – which is a relatively rare privilege in what is almost a city location. Because the house is usually a hive of activity, the kitchen is always a warm and friendly place where you can sit at the large kitchen table and catch up on gossip over a cup of coffee. From the hallway, there is a large reception room where in winter you can snuggle up in front of a roaring open fire on one of the two squidgy sofas placed in their for guests. The house has great character, a little bit of faded grandeur perhaps, but it is really impressive.

What do I like about the property! Well, it’s gorgeous, I love the quirkiness of the Victorian property, the luxury of a real fire and the original features are stunning. It is a busy household where there is always something going on and a warm welcome too, it isn’t just the architecture of the building and the possessions within it that make it an attractive property, it is the family within it!  In my dreams, I’d love to live in a property like this, however, the reality could be a bit different. The tall ceilings and large rooms are indeed gorgeous, but they aren’t very practical in an English winter. The property is hard to heat and the electricity bills must be huge. All those open-fires and so many stairs and rooms make it hard to keep clean. Old houses don’t tend to have much in the way of storage, so there is a constant battle to find ‘homes’ for the clutter of living. Still, I reckon that would be a small price to pay for such a lovely home, one day perhaps... In the meantime, I feel very lucky that my friend is so willing to welcome me and others to come and visit her there and enjoy it too. I’ve had some very happy times in that lovely home, but you know what, if she had to move I’m sure as she is so hospitable, I’d find I quickly became just as attached to her new home even if it was a complete contrast and a small, modern flat in a high rise block. It is people that make a home, not the bricks used to construct the walls that surround them!

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

Model Answer 2:
My younger sister, who is married to a doctor, lives in a large apartment and this is quite an elegant apartment in my opinion. For this cue card topic, I would like to talk about this apartment which is located in the northern part of the (…say the city name here…).

My sister’s name is Emmy and his husband is a renowned doctor. They bought this apartment 2 years ago and live there with their only son Christopher. The apartment is on the 3rd floor of a six-storied building which is located at the 2nd lane of the (… say the area name here…). It is only 20 minutes walking distance from my house. On an average, I visit my nephew and sister twice in a month.

The whole apartment is more than 2600 square feet and has 4 bedrooms, one dining room. The verandahs are quite large and my sister had put several flower pots there which have enhanced the beauty of the whole apartment. The apartment is comparatively spacious and the while coloured indoor looks new to me. The rooms all have attached bathrooms with them and most of the furniture were bought from the most renowned and branded shops. My sister had an interior designing diploma and she has put every effort to make her own house look beautiful. From a neutral point of view, I would say she is a talented interior designer as she has been quite successful to make the interior of her own house impressive. The large wooden furniture, the modern and sophisticated design of most of the furniture and handpicked wall-frames gives a rich impression to a guest who visits this apartment.

I like this apartment because it has got a large space, unlike many other apartments I have visited. The rooms give complete privacy to the house members as they are not adjacent to each other. The interior of the apartment is quite attractive. Moreover, my sister, as an interior designer has designed it perfectly. The apartment gives me the impression of beauty and comfort. For these reasons, I love this apartment. 


Sample Answer 3: (House in Queensland, Australia)

Describe the most beautiful house you have ever seen. or, 

Describe a beautiful house/ home you have been to.

Ok, so rather than tell you about a ‘typical’ home I know, I want to share with you the story of possibly the most amazing house I’ve ever been lucky enough to visit. I only went there once, and it was a very, very long time ago, but it made such an impression on me that I feel I can still visualise it really well. I’m going to try and explain who the property belonged to, where it was, what it looked like inside (this is the real surprise) and try and explain what it was that made such a strong impression on me.

So, the story was, I was travelling in Australia. An elderly relative of mine now living in the UK, had spent many years working there, and was really keen I look up an old friend of hers who lived ‘in the rainforest’ in a quite remote part of Queensland, near a coastal village called Cardwell. I was a bit apprehensive about doing this. The woman it was suggested I meet was in her eighties and I knew nothing about her other than that she used to work with my cousin and that she was recently bereaved.  To my shame, I imagined a rather lonely and aged woman and I wasn’t looking forward to the visit.

I interrupted my coach trip up the East Coast of Australia to get off at this remote and tiny tropical coastal town in Far North Queensland, Australia. When I visited in the early 1990s I think the population was only just about one thousand people. I got off the coach and my heart sank a bit, there seemed nothing there, and I didn’t even have the phone number for this woman.  It wasn’t a usual tourist drop-off point and I was the only person to disembark – I think I may even have had to request that the driver made a special stop at the settlement just for me. I stuck out like a sore thumb. I made my way to the only accommodation available (a sort of cheap camping/ hostel/ motel place) and quickly people started to ask me what I was doing there. I explained hesitantly I was looking for this woman ‘Margaret’, feeling silly for doing so. How on earth would I find her?  Well, it was amazing. Everyone, literally everyone, immediately knew who she was, I was warmly welcomed by association. She was clearly something of a local celebrity, very well-regarded and described as indeed ‘living in the rain forest’. Within a couple of hours of my arrival, a forest ranger turned up. It seemed he had somehow heard I was looking for her, so he’d come in his off-road vehicle to pick me up and take her to her home! I had no idea what to expect, but clambered into the truck, and off we went, bouncing down rutted tracks, deeper and deeper into the rainforest.

