How to talk about your hometown in English

Do you know how to talk about your hometown?

What can you say about where you live? How can you describe the town you live in?

This is a very common question in the IELTS test. It could appear in part one of the IELTS speaking test, it could also come up in part two or three.

But despite this being a common topic question in IELTS, I am surprised to find that many English students have so much trouble with it. As if they have no idea about their hometown at all.

In the following guide, I will show you step by step how to talk about every aspect of your hometown no matter what question the examiner asks you.

Let’s get started.

 

Don’t Recite Lists!

Many students just reel off a list of phrases without putting any further thought into what they are saying.

If you do this in the IELTS test, the examiner will probably be unimpressed.

I am talking about these kinds of answers:

My hometown is modern

My hometown is famous

My hometown is beautiful

My hometown is crowded

My hometown has many people

 

This says nothing about your hometown at all!

And it just makes you sound like a robot reeling off recited answers!

So don’t do it.

The examiner wants to hear more than this. If you say your hometown is modern, then describe how it is modern. Tell me about the high-rise buildings and the city skyline. If your hometown is famous, tell me why it is famous. What stories can you tell me that show me how famous your hometown is?

This is what you need to do when talking about the town or city where you grew up.

 

Talking about the Landmarks in your Hometown

Every town and city has at least one landmark.

Do not say to me that your hometown doesn’t have any landmarks because I will not believe you. There must be at least one. So you can talk about that.

I am from England and these are the kind of landmarks you can find in English towns:

Churches

A library

A town hall

A well-known pub (every English town has many pubs)

A town square

A park

A statue or monument of some kind

Once you identify what these landmarks are, then you talk about them.

My hometown has a very old church in the centre. I never go there but I can hear the bells ringing on a Sunday for the Sunday service. There is a cemetery next to the church which always looks a bit creepy at night.

 

We have a nice library in our town. It is in a nice old building. It’s a great place to relax and read. They have free newspapers too.

 

There’s a pub called The Red Lion. It’s a pretty quiet place, I think most of the regulars are old men, always complaining about the news or talking about football.

 

All you have to do about the landmarks in your town is make observations about it — what it looks like, where it is and who visits this place. If you have a story to tell about it that is great.

There’s a shopping centre in the middle of my hometown. It’s kind of boring but me and my friends go there because it’s the only place for us to go on a Saturday evening.

One time we went there, and they had a little show in the middle of the centre. Some local singers who sing in a choir were doing a performance. I think they were trying to raise money for a local charity.

 

Other landmarks could be:

A mosque

A temple

A shopping mall

A restaurant

A big tree

A school or university

A hill

 

Exercise

Spend some time thinking about the landmarks in your hometown. Write some sentences about each one, describing the landmarks in detail. If you have any interesting stories to tell about the landmarks, then write them down too.

 

Talking about the People in your Hometown

The next thing you can do is to talk about the people.

Without people, there is no town so you have to talk about the people.

Think about the following questions when talking about the people in your hometown:

What jobs do they do?

Do they have a special accent?

What kind of things do they like to do?

What do the people enjoy doing at the weekend?

Do they all know each other?

Then you try to answer these questions. It may not come easy, but the more you practice the easier it will become. You just add whatever information you can add about the people in your hometown.

I think a lot of people in my hometown work for Amazon. There is a big Amazon warehouse in my hometown so I think a lot of people work there.

This may be true or untrue, but it is a good answer based on the observations of the Amazon warehouse in the town.

 

People in my hometown speak with a kind of country accent. The town is in the countryside of England so people sound a little bit like that. The people speak much slower than people from London.

In your hometown, the people may have their own dialect. If so, talk about that.

 

There’s a very famous rugby club in my town so I think many people support rugby. Whenever there is a game you can hear all the crowd cheering the team on for miles around.

I imagine not everyone goes to the rugby games, but this gives a clear picture of what many people in the town like to do.

 

I think many people in my hometown like to take care of their garden. I see many people at the weekend, mowing their lawns or pruning bushes in their gardens. It seems to be a popular thing where I live.

You can only give an idea of how you think people spend their weekends. It would be impossible for you to know exactly what all the people in your hometown are doing every weekend!

 

I think many people in my hometown know each other as it is a small town. It is not like London where no one seems to know each other.

