IELTS Cue Cards – Describe an important letter that you received

Describe an important letter that you received.
You should say:

Who wrote it to you?
What the letter was about?
How you felt about the letter?

and explain why it was important to you.

Follow-up questions

  • What are the differences between emails and hand written letters?
  • Will the hand-written letters become obsolete in the future? Why?
  • Why should we write letters to friends and relatives?
  • What are the important qualities of a good letter?

Possible answer 1 for the above speaking cue cards

Though People mostly send emails nowadays for official and personal communication, the handwritten letter has its own importance as well. Today I would like to talk about a hand written letter that I received when I was 14 years old. This particular letter was written by my father and I was so excited to receive it that I read it several times. The letter was about the scholarship result and my father wrote me to inform me that I got the scholarship. In his letter, he congratulated me and wrote that he was proud of me.

I was staying at a relative’s house after my final and scholarship exam with my mother and sister and one day I found that a post office peon delivered a letter to my uncle. My uncle handed over me the letter as it was addressed to me. I found that it was written by my father. I read the letter quickly and was very excited to learn the news. I read it again and then informed my mother and relatives about it. My mother read it and congratulated me as well.

As a kid, the scholarship was very desiring for me and when I found that my father was very happy, that made me happier.

Possible answer 2 for the above speaking cue cards

Today I am going to tell you about a letter that was very special to me. I will tell you who wrote it to me, what it was about and why it made such an impression on me that I can still remember it over forty years later.

It is quite interesting to have to think of an important letter that I’ve received. Nowadays it is really rare to get a letter in the post. Most business and personal communications seem to happen by email or even text message on a mobile phone. However, believe it or not, there was a time when that was the only real way to communicate! Even so, as a small child in the days before the internet, for me to receive an actual physical letter, carefully folded in an envelope and being delivered to me with my name on it unopened was a really special event and very rare indeed.

When I was seven years old I had to go into hospital to have my tonsils taken out! I was very sad, and very frightened to be in the hospital, and I didn’t really understand what was happening to me or why. To make things worse I was going to be in a hospital for my eighth birthday. At that age, I hadn’t ever really received any letters especially for me before and I certainly didn’t expect to receive any post whilst I was ill. Therefore, it was a wonderful surprise one morning to be given an envelope with my name and address beautifully hand-written on it and bearing a stamp from overseas in the top right-hand corner. I was so excited!

The letter was from my Uncle Peter. He was living in America at the time, and I was in England. He had sent me a special letter for my birthday. That was exciting enough, but what he had done amazed and impressed me. He said he’s wanted to send me a birthday cake, but that wasn’t practical over such a distance, so instead he drew me a picture of an amazing birthday cake and a whole party with balloons and presents. So his letter was to wish me a happy birthday, and to cheer me up because it is horrible for anyone to have an operation at any time, let alone on their own birthday when they are just eight years old!

I was in awe! He was actually quite a good artist, so his illustration was really good, and the letter cheered me up and made me feel so special. I kept the letter for a long long time, but sadly one day I couldn’t find it anymore, and I think it must have been thrown out at some point. Even so, I think this letter was a start of a great correspondence between me and my, to me, ‘exotic’ uncle who lived overseas. He and I continued to exchange letters over the next forty years, right up until the time he died. His were always hand-written, though mine moved over to being typed, but we never resorted to email, so the ritual of a letter thudding through a letterbox and onto the welcoming doormat of home continued between us long after many others had abandoned such an old-fashioned form of communication.

So the letter was very important to me because it cheered me up when I felt low and made me feel special. It also began a correspondence that continued over four decades. Even today, I still think nothing beats a ‘proper’ letter, and I will always try and send a personal note to friends or family when something important has happened. I love the excitement of seeing a postmark and an unknown stamp on a newly arrived envelope and the anticipation of wondering who a letter might be from and what they have to say. For me, nothing beats the physicality of a letter in your hands and when I post a letter or card myself I always like to imagine the recipient similarly examining my unopened missive and hopefully looking forward to making a cup of coffee and settling down to enjoy the contents!

[ Written by – Lucy Marris | Careers Adviser (UK), TEFL teacher (Vietnam) ]

How to answer this cue card?

  • An important letter can be one of the following types:
  • A letter from your teacher which was written to you to confirm that you have been eligible for a course or activity you applied for.
  • A letter from a school/ college/ university that confirms your acceptance and admission there.
  • A letter from an office that affirms that you have been hired for the position you applied for.
  • A confirmation letter from an organisation or government office that confirms that your request to solve a problem at your locality would be taken care of.
  • A letter from your parents when you stayed in a different city from theirs.
  • A letter from a relative that gives the news of a newborn baby.
  • A letter from one of your childhood friends who you heard for a long time.
  • A letter from your parents about one of your achievements.
  • A letter that gives the news of your outstanding performances or achievements.
  • A letter that gives the news of your winning a lottery or raffle draw.
  • An apology letter from one of your friends or relatives that ease your relationship with him/her.

Describe who wrote you the letter, when you received it, what was it about, what news it bore, how you felt after reading the letter, why the news was important to you and why the letter was important.

For the part ‘why it was important to you’ mention some of the following points based on the type of letter you talk about:

  • I was eagerly waiting to know that.
  • I was so worried about it and after I read the letter I felt so relieved.
  • The letter gave me the long waiting news and I was very happy.
  • I was enchanted to know that I have achieved it.
  • I was very happy to know that …
  • I could not believe that it really happened and I read the letter a second time etc.

Related IELTS Resources

Take a practice test to find out what is your current weakness in terms of IELTS scale and allow more time to improve your weak spots. The following IELTS resources will help you to develop your skills faster:

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