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IELTS Speaking

Sample Questions and Answers for the IELTS Speaking Exam on the Social Issues topic

A multinational group of people sitting and discussing social issues

In this article we will delve into one of the most popular topics for the IELTS Speaking Parts 1-3: Social Issues. Our aim is to provide you with sample questions and answers, as well as some valuable IELTS Speaking tips to help you excel in this particular area.
Here are some sample questions related to the Social Issues topic you may be asked on the exam.
  1. Describe a situation or a time when you helped someone.
  2. Do you think it’s important to help people?
  3. How can we encourage children to help others?
  4. Do you like helping others?
  5. How can charitable organizations help people?
  6. What social problems are there in your country?
  7. You mentioned poverty. What can be done to alleviate poverty?
  8. What do you think of social charity?
  9. Can you tell me the difference between minor crimes and major crimes?
  10. Some countries have seen urbanization as a problem. Why do you think people are moving to cities?
  11. Can you explain how overpopulation affects urban society?

1. Describe a situation or a time when you helped someone.

In my opinion, it is very important to help people. It distinguishes a well-mannered and honest person. Moreover, one day you may need help. This question reminds me of the colleague that I assisted not long ago.
We had a new young co-worker in our team. She seemed to be very talented, but lacked experience. And our boss used to criticize her frequently. However, she was so diligent and motivated that I decided to support her. She probably reminded me at the beginning of my career path.
We were talking a lot about main tasks and responsibilities, I recommended several books and articles to read and shared my experience. She was so thankful and demonstrated her gratitude with all due respect.
In the end, she managed to succeed in her position and got a promotion and a payrise.
I feel so pleased and content about it. Everybody needs a mentor and a helping hand at such a period of life.

2. Do you think it’s important to help people?

I'm absolutely sure that it is significant to help other people. Undoubtedly, it is a part of human nature to provide other people with support and assistance. It doesn't matter whether it is a family member, a close friend or an unknown person. Everybody can get stuck in a difficult situation. On the other hand, if the same person asks for help again and again, think about it and don’t allow them to use you.

3. How can we encourage children to help others?

I suppose that the best way is to provide your own example. I mean kids will learn greatly by observing your behavior. If you help people, they will do the same. Certainly, long and thorough discussions will also be quite beneficial in the process of upbringing. We must explain to them that even a little help is an important action.

4. Do you like helping others?

To tell the truth, I am quite a compassionate person and supporting others is an important part of my life. And it is not only about charity and donation but also about mutual support to my friends, colleagues, family members. And it is absolutely normal. We should help each other without seeking any profit.

5. How can charitable organizations help people?

There is a saying: “If you can’t donate money, you can donate your time”. Of course, charitable organizations raise money for different funds to help people in need. However, there are different other actions they take. For example, they build shelters for homeless people, provide them with food, clothes and other vital things. They support terminally ill patients. Moreover, there are organizations that help not only people but also support animal shelters.

6. What social problems are there in your country?

Recently, there are a lot of people getting laid off because of the economic impact of the global pandemic. These people have successfully ascended the socio-economic ladder, but now they are extremely anxious, not only about the possibility of a second wave of covid19, but also the possibility of second wave poverty. Well, issues related to the economy like poverty will eventually lead to social unrest if not handled properly. The high unemployment rate often becomes the reason why crime rate also increases, making the people feel unsafe. The pandemic also makes the low-income household become more vulnerable. When both parents are losing their job, it means that the entire family will have to cut expenses. In some cases, frustration resulting from such conditions can lead to domestic violence that will definitely be detrimental to the children as well.

7. You mentioned poverty. What can be done to alleviate poverty?

First of all, we have to deal with problems in our education system. People are suffering from poverty because they don't have the knowledge and skill needed to join the workforce. This is why we need more education and training. Other than education, there's got to be the spirit of entrepreneurship as well, because entrepreneurs provide jobs for those who need it. Actually, the government has successfully eradicated poverty for the past fifteen years or so, but with all this coronavirus stuff going on, there is a possibility that they will have to go back to square one.

