Speaking Part 1 Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

​Questions about your habits and routines are extremely common in the first part of the speaking test. In this free class we are going to look at how to talk about your past habits and routines.


Exercise 1 | Know the Question

Read the following set of questions about housework and click on the question that concerns the candidates past habits.

Read the following set of questions about housework and select the question that concerns the candidate’s past habits.
Do you like doing housework?
Which household tasks do you do the most frequently?
Did you do much housework when you were a child?
Should children help out around the house?


Exercise 2 | True or False?

Speaking Past Habits 1.mp3
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1. The candidate helped his parents because he wanted to.
2. The candidate’s parents have 2 children.
3. The candidate did different kinds of housework at different ages.
4. The candidate didn’t like housework.
5. The candidate thinks that doing the housework made him a better person.

Open to see the script

​Did you do much housework when you were a child?

Well, yes actually, I used to do plenty of housework when I was a child and adolescent. My parents were quite strict in that on Saturday mornings the whole family would help out cleaning the house, including myself, and my older brother and sister. I would always do the sweeping while my brother and sister would mop the kitchen floor and hoover the rooms which had carpets in the house.

​When I got older, I was always ironing and doing the washing as well, usually on a Sunday night, as school uniforms had to be ready for Monday morning. I’m not sure how these became my jobs but they did, even though I didn’t really enjoy them. I often helped my parents cooking as well, which was great in hindsight, as I learned lots of useful cooking skills. Although I didn’t really like housework when I was younger, I think it was useful for my later life and it made me a more responsible person.


Exercise 3 | Study the Vocabulary

Read the transcript and select a word or phrase, then select the box next to the definition that it belongs to.


Exercise 4 | Study the Grammar

adverbs of frequency   ·  used to   ·  past continuous   ·  present   ·  past   ·  would  
Click or touch a word above
A range of grammatical structures can be used to talk about past habits and routines.
1. We can use , such as, always, often, sometimes, rarely, and never, with a tense verb.
For example: I often helped my parents.
2. We can use with an adverb of frequency and a tense verb.
For example: I would always do the sweeping.
3. We can use with a present tense verb.
For example: I used to do plenty of housework.
4. We can use ‘always’ with the .
For example: I was always ironing and doing the washing.


​Exercise 5 | Test your Grammar

​Complete the following response by a candidate to a question about his past habits and routines.
Examiner: Did you do used to take lots of photographs?
Candidate: Yes, I did, lots in fact. I 1) always taking photographs when I was on holiday. I 2) to love taking photos of places that I went to with my family. I 3) take photos of any places we visited, even if they were fairly boring. My parents 4) get annoyed because I always needed more film for my cameras. That was before digital photography you see and my passion for taking photographs was quite costly! That didn’t put me off though, I was 5) taking photographs – it’s funny really because now me and my family like to look at these pictures and remember those holidays long ago.

Now listen and check your answers.

Speaking Past Habits 2.mp3
File Size: 369 kb
File Type: mp3

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When you have to speak about your habits or routines, make sure that you use this grammar accurately.