Home town vocabulary and ideas for IELTS

Home town vocabulary and ideas for IELTS

Town and country vocabulary

One of the topics you are most likely to be asked about in speaking is your home town – especially in part 1 . This lesson gives you some vocabulary and ideas to help you along.

Vocabulary for your

Talking about quality of life

These words should help you discuss what you enjoy/dislike about your home town. Remember to try and give examples/reasons to extend your answers.

cost of living pace of life atmospherepollutionovercrowdingpoorer deprived sense of community amenities

Areas of a city

Most towns and cities have different areas and each of these will have a different character. Thinking about – and perhaps comparing – these different areas should give you more to talk about.

Try and be precise about where you live.

suburbsoutskirts inner cityneighbourhoodshopping precinc business parks residential areahousing estates back streetshe high street green spacesthe parks the commuter belt


  • The high street (always used the definite article) is a British English term for the main shopping street in towns.
  • A housing estate is normally an area with new build cheaper housing
  • The commuter belt is an area around a major city where commuters live – it’s often a greener area

Means of transport

Transport is a major feature of city life in particular. Thinking about how you travel around can give you more to say and explain better where you live.

congestiontraffic jamscycle paths morning rush hourcommute to work

Entertainment and amenities

How we feel about a place is often determined by what we can do there and how much fun we can have!

night lifecultural centrecafes sporting facilities local schools


You will of course need some adjectives too. You should note how I use “fairly” “really” and “quite” to qualify these adjectives. Good advice here is to explain the adjective with some detail or an example.

quiet lively industrialcosmopolitanprovincial historicgreensleepyfriendly

Ideas for discussing your home town

Sometimes it can be hard to find interesting things to say about your home town. In these videos I talk about some of the places I have lived – they’re all quite different. The aim here is to give you ideas for talking about your home town. Listen and decide which of these ideas you could apply to where you live. There are practice questions below.

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A village

In this video I talk about a village. I answer the questions

  • where it is
  • what makes it special
  • why I like it and dislike it

I grew up in a fairly small village in the south of England. There were about 300 or 400 inhabitants I suppose . It was in the commuter belt the area just around London. Half way between town and country. It wasn’t in the countryside proper really.

What set that place apart and made it special was its sense of community. Even though it was quite a small place there was a really active social life which centred around the village shop, the village hall and the cricket team as it happened

What I enjoyed most about living there was growing up in quite a rural environment and being able to just go on my bicycle and explore the local woods or forests or whatever I wanted to do. The downside was it was quite isolated and there weren’t that many people there and if I wanted to go shopping or do something different I had to go the town where there more amenities and things to do.

Different aspects of a city

In this video I talk about the different parts of a city. Thinking about the different areas of a city should give you plenty to say and also help you with some great topic vocabulary.

One place I spent quite a long time living was Oxford where I went to university. It is of course a famous university city known throughout the world for the colleges and its beautiful architecture.

It is also though a city of contrasts. There are different sides to Oxford. There’s the university of course but Oxford was one of the centres of the British car industry and even though that’s an industry that is now dying it is still and if you went round the outskirts of Oxford you’d find more deprived areas than the wealthy neighbourhoods where you find the university. But more than that Oxford is also a major tourist centre nowadays and if you visited Oxford and went into the town centre what you’d see most of all are shops and market stalls selling t-shirts, mementoes and souvenirs for the tourists to take home and say that they had visited Oxford,

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A cultural city and the seasons

In this video I talk about how the character of a place is affected by the time of year. Most places change according to what time of year it is. Why not talk about that too?

The place where I’ve probably lived longest is a city in Romania called Craiova. Now you’ve probably haven’t heard of Craiova – it’s slightly off the beaten track. It’s not the sort of place where people choose to visit and that’s a shame because it is in many ways a great cultural centre. It has an excellent university, museums and art galleries and most of all it’s one of the most important centres of theatre in Romania.

But what I recall most about Craiova is how the climate affected how people lived and the character of the city. In summer the weather was very warm and so if you went out in the evening or even quite late at night to the city centre you’d find hundreds bars and cafes open and people sitting out on the pavement enjoying a long meal or just sitting and talking and having a drink – taking the night away.

But in the winter it was a completely different story. In winter the weather was very hard and harsh and nobody much went out and the centre of the city became a bit of a ghost town and everyone was at home watching the tv sitting in their apartment or their block with their family. So the whole character of the city changed according to the weather.

A changing city

In this video I talk about how a city is changing and contrast the old and new sides of it. Again this is a skill you can apply for yourself. Most cities and towns are changing so feel prepared to talk about that too.

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In some ways the most interesting place I’ve lived is Wuhan in China. It’s famous nowadays for coronavirus but it wasn’t there when I was there luckily enough. What interested me about Wuhan was the contrast between the old and the new and how the city was changing.

In some ways when you visit Wuhan you see another large metropolis. It is a city of over 10 million people and it has exactly what you’d expect a city like that to have. It has appalling traffic and you wouldn’t believe the congestion and it also has the skyscrapers and the shopping malls. And if you walk down the streets of Wuhan you’re likely to see the same brand names and shops as you’d find in any other city – from small boutiques selling designer clothes to the fast food outlets such s MacDonalds.

But if you wander off the main roads and look at the back streets. There you find a different way of life. The way of life there seems much more traditional and there you’d find the old style markets and food stalls selling noodles and pancakes and all the traditional Chinese foods and you’d also find shops there selling traditional Chinese items

There’s a very sharp contrast between the modern city you find on the main roads and the more traditional city you find when you look at the back streets.

Practice questions


  • Where do you live?
  • Have you always lived there?
  • How long have you been living there?
  • Where do you come from?

The place

  • Do you live in the city or the countryside?
  • What kind of a place is it?
  • Is it a large city or a small town?
  • Has it changed much in the past few years?

Feeling about hometown

  • Do you like living there?
  • Is there anything you dislike about living there?
  • Would you recommend it as somewhere to live?

Places and people

  • What’s your favourite place in your hometown?
  • What do people do in your hometown?
  • Is it easy to travel around in your hometown?

The future

  • Do you plan to stay there all your life?
  • Would you ever consider living somewhere else?
  • How long do you think you will continue to live there?
  • How do you think it might change in the future?