IELTS Speaking Part 2
You should say:
- what city it was
- the reason you visited or lived there
- what you liked about it
and say what was most memorable about the visit.
Due to work-related reasons, I once had to spend a year in a little town near Madrid, which I can hardly even remember the name of. It is a small town, I think there is just over 50 thousand people living there. The city was really endearing, almost rustic in an urban way. The town felt like it was stuck in 2001, in a good way. There were no shopping centres or any other major points of attraction. The commercial district was mostly comprised of small, family-owned businesses. Another great thing about the place is that it was very walkable. What I mean is that the town felt like it was built around the idea of getting somewhere on foot rather than by car—a welcomed change from the car-centric cities of today.
One thing that I still have a vivid recollection of is how people would flock to the only local park after work. The place is very popular, both with youth and older citizens. It was the only time I witnessed such honest enthusiasm within a community about a regular park. It might sound like nothing special, but I guess you had to be there to see it.
IELTS Speaking Part 3
The future of cities
What do you think will be the biggest change in cities in the next 20 years?
Predicting the future is no easy task, but one might entertain certain possibilities. One possibility is the decentralisation of cities. People will no longer flock to the biggest urban centres. The reason they do it now is mainly job prospects—and this is not going to be that big of a reason in the future thanks to work-from-home opportunities. We might see smaller towns and villages repopulated by young specialists with families. Another likely change is the emergence of ultra-low-budget housing solutions as accommodation becomes less affordable. This could be something like sleeping pods with shared amenities like a kitchen and bathroom.
In what ways do you think technology will transform city life in the future?
One could guess that life in the city is going to grow even more phone-centered. We have already got used to paying with our phones, hailing a cab with an app, and making purchases online. I think the next step could be using the phone as a key, a sort of authorization device. This could give you access to your car, flat, the workplace, and so on. The safety concern isn’t that big as your phone is as likely to be stolen or lost as your keys.
Another possible tech-related innovation could be automated carpooling. A system would track people with the same commute routes and automatically assign them to one car, possibly compensating the driver for that. This would both decrease environmental impact and ease transport congestion.
How can cities become more sustainable and environmentally friendly in the future?
One rather radical but effective approach to environmental safeguarding was implemented in London. As far as I know, they have completely banned fossil-fuel cars from entering the city centre. Naturally, it caused a public outcry, but such things are natural, people are averse to changes. My point is that it worked and more cities should follow this example, slowly pushing out vehicles with high carbon footprint. People have been using the same combustion technology for well over a century, and it’s about time somebody did something about this.
As for sustainability, the state could introduce stricter rules on recycling and sorting of garbage. This issue is becoming more pressing as world population rises, so enforcing more eco-conscious disposal of waste is a must. Even if takes fines or administrative penalties, it has to be done before it’s too late.
Life in the city
What are the challenges of living in large urban areas?
The cause of most problems city dwellers face is either a direct or indirect consequence of high population density. A good example is traffic congestion. During peak commute times, most cities grind to a halt as the majority of people nowadays choose personal car as a means of getting from A to B. No amount of urban planning can solve that. Another issue stemming from the sheer number of people living in cities is crime. The police is simply unable to perform its duties, given the scale and size of their precinct. Finally, even though humans are social animals, many would rather live in a more private fashion, which is rather tricky in a big city as you are always surrounded by people, either literally or figuratively.
Some people say that cities are becoming increasingly expensive to live in. Do you agree?
While it might not be true for every city in existence, the general trend appears to be that way. As cities grow increasingly popular with well-paid professionals, real estate prices there go higher. This is further exacerbated by gentrification of the more prestigious district, driving the costs further up. However, even though property prices are high indeed, the opposite could be said about consumer goods. Anything from groceries to electronics tends to be cheaper due to higher sales volume and ease of logistics. It is much cheaper to get things delivered to a larger shop in bulk rather than to a remote village in lower quantity. This naturally benefits the consumer, who ends up paying less. Therefore, while some aspects of life in the city have higher price tag, others might be more affordable.
Do you believe that urbanization is beneficial or harmful to society as a whole? Why?
I’m afraid there is no cut-and-dry answer to this, as there are many factors to take into account. On one hand, large urban centres naturally have much better infrastructure. This ensures that people get the best possible healthcare and education. On the other hand, urbanisation means brain drain from smaller towns. Promising young specialist leave their hometowns, seduced by lucrative employment prospects that bigger cities can provide. This eventually leaves to smaller towns median age to rise as the youth seeks their fortune elsewhere. So all in all it’s a rather big question with no definite answer.
City and the country vocabulary
Rustic (adj) – relating to the countryside, not complicated and straightforward. Used positively.
Walkable (adj) – easy to get around without a car or any other form of transport. Walkable cities are more common in Europe, whereas the US is more car-centric.
Flock to (v) – (about people or animals) to go to some place because it is good or popular. Young people flock to pubs and restaurants in search from thrilling experiences.
Amenities (n) – useful facilities or infrastructure, e.g. gyms, spa salons, laundry.
Carpooling (n) – practice of driving more passengers in your car if you share the same or similar routes in an effort to reduce environmental impact. These passengers can be your fellow students, colleagues, or even people you don’t know.
Carbon footprint – the amount of carbon monoxide (CO) that we produce as a result of our activities.
-related – used to show connection to something. City-related problems get worse as more people migrate there from smaller towns
Endearing (adj) – if something or somebody is endearing, you can’t help but like them.
Comprise of – to have something as parts. The gift basket is mostly comprised of chocolates and waffles.
-centric – used to show that something is focused on it, e.g. eco-centric means ecology and environment is the focus of it.
Vivid (adj) – bright, clear, detailed. I’ve been having quite vivid dreams recently, and I can’t say I enjoy them very much.
Prospects (n) – possibility of something happening. My prospects at this company are quite promising – I was promised a managerial position in a year if I kept up good work.
Safeguard (v) – to protect, to ensure safety.
Sustainability (n) – ability to ensure something’s prolonged existence. Sustainability in the energy sphere is as important as ever.
Grind to a halt – to slowly stop, either literally or figuratively. The sales are likely to grind to a halt as soon as the economic crisis hits consumer markets.
Stem from (v) – to come form, to have origins in something. Your fear of insects probably stems from some traumatic childhood experience.
In bulk – in large quantities.
Cut-and-dry (adj) – (here) straightforward, clear.
Brain drain – a situation when more intelligent people, especially scientists and other professionals, move somewhere else.
Lucrative (adj) – attractive in the financial sense of the word.