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From Band 7 to Band 8: Talking about Winter Weather

by | Nov 1, 2014 | IELTS Test Tips | 0 comments

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In England we love talking about the weather and headlining the BBC news. It was the 31 st October yesterday, Halloween, and temperatures were exceptionally warm for this time of year. By contrast, this got me thinking about a mistake I often hear my Russian IELTS students making when they talk to me about winter in Moscow.

An IELTS Speaking Part 1 question that is often used asks about your home town and to describe what you like and dislike about it. Russian students answering this question often tell me “our winters are strong”.

Winters can be describes as bitter or harsh but not strong!

Here is a way to talk about a cold winter with some idioms suitable for IELTS Speaking Part 1:

We get bitterly cold winters, lots of blizzards, and it’s freezing cold outside. I prefer to stay at home in the warm.

In contrast our winters in England tend to be mild. (Mild is the opposite to harsh/bitter).

If you said “strong winter” it is not confusing. The examiner would understand you. But understanding the subtle differences in words can make all the difference and help you go from an IELTS band 7 score to IELTS band 8 in Speaking.

Note also, the language in the quotation above is relaxed, informal, idiomatic language which is suitable for IELTS Speaking Part 1 where you are being tested on your ability to make general conversation.

Below I’ve put the link to the BBC news article, and some vocabulary to notice. They use some more formal vocabulary which would be useful in a serious answer about global warming in IELTS Speaking Part 3, and also useful if you are giving examples of rising temperatures in an essay on climate change for the IELTS Writing Test. Understanding the subtle differences in the formality of words is also key to going from Band 7 IELTS to Band 8.

  • “…since records began”
    • Q1: Has Halloween ever been this mild before?
  • “…set to stay like this”
    • Q2: Are the temperatures predicted to rise further? Are they expected to fall, or stay the same?
  • “…seasonal norms”
    • Q3: What are the temperatures usually like at this time of year?

Please put your ideas in the comments below. If you write some example sentences, I will correct them for you.

BBC News article talking about the weather this Halloween


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About Katey

Hi, and welcome to Let’s Talk IELTS! My name is Katey. I am an English Skype tutor who specialises in preparing my students for the IELTS test. I created this website in order to help all individuals looking at taking the IELTS test, to prepare, practice, and improve their point score.



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