And again, you can only give a very rough impression here. There are some towns where everyone seems to know each other, and others where no one knows anyone else. And in London, there are entire districts where the people have grown up with each other.

You cannot know everything about all the people in your hometown. But you can give an impression based on what you have seen people do.

When introducing the people in your hometown that is enough.

 

Exercise

Try to think of answers for the above questions. Write down some sentences about the people in your hometown.

 

Talking about the Food in your Hometown

This part is very easy.

Every town and city has a kind of dish that is very popular to eat. All you have to do is talk about that.

It doesn’t matter if this food was originally created in your hometown, if the people like to eat it then you can talk about that.

For example, in nearly every English town and city, you can find Indian restaurants. Why? Because English people love Indian food. It is not an ethnic food of England; it comes from India, but when talking about the food in an English town it would be a good subject to use in the IELTS test.

But maybe your town or city does have a unique dish or style of food that originates from your hometown. If so, then you can talk about that.

How to talk about it?

You have to think of the following questions:

What are the ingredients of this food or special dish?

What does it taste like? Spicy, sweet, sour, salty?

Why do the local people like it in your hometown?

Where can I buy it if I visit your hometown? Do people cook it at home or is it only available in restaurants? Or is it a special kind of ‘street food’? Or maybe all three?

Do people eat this food for breakfast, lunch or dinner?

Do they eat in on special occasions?

So let’s use an example that can be found in England.

Fish & Chips.

This is a very popular dish that can be found all over the country. It is not very healthy, but it is delicious and many people love to eat it.

If we go through all the questions one by one we can break down how to talk about fish and chips in this part.

Ingredients

Fish and potatoes. Also, some oil for cooking and you can add salt and vinegar to your own taste.

Taste

Often very salty.

Why do people like it?

It’s delicious! Not so healthy but it does taste good. It’s also very convenient to buy.

Where can I buy this food?

In the local fish and chips shop. These are small shops that make fish and chips and then you take it home and eat it. Some restaurants make it too. These restaurants are very simple but the food is always good. It is cheap to buy.

When do people eat it?

Usually, people eat it in the evenings. There is a custom to eat fish and chips on a Friday. We always say Fish on a Friday.

 

You see how simple it is to talk about food in your hometown?

 

Exercise

Now you try.

Take all the questions and talk about a well-known or popular dish in your hometown. Just look at all the questions and answer them one by one.

When you have written all your answers down, practice speaking out loud.

 

Talking about the Culture in your Hometown

Each town and city in every country has its own unique kind of customs. There are special events or festivals that your hometown holds every year and these are part of the culture of your hometown.

Take a few minutes and think about what special events or festivals your hometown holds every year.

What happens at on these special days?

Why do people go to this event?

Is there a historical meaning behind it?

If you get stuck, you can search online and find out what customs and special holidays are celebrated in your hometown or city. Do some research and you will find many examples.

Other things make up the culture of the town or city — the food, the people, the daily habits, the lifestyle. These all add up to create a special culture that is unique to your hometown.

Let me give you an example from England.

 

Cheese Rolling

In a few towns across England, there are cheese-rolling festivals. This is usually held on Spring Bank Holiday Monday. A big round block of cheese is rolled down a hill and people chase after it. The first person to catch it is the winner.

This is a very old tradition that began hundreds of years ago. Cheese was believed to be a sign of fertility in the springtime so it was important to celebrate it years ago.

Now people celebrate it because it is good fun and an old custom.

 

Talking about the General Culture of your Hometown

 

People in my hometown like to drink tea. It is a very important thing to sit down and drink tea with your friends and spend time catching up with some local news.

Tea is considered a very sociable activity so people like to drink tea together.

 

In my hometown, people like to make apple cider. It is quite a strong kind of beer and easy to make. Many local farms make it and they sell it to the local people.

 

There is a small green field in my town and people like to sit and play cricket on a Sunday. They have free time to sit with their family and friends. Also, cricket is a very relaxing game, so it is nice to play on a Sunday before going back to work on a Monday.

 

Exercise

Think of some local traditions or festivals that take place in your hometown. What happens on these special days? What do people do? What is the history behind it?

Also, think of customs or activities that people regularly like to do in your town.

Write all your ideas on paper and then practice speaking out loud with your friends.

 

Talking about the Weather and Climate in your Hometown

What is the weather like in your hometown? Is it icy cold in the winter? Steaming hot in the summer?

Are the mornings filled with fog from the sea or is the sky brilliant blue and the sun shining?

Some towns and cities have four distinct seasons, while others have very little difference between the seasons or have only one kind of climate all year round.

No matter what the weather, it is a good idea to try to talk about it in the IELTS test if the examiner asks you about your hometown.

 

Let’s look at some examples

 

My hometown is a small town in the north of Thailand. It is always very hot here, usually the temperature is around 30 degrees centigrade most of the year, but in the winter it goes down to about 24 or 25 degrees. The summer is always very hot.

And in the summer it rains a lot. Wow, we get a lot of rain! From around May until September it rains so much. But the rain only falls very quickly. It kind of cools you down a little and then it feels hot again.

 

I come from Marrakesh in Morocco. It can get very hot in my hometown in the summer. Usually over 35 degrees. In the winter it can go down to around 16 degrees, so a big difference.

Because Marrakesh is in the desert, the difference between night and day temperature is quite big. It can be 35 degrees in the daytime, then go down to 20 degrees at night.

And it hardly ever rains in my hometown. It is usually dry all year round.

 

My hometown is Stuttgart in Germany. We have four very distinct seasons but the summer is the best season in my opinion. The summer is warmer; the temperature reaches as high as 30 degrees on some days.

In the winter it gets pretty cold, and it rains a lot in the winter too.

 

Another thing you can talk about with the weather in your hometown is the kind of activities that people like to do at certain times of the year.

Think about each season and try to think of things that people do, the kind of food they like to eat and the clothes they wear.

Look at the table below to help you.

Things to do

Things to eat

What to wear

Spring

Summer

Autumn

Winter

 

Exercise

Using the table above and the examples I wrote above, write down some ideas about the weather in your hometown. If there are differences, then write about all of those things. If the weather is the same all year round you have to talk about that.

When you have written some ideas down, practice speaking out loud.

 

Talking about Things to Do in your Hometown

I have asked students what can people do in their hometown and I often receive one answer — NOTHING!

There’s nothing to do in my hometown. It’s so boring.

That can’t be true. There must be things for people to do. Even if you don’t like to do these things, other people may enjoy doing these things and that means there are definitely some activities that people can do in your hometown.

Here is a list of ideas to inspire you.

Going to the gym

Playing tennis

Walking in the hills on the outskirts of town

Walking on the seafront of the town

Shopping malls and going shopping

Coffee shops and coffee culture

Eating out and going to restaurants

Going to bars and nightclubs (for older students!)

Dancing in the town square

Visiting the library

Helping charity organisations

Fishing in the local river

Swimming in the swimming pool

Yoga

Many evening classes in the local community college

 

Now let me show you some examples

There is a swimming pool in my hometown and many people go there. Whenever I go there, it always seems very busy. I try to go early in the morning to avoid all the crowds.

The pool is really nice and clean. There is an area for the serious swimmers to swim in laps and then there is an area for people and children who just want to lounge around in the water and cool off a little bit.

There is also a diving area with three diving boards. The top board is very high, but I jumped off it once!

 

We are lucky because in my hometown we have so many restaurants. I think you could go out to dinner every night of the week and still not visit every restaurant in the city.

And the restaurants are all very different in style and cuisine. We have the local food but we also have Indian, Thai, French and Italian. It’s really nice for people to go out in the evening and eat a delicious meal with friends and family.

 

In my hometown, some older ladies like to go to the town square and do a special kind of dancing. They do it for exercise I think but also they can meet up and chat with each other. So it’s a social activity for them too.

Some people say that the music they play when they do their dancing is too loud. But I think we should just let them do it. They’re not really causing anyone any harm.

 

Exercise

Look at the list of ideas I gave you above.

Use these and the examples and write down your own ideas for talking about things to do in your hometown. Practice together with a friend or show your teacher.

 

Talking about the Architecture in your Hometown

The architecture in your hometown means all the buildings. Are these buildings very old and traditional? Or new and modern? It the architecture boring — if so, why do you think so?

How to talk about buildings and houses?

