This is an idea about how to improve speaking about likes and dislikes in IELTS. The very simple idea is that one way to improve is to practise speaking about what you like and dislike about some similar things – in this case leisure activities. I show you ways to do this by
- speaking about how much you like something
- giving reasons for your preferences
- making comparisons between your preferences
- talking about consequences
A possible model
The goal here is to work on your fluency and speaking skills and not necessarily produce an “IELTS” answer to an IELTS question. Rather I suggest you use this as a model to show you the different ways you can expand your answer
My favourite film by far is The Shawshank Redemption. [say what it is and how much]
I suppose it’s because it’s such a feel-good movie and you can’t help but feel uplifted at the end. The plot is fantastic and has a great twist in it at the end but what really makes the film for me is the cast, both the leading actors Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman give truly great performances and you really believe in their characters. [give a reason with some detail]
I also quite like Fugitive with Harrison Ford – which is quite similar in some ways – but it doesn’t give me the same feeling just because I don’t believe in the characters in the same way. [make a comparison]
In fact I enjoy Shawshank so much that I watch it again and again – I guess I must have seen it about 10 times so far and I never get bored by it. [talk about consequences]
1. Make a list
Here are some categories of typical leisure activities you may be asked about in IELTS speaking. Choose something you like and dislike in each category. If you think of something you dislike that can often help you with saying why you like something else – and vice versa. You can not only compare the two things but you can often see more clearly what aspect of that thing/activity is important to you.
a song/piece of music
a tv programme
an indoors activity
an outdoors activity
2. Decide how much
Not all likes and dislikes are equal. One way you can practise speaking is deciding how much you like/dislike something. Go through your list and decide which of these phrases is most appropriate – you can of course choose your own too.
Note the use of the adverbs such as quite, pretty and really and see how they add meaning to what you say
I quite like
I’m rather fond of
I’m pretty keen on
quite my favourite
I really enjoy
I absolutely adore
I don’t particularly like
I’m not especially fond of
I actively dislike
My least favourite
I positively don’t enjoy
3. Say why – be specific
You also need to extend your answer and one obvious way to do this is give a reason. Here the two words are reason and because
The reason I like  is
I dislike  is because
It can also help to be more specific and to avoid only using words such as interesting and boring when you are giving your reasons. It’s often better to focus on one or two particular parts of what you’re talking about. This allows you to say more normally. It can also help to focus on how much you like or dislike something as you speak.
To get you started, here are one or two quick ideas about more precise aspects of each subject you can talk about.
Film – plot – characters – cast – genre (action/romcom etc)
Book – author- plot – characters – genre (detective/classic/romance etc)
Music – rhythm – lyrics – genre (dance/house/classical etc)
Picture – setting – subject – format
TV programme – actors – characters – plot – episode – genre (chat show/soap/sitcom etc)
Indoors activity (e.g. game) – when/where you do it – other people – purpose
Outdoors activity – when/where you do it – other people – purpose
4. Compare it
Another way to say more is simply compare something you like with something you dislike or like less. One key word here can be prefer
I much prefer  to  because
Try to add to your description of things you enjoy by comparing/contrasting them with things you like less.
5. Talk about consequences – habits
You can also add more to what you say about your preferences by explaining the consequences. This can involve saying how often or not you do something and the natural way to introduce this idea is by using so
so I try and bake my own bread at least 3 times a week – although sometimes of course I’m just too busy
so I make sure I see all the episodes. I normally record them to watch later and I fairly often sit down to watch 3 or 4 in a row at the weekend when I just want to relax.
Try to add to your description by talking about how often you do that activity.
See model answers to common speaking questions: