If you want the best IELTS speaking test score you can get, then you need to practice listening and speaking English for topics your examiners will ask you about.
This podcast gives you a perfect practice sample for any IELTS speaking test. The podcast talks about travelling to a super interesting place, Amsterdam. Lots of great English vocabulary about travel, with a great structure to any exam question response. Perfect for those people who want that Band 9 in IELTS :)
Even if you don’t care about an IELTS exam, maybe you want to hear about a cool, bohemian European city. Get insider travel tips to get the best experience possible if you want to visit Amsterdam. Practice your English vocabulary, or just listen to a lovely English voice for 10 minutes! This podcast has something for everyone.
wheelie Gatwick Euros Hockney
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Hi there and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. How about we combine two purposes today? I went travelling last weekend and I’d like to tell you about that, but I thought also that you listening to this may help you with something else - your IELTS speaking test perhaps. Because you may be asked about somewhere beautiful that you’ve visited or to speak about transport. Or it could be about a journey that you’ve made or some art that you like, or a holiday.
So I’m just going to talk about our experience last weekend in Amsterdam, but a lot of the subjects, and the vocabulary will be good preparation and practice for something like an IELTS speaking test. And also, right at the end of the podcast, I’ll give you an essential tip, a piece of advice for if you want to visit Amsterdam.
So last weekend, I went for a long weekend with my daughters to Amsterdam. A ‘long weekend’ means a weekend, which wasn’t just Saturday and Sunday. You might add in Monday as well, but we travelled there on Thursday and came back on Sunday, so that was a long weekend. So on Thursday, we had booked a nice, fairly cheap Easyjet flight from London Gatwick to Amsterdam airport, which is called Amsterdam Schiphol. The flight from Gatwick to Schiphol is really short – you’ve just about got up into the air, when it’s time to come down again. Of course, it takes a lot longer than the 50 minutes flight time, because you’ve got to be processed in the airport, go through passport control etc.
You also have to be security checked. At Gatwick airport, you have to take out your electronic devices and your bottles of liquid, nothing over 100ml at security – that’s 100 millilitres. And at Schiphol Airport on the way back, there was a bit of a delay just because there were so many passengers to process. We were worried about missing our flight – until we realised it was delayed coming in. The pilot did make up the time however and we were on time arriving at Gatwick on Sunday night.
So we arrived in the middle of the afternoon on Thursday – and we had instructions to follow for how to get to our Airbnb, where we were going to be staying. So we took a train from the airport towards the centre of Amsterdam, but not for many stops because the airport is on the south west of the city and so was our accommodation. ‘Accommodation’ means where you’re staying. A-C-C-O-M-M-O-D-A-T-I-O-N. Notice it’s got two Cs and two Ms when you come to spell it. After the train, we needed a bus for several stops and then it was a 15 minute walk with our wheelie cases. Your case or your suitcase is the bag that you travel with – but we only had what we call ‘cabin bags’.
So we were only going for three days, so it wasn’t worth paying to have a big bag to go in the hold of the aircraft. So ‘cabin bags’ are what you can take inside the cabin with you. And ‘wheelie cases’ just means those cases which have wheels on the bottom, and it makes things so much easier. If your dustbin outside your house has wheels on the bottom, that’s called a ‘wheelie bin’. So that’s W-H-E-E-L-I-E. It’s a word that we use as an adjective all the time in the UK, but you might only find it as a noun in your dictionary. ‘Pulling a wheelie’ or ‘Doing a wheelie’ means when you rev up your motorbike and you ride it with the front wheel in the air! But I’m talking about wheelie cases, wheelie suitcases.
Anyway, we found our accommodation and our host Stef, was waiting for us outside in the sunshine. The housing in Amsterdam was really interesting. I noticed that it’s not like the UK, where there are very clearly nice areas of housing and then not so nice areas of housing. Much of the housing in Amsterdam on the outside of the city is the same. Obviously in the centre of the city, there are the old canal houses – really, really beautiful, old and historic – and most front onto the grid of canals that gives Amsterdam its character. But where we stayed further out, towards the edge of the city, the houses are more modern. Many of them are built in blocks with numerous levels – and the individual houses and flats are tall and narrow like the canal houses. But they’re built in a square with a private, enclosed central area on the inside, which is often made into a communal garden inside the building. A communal garden means that it’s for everyone who lives there.
So our Airbnb was a lovely room with beds and an en suite bathroom, overlooking one of the main roads and canals in the city. We also were lucky to have a balcony with a little garden to sit out on. The only problem was although it was sunny, it was about 5C most of the time – 5 degrees centigrade. So we did sit out – but not for very long! Our hosts were lovely though.
To get around, we used the trams. So a tram, T-R-A-M is like a bus but it goes on rail tracks in the ground. The tram network in Amsterdam is really good and we were told to buy a three day ticket, which we did – and this was much better value for money than buying individual trip tickets. And you can get trams to all the main tourist attractions in the city. So notice here, there’s some good vocabulary in this podcast about flights and travelling around if you need to talk about these topics in your IELTS speaking test of course.
So what did we do while we were there? Well, if you remember my podcast from a few weeks ago, about David Hockney – and about how there is currently an exhibition of his work in Amsterdam at Museumplein? Well, we went of course to that exhibition – and that was great. This is also the Vincent Van Gogh Museum, so we of course visited this as well. It holds the largest collection of Van Gogh’s paintings anywhere in the world. I also liked this exhibition because it talked about the artist’s life, his family, his friendships, the development of his art, even his mental illness, through lots of paintings and letters. As museums go, this one was really well put together. The displays and the explanation were just enough and you can get audio tours in a number of languages.
Another thing that was interesting about Amsterdam was how pretty much everyone spoke English! Part of this I guess, is the education system, where English is part of the curriculum from the start. But I think also that if you’re a small country, with your own language, then English is the obvious language for communication. But anyone we asked for help, including our hosts – just automatically spoke really, good English. I must say, I was somewhat in awe of the Dutch on this!
A photograph of a man holding a baby you cannot tell the gender of the baby. Used to help explain English grammar she, he and they.
What did we see in Amsterdam? Well apart from the Hockney and Van Gogh Exhibitions, we went to the Rijksmuseum. This was OK – but not as much to my taste in Art. We didn’t get tickets for the Rembrandt exhibition which was on at the time, and although there were some Rembrandts in the main exhibition, I was hoping for Vermeer, Hobbema – and there were a couple, but just not very many paintings. It seems that the paintings by these artists are in other galleries around the world.
On the final day, we visited the Anne Frank House. This is a ‘must-see’ - so something which is important to anyone’s trip to Amsterdam. It’s really sensitively and cleverly done. And it takes you through the experience – and through the house and its rooms – all behind a secret bookcase, which was the entrance to their hiding place. There’s also video and first-hand accounts of what happened to the Frank family by people who knew them. And also a lot about what was happening more generally for Jews in Europe at the time. There are letters, of course passages from Anne Frank’s diary. It’s really educational – but it makes the point well that the Anne Frank was just one person, and the Frank family were just one family – and that so many Jews were persecuted and killed – and you don’t hear about them. It’s also quite an emotional experience.
My memory of Amsterdam, will just be the canal houses. We were lucky with the weather – and it was sunny the whole time we were there. The trees were just coming into leaf and the tulips were of course blooming. A tulip, T-U-L-I-P is the name of the spring flower which we associate with Holland. However, it’s a very flowery place – the floating flower market, the ‘Bloemenmarkt’ on the Singel Canal is a good place to visit. It’s floating, because it’s situated on rafts on the water in the canal. It’s great for photographs. As are all the streets around the centre of Amsterdam and around the canals - they’re just beautiful. The cafes, the shops, the stalls are just arty and Bohemian – and yet the whole place is also somehow clean, tidy and efficient. We loved it!
And finally that tip for you if you’re visiting Amsterdam? Well, perhaps it’s obvious – but I hadn’t realised just how important this is. If you want to visit attractions like the Van Gogh Museum or the Anne Frank House – you must book tickets online before you travel. I’d been prepared to do this – and went to book our tickets a week or so before we travelled – and I was disappointed! There were no tickets left at all, either for Van Gogh or for Anne Frank! However, I was persistent and kept on checking – and just once for the Anne Frank museum, there were some tickets – so I bought them immediately – we were very lucky. And the same with Van Gogh – there were no tickets, then I kept checking, I saw some – and booked there and then. So if you’re planning a trip to Amsterdam and you want to visit these things, I would advise that you book your tickets to the main attractions that you want to see online at least a month in advance.
So I hope this has given you some good practice at understanding and some good vocabulary which might be useful in an IELTS speaking test. And hopefully I’ve given you some good sentences to understand which will help on topics that you might be asked to talk about in your IELTS speaking test.
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.