You can use the following words to describe buildings and architecture in your hometown.

Poor High-rise Residential
Wooden Expensive Old
Traditional Beautiful Modern
Luxurious Spacious Steel and glass
Brick Boring Ugly

Many cities these days have a downtown area with many high-rise buildings, all very modern and expensive. The suburbs of the city might consist of smaller houses and buildings or low-rise buildings — this is where the people usually live.

Let me show you some examples

Bath is a very old city, and the architecture is very old. Most of the buildings in the centre of the city are over 200 years old. I think there is a law to protect these buildings and houses. They look nice because they all have the same colour, made out of a special sandstone found in the local area.

But once you leave the city centre, the architecture changes. The houses are more modern in the suburbs. This is where people live.

 

The downtown area of my city is filled full of high-rise buildings. They are all very high and look very modern. It feels so busy walking around this area surrounded by such high buildings. Some of the buildings are so high that you can walk on one side of the street and be in the shade from the sun.

 

I live in a very quiet village in the countryside. All the houses are pretty old and there is no real special architecture. People just need a place to live and the local post office to buy some things. There is an old church though, and it looks very nice from the outside. I don’t know how old it is, but it looks very old.

 

Exercise

Write down your own ideas about the buildings in your hometown. When you have enough sentences speak them out loud with a friend or classmate.

 

Talking about the Surrounding Area in your Hometown

Your hometown doesn’t just consist of the actual town itself. When talking about your hometown you can also talk about the surrounding area of the town or city where you live.

This is especially true of a smaller town.

Your town may be surrounded by countryside.

What is in the countryside?

Are there farms and little villages?

Are they developing the land and building more houses or factories?

There must be something in this area, now is the time for you to talk about it.

There might be hills or mountains in the surrounding area of your hometown. Or maybe you live near the sea in which case you can talk about that.

Whatever exists just outside your hometown you can talk about it in the IELTS test. This is all part of the description of where you live and the examiner wants to hear about it.

I’ll give you some examples:

 

The surrounding area of my hometown is just countryside. Some small villages with just a few people living there. There is a new factory that makes tyres just outside my town. I think many people from my hometown work there now.

 

If you go south of my town, there is a big lake. I have gone past this lake and seen people fishing there.

 

All around my hometown are hills. It’s like my entire town is in a big hole in the ground! But it’s nice to see all the hills around the town. In the summer, they all look so green and in the winter, if it snows, all the hills are covered and everything looks white.

 

Exercise

What is in the surrounding area of your hometown?

Take a few minutes and write down some ideas and thoughts. You must have seen what is just outside your hometown. Talk about this for a few minutes if you can.

 

Talking about Public Transport in your Hometown

If you live in a very small town, then chances are you may have only one bus an hour that takes you to the nearest big town. Or no bus at all.

In a bigger town, you could have several bus services taking people to different parts of the town. Or to other towns and the nearest big city.

You might have a train service. You might live in a big city and have a subway system.

The fact is that every town and city has a public transportation system — even if it is only one bus an hour.

These are the main kinds of public transportation:

Bus

Subway

Train

Taxi (not really public but let’s put it in there)

Other lesser-known systems:

Ferry

Tram

Shared bike (many cities use this these days)

 

How to talk about it?

The best way to talk about this is to look at the following questions and answer them:

What is this public transportation system?

Why do you use it?

Why do other people in your hometown use it?

Is it convenient?

Is it cheap/expensive to use?

How many lines does it have? (for bus and subway)

Is it crowded during rush hour?

 

 

And here is some vocabulary you might use when talking about public transportation:

Miss Stop Exit
Line Change Commuters
Fare Catch Delay
Ticket Pass (a special card) Passengers
Leave Cancel Run
Unreliable Rush hour On-time

When talking about the public transportation system in your hometown, in the IELTS test I advise you to talk about the most common or most popular public transportation system. If you try to talk about some public transport that is less known or used, you could run into trouble.

That means that you should only really talk about the bus, the subway or the train.

You can add at the end of your talk that there are other kinds of public transportation in your hometown.

Something like this:

…we also have many taxis, and a ferry that takes people over the river, but I have never used it. I only use the subway as it is the most convenient.

 

Shall we look at a couple of examples?

