In the IELTS test, they might ask you to talk about books and films in the speaking section. This post will introduce you to a lot of higher-level vocabulary related to the topic of movies and TV shows. One of the four scoring categories IELTS examiners use to assess your speaking skills is lexical Resource, which means you will be assessed on your ability to use a wide range of vocabulary in the proper context and with the correct meaning.
So, if you can show the examiner that you are confident using this unique and exciting vocabulary, you will be more likely to get a 7 or higher band score.
IELTS Speaking Vocabulary: Books and Films
Adjectives to describe books and films:
action-packed: full of action.
| My brother loves action-packed movies. Probably that’s why his favourite film is “Terminator”.
addictive: a book or film that you quickly become addicted to.
| “Harry Potter” series by Joanne Rowling are so addictive! I couldn’t stop after the first book and read all volumes.
creepy: producing a sensation of uneasiness or fear, scary.
| Noah finds Stephen King’s stories creepy.
dreary: gloomy or depressing.
| I can’t stand dramas, thrillers and other dreary movies.
entertaining: funny and enjoyable.
| Comedies are very entertaining.
futuristic: telling about the future.
| “Star Wars” movie is futuristic and dynamic.
heartbreaking: that breaks your heart and evokes sad emotions.
| When my aunt watched “Titanic” she cried all day! It’s such a heartbreaking film.
inspirational: evoking inspiration.
intense: a book or film loaded with actions and emotions that evokes strong feelings.
| The play’s plot was very intense. Just a minute after a couple had a quarrel in the forest, the secret lover appeared and started a fire-fight.
tear-jerking: tragic, making you cry.
| My sister is very emotional. I would rather watch a comedy with her than a tear-jerking movie!
thought-provoking: a book or film that makes you think of new ideas or that changes your attitude to something.
| Ray Bradbury’s novel “Fahrenheit 451” is deeply thought-provoking. I had to rethink my attitude to legislation and censorship after I read it.
action movie: film with fast moving scenes, often containing violence.
| Last week I saw a great action movie with my brother at our local movie theatre.
bedtime reading: a book you read in your bed before going to sleep.
| I’m really addicted to books! I can’t even fall asleep without an hour of bedtime reading.
box office hit: a very successful movie, in terms of money.
| The new movie might be a box office hit, but I didn’t like it at all.
e-reader: a gadget for reading books.
| My e-reader broke a few days ago, so now I’ll need to fix it or buy a new one.
from cover to cover: from the first page to the last.
| I am a slow reader so it takes me a lot of time to read a book from cover to cover.
hardcover: a book with hard cover. Opposite to softcover.
| My friend gave me a hardcover book as a present for my birthday.
page turner: a book which is so good that you cannot stop reading it.
| My sister recommended me a great book. It was such a page turner that I read it in one day!
plot: a storyline of a book or film.
intricate plot: a very complex, labyrinthine plot.
| The famous Leo Tolstoy’s novel “War and Peace” has a very intricate plot. It tells a story of five different families and comprises of 4 volumes.
subordinate plot (subplot): a plot that is related to, but less important than the main plot of a story.
| Ernest Hemingway’s novel “The Sun Also Rises” tells a love story of a man and a woman. However, the book involves many subordinate plots that raise questions about physical and spiritual affinity, trans-racial relationships and anti-Semitism.
threadbare plot: a simple, primitive plot.
| The movie’s plot was threadbare, but cutely disarming in its own way.
unravelling of the plot: the way in which a story develops over time.
| I first thought Jack London’s “Martin Eden” novel is pretty straightforward. However, the plot unravelled in a very unpredicted way.
don’t judge a book by its cover: a metaphorical phrase which means “you shouldn’t judge someone or something by its appearance alone”.
| When I first met Sam I didn’t find him handsome. But, as people say, don’t judge a book by its cover. He turned out to be the most interesting person I’ve ever met and we married soon!
to catch the latest movie: to see a movie that has just come out.
| We need to hurry up if we want to catch the latest movie.
to flick through: to look quickly through a book.
| I flicked through my notes to prepare for the exam as didn’t have time to study properly.
to know like a book: to know something extremely well.
| I live in this city for my whole life and I know it like a book.
to read between the lines: to understand the hidden meaning about something.
| When I broke up with my girlfriend, I didn’t want anyone to know that. But Tom saw us in the different corners of the classroom and read everything between the lines. He’s very discerning.
IELTS Speaking Sample: Books and Films
Do you enjoy reading?
Yes, absolutely! A great way to relax to learn something new is to peruse a book… I’m so addicted to reading that sometimes I can’t even fall asleep without an hour of bedtime reading.
Do you like watching movies?
No, not really… If I have some free time, I’d rather read an interesting book… Books leave us a lot of space for imagination, while in movies everything is spelled out for us… That’s why I find films boring.