After a little while, we arrived at her ‘house’. Oh! my. I have never seen anything like it before or since! Imagine a little wooden house, raised up on stilts, with a veranda completely encircling the structure, a rather crude slatted wooden roof and wooden interior walls. Imagine all of this, but with no external walls! It was as if the property had just grown organically from the forest floor.  The weather was warm year round in this part of the world, and clearly my host felt very safe in the forest. Rather than have a barrier between her and the forest, she chose to have no exterior walls, her living space merged with the plants and animals that surrounded her. I think there may have been a low wooden fence at the back of the property, but really this was mainly to stop things falling off her platform, rather than give privacy or security!

I sat and joined the ranger and my relative’s elderly friend for tea in her ‘living room’ which was open to the forest. It was extraordinary. Birds could flap through, the noises of the forest were all around us. It was completely magical. I heard all about my host’s work and career. It turned out she was a passionate conservationist, who, together with her late husband, had been instrumental in securing World Heritage Site and Site of Special Scientific Interest status for the beautiful uninhabited island of Hinchinbrook which lies off the coast of Cardwell. She was also very active in working to preserve Cassowaries, a bird I’d never even heard of, but which I came to learn is a large, flightless bird most closely related to the emu, and terribly endangered due to loss of its natural habitat. Being in her house was complete sensory overload. The house was just a shell of interior walls that essentially served as a viewing platform for the forest but it was where she lived. No phone, no electricity, but home all the same. The interior walls separated her bedroom area from the living area where she welcomed guests, but the whole structure was exposed to the elements on the outside – apart from the roof which overhung the planks of the porch quite considerably. It blew my mind that you could make a home in such a way and in such a place. Also, that although you might think she’d be isolated, clearly the ‘bush telegraph’ meant even living in the middle of the rainforest as she did, it was just a couple of hours from me getting off that coach unannounced to a message reaching her that I was looking her out and she arranging to have me as a guest in her home!

What did I like! Well, feeling part of the rainforest. It was an unobtrusive dwelling, probably we would call it ‘eco-friendly’ in the language of today. She told me that sometimes she’d be having an early breakfast on her porch and see cassowaries wander past. They are incredibly shy and rare so that is a remarkable thing. I loved the quirkiness of the house, the minimalism of her furnishings. You really don’t need very much in the way of material things to have a good life.  Also, I suppose there’s very little point in having lots of possessions when the rainforest might encroach on you at any moment. I didn’t like the mosquitoes, though! I was wearing shorts when I visited and I’d swear I still have the scars from the many bites to my legs from those pesky insects feasting on me on that day. I don’t mind, I even like them in a way. They are a physical reminder of a memory that otherwise seems almost too extraordinary to be true!

I wish I’d made this visit when I was a little older and wiser. I’d have asked far more questions about what her life was like and how the house came to be built. However, the important thing is that I had the chance to visit at all, and to be reminded there are many ways to live our lives and many different dwellings from which to do so. Not all of us will be lucky enough to create our little patch of paradise, but it is heartening to think some will. It also reminded me not to rush to judgement and to listen more carefully to what people say. I had stereotyped what an ‘old’ person would be like, but in her eighties here she was living independently in very basic accommodation but full of passion for new projects and with an energy that put me to shame. I also wondered in retrospect what it was I expected to find. Everyone I met told me ‘oh Margaret, you’ll find her in the rainforest’ and that was literally where she was, yet somehow I hadn’t expected to take that statement at face value.  It was no short-hand, it was her spiritual and physical home. I hope she had many more happy years living there and carrying on with her one-woman campaign to save the Cassowary too. One day I’d like to find my own quirky dwelling and make it my home. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone so at peace with their surroundings.

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


Part 3: Discussion topics:

Different types of home:

Q. What kinds of home are most popular in your country? Why is this?
Q. What do you think are the advantages of living in a house rather than an apartment?
Q. Do you think that everyone would like to live in a larger home? Why is that?

Finding a place to live:

Q. How easy is it to find a place to live in your country?
Q. Do you think it’s better to rent or to buy a place to live in? Why?
Q. Do you agree that there is a right age for young adults to stop living with their parents? Why is that?

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