IELTS Cue Cards – Describe your childhood memories

Describe your childhood memories.
You should say:

What it is?
When it happened?
How it affected you in your life?

and explain why you still remember it.

Follow-up questions

  • Why childhood is important?
  • How did you spend your childhood?
  • Who was your childhood hero?
  • Did you want to be like him/ her?

Possible answer 1 for the above speaking cue cards

Childhood memories are strange things, because sometimes you can’t quite be sure if you really remember something, or if you just think you do because others have told you about it, or you have seen a photo of the event later on. I’m going to talk to you about a memory that I’m very confident is real. I’ll tell you what it is, when it happened, how it affected me and why I still remember it.

The memory is the earliest one I have of me and my Dad. I was very small indeed, I’m not exactly sure how old, but I’d guess about three years old, maybe even younger. My Dad was not a particularly tall or strong man, but I was small enough, and by comparison, he was big enough then, for me to stand with both my feet on one of his, and to reach up with my arms and cling onto his leg. I would then hang on and laugh delightedly as he tried to go about his daily business, walking around the house with me gripping on tightly refusing to be budged. It was a favourite game.

I don’t know that I can honestly say it affected me in my life. However, in my family, we don’t really talk about things very much or do a lot together. We don’t live particularly close to one another so see each other rather infrequently. I suppose the way the incident affected me was by making me at a subconscious level feel close to my Dad even years later as we had shared that happy play time together when I was tiny.

I didn’t know I had held onto this memory until quite recently. Sadly my Dad died, he had been very ill for a long time, so it wasn’t unexpected, but of course it was very sad. I wanted to say something about him at his funeral, and I wanted to pick a memory that was personal just to him and to me. For some reason that image of me tiny and laughing and him solemnly ‘pretending’ that he hadn’t noticed I was there came into my mind and it seemed very appropriate somehow to share that one. It was a happy memory, but also an intimate one. I think he would have been really pleased that I could recall it so many decades later.

So why can I remember it? I’m not sure, but I like to think the memory was there dormant all the time just waiting for the moment when I needed to retrieve it. It is a comforting thing to recall. The human mind is an amazing thing!

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

Possible answer 2 for the above speaking cue cards

I can still remember lots of things I did in my childhood and things that happened when I was a child. Sometimes those memories seem so lucid that it seems those events occurred only a few days back. Anyway, a childhood memory I can still remember so clearly is the first time when I saw the death.

I was a then a kid of class three or four and one day I heard that there had been an accident near our home. My mother asked me whether I want to go or not! I agreed to go there as I thought it would be an exciting experience. I went with my mother and speculated lots of thing about the accident but when I watched 10 dead people were kept lying on the ground and among them, there were 2 kids too, I was devastated about the dead scene. I started feeling sick and started vomiting there. This was in fact too much for me to digest. I had no idea how devastating the accidents could be. The dead people, especially the dead bodies of two kids stroke me really hard. I found that a lot of people were looking at the scene and many of them were discussing how this terrible accident might have happened. My mother took me back to our home and I was ill for about two days. I asked my mum and dad a lot of question after I recovered from the initial shock. Some of them were quite hard for me to understand and yet something inside me had changed me and that change was permanent.

This memory was important to me because it helped me to think about the life in a different way. I could realise then what the dead is and how fragile our lives are. This memory helped me to grow faster and opened my eyes of vision.

How to answer this cue card?

Start this cue card with a very brief of your childhood and how much you cherish your childhood. Mention that you have lots of childhood experience and you would like to talk about this particular one.

You can say one of the following positive experiences from your childhood:

1. The first day you went to your school.
2. A major ceremony where many people came and you enjoyed it thoroughly.
3. The first exam in your life.
4. A new place you went to visit with your parents.
5. The first day you went to a museum, art show.
6. The first time you won a sports/ quick competition.
7. The first day you came to stay at your school boarding and left home.
8. The first time you were successful in swimming, ride a bicycle, car.
9. An outstanding performance in arts, music or exam.

If you want to talk about some negative experience or memory of your childhood you can pick one of the following topics as well:

1. One of your close relatives died and you were very sad.
2. You had to watch a devastating incidence that you still can’t forget.
3. Your first experience of sinking in water, hit by a car, falling from a building etc.
4. Your fight with your neighbouring kids.
5. You had to leave your school and you felt very bad about that.


Q. Why childhood is important?
Answer: As far as I’m concerned, childhood is the purest and happiest period of human life without any concerns, stress and even cunning and wickedness. Every child is carefree and two thing that matters to them are playing and enjoying. In addition, as youngsters are fluid and flexible in the way they approach things, everyone, especially parents, should spend constructive times with them because this is the period of life for learning and absorbing things in order to form their character and personality. More precisely, longitudinal research has shown that a person’s successes, health and emotional wellbeing have their roots in early childhood.

Childhood experiences define the way we behave and react in certain circumstances in later stages in our life and our cognitive developments occur faster at that time. Childhood is a magical stage in our life and has an immense importance for the later stages of our life.

Q. How did you spend your childhood?
Answer: I spent my childhood by playing all the time and trying to avoid studying but without any success. I had many friends and we used to gather and play in our yards, especially hide and seek. I remember that I didn’t like the fact that I always got caught by my friends. When I was at home, though, I did drawing, painting and dancing most the time. So, I would say that I really enjoyed my childhood and the most vivid thing that I still remember is my mother begging me to complete my homework. My parents were so caring and loving and always loved to visit different places with them.

Tip: You can say about your childhood by mentioning your hobbies, your school, siblings, friends or even pleasant or unpleasant situations you had.

Q. Who was your childhood hero? Did you want to be like him/her?
Answer: When I was a child my hero was Superman. As I can remember, there was a TV series called ‘Smallville’ and the leading character in this TV series was a teenage boy whose name was Clark Kent. Clark was adopted and he had superhuman powers and I was entirely surprised by that because he was saving people all the time using those powers. But as a little kid, the thing that impressed me the most was that he wasn’t only saving good people but also the bad one who tried to hurt him and his beloved ones. Although he was my hero, I didn’t want to be like him but like his girlfriend, Lana Lang, you know this is natural for a girl of my age. After this show, I always wanted to have a superhero in my life and Superman was an indispensable part of my early childhood.

Tip: Mention your own hero and describe him/her and his/her achievements. If you didn’t have any heroes, you can just say about common heroes such as Superman, Batman, Spiderman or even your parents and relatives. Just tell the examiner the reason why he or she was your hero and why you wanted to be like him/her.

[Part 3 question answers were written by Mary, UK]

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