What is the last book you read? And did you like it?
The last book I’ve read is “Theatre” written by William Somerset Maugham … and I absolutely enjoyed it! Maugham is my favourite writer of all time and I’ve read his novel from cover to cover in 2 days… I was truly captivated by the characters and the unravelling of the plot.
How often do you go to the cinema with your friends?
Quite often, to be honest… I like catching the latest movies with my friends, so we go to the cinema almost weekly. I especially like action movies and sci-fi films.
Now, have a look at the card and prepare a monologue.
Describe a book or a film that had a strong impact on you. You should say:
- What was it
- When you read or saw it
- How it influenced you
And say if you liked it and why.
I’d like to talk about a book called “Flowers for Algernon” written by Daniel Keyes. You won’t believe it, but I picked up this novel from a shelf in a bookstore because it had a beautiful cover! Although a proverb says, “don’t judge a book by its cover”, I did precisely the opposite… and the book turned out to be one of the most incredible things I’ve ever read… This novel is very intense and thought-provoking… It is set in the form of diary entries of the protagonist – mentally-disabled man Charlie, whose IQ changes after brain surgery… It drastically changed the way I looked at how intelligence influences people’s attitudes toward others and to the world in general. Also, I had to overthink how many boundaries new knowledge openly and how mentally disabled people are treated in society… The book was somewhat tear-jerking for me, but I still highly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone looking for a powerful and inspirational read.
Why do you think cinemas are still popular nowadays, even though people can watch movies in their homes?
I believe that there are several reasons for it… First of all, watching a film on a big screen is a lot more fun than watching it at home… Not to mention the fact that you won’t be able to see the movie on the DVD as soon as in the movie theater… You’ll have to wait a couple of months for the DVD release of the movie… Moreover, a lot of people like the atmosphere of cinema with its half-light halls, popcorn and sound effects.
What do you think about e-books?
In my opinion, a paperback or hardback books are much better… Reading a book from an e-reader just doesn’t feel the same for me – I adore the sensation of turning pages and that special smell of paper. I think that the look and feel of a book can never be replaced by an e-reader… But I do understand usefulness of electronic books. It is very convenient to be able to carry hundreds of books in your pocket and have a possibility to read them at any time… Also, e-readers support keyword search, which paperbacks obviously do not.
IELTS Speaking Practice: Books and Films
The examiner may ask you questions about your reading habits or ask you to say something about a book you’ve read or a film you’ve seen. Read the following IELTS-style questions and answers below, and pay attention to the phrases in bold. Use the ‘Definitions’ section at the bottom of the page to check the meaning of any phrases you don’t understand.
IELTS Speaking Practice 1
Part 1-style questions
Examiner: Do you like to read books?
Marie: Yes … I love reading … I like nothing more than to be engrossed in a good book … I regularly take out books from the library and usually read them from cover to cover in no time … and I can’t go to sleep at night without some good bedtime reading …
Examiner: How often do you go to the cinema?
Jemma: Unfortunately we don’t have a cinema near us so we have to go to the nearest town to catch the latest movie … I usually avoid seeing popular box-office hits which I’m not always keen on seeing … I prefer low-budget films … sci-fi especially … and there’s a great cinema I go to that has frequent showings of films like these …
Examiner: Do you prefer reading books or watching films?
Louisa: I’m not really a big reader … I find books quite heavy-going … so I much prefer to see a film … perhaps it’s the special effects or the soundtrack … I don’t know … I just prefer a film …
Part 2-style task
Describe a book you have read or a film you have seen. You should say:
- what this book or film was
- when you read or saw it
- why did you decide to see the film or read the book
and say if you enjoyed it and why.
Pauline I like reading … especially English novels … it’s a great way to improve your vocabulary and there are so many fantastic authors to choose from … one book that came highly recommended by my teacher was The Mayor of Casterbridge … I was studying at a school in The UK at the time and she said it would give me a picture of what life was like years ago in the area I was living … well I have to say I absolutely loved it … it was a real page-turner … it’s a historical novel and the setting was a fictional town called Casterbridge … but actually it was based on a town near where I was studying called Dorchester … it had such a great plot … to cut a long story short it tells the story of the downfall of a man called Henchard the central character who lives during a period of great social change around the time of the industrial revolution … the reason I enjoyed it so much … apart from the great story … it gave me a picture of what life had been like in the place I was studying at the time … I really couldn’t put it down … a fantastic story …
Part 3-style questions
Examiner: Is reading pleasurable in digital format?
Alise: Personally I prefer reading a paperback or hardback … especially if I’m reading a classic which I don’t think feels right as an e-book … but I can see it can be good for others … my grandmother has an e-reader and she loves the way you can enlarge the text …
Examiner: Do you think bookshops will survive the digital revolution?
