IELTS Speaking – Sample Answers – Family

Before listening to my answers, you should try to answer these questions first. Note that there is no right or wrong answer in IELTS speaking. You may learn something from my answers, such as structure, cohesive devices, vocabulary, and ideas, but you should develop your own answers.

    1. How would you describe yourself?


    2. Are you similar or different from your mother or father?


    3. What do you do together as a family?


    4. Who are you closest to in your family?


    5. Is yours a typical family?


    6. Are there many different types of family in your country?


    7. Is it better to grow up in a small family or a large extended family?


    8. What role do grandparents play in a modern family?


    9. Which are more important: family or friends?


    10. What do you think about single parent families?


    11. Should people be more accepting of alternative family types?


    12. In what ways have families changed in the last hundred years?


    13. Should we rely heavily on our families or is it better to try to be independent?

Learn more:
IELTS Listening – Family 

IELTS Vocabulary – Family 

IELTS Reading – Family

IELTS Speaking – Describe your family members

IELTS online course Reading

Reading – Unit 1 – Exercise 1

The importance of the social environment

The nature-nurture debate 

The roles of nature (what we inherit) and of nurture (what we learn) in making us what we are have long been debated. In the seventeenth century it was generally believed that people became what they were taught to be. By the second half of the nineteenth century, a quite different view was popular. Instead of looking to nurture – what people are taught – to explain human behavior, many social scientists looked to nature – what people inherit from their parents. Opinion on the question has gone back and forth ever since.

Obviously we do inherit something of what makes us who we are. But what? Physical traits such as skin color are clearly inherited, but people also appear to inherit temperament – a natural tendency to behave and react in a certain way. For example, some people are naturally active, nervous, or easily annoyed. Others, brought up in a similar environment, tend to be the opposite – passive, calm, and rarely upset. The role of heredity in determining our intelligence and aptitude is less clear, and the debate is far from over. What is clear is that, although nature may limit what we can achieve, socialization plays a very large role in determining what we do achieve. That is, whatever potential ability we inherit from our parents may be enhanced or restricted through socialization. Case studies of children who have not been cared for, and of children who have been stimulated to achieve at a high level, are evidence of the importance of social or environmental learning.

Children who are not cared for 

Since the fourteenth century there have been more than fifty recorded cases of feral children. Feral children have supposedly been brought up by animals in the wild. One of the most famous is “the wild boy of Aveyron.” In 1997, this boy was captured by hunters in the woods of southern France. He was about 11 years old and completely naked. The “wild boy” ran on his arms and legs, could not speak, and liked uncooked food. He could not do most of the simple things that younger children can usually do (Malson 1972; Lane 1976). he was obviously deprived of socialization.

There have been similar stories of social deprivation this century. Anna, for example, was born in 1932 in Pennsylvania to a young unwed mother. The father was outraged by the birth and did not want to have anything to do with the child. The mother tried to give Anna away but could not, so she hid her in the attic and gave her just enough food to keep her alive. Anna was neither touched nor talked to, neither washed nor bathed. When she was found in 1938 at the age of 6, Anna could not talk or walk. She could do nothing but lie quietly on the floor, her eyes and face expressionless.

Children who receive little attention in orphanages suffer similar harmful effects. In 1945, researcher Rene Spitz reported on an orphanage where 18-month-old infants were left lying on their backs in tiny rooms most of the day without any human contact. Within a year, all had become physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially impaired. Two years later, more than a third of the children had died. Those who had survived could not speak, walk, dress themselves, or use a spoon (Spitz 1945).

Child geniuses 

While the lack of of normal socialization can destroy minds, specialized socialization can create geniuses. A young woman named Edith finished grammar school in four years, skipped high school, and went straight to college. She graduated from college at age 15 and obtained her doctorate before she was 18. Was she born a genius? We do not know. However, as soon as she stopped playing with dolls, her father filled her days with reading, mathematics, classical music, and intellectual discussions and debates. When she felt like playing, her father told her to play chess. This very special attention to her academic development is likely to have contributed significantly to her achievements. Another example is Adragon Eastwood Demello who graduated with a degree in mathematics at age 11. When he was a few months old, his father gave up his career as a science writer to educate him.

Many parents of geniuses have deliberately given their children very stimulating environments. In his study of Einstein, Picasso, Gandhi, and other world-famous geniuses in various fields, Howard Gardner (1993) found that they were all born into families that valued learning and achievement with at least one loving adult who especially encouraged their ability.

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IELTS Speaking – Describe your family member


The following recording is from Collins Speaking for IELTS. Listen to three people talking about their relatives and answer the questions below.


Speaker 1 
Who is her closest family member?
What are the positive characteristics of her mother?
What are the examples of those characteristics?
What are the negative characteristics of her mother?
What are the examples of those characteristics?

Speaker 2 
How was the relationship between the speaker and his cousin?
Why did they grow apart?

Speaker 3 
How is the relationship between the speaker and her mother-in-law?
What are the positive characteristics of her mother-in-law?
What are the examples of those characteristics?
What are the negative characteristics of her mother-in-law?
What are the examples of those characteristics?

The speakers do not only list the characteristics of their family members but also give examples of some of them. Giving example is a good and easy way to extend your ideas. You should try to describe one of your family members based on the questions above. You should also use the expressions learnt from the recording.


Next post: IELTS Writing – Food


Learn more:

IELTS Listening – Family & Children 

Listening to main ideas – Family & Children

IELTS Reading – Family

IELTS Vocabulary – Family  


Listening to main ideas – Family & Children

ielts-class-listening-family-childrenIn order to listen to details, first you have to be able to catch the main ideas of a lecture, or a conversation, etc.