8. What do you think of social charity?

It is a good way of helping people who need medication, or those who suffer from natural disasters. There are a lot of charities in my country, we now even have an online crowdfunding platform. But, personally, I believe that charity is a way of helping other people, but it's not the ultimate solution for problems related to poverty. To deal with issues of a larger scope like poverty as well as social and economic gap, people will need empowerment more than everything. For example, when we see a young guy suffering from hunger, we can help him by giving him some food, or shelter, but we can't keep feeding that guy expecting him to be a good member of the society. At some point, we have to help him get a decent job so he can make his own living and become an independent, responsible and capable individual. Generally, people do not like being seen as a victim of poverty, or social inequality, what they want is a job that will help them stand on their own feet.

9. Can you tell me the difference between minor crimes and major crimes?

Of course. Murder is definitely a major crime, especially if it is a premeditated murder. People can be charged with the death penalty for such a crime. But, there are also some differences for minor and major crimes criteria in every country and jurisdiction. For example, the possession of drugs may be considered legal in some countries. Even if it is illegal, I think the punishment will not be as severe as here in my country. Here, those who are caught in possession of drugs will definitely face imprisonment. In a very serious case like drug smuggling, someone can even get the death penalty, so we can say that these drug-related crimes are taken very seriously here. Another crime that is considered as a major crime is terrorism, which is another crime that can result in the death penalty. Any other criminal behaviors other than these three will probably fall under the category of minor crimes, or petty crimes.

10. Some countries have seen urbanization as a problem. Why do you think people are moving to cities?

People go to cities with a hope that they will get a better job, a better life. Some of them are really successful indeed, and such success often leads to a false belief that in order to succeed, one has to move to the city. Now, there are more and more people going to the city not having the educational background required to get a job, nor having any skill that will make them attractive to employers, and this is when the problem starts appearing.
In cities, living standards are higher than in small towns, but everything is expensive. There are a lot of jobs there, but there is a high level of competition as well. Those who cannot survive in the city may end up living in a slum area, or becoming a beggar, or even street criminals. It is true that the city is the center of trade and administration that offers more job opportunities for the people, but it can also be a harsh place for those who go there unprepared.

12. Can you explain how overpopulation affects urban society?

Indonesia is notoriously known for its centrality, especially in Java, one of the main islands here. While other regions outside the main island are underdeveloped, Java has become overpopulated. There have been some problems resulting from urbanization. Let's take the capital city Jakarta as an example. Because of overpopulation, we can see how the city now deals with traffic, homelessness and crime rate. There are a lot of slum areas in Jakarta, which makes social disparity look clearer than ever. We can see a giant supermall or a fancy apartment located near a slum, which makes it iconic and ironic at the same time. There are also some environmental concerns related to overpopulation. For example, the city is finding it more and more difficult to manage its waste, which often leads to other problems such as water pollution and flooding. Because of overpopulation, Jakarta is also experiencing a land subsidence at a rate of 1 to 15 cm a year according to an expert. It is predicted that the city will sink in 2025 or 2050 if the problem related to overpopulation and centralization persists.

Social Issues Vocabulary

The following list of vocabulary and phrases can help you expand your lexicon on the Social Issues topic. This will enable you to express yourself more accurately during the IELTS Speaking exam.
  • to give smb a hand with...
  • to support
  • to assist in
  • to be of great help to...
  • to pay back
  • to be grateful / thankful for...
  • rewarding
  • to sacrifice
  • to count on...
  • to rely on...
  • to provide smb with...
  • self-fulfillment
  • volunteering activities
  • to help the community
  • to volunteer your time
  • to grow as a person
  • to fit into the world
  • to connect with others
  • meaningful
  • to make a contribution to...
  • mutual support / help
  • a community
  • to give a hand
  • to show compassion to...
  • to donate
  • a charity
  • the needy / the poor / the homeless
  • social problems
  • my pleasure / duty
  • I'm absolutely sure that...
  • As for me...
  • vital / essential
  • a heart of gold / stone
  • to count on
  • to rely on
  • to support each other
  • to give a hand
  • to help out
  • to assist / aid
  • a variety of means to...
  • to be a role model
  • to demonstrate
  • by nature
  • to set a good example for...
  • to motivate
  • to support
  • to educate
  • kind-hearted / caring / compassionate
  • to care for one another
By familiarizing yourself with these questions and practicing your responses, you can enhance your speaking skills and boost your confidence for the IELTS Speaking test.
Furthermore, we introduced the IELTS Speaking simulator by SmallTalk2Me, which offers a convenient and efficient way to practice authentic IELTS speaking questions, receive personalized feedback and track your progress. With such regular practice you can approach the IELTS Speaking exam with confidence and achieve your desired results.