Thomas: I think so … at least I hope so … I love flicking through books in a bookshop … online shopping is useful … finding out on Amazon if a book you want has got a good review … maybe getting one that is difficult to find … but I still love the experience of being in a bookshop …
Examiner: Statistics show that visits to the cinema are up despite the availability of DVDs and online downloads. Why do you think this might be?
Jamie: I think it’s the whole experience that the cinema offers … going out to see a film when it goes on general release … and seeing it on the big screen is more exciting than watching the film at home on TV … especially if it’s an action movie … and watching it with others makes it even more special …
an action movie: a film with fast-moving scenes, often containing violence
to be engrossed in: to be completely focused on one thing
bedtime reading: something to read in bed before you go to sleep
to be a big reader: someone who reads a lot
to be based on: to use as a modal
a box office hit: a financially successful film
to be heavy-going: difficult to read
a blockbuster: a film that is a big commercial success
to catch the latest movie: to see a film that has just come out
the central character: the main person in a film or book
a classic: of the highest quality
to come highly recommended: to be praised by another person
couldn’t put it down: wasn’t able to stop reading a book
an e-book: a digital book
an e-reader: a device for reading e-books
to flick through: to look quickly through a book
to get a good/bad review: to receive positive or negative feedback
to go on general release: when a film can be seen by the general public
hardback: a book with a rigid cover (see ‘paperback’ below)
a historical novel: a story set in the past
a low budget film: a film made with a small amount of money
on the big screen: at the cinema
a page turner: a book that you want to keep reading
paperback: a book with a flexible cover (see ‘hardback’ above)
plot: the main events in a film or book
to read something from cover to cover: to read a book from the first page to the last
sci-fi: science fiction
to see a film: to see a film at the cinema (see ‘watch a film’ below)
the setting: where the action takes place
showings: performances of a film
soundtrack: the music that accompanies a film
special effects: the visuals or sounds that are added to a film which are difficult to produce naturally
to take out (a book from the library): to borrow a book from the library
to tell the story of: to outline the details of someone’s life or an event
to watch a film: to watch a film on TV (see ‘to see a film’ above)
IELTS Speaking Practice 2
IELTS speaking part 1 questions
Examiner: Do you enjoy reading for pleasure?
Mario: Yes, I do, but I admit that with all my studies right now, I don t have much time to curl up with a book. When I do, for example, on holiday, I love thrillers or action books with a strong plot line that I can read cover to cover in a few hours.
Examiner: Would you rather watch a film or read in your free time?
Maria: Oh, I would far instead distract myself with a great rom-com movie than reading, as by the time I get home from work, I am shattered! I know movies leave less to the imagination than books. However, I sometimes watch films that have been adapted from fiction, for example, Emma by Jane Austin, which gave me an insight into strong characterisation and main themes.
Examiner: What was the last book you read and would you recommend it?
Judy: In fact, I have recently finished an inspiring book called The Human History. It was recommended to me by a colleague, and the themes are philosophy, kindness and communication. I found the narrative captivating, compelling and surprisingly understandable. I would recommend it to anyone interested in understanding humanity a little better.
IELTS speaking part 2 questions
Describe a book or a film that had a strong impact on you.
You should say:
• What was it
• When you read or saw it
• How it influenced you
And say if you liked it and why.
Mario: When I used to live in Paris as a teenager, I became somewhat obsessed with watching what might be called ‘artistic’ French films. My favourite was called Paris at Midnight and was directed by Louis Truffaut. Often he filmed in black and white and told a rather dark story – the genre could be described as black humour or drama, I suppose.
While many of my friends were happily absorbed in the latest James Bond movie or other commercial blockbusters, I took pride in educating myself in the traditions of French cinema and trying to learn a bit of French simultaneously.
This film, in particular, had a lasting impression on me – I think it had been adapted from a bestseller and inspired other cartoon spin-offs and series. The beautiful, mysterious heroine was both provocative and enchanting – it was impossible to predict how she would react in a situation, which kept the tension in the film very high. Added to this was a haunting musical score written by a famous French musician, and this also became a top-selling album in the charts.
This film, and others like it, inspired me to work harder on my French language skills and investigate Paris’s history and culture in greater depth. At the time, I would have said that I enjoyed it, but in hindsight, I think it was probably not a very relaxing watch, and today, I would opt for something less intellectual!
IELTS speaking part 3 questions
Examiner: Do you think people go to the cinema as much as they used to?
Sergi: No, and there has been a sea change in the way people choose to view films nowadays, which has been reinforced by the recent pandemic when cinemas and theatres were closed. Even before this disaster, many film-goers had the option to pay for online streaming of the latest releases via the internet so they could enjoy the thrills of the cinema without leaving their sofas. Companies like Netflix and Amazon have led the way in this new trend and now commission films and drama series of their own.
Examiner: Should art still play a role in education for students at school, as well as books and films?