In my hometown, we have a new subway system. It is brand-new, so it is very clean and modern-looking. There are only three lines so far but there will be more lines in the future.

It is so much better than the bus. Much quicker and much more convenient. We don’t have any traffic jams now!

Some people complain and say that it is more expensive than the bus. It is a little more expensive but I think it is worth it for the convenience and the speed.

During rush hour it is a little difficult to get a seat but if you arrive early, you can find a seat no problem. I really love the subway in my hometown, it just makes going to school so much easier.

 

We have a bus system in my hometown. There are plenty of buses to take you wherever you want to go. But if you use the bus during rush hour, then you will definitely get stuck in traffic. There’s just no escaping it.

Sometimes I use a shared bike. These are easy to find and they are cheap to use. If it’s raining, I don’t use the shared bike but most other days I do.

 

Exercise

You want to try?

Look at all the vocabulary and make sure you know the meanings of the words and then make sentences of your own.

Then think about the public transportation systems in your hometown and which one is the most common for people to use.

Write down some ideas in your notebook and make sentences.

Then with a friend speak them out loud.

Practice every day!

 

Talking about Shopping in your Hometown

Do you have many shops in your hometown? Are there just a few local shops or do you have a giant shopping mall with all the latest fashion brands?

Every town has at least one shop to buy something.

These are the main kind of shops you might have in your town:

supermarket greengrocer baker
butcher fishmongers florist
wine store drug store convenience store
book store pet store candy store

 

How to talk about it?

As I have said before, let’s look at some questions and you answer them one by one.

What kind of shops and stores are there in your hometown?

What can people buy in these places?

Where are all the shops and stores?

Are they expensive?

What kind of people go there?

 

And then let’s look at some examples

 

I live in a big city and there are many shopping malls. There is one big shopping mall near my home and it is very popular with people, especially young people.

Younger people like to go there because it looks very fashionable and modern. All the shops are mainly selling fashionable clothes and there are two cool coffee shops on the first floor where you can sit and drink coffee.

The shopping mall huge. It is on five floors. On the top floor, there is a cinema and in the basement, there is a supermarket but it is a little expensive I think. I don’t go there. I only go to the clothes stores and shoe stores with my friends. We can’t always buy something we like but we like to look!

If I go to the mall with my friends, we like to drink coffee after we have looked all around the stores.

 

There are many small shops and stores in my neighbourhood. These shops are not very fashionable but they are very convenient and they sell many useful things that we might need in the house or in our daily life.

One shop we always use in the nearest convenience store. It is open until very late and opens very early in the morning. If we run out of things that we need then we can always go to the convenience store and buy what we need.

I see many of my neighbours there and my father always goes there in the morning to buy cigarettes.

The shop sells newspapers, snacks and sandwiches, soft drinks and ice cream. Every time I go there, they always have customers inside.

 

Exercise

Now it’s your turn.

Look the vocabulary and make sure you understand what all the words mean. Make your own sentences if you wish.

Then look at the questions above and the examples. This can help you to form your own answers. Write down all your ideas and put them into sentences in order.

Then practice speaking out loud.

 

Conclusion

You will not need to talk about all of the above topics about your hometown in the IELTS test.

If you were to talk about your hometown using all the topics included in this guide you would be talking for about 30 minutes!

The reason I included all the topics above is so you can answer any question the examiner fires at you in the IELTS test. If he asks you to talk about shopping or public transportation in your hometown, then you should be prepared. If he asks you about food or customs in your hometown, no problem for you.

Just go through all the steps and you can find out how to talk about your hometown no matter the question.

And as always — let me know in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “How to talk about your hometown in English”

  1. It is so important to cover these areas used for IELTS tests because they are the ones that often catch students off guard. I especially liked the study charts as they ground students with vocabulary and observation points. The ideas also triggered memories of towns I’ve visited. Travel really helps as it gives you things to compare your town with. For example I visited a tiny town in Sweden and it was like a charming hobbit town with wondrous new customs and scenery quite unlike my own tiny hometown.

    1. That is a great idea, Leona. I forgot to add that to the article… I used to ask students to compare their hometown to the big city we were living in and talk about the similarities and differences. It gives them a lot more to talk about, and in the IELTS test that really helps.
      How was Sweden? I’ve always wanted to visit.

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