Yesterday I posted a recording about “How children learn to behave” (click here if you want to listen to it).

Here are some main ideas of the lecture:

The lecturer focuses on three of the ways that children acquire their behaviour: through rewards, punishments, and modelling.

Award can be defined as a positive reinforcement for good behaviour. Most parents reward their children unconsciously.

Punishments are the second important way in which a child is socialised. All of us have probably been punished in our lives.

Both rewards and punishments are controversial. Some people think that children should not be rewarded for doing something that is their responsibility. Similarly, the lecturer doesn’t think that banging can teach children anything.  Children who come from homes where violence is used to solve problems are much more likely to abuse their own children when they become adults and have their own families.

The third way that children are taught to act is through modelling. Modeling is probably the most powerful way that children learn social skills. Children’s first role models are their parents. Parents can set a good example by showing children the kind of behavior they expect.

Parents are not the only people teaching children. Other family members and friends are also models. Children learn from each other, from their teachers, and from society itself. TV can send children a lot of negative messages.

Conclusion: The most important thing for children is to grow up in an environment where there are fair rules that are clearly established and followed consistently by everyone. If the child knows what the expectations are, he or she will find it much easier to acquire ‘good behavior.’ And if the child is loved and exposed to strong, positive role models, the child will quickly begin to grow in a healthy way.


Learn more about Family & Children:

IELTS Vocabulary – Family

IELTS Reading – Family


IELTS Listening – Family & Children


Doing practice tests is not enough to improve your listening skills. You should listen to a wide variety of sources and choose the topics of your interest. I believe that learning language can enrich your life in many ways.

The following is an extract from a lecture about “How children learn social behaviour” (Academic Listening Encounters, 2004). Listen to the recording and take note as you listen. You can read the main ideas I’ve written down here after completing your note.



If you want to read more about Family, you can try my recommendations here.

If you want to learn more vocabulary about Family, you can try this exercise.

Have fun learning English!


IELTS Reading – Family

As said earlier in the post IELTS Vocabulary – Family, this is one of the most common topics in both Speaking and Writing Tests. This is because IELTS focuses on social problems, and family is the fundamental unit of any kind of society.

The followings are some articles that I compiled to help you learn more about family-related issues. They might be too difficult for you at the beginning as there are many academic words and complex sentences. “No pain, no gain”. Reading the academic articles helps to improve your vocabulary and your writing. Believe me, the more you read, the easier it gets.

1. Marriage and Family

This material consists of many articles about marriage and family. It would be great if you have time to read all of them. You can also choose to read the topic of your interest. I would recommend the first section “Marriage and Family in Global Perspective” as it will give you an overview of this social institution around the world.

2. Family Influences on Delinquency

This article discusses family factors that may have influence on juvenile delinquency (teenage crime), such as poor parent-child relations, family size, etc.

3. How we learn to behave 

This is an article  (p.20 & 21) in the book “Academic Encounters”. It explains two important ways of socialisation: by sanctions and by modelling.

Here are the detailed steps on how to read:

  • Step 1: Read the articles and underline main ideas. You do not need to understand every words in order to comprehend the whole article. Try to guess the meaning of new words from the context. However, you would need to look up the meaning of some key words which are repeated many times.
  • Step 2: Write a summary of the article you just read. This is the best way to memorise knowledge while also practising your writing skills.
Writing Task 2

IELTS Vocabulary – Family

Family is one of the most common topics in IELTS Writing and Speaking. You might be already familiar with the vocabulary regards to this topic. However, you need to use uncommon words, i.e. nuclear family, in order to obtain a high score in Writing.

Listen to the following recording and complete the transcript. You can listen to it as many times as you need. After completing the transcript, you can click on the blanks to see the answers.


Your parents and(brothers and sisters) are your– and your includes all your relatives – uncles, cousins, great-aunts, etc.

You can use ato diagram the relationships among your family members. A person who is related to you by a long series of connections can be called a [5].

If you’re lucky, you have aor a– these expressions refer to a family that has good relationships, where everyone loves each other and helps each other. If you were raised in a loving family, then you probably had a– that means you had nothing to worry about when you were young.

On the other hand, a family in which the relationships are bad or unhealthy can be called aIf the children experience abuse, poverty, or problems with the law, we can say they had a

Perhaps the parents went through a – that means a separation in which there were bad/angry feelings between the husband and wife. It’s also possible to have a, with a prolonged legal battle involving lots of conflicts about the separation of the former couple’s(money and possessions). The decisions about the separation of assets are made in the. A family in which there are divorces or separations is sometimes called a.

Sometimes the mother and father fight overof the children – that refers to who has the primary responsibility of caring for the kids. A judge can grant– that means the ex- husband and ex-wife share the responsibility – orto only one parent. For example, a judge might award sole custody to the mother, and the father has to pay– regular payments to help with expenses for the kids.

If it was adivorce /separation – that means the ex-husband and ex-wife agreed to separate without fighting – then they will probablywith each other (meaning to have a polite relationship without …………….).

If a woman gets pregnant without being married or in a relationship, then she will become a single mother. Some women in this situation choose to have an, and others prefer to give the baby up forThe time when the baby is planned to arrive is called the– you can also say the baby is due in mid-October, for example.

After the woman has the baby (or to the baby), the baby is given to the, who willthe child orthe child as if it was their own. Sometimes, when the adopted child is older, he or she tries to find their birth mother ([29]).