Raoul: It is true that for many young adults and school children, art is not part of their usual education, and they can only access an understanding of great, historic and influential paintings if they study art. Many educators argue that art should play as big a role as the appreciation of books or film in the curriculum as art offers an equally valid perspective on a country’s cultural background and heritage.
Examiner: What do you think about e-books?
Alline: In my opinion, paperback or hardback books are much better and reading a book from an e-reader just doesn’t feel the same for me. Many readers value the sensation of turning pages and that unique smell of paper. I think an e-reader can never replace the look and feel of a book, but I understand the usefulness of electronic books. It is convenient to carry hundreds of books in your pocket, especially when travelling or studying.
Curl up with a book: to get comfortable and read.
Thrillers or action books: exciting and full of events
A strong plotline: good story which keeps moving
Cover to cover: from start to finish
Rom-com movie: a romantic comedy film
Adapted from fiction: a film which was first a book
Strong characterisation: the main people are well-rounded and believable
Recommended to me by a friend: someone suggested that I read it
Black humour: funny but rather dark or mysterious as well
Genre: the type of film. E.g. horror or comedy
Commercial blockbusters: films made for the mass market to generate a lot of income
A sea change in something: a fundamental shift
Online streaming: watching via the internet
To commission a film: to ask for one to be made
A valid perspective: a real view / outlook/insight to something
Cultural heritage: the background and history of a country
IELTS Speaking Practice 3
IELTS speaking part 1 questions
Do you like reading books?
Absolutely. I love reading books, especially the fantasy ones such as Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings and A Game of thrones.
What kind of books do you like to read? [Why?]
I’m into fantasy books because I think they are creatively made, and the authors have great imagination.
Where do you like to read? [Why?]
I usually read books at home because it is my coziest place. I’d like to be at the most comfortable corner of my house, which is my bed.
Do others in your family read books too?
Well, I think my youngest brother is the only person who read books aside from me. He is presently a high school student and should study his lessons by reading the academic books they use in school.
IELTS speaking part 2 questions
Describe a book that you have read which you would like to read again:
- What is it about?
- What genre of book is it?
- Is this your favorite genre of book?
and explain why you would like to read it again.
I’d like to talk about a cookbook given to me by my best friend several years ago.
The book’s title is ”Filipino Cuisine” and what’s inside is a compilation of Philippines’ mouth-watering dishes such as Adobo and Kare-Kare. Adobo’s main ingredient is pork or chicken stewed in vinegar, garlic, soy sauce, bay leaves, and peppercorns, while Kare-Kare is an oxtail stew and is always best eaten with steamed rice and shrimp paste. They’re a perfect pair.
Cookbooks or recipe books belong to the non-fiction category since it consists of factual information and a step-by-step guide in cooking. It also includes the author’s name and a short introduction about its content.
I’m not so fond of non-fiction type of books, however, once in my life, I got interested in cooking and I have always told my best friend about it. We both knew that I was a terrible cook at that time, so that must be why she bought me that book.
When I started reading it, I realized that cooking is not as complicated as it seemed. I’ve learned to prepare different Filipino dishes, from the main course to desserts. Each time I could cook a recipe perfectly, I always felt a sense of achievement. This recipe book is handy for me because it taught me the do’s and dont’s in the kitchen. Another one is, it helped me develop another essential life skill which is cooking, and now, finally, I can prepare delicious and healthy meals for my family. I probably would like to read it over and over again because I haven’t memorized some of the recipes yet and reading it again will refresh my memory once more.
IELTS speaking part 3 questions
Do children need to learn how to read while they are still young?
I think children must learn to read as early as three to six years of age. (Explain) In the first six years, a child’s brain is like a sponge that can easily absorb information and make them easier to teach. (Example) For example, I have been teaching reading classes to graders, and after talking to the parents, I figured out that the students who can effortlessly remember what I teach are those who started reading at a very young age.
Do you think there is a difference between reading habits in the past and in the present day?
Yes. There is a huge difference in the way people read before and now. (Explain) In the past, people tend to read paper books to gather information or to kill time. However, these days, people prefer reading articles, books, and other written material using electronic devices such as smartphones, computers, and tablets. They say it’s more convenient to read using these gadgets since they are handy and pocket-friendly. (Example) For instance, if I want to read before sleeping, I don’t have to switch on the light in the bedroom to be able to read. All I have to do is adjust the brightness of my smartphone screen to read well.
What is the impact of e-books on reading habits?
I think the most significant impact of digital books on our reading habit is that it makes our every reading experience hassle-free. (Explain) As we all know, e-books can be accessed conveniently. We can read whenever and wherever we please. Therefore, more and more people have the opportunity to gather information and learn. (Example) For example, in the past, people need to buy books or borrow from the library to do their homework or to study, but now, they can study without bothering to go to other places because all they need is their smartphone or tablet.