Speaking about the past is the best speaking practice for theĀ IELTS Test. Most of the questions on Part 2 of the Speaking Test involve telling a story about something that happened to you.

I previously posted some general topics to use for 30-second speaking practice. I consider these a first step toward the two-minute speaking exercise on IELTS. Doing it once is not really enough, so after we’ve studied the Past Simple, and learned the irregular verbs, I bring back the 30-second topics.

I put the topics on the board before the students come in. I like to have more topics than students, so they have some choice. If they’re sharp, the students will read the topics and get some ideas going before the exercise begins.

Ask for volunteers. Students can pick the topic they want to talk about. Then I cross it out. It’s to their advantage to go first when there are more topics available.

Students speaks for a minimum of 30 seconds. I let them go on longer if they are in the middle of something.


  • My last holiday
  • A good day
  • A bad day
  • Last weekend
  • My wedding day
  • A party I went to
  • Someone interesting I met
  • A mistake I made
  • When I was a child
  • When I was in school
  • When I was at university
  • When I lived in _____________
  • Before I started this course

After each student speaks, I have the other students call out the past verbs they heard. I say “Good work” to the student who spoke, and “Good listening” to the ones who heard the verbs.

At the end, I sometimes ask the group for POSITIVE feedback ONLY. We are trying to encourage people to speak more and develop fluency, so finding what’s right is the most productive here.